saving fish from drowning

With apologies to Amy Tan.

I’ve never read her book, but I remember the title catching my eye a bookstore. It sums up sex trafficking hysteria perfectly. Amy says the title is derived from the practice of Myanmar fishermen who “scoop up the fish and bring them to shore. They say they are saving the fish from drowning. Unfortunately… the fish do not recover. This kind of magical thinking or hypocrisy or mystical attitude or sheer stupidity is a fair metaphor for the entire book.”

Or it could be a metaphor for a highly-funded rescue industry hellbent on saving someone, damnit!

saving molli from tweeting

The independent London escort Molli Devadasi has been around for a while. She hit Twitter gold by co-starting a hashtag campaign questioning the rescue industry by questioning their assumptions about sex work and sex workers, you may have seen it appear in my Twitter stream: #NotYourRescueProject.

While sex workers with blogs and Twitter are considered “privileged” and not worth listening to, apparently Molli was too successful. She was dragged from her London home, held, and questioned for two days by police before finally being released. They thought she was being trafficked because she was questioning trafficking hysteria, promoting sex worker rights, and discussing her personal choices. That makes sense. They were going to save a fish from drowning and they had a nice, shiny fish with Molli. (Let’s nevermind the time and money spent tracking her down and interrogating her when real victims of actual crimes might have needed police help.)

Molli has been terrorized for no reason other than expressing her opinions and experiences as a sex worker in a country where she was legally working. They took her money, laptop and phone so they can search for her “pimp.”

Need I point out that taking a sex worker’s money means she is going to have to earn more, very quickly? If you’re in an abolitionist frame of mind, this is the opposite of the correct move to make.

twitter safety for working activists

If you’re a sex worker and you know you’re going to Tweet as an activist, consider making a separate activist account and link it to something other than your sex work site (or blog). I have no idea what Molli’s security was like but they tracked her down either via her Twitter account or via her escort domain registration info (or maybe her escort phone number if it was public and registered in her name). Those are some determined rescuers.

Molli’s unfortunate case shows it’s vital to keep the activism and sex work apart. She got a modified version of what sex workers in the US could expect. Since we’re considered criminals before we’re considered victims, Molli in the US would have had her house stormed in the middle of the night, she would have been arrested, searched, interrogated even more harshly/detained even longer, and likely have lost any money in bank accounts and many of her possessions (like a car or house). She might still be in jail. If she had a pet, it might have been shot. If you think this scenario is far-fetched, this has happened many times to innocent people incorrectly suspected of being involved with drugs. A suspected prostitute involved in sex trafficking wouldn’t fare much better.

Congress has made it clear it’s about to go after Twitter and the sex workers on Twitter. Keep your business Twitter account tied to your business, your activist persona on its own. Speaking of which, if you’re truly concerned, use proxies to sign into Twitter. Or buy a “burner” phone and just use that to access your Twitter accounts. Even better if you can Tweet via a Google Voice number that’s tied to a burner phone (I have no idea if you can — feel free to enlighten me). Just like dressing up when it’s cold, it’s all about layers.

13 thoughts on “saving fish from drowning

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    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Serra — Ha! I doubt Tea Party types read this blog. Not sure they wouldn’t see “saving fish from drowning” as some sort of ecological waste of money. Better to shoot the fish!

  2. Jim

    There is no one less likely, or more unlikely, than me to quibble about typos. Maybe I suffer from Unlikely Quibbler Syndrome. That said, something was bothering me about the title to this post, and now I know what it is: the first N in “drowning” is missing. This quibble is presented in a blatant effort to Rescue you from a typo, even though I know you are #NotMyRescueProject. It’s just that my rescue funding, while not excessive, is still sufficient to cover my cost in making a smart-ass comment.

    Is my work here finished for today? I think it is. As I slink out the door, allow me to wish you the very best day — in fact, week — possible, in this imperfect world.

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Jim — Please point out typos, by all means! How embarrassing. It will be fixed. Thanks for doing it in such a funny way.

      Thank you for the good wishes. You too!

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  4. Aspasia

    I am angry on Molli’s behalf but deep down I’m not surprised it happened, considering the UK has been on a raiding spree lately. I always keep my work name and activist name as separate as possible. There are few who know both and it is because I trust them implicitly (and I usually know personal information about them as well). I mention, only occasionally, that I am supportive of sex workers’ rights on my work Twitter account.

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Aspasia — The UK was doing just fine until it decided it needed to start saving sex workers to look good. But looking for sex trafficking victims on TWITTER??? Aren’t sex trafficking victims supposed to be chained to beds, seeing 50 men a day? They’re not on Twitter, they barely have time to eat.

      This terrorism of Molli is yet another way of keeping us silent.

      Oh god, another misspelling. This is not my week. Apologies, Molli.

  5. Elli Santos

    Interesting title for this post. It is eye catchy so I stopped by and read it.
    It’s quite surprising that they took her money, phone and laptop. In fact this shows their mindset but this is only going to motivate sex work.

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