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Posts Tagged ‘Not Your Rescue Project’

You take a lot of steam out of the “not representative” argument…when you have…escorts in North America…advocating the same message as devadasi sex workers in India or bar hostesses in Kenya.  –  Anlina Sheng

Check Your Premises

Reading the self-contradictory sexual fantasies of prohibitionists makes me feel like I need a shower:

Last year, Rockford [Illinois vice pigs] arrested 95 women…and two men…[but in 2015 they] arrested 18 women…and 41 men…[then pretended this was some kind of “progress”.  Deputy cheif pig] Doug Pann [vomited out the lie that] “No one chooses to be a prostitute.  At some point in their life, they were forced or coerced into this lifestyle.  The people causing the harm are the pimps and johns.”  Pimps are men who control women who sell their bodies…[prohibitionist] Jennifer Cacciapaglia [profits from the state persecution of sex workers]…Chief Deputy [Pig] Mark Karner said….”you cannot paint with a broad brush prostitutes as victims”…police have to respond to complaints from neighbors who see a woman standing on a street corner…[bigots whine] about “bringing down my property values, bringing crime to my neighborhood.”  Cacciapaglia [denies sex workers’ humanity and agency, claiming instead]…”those women would not be there if the men were not buying them”…Pann said…police need the cooperation of prostituted women to go after pimps, but the women won’t talk because they fear being abused…pimps are “vicious monsters, incredibly dangerous,” Cacciapaglia said…

See No Evil Mathilde Grafström photo

In case you think Denmark’s “sexually liberal”:

An exhibition combating negative self-image in a square in Copenhagen has been closed down by police.  Photographer Mathilde Grafström snaps women who don’t have traditional model looks, for a photo series called Female Beauty…Police have denied permission for her photos to be displayed in Copenhagen’s Nytorv square, with Grafström filing a complaint against them and condemning their view of the female body as “offensive”…

The More the Better (#32)

Perhaps one day we’ll arrive at the point where, “She was so desperate to raise money she got a better job!” sounds as ridiculous to most people as it does to me:

Megan Clara, 20, says she was gutted last year when her son Ashton, five, complained that he didn’t receive the same expensive presents as his mates.  The single mum, who survived on £80 a week…vowed to make Christmas 2015 one to remember – and has spent the year making adult films, earning £500 a scene, to give her family a five-star festive celebration…

Japanese Prostitution (#131)

a decades-long standoff over Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s WWII military…[was settled on December 28th]…Both sides compromised…so no one got everything they wanted.  Nationalists in Japan are angry over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s apology.  Some South Koreans say President Park Geun-hye settled for far too little money – about $8 million – and that Japan still hasn’t taken legal responsibility for atrocities during its colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945…tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.  But only 46 known former Korean sex slaves, most in their late 80s and 90s, still live, and with time running out and with frustration growing, this deal is seen by many here as the best to be had from a hawkish Abe government.  “Insisting that Japan take legal responsibility is the same thing as saying we don’t want to resolve the issue of comfort women,” said Jin Chang Soo, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think tank, who called the deal an important step forward…

Ad Absurdum

An 18-year-old “man” and a 17-year-old “girl”.  SHAZAM!

Authorities arrested an 18-year-old man…for promoting the prostitution of a minor…Philip Scott Pleasants took a 17-year-old girl to meet different “Johns,” or clients, in [North Carolina]…Pleasants was [caged]…in the New Hanover County Jail under a $250,000 bond…

Cuckoo Advertising

Will gullible reporters ever stop publishing Ashley Madison ads for free?

Ashley Madison claims it has added 4 million members…since a hack on the adultery dating site revealed the identities of thousands of cheating spouses…A rolling count on the homepage claims it has more than 43 million members, up from the 39 million users counted when the site was hit by a group of hackers dubbed the “Impact Team”…the site [also] had 70,000 fake female profiles used to lure men to pay fees for credits on the site.  Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company, has not commented on the hack since an August statement and would not comment on the new numbers…

Paint By Numbers

Why do anything special? Just pretend your unsold product “raises awareness of sex trafficking” and watch the profits roll in!

