adult industry truth survey

If you haven’t heard, two activists have come together with the help of DePaul University to create the first sex worker-run survey of sex work. This is an academically-reviewed study and they plan to publish the results in academic journals as well as mainstream media. Serpent Libertine and Crysta Heart are friends of mine as both activists and sex workers. I’m extremely pleased of their efforts against the anti-sex trafficking agenda. It’s not an easy feat to get a university behind a project run by sex workers. (Maybe one day they’ll tell us how they did it?)

The website — AdultIndustryTruth.com — is full of information about the survey, which runs through July 2014. The survey is open to anyone who works with sex in the US. The website and survey is engineered for anonymity and safety.

This particular survey concerns the issue of consent and coercion. This is truly the gap that separates sex work from sex trafficking (and something I’ve discussed in real life with others). Consent makes the difference to sex workers and their experiences; it should make the difference in policy but unfortunately, it currently does not. The AIT survey aims to help illustrate that difference.

As a sex worker who has chafed at the attention people like Melissa Farley get with their “research”, I’m thrilled to see sound research accomplished by sex workers. Nothing about us without us gaining a small foothold in the US.

Follow the button below to take the survey, feel free to repost this information anywhere you can. The larger the results, the more accurate the information will be.

AIT survey

You can follow AIT on Twitter or Facebook.

17 thoughts on “adult industry truth survey

  1. Jill Brenneman

    This is an important survey to take and I’m thrilled at the work being done by Serpentine and Crysta.

    I am so happy to see members of the sex worker rights movement taking on issues of trafficking and coercion. These have been aspects of the sex industry that our movement has often been reluctant to address. Major mistake on the sex worker rights movement’s part.

    To put it mildly the anti sex work movement has made hay when the sun shined advancing their agenda making trafficking a household word. They do this despite the fact that their own efforts to keep sex work criminalized make trafficking worse and put more at risk of being victimized by trafficking and coercion.

    Many will dislike what i’m about to say but the sex worker rights movement has suffered a lot because we’ve lost focus on issues that both need to be addressed and that give us public presence and visibility as an alternative to the abolitionists. Much of the world doesn’t know we even exist as a movement because the anti’s dominate with their focus on trafficking. We need to address that and we need to admit that trafficking and coercion exist.

    This movement has lost it’s focus and is emphasizing way too much about who is the most PC, the best activist, defining who is the most oppressed within the movement and focusing too much bandwidth of training about anti oppression and it’s definitions. We are sex workers. We are one of the most oppressed groups on the planet. We don’t need endless focus and education on oppression. We experience it every day. That experience builds a lot of awareness.

    This survey is something concrete. A peer reviewed study that can be used to challenge the anti’s and the horrible agenda they have that has harmed so many including many of us. It is a chance to access a higher public profile for our movement and what are trying to achieve.

    By admitting that trafficking and coercion do exist and addressing it we gain credibility and can deflect the arguments that we just simply advocate for prostitution and don’t care about trafficking victims. The anti’s have eaten our movement alive on this issue. We have marginalized ourselves with our lost focus.

    This survey is awesome and it’s a huge step in the right direction. Great work Crysta and Serpentine.

  2. Lee

    Well, I took the survey, and I hope it turns out well and is only the start of things to come. I saw that there were gray links to take or print the survey in Chinese, Spanish, Korean, etc. I really hope they can get these up and working. I would be a huge help to get the perspective of what is a substantial percentage of the overall sex worker population, and one that has inevitably had its voices under-represented and its ties to trafficking overstated. And I think there is a need in general for many sex worker rights advocates and activists to better engage with and learn about these of their compatriots. One example being the list of possible trafficking indicators on the AIT website, which although it was better written and better informed than those found on “anti” websites, with all good intentions included several items that are common to the means that many (non-coerced) immigrant sex workers work and do business, and which may carry different cultural connotations to them than to native-born, Americans more used to mainstream American cultural ways.

    I agree – excellent comments by Jill! Making an effective argument that trafficking will be better combated by decriminalization than by the current legal regime is hugely important. This article should give fair warning of what may be in store elsewhere if that argument can’t be or isn’t made. Note how whole-hog both the State of NY and the reporter swallowed the urgings of the abolitionist crowd:

    The state of New York will begin treating most alleged prostitutes as victims rather than criminals, and seek to steer them toward medical treatment, job training and other social services to break the cycle of sex trafficking.

