They’re losing, and they know it. They’re going to double down on their efforts, and the number of pogroms will increase in order to “teach us our place”. And that just means we need to hold the course all the more. – “Turning Point”
Forty-one years ago today, the sex worker rights movement began in earnest with the occupation of the Church of St. Nizier in Lyon, France. And though our momentum was destroyed when the anti-sex feminists took over the mainstream feminist movement during the initial AIDS crisis, support for sex workers’ rights slowly increased; by the turn of the century legal restrictions were being loosened in many countries, and decriminalization became an attainable goal in others. But as I wrote in “Awakening“,
Unfortunately, the prohibitionists are not stupid; they noticed that there had been a sea change in public opinion against interfering in private sexual arrangements between consenting adults, and so created the “sex trafficking” hysteria as a means of rallying the public behind criminalization again. As the “Nation Strategy” of Swanee Hunt’s Demand Abolition organization states, “Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.” In other words, “since people now recognize it’s wrong for the government to stick its nose into private bedrooms, we have to pretend this is really about something else.”
The prohibitionists’ strategy was wildly successful; in collusion with the US government they set off a moral panic which has gripped almost the entire world for over 12 years now, resulting in a reversal of many of the gains activists had made, and a cascade of increasingly-horrible laws clearly designed to implement a “War on Whores” to replace the moribund “War on Drugs”. But no moral panic lasts forever, and not everyone gets caught up the hysteria in the first place; as I predicted four years ago, wiser heads have slowly collected the evidence necessary to debunk every last prohibitionist claim. That summer the wind started to shift in our favor again as organization after organization came out in favor of decriminalization, and last summer we passed our watershed moment when Amnesty International joined those voices. Even the staunchly-prohibitionist New York Times has begun to see the light, and in the wake of Amnesty’s exhaustive pro-decriminalization report the prohibitionists are absolutely beside themselves with fury. Already, those both in and out of government are ramping up the persecutions against us, but these are nothing but the temper tantrums of frustrated authoritarians. On this 41st annual International Whores’ Day, we have more to celebrate than we’ve had in my entire lifetime: We are winning at last. And there’s not a damn thing the prohibitionists can do about it.