Elisa Wolcott…a University of Nebraska at Omaha art major…has cast, fired and sanded 2,000 ceramic birds in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Nebraska.  Her project, “2000 Souls,” is meant to represent the number of women across the state who have been forced into prostitution.  While numbers [don’t exist]…the Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking [decided to pretend]…that at least 47 school-age girls — and likely many more — become victims of sex trafficking in Nebraska each year…her goal was to display the birds in a public setting.  She landed on the airport as her ideal venue.  It’s a place where people come and go by the thousands, where a constellation of birds suspended in air will draw attention…and where, perhaps, [she might make a lot of money from a moral panic]…

Naked Truth (#401)

Drawing BloodIf you want to understand the state of the sex trade…in 21st century America, look no further than the following books.  All published in 2015, they offer inside glimpses of the personal and political aspects of sex work…in ways that are both entertaining and enlightening…I surveyed some current and former sex workers about what they’ve been reading recently, too…”  The list includes Coming Out Like a Porn Star by Jiz Lee, Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple, Saloons, Prostitutes, and Temperance in the Alaska Territory by Catherine Holder Spude, $pread:  The Best of the Magazine that Illuminated the Sex IndustryBest Sex Writing of the Year edited by Jon Pressick, Prose & Lore (issue 5) by the Red Umbrella Project, and Love Not Given Lightly by Tina Horn.

Not Your Rescue Project 

Sex workers…have formed such a vibrant, vocal part of the internet that it’s hard to imagine an online world without them.  And with that visibility has come a reduction in the stigma related to sex work.  After all, it’s a lot harder to assume that sex workers are mindless, manipulated fuckbots when they’re tweeting thoughts on feminism, racial justice, or the newest Star Wars film…sex workers…handily dismantled the myths and misconceptions that pop culture had fed me over the years.  For many years, I felt a bit alone in my sex work wokeness.  Most of my friends…seemed to harbor [a] rather antiquated…attitude that…sees sex work as abuse rather than legitimate employment.  But lately it’s felt like something has changed.  Over the course of 2015, sex workers have repeatedly been in the media…In fact, when millennial icon Lena Dunham came out against Amnesty International’s support for the decriminalization of sex work, she was excoriated in the media—the same media that, several years earlier, might have applauded her for that very stance…Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are helping a whole new generation learn about the ins and outs of the world’s oldest industry…

License to Rape (#562)

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by cops at will:

A video uploaded to Facebook shows a gang of cops from the Fort Myers Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office brutally violating a man on the roadside, after pulling him over for a rolling stop.  Screams of agony can be heard echoing from the trees as the man’s arm is twisted almost to the breaking point and his rectum is invaded by the gloved hand of a drug war enforcer.  The cops can be heard saying, “Stop resisting! Just relax!” as the victim continues to scream and kick in pain.  Five officers are initially involved in subduing the man and searching his vehicle, and then another joins the fun by posing with gun in hand facing the onlookers…the anal cavity search was carried out in full view of the public, including a female onlooker…Todd Crisp, a family member of the victim, said that at least one of the cops, Arturo Gonzales, routinely harasses Crisp and his family, and this was just the latest episode…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#575)

According to Hong Kong “authorities”, I operate a “brothel”:

…Sex work in Hong Kong is legal, if it is practised in one room with one person only and nobody else but the sex worker profits from the exchange.  This means that sex workers cannot have managers or security personnel.  The places where they work are called one-woman brothels.  Foreign sex workers cannot work with a tourist visa – they are often detained as they breach a condition of their stay by working without the appropriate permit.  Waiting for clients on the street or soliciting money for sex services is also illegal, and that may include anything from a verbal offer to gestural insinuation, or even just eye contact…[on September 17th] police arrested 62 alleged prostitutes from mainland China and Taiwan…for [such technicalities]…Pang Wing-chau…is a volunteer working with Zi Teng, a sex workers’ support association.  “Although police operations happen on a regular basis, there were more raids than usual in the last three months because of…the District Council elections…politicians ask the police to do more arrests just to get votes”…

