The narrative that law enforcement loves to go after sites like this is that they’re saving us, that they’re rescuing us. They’re only rescuing us from being able to pay our bills. – Me, in a KING 5 interview
One thing that sex worker activists quickly learn when dealing with the media is that reporters and/or producers can take a long or moderately-long interview and chop it away to virtually nothing; the topic has come up in discussion quite often among Seattle activists recently due to the media exposure surrounding the recent raids. All in all, I’ve been relatively lucky the past few years; even when an hour-long interview is reduced to a few sentences, they’ve generally chosen quotes that reflect well upon me (such as today’s epigram). The one major exception I can think of was the interview I gave to the Baltimore ABC station in the summer of ’14; I was asked for my opinions on decriminalization, and had no idea the reporter would do a feature in which she adopted the sleazy prohibitionist strategy of defining the Swedish model as “decriminalization”, then editing me to make it seem as though I supported that vile, misogynistic tyranny.
Anyhow, on Wednesday I gave a short interview to a reporter from the Daily Beast; the first part was by email and I was rather pleased with my own answer, so I thought it might be interesting to share it with you, then show how little of it was printed to fit. The reporter’s question was:
Writing a story about Marco Rubio, who as Florida House speaker [in 2006] proposed that whistleblower status “should be afforded to everyone who reports prostitution, even if they are involved in the act. As an incentive for reporting the illegal activities, whistleblowers should also receive half the proceeds from any forfeiture actions brought in this case.” Wanted to see what you thought about this proposal…
And this was my complete answer:
As I began saying in public appearances two years ago, the “War on Whores” is the new “War on Drugs”. It serves exactly the same functions as the War on Drugs: as an all-purpose excuse for mass surveillance, mass incarceration, aggressive policing, asset forfeiture, social controls, universal criminality, etc. And like the Drug War, useful idiots can be counted on to support it “for the children”. Take a look at nearly any law purported to fight “sex trafficking” (which has become nothing more than a dysphemism for sex work) and you’ll find that it’s essentially a drug war law with new terminology…the ridiculously-long sentences, the harsh corollary penalties, the brainwashing of “victims” under the guise of “rehabilitation”, the surveillance measures, the artificial sense of urgency (“it’s a growing problem!”), the disproportionate enforcement vs. minorities & the poor, and ESPECIALLY the asset seizure*. So it doesn’t surprise me that an ambitious politician in Florida (one of the three states – the other two being Arizona & Washington – which has come up with the most terrifying & profoundly stupid anti-whore laws of the past few years) came up with yet another asinine & tyrannical proposal to infringe upon the rights of individuals to own & control their own bodies & lives; Florida has, after all, been at the forefront of such efforts (previously in “Drug War” guise) since at least the ‘80s.
One more thing: as with powder cocaine vs crack, politicians make sure that THEIR version of a vice isn’t the one targeted as much as OTHER people’s versions; mistresses, sugar babies & so-called “high class” escorts like me aren’t the ones being targeted by these anti-whore campaigns because politicians employ us & don’t wish to be hoist with their own petards. Instead, the extramarital sex favored by poor & working-class men, such as street workers, massage parlors & Backpage girls, are the ones which are demonized and subjected to horrific “sting” operations.
*Elizabeth Nolan Brown has also written about this:
In our phone conversation later that afternoon we covered several more points, the most important of which was first brought up by Mistress Matisse: given that asset forfeiture doesn’t require a criminal conviction, what’s to stop disgruntled boyfriends and estranged husbands from accusing their exes of prostitution so they can bankrupt them and steal half of their possessions? For that matter, what’s to stop jealous neighbors from doing the same? As I’ve pointed out many times, “evidence of prostitution” is whatever the cops say it is; this insane law would literally be an excuse to rob anyone blind. Given that the single quote which made it into the final story was “It would incentivize false claims,” I reckon the reporter wasn’t really listening to the rest of what I said; he seems to have been much more interested in criticizing one particular stupid, evil idea from one particular power-mad politician than in analyzing the greater fabric of universal criminality of which Rubio’s proposal is an intrinsic part. And since that kind of narrow, partisan focus is not at all unusual among journalists, it should be obvious why activists need to be careful of what we say to them.