Sex workers are anti sex-trafficking. It seems obvious (of course they have an interest in making the industry as safe as possible), and yet you might not know this because sex workers rights activists have not gotten any air-time from the major anti-trafficking organizations.
Megan Murphy has been writing about sex work on rabble.ca and has been causing a bit of a stir… Please visit the site to post on the comments!
It’s become so predictable that, now, I just sit back and wait. I’ve written several pieces about prostitution and the abolitionist movement, and several more that don’t directly address these issues, but perhaps mention the word “prostitution.” And really, that’s all it takes these days.
What I’ve come to realize is, no matter what I write, no matter what argument I make, no matter the points I bring up, the sex work lobby doesn’t care. Because if you aren’t agreeing with them, you must be stopped.
Public use of the word “prostitution” is enough to justify skimming right past the contents of any article and heading straight to the silencing. The silencing is the most important work, after all. It is the goal. “If we can bully them into shutting up, maybe we’ll win,” is what they seem to be thinking.
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. In her article Undoing Theory Viviane Namaste notes that “TDOR is an annual occasion to take stock of the violence to which trans people are subjected. Taking place in the United States and internationally, activists organize candlelight vigils, political rallies, and social activities as a way to recognize and denounce this violence” (2009, p. 16). This is a sad day for me, and for so many. Jessica and I lit a memorial candle this morning that will burn for 26 hours, and we said some words and held some silence together to start off our day. We talked a bit afterwards and I want to share a little bit about our discussion this morning. I think it is important for us to remember those who have been killed, while also bringing to light the gendered and classed contours of the violence that trans people face.The fact that many of the people who are murdered are trans women who engage in sex work is a very important aspect of TDOR and transgender violence that we often gloss over. It is important to remember that often white ‘western’ queer communities erase the experiences of trans women. And erase them and erase them and erase them. When it comes to TDOR, trans women who are engaging in sex work consist of a disproportionate amount of murdered transgender people.
Article by Furry Girl responding to the connections being drawn between sex worker activism and the Occupy movement:
In the last month, there has been more and more talk from some sex workers about how awesome the Occupy movement is, including some of my ho activist friends on Twitter who are part of different Occupy encampments. SWOP-NYC has a pro-Occupy post, Jessie of SWOP LA throws in her support, Trisha wrote about the issues of SlutWalk and Occupy, andMelissa Gira Grant wrote a strangely pearl-clutching piece about how sad it is some people -gasp- do sex work to pay for college.
Back from a brief vacation with a long post that will probably annoy some people, but is the result of a long-standing annoyance…
By now I am getting extremely annoyed with a certain discourse around sex work that has become popular amongst some sectors of the North American (and occasionally European) left. Originally a discourse that was limited to lifestyle [and predominantly male] anarchists, as well as a few hippy sex fetishists, the political assertion that sex work is liberating, and that the liberating potential of sex work should be treated as part of a radically progressive politics, is now being embraced by the broader left-wing population and gaining the support of so-called feminists, socialists and communists who should know better. Indeed, the unqualified pro-prostitution position is being treated by some as a litmus test for numerous radical commitments as it is now attached to, and turned into a falsely essential component of, feminism, queer and trans liberation, and other anti-oppressive political positions.
BY TRACEY MCLAUGHLIN, SPECIAL TO TORONTO SUN
BARRIE – Lawyers and women’s rights supporters say they’re upset that hookers arrested in a recent “sweep” are being convicted even though Canada’s prostitution laws sit in limbo before the courts.
“It’s dead wrong,” says lawyer Angela McLeod, who represented a 19-year old woman convicted of communicating for the purpose of prostitution.
McLeod’s thin, frail client — sentenced to nine months house arrest — was one of 20 young women arrested during an undercover sweep in downtown Barrie.
The woman sat in the prisoner’s box wearing sneakers, pyjama bottoms and an oversized coat, rubbing her wrists after a police officer unsnapped handcuffs and released her into the custody of the Elizabeth Fry Society where she will remain under house arrest.
In a perfectly “free” labor market, everyone theoretically has the right to exchange work for commensurate compensation. But a free market is not necessarily a just one. And when the commodity is sex, how free is too free?
Sex work, and its attendant culture wars, have moved over time from traditional brothels of urban lore to online marketplaces, raising new questions about private and public freedom. In the digital world, how should trust and power be negotiated between provider and client, both encircled by systemic gender and economic inequities?
On this slippery battlefield, anti-trafficking advocates are campaigning against Village Voice Media’s Backpage, an ad portal featuring “adult” ads notorious for facilitating sexual services involving minors.
“This is such a prestigious award — an award I thought a group like POWER could never win,” she says.
The go-to perspective on prostitution from many progressives in Canada these days seems to be a fairly hard and fast vote for decriminalization or legalization. Even many of our beloved East Vancouver lefties seem convinced that the most progressive position to take is one of “sex as work,” arguing that debates around prostitution should prioritize labour rights, allowing women to come out from the underground and”‘into the light” as free and autonomous workers.
The gaps in this logic are all at once complex and simple. While I have long been a supporter of labour rights, of unions, and have counted myself as a fighting member of the working class who has waivered somewhere between socialism and Marxism from the moment I understood the concept of class struggle, I’ve found myself suddenly misaligned with some of those with whom I share my end of the political spectrum.
Squamish Nation elder Eugene Harry, right, blesses the Missing Women Inquiry headed
by Wally Oppal as it got underway Tuesday in Federal Court in Vancouver.
VANCOUVER — Vulnerable witnesses, including some who may have witnessed events at the B.C. farm of serial killer Robert Pickton, will be able to give evidence in sworn documents instead of testifying at a Vancouver inquiry.
The names of the potential witnesses — some of whom the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has been told fear reprisals by pimps, drug dealers, other sex workers and even police officers — will be banned from publication.
Commissioner Wally Oppal, a former judge, made that ruling on Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s application by lawyer Jason Gratl for special arrangements at the inquiry to protect sex workers by banning their names and allowing them to testify by affidavit.