Stupor Bowl (#593)

The “gypsy whores” myth has been so discredited, politicians can’t even get reporters to parrot it any more, and so must write their own propaganda:

Early next year, Super Bowl 50 will come to Santa Clara.  With increased tourism, we predict a spike in human trafficking…it’s estimated that 40 percent of the human trafficking activities on the West Coast come through the Bay Area airports…A shadow network shuttling women, men, girls, boys, even babies…trafficking is an estimated $150 billion industry worldwide, exploiting nearly 21 million victims around the world.  It remains the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise…we have the capacity and the capability to stop such atrocities from happening in our own backyard…it is only a matter of time until we eradicate human trafficking…

Served Cold (#595) 

Despite the ICE, the odor of this is unmistakable:

Two Utah nonprofit organizations raised money to help an international group of law enforcement officials arrest child sex traffickers in Peru…Dan Baird…of Crack the Crowd [claimed without presenting evidence that]…”A total of 36 people were freed from slavery, including 11 children; two of those were 4 years old and 7 years old, I mean really young kids”…Some Utah police departments regularly work to rescue victims through undercover child sex trafficking stings…”The ability for us to remove victims from their circumstance and [lock them up]” said Sgt. Jason Ackerman [in a sentence fragment]…Ackerman oversees undercover sex trafficking operations…monitoring child sex trafficking rings in “public hotels, they are out of houses and on the streets”…

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Sex work is neither contagious nor a pathology.  –  Eva Gantz

Whores and Wives

I’m usually a very empathetic person, but I just can’t feel anything but pity for women who insist on willfully misunderstanding male sexuality, the nature of intimacy and the escort-client relationship despite ample materials that explain these online.  And you know what?  If this kind of maudlin schlock weren’t used to justify state violence while far-more-dangerous amateur cheating gets a free pass, I still might even manage to dredge up a teacupful of sympathy:

Contrary to popular belief, they come from all walks of life…Nor are they all lonely men seeking solace; many have partners and are in long-term relationships or marriages…Numerous academic studies and articles have explored the demographics of punters and sex workers, the horrors of trafficking, and the merits or otherwise of decriminalising prostitution.  But almost no attention has been paid to the partners of men who visit prostitutes…a growing number of…women…who discover their partner has been sleeping with prostitutes…are left feeling horribly isolated, with nowhere to turn…most of the men I spoke to…claimed feelings of undiminished love [for their wives].  Understandably, such hollow declarations neither reassured the women, nor repaired their sense of shame, grief and rejection.  Because there can be little as shocking as discovering that your trusted partner is paying for sex behind your back…

Lack of Evidence

Wild Guessing

Another marketing firm hard at work creating bogus prohibitionist “studies”:

…the NSPCC and ChildLine released the results of a survey suggesting that a tenth of 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are “addicted” to pornography.  Within days, the government had announced a new policy on internet restriction, justified in part by these statistics.  However, the NSPCC has been called out over the fact that these claims are alarmingly flimsy…The company that carried out the NSPCC-commissioned survey is a group called OnePoll, which specialises in generating “news angles and exposure for your brand”.  OnePoll is part of South West News Service (SWNS), a media group that offers “heartbreaking, random and shocking” content.  OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that “20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities”.  This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company.  A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for Discover Ferries – which had just “invested heavily in improved seating” – revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats.  You get the picture…

Don’t Take My Word For It

I realize one can’t expect quality journalism from YourTango, but this article entitled “I Went Undercover To See If A Girl Could Get Happy Ending Massage” is painfully dumb; from the author’s describing massage parlors as “a mixture of truth and urban legend that captivates male imaginations” [WTF?] to the eminently-predictable pomposity of licensed masseuses in the comment thread, the whole thing is a kiddie-train wreck.  Proceed at your own risk.

