The only way to stop this will be for those who approve of it to suffer actual consequences, and that isn’t going to happen until all of you clients out there get off of your duffs and fight…gentlemen, I suggest you had better rethink your current silence, unless you want to be the next one with your name and picture splashed across newspapers, TV screens and websites. – “Scrupleless in Seattle”
When one puts as much time and energy into a cause as I have invested in this one over the last decade, it’s gratifying to see support for that cause slowly grow and become more visible to the general public. Despite the fact that I’ve always had a lot of praise and encouragement from within my own community, for a long time it looked like the only people who were listening were those already in the demimonde and our natural allies such as libertarians and human rights advocates. But every Friday the 13th I’ve called for more allies, and I’ve watched the wind gradually shift toward recognition of the fact that criminalization of any aspect of sex work is a gross violation of human rights; I’ve seen universal, credulous acceptance of the “sex trafficking” paradigm crumble, powerful new allies like Amnesty International come on board and the government sabotaging its own propaganda by indulging in ill-considered pogroms like the prosecutions of Rentboy and The Review Board. Over the past year many groups and individuals, emboldened by Amnesty’s stance, have condemned the War on Whores and attacked its dogma-driven underpinnings, while energetic journalists like Glenn Kessler and Elizabeth Nolan Brown have taken up the task of debunking that up until recently I was conducting almost solo, and have brought the government’s anti-whore bullshit to the attention of far more people than this blog ever could.
But until recently, one group of important natural allies was conspicuously silent. Men who pay for sex at least occasionally outnumber whores by a factor of sixty to one, yet (with rare exceptions like Chester Brown and Jim Norton) are almost never heard from. This certainly isn’t hard to understand; the majority of them are married, and so stand to lose their wives and families, plus even their jobs and social standing due to our culture’s increasing sex-negativity. Add to that fashionable “end demand” client demonization and legal persecution, and the fact that some silly whores (who think of activism as a kind of social club rather than a war) actually oppose their support, and one can certainly understand why clients prefer to keep their mouth shut. I’ve been working to change that for a long time, but against such a mountain of stoic silence what can one loudmouthed harlot accomplish? But finally, the seriousness of the situation seems to be sinking in: official persecution of clients has become so aggressive, vicious and sociopathic (especially in cities suckling at Swanee Hunt’s filthy tits, such as Seattle) that clients’ lives are being destroyed by the hundreds in schemes that couldn’t pass constitutional muster even if the judges were all stoned. Christina Slater’s recent telling of a busted client’s story and Dan Savage’s quoting me in calling clients to arms have inspired a group of clients, activists and attorneys to start a new website dedicated to client activism; the group is called Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change, and their mission statement is below:
This website is for clients of sex workers to share experiences and resources, and to dispel myths surrounding participation in paid sex.
We affirm that sex workers and clients have the same right of sexual expression as other consenting adults.
We support social services that empower sex workers to improve their lives and aid those choosing to leave sex work.
We condemn force, fraud or coercion in any sexual encounter, and we call for safe and effective means for sex workers and clients to report abuses without fear of prosecution.
We condemn efforts to stigmatize sex workers, their clients, and interested third parties.
We join the growing number of diverse organizations calling for the full decriminalization of sex work.
They’ve flattered me by asking for my input in an advisory capacity, and once the site gets well and truly going you’ll be seeing a guest column here from one of the founders. In the meantime, please check the site out; it’s been a long time coming, and I’m damned glad it’s here.