When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe
I’ve stated several times recently that I think the sex worker rights movement has finally passed our watershed moment; Amnesty International’s affirmation of decriminalization as the only moral way for governments to relate to sex workers, followed closely by the incredibly tone-deaf fiasco that was the Rentboy raid, has resulted in a dramatic shift in the way the American public views the topic of sex worker rights. The tide has turned at last, and now the current is flowing away from eroding the human rights of sex workers instead of toward it. (Yes, I realize that I just mixed my metaphors; so did Shakespeare on occasion. Deal with it.) I mean, take a look at this editorial from a student newspaper in Arizona:
…Much of the violence associated with sex trafficking is believed to be made worse by its illegal status because violent people are more likely to prey on sex workers, confident they won’t be reported to police…The legalization of prostitution would take the disputes between clients and workers off the streets and into the courtroom. Black market sex trade leaves little accountability between either parties involved, but by legitimizing the markets, new processes would be made available to alleviate this problem…after both Germany and New Zealand legalized sex work…the violence against sex workers decreased, workers’ quality of life improved and occupational health and safety laws now protect sex workers…Americans are growing tired of a government that is so involved in the personal decisions of its citizens. The kind of government that kept same sex marriage from being legalized is a thing of the past, and maybe so is the kind of government that still classifies sex work as illegal.
There are a number of problems and sour notes in the short article (for example, the author seems to believe criminalized US sex workers can’t screen clients or take credit cards), but the general tone is extremely supportive; what makes that even more remarkable is that this was published in Arizona, one of the main sources of “sex trafficking” filth:
…due to the process of group polarization Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country. When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles…even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine…
But this tide is just beginning to turn, and its outward current isn’t very powerful yet; there are still plenty of vile, nauseating little creatures struggling against it to spread as much shit as possible on the beach. Consider, for example, this recent piece from the other main hotbed of “sex trafficking” lunacy, Washington state:
…Spokane…passed an ordinance…allowing for [cops to steal] the cars of drivers [accused of] soliciting prostitution…Officials [pretend] the new approach to the age-old problem is already making an impact. It is hard to say what is more disappointing. The fact that people still think prostitution is a valid way to earn a living or that there are still johns willing to keep the women in business. Pastor Kevin Ch’en…said he extends an open door to anyone who wants to be inspired and uplifted – including prostitutes. “There’s so many stories and so many issues,” he said, “but the biggest problem is always a broken heart.” To prevent even more heartbreak, Spokane Police took the unique approach of going after the drivers who keep the prostitutes in business…
This sounds like the kind of crap Bart Simpson wrote when he was trying to be a “human interest” reporter. “Heartbreak”? Sentence fragments getting all judgy about the way non-reporters earn a living? Asset seizure a “unique approach”? Is this guy even for real? Believe it or not, he actually tried to argue with Matisse and me on Twitter the other night while we were on our way to a rather nice restaurant, but he slunk away pretty quickly; I guess he couldn’t make up his mind whether it was more “disappointing” that we think being beautiful and charming is a valid way to get treated to an expensive steak dinner, or that there was a gentleman willing to pay for it. Alas, it’s not just fourth-rate local TV reporters who haven’t yet got the memo about prohibition being on the way out; the venerable “leftist” magazine Mother Jones recently published (for pay) propaganda made up by the “right wing” rescue organization Covenant House, proving once again that “left” and “right” are just two wings of the same vulture when there’s money to be made and individual rights to be crushed:
…In a sponsored message sent to Mother Jones readers…Covenant House claimed…that “85% of sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens—mostly runaway children.” Eighty-five percent of sex trafficking victims where? The group doesn’t say, leaving it open to the interpretation that the majority of sex trafficking victims worldwide are American citizens. That’s a conclusion that may defy common sense, but a lot of people’s only information on sex-trafficking comes via scaremongering legislators, local news, and activist groups…the…claim…that the majority of sex trafficking victims are runaway children…conjures bad guys snatching up 10-year-olds…But the runaway children claim is only true insofar a large number of teens engaged in prostitution…are indeed runaway and/or homeless youth [and only if you accept that 16- and 17-year-olds are “children”]. Multiple recent studies have shown, however, that the majority of these teens…do not have pimps…the…email goes on to state that “over 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution every year,” a claim that has been debunked again and again (look, here’s someone doing it in 2011! Here’s someone doing it in 2014! Here’s Washington Post doing it last May! Here’s me doing it last week!)…
Yes, it’s going to be a while before that ebb becomes forceful enough to carry most of the creepy-crawlies out to sea with it. But in the meantime, please forgive me if I amuse myself by poking at the stragglers with sticks.