Broken Record 

Even the most ridiculous iterations of “gypsy whore” myth now contain disclaimers way down at the bottom:

With the biggest convention ever to hit Nashville — more than 70,000 members of the National Rifle Association are here this weekend for their annual meeting — law enforcement officials have prepared for what some see as the scourge of such large, male-dominated gatherings…Little data exists on the prevalence of trafficking.  Law enforcement often fails to categorize prostitutes who are voluntarily committing crimes separately from individuals who are being trafficked, under the duress of handlers.  As such, experts say there is little reliable data to prove or disprove that trafficking has spiked during large conventions or sports gatherings…

Note that the reporter’s tiny mind cannot conceive of pragmatic sex as being other than a “crime”, whether compelled or voluntary.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312) APNSW anti-sweatshop logo

If people’s minds weren’t befuddled by prohibitionist idiocy, they wouldn’t be so confused by wholly predictable outcomes like this:

…Sex Workers…[in Zambia] show…no desire to abandon their…trade saying it gives them quick money to sustain their welfare as opposed to skills such as tailoring which take long for them to earn money…Agness Ng’andu…explained that her organisation had invested heavily in…sewing machines which are presently not being utilised…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#337)

Sex work is as legal in Christchurch as anywhere in New Zealand, but some would love it to be otherwise:

Christchurch street sex workers say not having access to basic toilet facilities while working makes them feel like “scum”.  Toilets near Manchester St have long been a contentious subject…plans [to install some] were thwarted by nearby residents…The nearest are…locked at night.  Women have to ask clients to drop them at toilets at service stations, or go behind bushes.  Auckland University…professor…Tracey McIntosh said the lack of facilities reinforced to sex workers that they are “seen as a blight on the city scape”…

Sex Rays

Tech and sex work have an uneasy relationship that traces back through decades…Sex work is seen as something to be kept as far away from women in tech as possible…I recently attended a meetup for women in digital currency…a woman [there]…told me casually, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world, “the underlying reason for gender discrimination in tech is porn.  That’s the root of it all.”  My face must have given me away, because she prompted, “don’t you agree?”  No.  No, I don’t agree in the slightest.  For one, the assessment reduces the incredibly complex issues of meritocracy, privilege, and misogyny into an oversimplified sound bite.  This view is every bit as reactionary as a conservative desire to regulate female sexuality…Even just the proximity of association with sex workers is too much to be borne…the…argument rests on the idea that if women in tech are viewed even in the same space as porn performers men will instantly see them as porn stars, too.  Not only does this insult the intelligence of men, but it also furthers the idea of sex work as contagion.  “Don’t get too close, or it might rub off on you”…

Moving Pictures

Maybe it’s just my peculiar sense of humor, but I find this weird mixture of lurid “sex trafficking” fantasy and technical-magazine writing terribly funny:

…More than three million women and children are slaves today.  In the dramatic narrative film, Don’t Look Away, the subject of sex trafficking—modern day slavery—is addressed head on.  Exploring the alltoocommon [sic] story of a young woman enslaved through tactics exploiting social networks, Don’t Look Away exposes the fertile hunting ground stalked by predators in the human trafficking trade…Don’t Look Away was filmed on location in Central Florida…The company consisted of over 20 crew members, 9 principal cast members and dozens of extras…Don’t Look Away was shot by…Michael Minock with the new VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder, provided by Panasonic…“We have an amazing opportunity to use our gifts and passions to forward the fight on sex trafficking,” said producer/writer/law student, Alex Couch…“If we can start caring for the victims more, we will be better equipped in our efforts to punish the real perpetrators of this horrific crime.”  Most of the film’s grip and lighting gear was generously provided by The Art Institute of Jacksonville…The color grading is being done by Daniel Parker at Myjive in Charlotte, NC…

