Tag Archive | myths

Healing power of sex work

A stripper wants to end the stigma imposed on people employed in her industry By Wrenna Robertson, March 7, 2012

Wrenna Robertson loves her job as a stripper, and just because she has a great university education, she doesn’t feel that she should be obliged to quit.

There’s a story not often told about sex work. It’s a story that most of society would scoff at, write off as a deluded fantasy. Many of us won’t allow it to be true.

I am a sex worker, and even I felt that it was too tall a tale to tell.

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Naked Anthropologist Laura Agustin claims antislavery movement harms sex workers

By Charlie Smith, November 24, 2011

An author and scholar who likes to refer to herself as the “Naked Anthropologist” has compared the current climate against human trafficking to the panic over white slavery in the late 19th century. Laura Agustin, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry (Zed Books, 2007), told the Georgia Straight by phone that in the earlier case, there was an uproar over whether Caucasian and Jewish women moving to New York or Buenos Aires, Argentina, were being traded as slaves.

While she won’t use the word “panic” to describe the current situation (“I try to avoid these labels,” she said), Agustin suggested that there is a widespread “rescue movement”, led by governments and the United Nations, which is trying to characterize a range of issues—migrant sex workers, child labourers overseas, and people who pay huge fees to immigrate—as “slavery”. Using this terminology gives a growing “antislavery” movement, largely based in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, the moral justification to launch interdiction programs as part of an international justice movement.

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Majority of UK Sex Workers Not Forced or Trafficked, Says Report

By IBTimes staff Reporter | November 1, 2011 7:23 AM GMT

In a shocking revelation, the large majority of interviewed migrant workers in the British sex industry are not forced or trafficked, suggests a report.

The International Union of Sex Workers warmly welcomes the publication of “Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry” by Dr. Nick Mai

This is the largest ever qualitative research into the experience of migrants selling sexual services inLondon, and reports suggests that immigration status is by far the single most important factor restricting their ability to exercise their rights in their professional and private lives.

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GFEST Interview: ‘HIV And Sex Work’ with Thierry Schaffauser

As a part of GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2011 activities, a  role play and narrative workshop is planned on 17 November at The Cockpit Theatre. This FREE ENTRY workshop will explore the theme ‘HIV and sex work in the UK’ :Not A problem but part of the solution.

Q & A session with sex work activist and workshop leader Thierry Schaffauser:

Can you briefly explain what will happen in the ‘HIV and sex work in the UK’ workshop?

We will introduce different issues for sex workers, and male sex workers in particular, in terms of health and (HIV) prevention.

What do you aim to achieve through this workshop?

The main idea is that sex workers are not the problem but part of the solution. It will depend whether the audience will be sex workers or people who are just curious about sex work issues.

Why are sex work & HIV important issues ?

Sex workers have always been ‘scapegoated’ as disease spreaders even before HIV. We want to question the stigma attached to sex work and its impact on our health and well being.

You had a ‘Sex Worker Open University’ event recently. What were the learnings and why people should be engaged with Sex workers issues?

The Sex Worker Open University was a great event to share our experience, skills and knowledge among ourselves. It was a safe space where we could talk about our working conditions and personal life. Many sex workers feel isolated so we try to create spaces where we can address our own issues without any judgmental approach that we usually experience from the professional “rescue industry”.

How do you best tackle the issues and any stigma around sex work?

Interestingly, male sex workers can be glamorized in the gay community, but often for commercial reasons because sex sells. In practice, many gay people see us as pretty idiots who can’t get a proper job because we are lazy, junkies or just too stupid. We need to challenge these misconceptions and show that anyone can be a sex worker at one moment of his/her life. Having a coming out strategy can help so people realise who we are but it’s not an easy option for most sex workers who may face strong discrimination, lose their day job, flat, family, friends, etc.

What are the  future plans for your work?

We are involved in the GMB trade union to try to organise our industry. We also want to build our community by creating social events and safe spaces where to gather. We have a project to create a workers cooperative but this requires a lot of work and means that we don’t have yet.

Any single wish?

We wish that sex work was entirely decriminalised and that we had the same labour rights as any other worker. Sex work can be a very hard job emotionally and that’s why we need better protection.

 Thank you Thierry and best wishes from GFEST team.

For more information on GFEST – Gaywise FESTival 2011 please contact: Subodh Rathod, Wise Thoughts / GFEST – Gaywise FESTival
Tel: 020 8889 9555
http://www.wisethoughts.org / http://www.gaywisefestival.org.uk

Sex Work and the Power of Choice

 October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm  Greta Christina

There’s a widely-held myth about sex work and sex workers: I ran into it again recently (don’t remember where, sorry), and I want to talk about it and eviscerate it.

The myth: Prostitutes and other sex workers can’t choose their customers. They have to have sex with anyone who offers to pay.

When you think about this for ten seconds, you should realize that it makes no sense. People in any other service profession can, and do, turn down customers they don’t want to work with. Therapists, car mechanics, gardeners, hair stylists, nannies… you name it. There are a few exceptions — emergency room doctors leap to mind — but for the most part, it’s understood that, as long as they’re obeying non-discrimination laws, service professionals reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. (My hair stylist has told me long, entertaining stories about clients she’s fired.) So it’s kind of weird to assume that sex workers would be the exception.

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Nova Scotia Group Creates Ads to Humanize Sex Workers

This isn’t actually new, but I only recently came across this ad campaign from Stepping Stones Nova Scotia via Sociological ImagesStepping Stone is a not-for-profit charitable organization offering supportive programs and outreach to women, men, and transgender sex workers and former sex workers. Their website states they are “the only organization in the Maritimes that deals specifically with street life and sex work from a harm reduction model”.

The ad campaign is designed to tackle some of the stigma surrounding sex workers, to humanize by pointing out in the bottom tagline, “Sex Workers are Daughters (Brothers/Mothers) Too.” Margo at Sociological Images notes:

Stepping Stone’s executive director, Rene Ross, points out that every time a prostitute is killed—sex workers have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the Canadian national average—media accounts emphasize that the victim was a prostitute, but not that she (or he) was also a mother, daughter, friend or, for example, animal lover.

The motivation behind the ads is laudable, but the shocking language in the headings, using terms like “tramp” and “hooker” means it’s going to be controversial. Margo at Sociological Images wonders whether it’ll end up having the unintended effect of turning sex workers into a punchline. On the other side, a marketing professor quoted by Rabble said he thought the shock value was a good strategy to get people to really take a look at the issue.

Now that it’s been a few months since the ads were released (they came out in July), does anyone know how they were received in Nova Scotia? Does anyone have thoughts about the advertising tactics?