    Under the new system, all prostitution cases that go beyond arraignment will be referred to the special trafficking court, where a judge, prosecutor and defense attorney will confer.

    If they determine that the defendant is a victim in need of help, they will refer the victim to tailored services — drug treatment, education, job training, health care or immigration help, for example.

    Defendants who comply with the recommended services can have their charges dropped. – No mention of what will happen to anyone who declines such “assistance”.

    David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state courts, said that there was no cost to the taxpayer — the cost is absorbed by the service organizations, who are thrilled to help, he said.

    And who might these “service organizations be?

    “I think it would be fantastic to see this happening in other states,” said Kate Keisel, the director of Polaris Project New Jersey

    As usual, no comment sought from actual sex workers (in what other sphere would the victim – perceived or real – of some wrong doing not have their opinion sought as to what sort of justice, restitution, aid or solution they need or want?) from either the policy-makers or the reporter.

  3. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Lee — Thank you!

    The grey links are unfortunate. There probably aren’t many sex workers available to translate the survey. At least that’s my guess. One of the downsides of lack of funding and a stigmatized occupation.

    Can you expand on the items you thought were troublesome on the list of trafficking signs? I would be happy to pass your thoughts onto Serpent. I’m planning an interview with her and Crysta in a few months. Email me if you don’t want to post your concerns.

    This NY statute is the best that Puritannical America can offer: seeing sex workers as victims rather than criminals. These “save the whore” programs are cropping up everywhere (I plan on blogging about those in Dallas). As for what happens for women who reject the “help” offered: jail time. What else would you expect? If you’re not a victim then you’re a criminal. We’re talking about a system of belief that still thinks it’s okay to arrest teenage prostitutes.

    Sex workers of all types want access to services but completely voluntarily and without prejudice. So much for that.

  4. Lee

    Amanda – After I sent the comment, I did see an article about a similar law(s) being sought in Texas, but have yet to read it. Ugh. I’m sure you are right about the consequences of refusing “help”. I remember seeing this a few times when massage parlors were raided/invaded, but with the police departments working less officially with self-appointed saviors, and newspapers reporting in a bemused way that the woman declined assistance, never before as such a

    I will e-mail you my concerns.

  5. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Lee — This is all the rage now: arrest a prostitute, then offer to “help” her and uncuff her, or she declines (or in Dallas, doesn’t meet a mountain of qualificiations) and the cuffs stay on. I still don’t know that they’re saving the number of souls they think they’re saving.

    It’s kind of like the Americanized Swedish model they keep pushing in Illinois: arrest the client but also arrest the prostitute. And though the penalities are supposedly harsher than they were for clients, the penalties for being a sex worker are worse and they still arrest more prostitutes than clients.

  6. Aspasia

    I’m so proud of my alma mater DePaul University! There are A LOT of sex workers who have attended that school or been associated with it. For a Catholic school, it is really very liberal, which is why I liked it. I have to remember to do my own blog post about the survey after I take it.

  7. Aspasia

    Very Catholic. Saint Vincent de Paul was the chaplain for Marguerite de Valois, Queen of France and wife of Henry IV of France. St. Vincent was also held in slavery at one point in his life when he was captured by Barbary pirates. His main patronage is good works for the poor and unfortunate and at DPU, we were encouraged (though it wasn’t required) to volunteer and do genuine outreach to the less fortunate.

    In the library at DPU, we have portraits of what we acknowledge as “modern-day saints”, all of whom were civil rights activists and social change agitators. Harvey Milk is one of them, so yeah, a very liberal Catholic school!

  8. Serpent

    Thanks for the support everyone! Jill, I really appreciate your comment and am so glad you are in support of this. I really hope we can spread the word a bit wider about the survey and get more industry support.

  9. Jill Brenneman

    Amanda thank you for blogging about this! Serpent, I am thrilled that you and Crysta are doing this! Not only do you have my support but my enthusiasm and appreciation! I can’t say enough about how important I think your work is!

  10. Jill Brenneman

    I wish I’d known about DePaul in 4th grade. While it would have been enormously masochistic it would have thrilled me to no end to tell my teach Sister Agnes about a very liberal Catholic University. She would have beaten my rear end for mentioning it but it would have been worth it to see the old hag have another apoplectic fit about the harm liberalism causes. A bit of background on my 4th grade relationship with Sister Agnes. She taught us that the clouds were part of heaven and thus were static. The earth moved and the clouds were stationary. I challenged that unsuccessfully and quite painfully too :)

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