Not Your Rescue Project (#526) 

Sydney sex worker Tilly Lawless posted a photo of herself smiling on Instagram with the hashtag #facesofprositution…[in] response to an article on the…website Mamamia…[which] presented images of bruised, emaciated, drug-addicted sex workers…in the days that followed sex workers from all over the world shared photos of themselves under the hashtag—in some cases outing themselves as sex workers for the first time—to protest against the stereotype that sex workers are intrinsically victims who need saving…

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There is no singular story or person to represent the varied and complex experiences of all sex workers.  –  Tilly Lawless

Bad Girls Carolynne Wright

A South Carolina stripper has pleaded guilty to assaulting a…coworker with a “clear plastic high-heeled shoe” that left the victim with puncture wounds in her scalp…Carolynn Wright…was sentenced to six days in jail and ordered to pay fines and court costs totaling $173.90…

Feminine Pragmatism 

Most of the research conducted on the topic of prostitution in Costa Rica tends to be concentrated in the Greater San Jose Metropolitan Area…and on the phenomenon of sexual tourism…[according to] Rodolfo Nuñez Arias, Professor of Social Studies at the National University in Nicoya…prostitution in Santa Cruz was scant from about 1860 to 1949, at least in comparison to other burgeoning regions of Costa Rica…Things changed between 1970 and 1980, when many women in Guanacaste…found that they could earn a lot more from prostitution than from agricultural or even professional employment…

Profit from Panic 

There’s this problem I invented!  Now buy my software!

A growing number of children all around the world are being forced into taking explicit photos and videos of themselves online, an expert has warned…The term “sextortion” means children are first lured into taking naked photos or videos of themselves, and then blackmailed into making more.  If they don’t comply, they are threatened that the photos will be distributed to their friends and family…Bob Lotter, the creator of online safety tool My Mobile Watchdog…said his company is dealing with an “epidemic” of sextortion cases…Children as young as 12 are often victims, he says, adding that 14-year-olds are the most common age group…

Above the Law 

A South Florida woman videotaped her parole officer sexually assaulting her so that she could prove to police that she was, in fact, raped and so that the officer couldn’t revoke her parole…Zachary Thomas Bailey told the victim that he needed to perform a “study” of her Coral Springs home…During the visit, Bailey allegedly blocked the victim in her bedroom and touched her genitals.  Bailey reportedly returned the next day, asking the victim for a massage. When the victim refused, Bailey allegedly took off his clothes, put on a condom and raped the woman…

Coming and Going (#44)

How much money did Seattle waste on this boondoggle?

…Seattle police…spent months posing as pimps, prostitutes and drug buyers to…[arrest] the Orion [hotel’s] managers, a married couple who had lived on site…Kevin Lundquist Jr. and his wife [were charged with]…prostitution-related crimes…

Gorged With Meaning (#51)

In other words, female students are much, much more inclined to lie:

Nearly five percent of U.K. students have engaged in some form of sex work, according to new research…more male than female students participated…And while money was one motivating factor, students also cited flexible scheduling and personal enjoyment or curiosity among their main reasons for getting involved.  The research was part of the Student Sex Work Project, a 3-year initiative led by Swansea University.  Researchers surveyed more than 10,000 students from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland…4.8 percent of student respondents had done some sort of sex work, including 5 percent of male students surveyed and 3.4 percent of female students…Nearly nearly 22 percent of respondents had considered doing sex work…some have portrayed these findings as a shame and a call to action.  But the data hardly seems to indicate that student sex workers would be better off with jobs in the campus dining hall or more student loans…

Birth of a Movement (#314)

After only two years, France re-criminalizes “looking like a whore”:

Women in skimpy outfits and high heels could be arrested under new French laws that make it illegal to simply “look like a prostitute” in public…It is expected that prostitutes will be forced to wear casual clothing like jeans and trainers to get around the rules…French sex workers’ union Strass described the law as “a huge step backwards”…

Science!

