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Archive for June 25th, 2018

As I’ve written several times recently, we’re seeing a lot of new wannabe sex worker allies, from politicians to journalists to regular folks without any special platform.  And though some of them are very much on-point, or recognize that they can help best by amplifying the voices of sex workers, others seem to have a lot of uninformed, dumb, stereotyped or just plain wrong ideas about sex workers, clients, our work, third parties and the demimonde in general.  So today I’d like to welcome you all to the war zone, and to clear up a few persistent errors I keep seeing (other than the ones covered here).

This is Trump’s (or the GOP’s) war on sex workers.

Nope, not even close.  The US War on Whores, like so many bad US policies, is rooted in institutionalized racism.  The very first federal anti-prostitution law was the Page Act, which was intended to harass Chinese immigrants, and though it was indeed passed under a Republican president, that president was Ulysses S Grant.  And the Congress which passed it (in 1875) was Democrat-controlled.  The War was really ramped up under the administration of another Republican, William Howard Taft, but most of the action was in Congress (Democrat-controlled again) and at the state level (party control differing by state, though all Southern states controlled by Democrats).  The first chief executive to take direct presidential action against sex workers was Woodrow Wilson (yep, a Democrat, in fact one beloved by “progressive” scholars who make a point of ignoring his tyranny and racism).  After him, the war wound down on the federal level for a few decades; the groundwork for its revival was laid down in the latter days of the Clinton administration, begun in earnest under Bush the Younger and wound up to a fever pitch under Obama.  And no, it wouldn’t have been different had Hillary Clinton been elected president; not only did she participate in the promotion of anti-sex work rhetoric as a senator and cabinet secretary, she also identifies as “feminist” and…see the next entry.  The important takeaway from this one, though, is that the War on Whores is solidly bipartisan, and most “sex trafficking” bills (thinly-disguised anti-prostitution or even anti-sex bills) have one sponsor from each party. The awful FOSTA was passed nigh-unanimously, with only one “nay” from each party.

Feminists support sex worker rights. People who don’t are social conservatives.

I wish.  In truth, most factions of feminism have been against sex work for as long as feminism has existed, and in fact feminists have usually been in bed with evangelical Christians on the matter.

It would be best if sex work were legalized and regulated.

Nope.  Every sex worker organization, human rights organization, medical organization, and academic who has actually studied sex work recognizes that decriminalization is the legal regime which produces the best results. Under legalization, sex work is still pretended to be a “crime” for which the law make allowances; a large fraction of sex workers (over 99% in Nevada, for example) prefer to work illegally than to submit to onerous “legalization” regimes which often require licensing, background checks, confinement in brothels, and other repressive (and expensive) requirements that marginalized sex workers won’t or can’t comply with.  Furthermore, most of us don’t want amateurs putting “laws and programs” in place that are claimed to “protect sex workers and clients”.  We just want to be left the fuck alone.  The majority of our problems come from government “laws and programs”, administrated by rapist thugs. No thanks.  If you want more explanation of the differences between legalization and decriminalization, you might consult this.

Sex workers need special protections (such as the Swedish model) from violent clients.

No. Violent clients are rare, and violent men pretending to be clients are like robbers who enter a store pretending to be customers in order to rob it; both groups (and also violent and/or exploitative third parties such as “pimps”) are empowered by criminalization, and the Swedish model both infantilizes women and increases our vulnerability to violent men, of whom the majority under every single regime where sex work is even partially criminalized (ie every place but New Zealand & New South Wales) are cops.

Nobody chooses to be a sex worker.

I have actually seen this stated by people who claim to be allies; it’s a deeply misogynistic and infantilizing notion based in the fallacy that women are fragile, asexual beings for whom sex without “loooooove” is uniquely damaging.  Just because you couldn’t have sex with strangers for a living doesn’t mean I can’t, so get this out of your head.  Related: a woman’s worth does not reside in her sexual “purity”, so selling sexual services is not “selling her body”, nor is the average sex worker “traumatized” or “ruined” by our work.

We’re really pleased to see our new allies, and welcome you to supporting our movement.  But if you go around spouting garbage, you’re actually helping the prohibitionists.  Please learn the facts before speaking about sex work, and you’ll be the kind of person we cherish and celebrate rather than the kind who does more harm than good.

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