Global warming turns women into WHORES!!!

Whether you call it climate change, global warming…the crazy week on the topic just got a little bit crazier, thanks to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California…That’s because she says women will not only be harder hit by climate change, but it could force millions of women to participate in “transactional sex.”  In other words, they’d prostitute themselves out for food and water to feed their family…

Catastrophic Consequences

Scottish police just won’t stop endangering sex workers with “end demand” claptrap:

Prostitutes, lap dancers and online sex workers will be the focus of a new group set up to tackle commercial sexual exploitation…The campaign…aims to stamp out demand for sex services…and…is supported by Police Scotland…“CSE is a serious issue…which is often misconstrued as a choice made in return for financial…gain,” said…[a] spokeswoman.  “However, we know that this is not the case”…

Not Your Rescue Project Savannah

My friend Savannah Sly is among the pictures featured here:

Sex workers are sharing photos of themselves on social media as they fight back against claims that most escorts are forced into the industry and lead lives of abuse.  The hashtag #FacesOfProstitution started trending on Twitter with sex workers from Australia and across the world using social media to share positive stories from their industry.  It comes after Mamamia published a blog post from Christian group Exodus Cry last week that claimed the 1990 film Pretty Woman lured women into the sex industry by ‘leading them to believe that prostitution was glamorous and romantic”…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#438) 

Judge Michael Bohren ruled that two Wisconsin teenagers will have to stand trial as adults for…[stabbing] a 12-year-old classmate 19 times last year…to mollify a cult fan fiction character called Slender Man..Attorneys for the two girls were hoping to have the charges reduced so they could be tried in juvenile court.  But Judge Bohren found probable cause for prosecutors to bring first-degree attempted homicide charges, which, under Wisconsin law, must be tried in adult court…the girls in this case are pretty much textbook arguments for why children cannot be treated like adults in our legal system…

He Said, She Said (#448)

Another violent, manipulative sadist tries to disguise his actions as consensual BDSM:

…Graham Dwyer was found guilty of the murder of Elaine O’Hara…allegedly as part of his BDSM fetish, which included a fantasy to stab partners during sex…Dwyer had pursued a relationship with O’Hara, a childcare assistant with a history of depression, and abusively exploited her psychological illness…O’Hara, on numerous occasions, expressed a desire to end the blood play but was punished for even suggesting that she’d want out…any talk of leaving resulted in a stabbing during one of their “sessions.”  Likewise, O’Hara was badgered and manipulated into thinking that she was responsible for finding a murder victim or, as one message termed it, “offer her own flesh”…

The Course of a Disease (#428)

Hundreds of foreign sex workers in France, the majority of them illegal Chinese immigrants, rallied in the Place Pigalle in Paris on March 28 to fight for their right of survival in their country of adoption…Some…have signed a petition to urge the French government to cancel a motion that sanctions those who buy sex services, their clients…A Chinese sex worker known as Ai Ying interviewed by Radio France International (RFI) said punishing clients will hurt their earnings and they will be exposed to greater dangers and problems.  Ai Ying said the new law will not help them change their line of work, because they are not likely to get a job without a residency permit…

Apparently, the outcry was heard; the legislature scrapped the law.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 12th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Until the advent of the internet, those who suffer from the sick need to control other people’s sexuality (or use sex as an excuse to hurt people) must have felt that, though they were beginning to lose their grip on gay people, they would always be able to suppress sex workers.  In the 1980s and ‘90s the majority of their efforts were directed toward the suppression of porn, and to a lesser extent stripping; obviously they felt that the criminalization, quasi-criminalization, semi-criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of prostitution would serve to keep us from ever being able to organize effectively against their oppressions, and that we could safely be regarded as a non-issue.  But throughout the ‘90s momentum was building in many parts of the world, largely unnoticed by the American prohibitionists who supply most of the funds and rhetoric to the global anti-sex crusade; the arrival of the internet and social media gave these widely-scattered sex worker rights groups a way to connect easily and cheaply in real time, resulting in an explosion of activism in the new century.

white slave girlI wish that I could say the prohibitionists were caught unaware, but that would be a lie; they, too, could use social media, and it wasn’t long before they had formed a global anti-sex movement dedicated to the extirpation of all legal sex work and the absolute suppression of all sex workers who survive the jihad.  Because the right to privacy and sexual autonomy is now much more widely respected than it was at the time of the last such crusade a century ago, it was no longer productive to use the centuries-old argument that prostitution could rightfully be suppressed because it was “immoral” and “deviant”; instead, prohibitionists revived the old “white slavery” rhetoric, representing sex workers as the helpless, pathetic, asexual victims of men’s evil lust.  As in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, robbing whores of our livelihood, subjecting us to ill-treatment by police, caging us, abducting our children and subjecting us to brainwashing in the hopes of reprogramming us into obedient menials is depicted by the prohibitionists as “rescuing” us from our own choices, which they deny were made freely (if at all).

Over the past decade, the pro- and anti-human rights sides have struggled for dominance, and it’s been very difficult to discern which is winning; while we have the truth and the facts on our side, the “antis” have vastly more money and the support of governments, who can always be counted on to expand their power over individuals no matter what the facts may be.  But starting in the summer of 2012, the tide began to slowly turn in our favor; though the Swedish model and “anti-trafficking” legislation are still being imposed in more places, several UN agencies and a growing number of health and human rights organizations are coming out in favor of decriminalization, and the voices of sex workers are gradually beginning to be heard above the prohibitionist din.  Just as it happened almost a year ago, a Twitter event caught the attention of a few members of the media, and coming as it did on the heels of the Canadian Supreme Court’s overturn of the three worst Canadian anti-sex worker laws, I think it should be viewed as an omen of bigger victories to come.

#NotYourRescueProjectAs with so many great things, this one started small: it was merely a Twitter conversation between several activists on the morning of January 2nd.  In her Storify of the event, @WassailingGirl states “A group of people were discussing the way the mainstream media only wants to hear one version of sex workers lives, what some of us call tragedy porn.”  Melissa Gira Grant wrote “I’d love to see a #notyournarrative for sex work”,  Molli Desi Devadasi  asked “what are we going to call this?” and @WassailingGirl replied with “#NotYourRescueProject”.  The tag spread like wildfire; within hours there were literally hundreds of tweets and retweets using it.  By late afternoon an article about it appeared on Straight, and by the next day prohibitionists were frantically attempting damage control by interjecting their own myths, denunciations and accusations (the sex workers were really “pimps” or clients, were “not representative”, etc) into the stream.  But as you can see for yourself by perusing the tag, it was a shout against a hurricane; Frank Worley-Lopez’s January 6th article on it doesn’t even consider their pathetic attempts worth mentioning.  Though the rate of tweeting on the tag dropped off over the next few days as such things do, it was sent out again on January 11th as a “Thunderclap” to counter the anti-sex work rhetoric of “Human Trafficking Awareness Day”.

You may wonder why I consider this important; after all, it was just talk, wasn’t it?  The same thing I and many other activists do every day?  Well, yes and no.  It’s human nature to “tune out” people after a while, no matter how persuasive they may be.  But during the busiest part of the tweeting, I noticed something very interesting:  many of my non-sex worker followers, who rarely retweet my sex worker rights tweets, were retweeting some of these.  The sheer volume and diversity of the messages had attracted their attention, and they had in turn boosted that signal to others.  A small thing?  Perhaps.  But such small ripples are not isolated; they join together and build in force as long as they keep coming.  And as I wrote in another essay late last summer, “though the citadel of prohibition may today seem impregnable, even the mightiest wall must yield to the force of a million ripples joined into one great current.”

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