Basically, the two pieces below concern hysteria: the first around women who say they didn’t consent and it’s believed they did; the second around women who say they consented and are told they didn’t. It’s so much fun being a woman.
Women writing about rape culture are considered to be creating “hysteria” because apparently rape culture isn’t real. On the other hand, you have ongoing sex trafficking hysteria completely out of proportion to actual sex trafficking cases. It’s the non-trafficked sex workers who are believed to not be real. Either way you look at the two issues, women aren’t being listened to or believed, and the end result is more harm to women. (I’ve little doubt that some real sex trafficking victims can’t find help and are stuck in their situation.)
As a light-hearted bonus, here’s a quick common-sense test of what constitutes sex trafficking vs sex work.
From Laura Agustin’s Twitter: â€œYou are living in the kind of world in which there are digital harems of prostitutes, available and pushed upon every single population”
It wouldn’t be much fun to push unavailable prostitutes on every single population, now would it? “Every single population” is not defined and I wish it were. There are so many populations that prostitutes aren’t interested in (children, prison inmates, the sick, the homeless, Congress).
Laura has a series of Tweets exploring the zealous anti-prostitution rhetoric and its very creative usage of language. I would have never come up “digital harems” no matter how long I write about sex work (yes, I’m jealous). Even better, the sermon she quotes was delivered by a preacher in Ft. Worth! Eros Dallas has a new slogan in the bag.
I missed this on Twitter but really enjoyed the recap. Sex workers discuss the concept of giving it away with the same arguments tossed at us because we charge for it. While people can always say “It’s smart to charge for it,” when have you ever heard someone say “It’s smart to give it away.” An entire self-help genre is built on the very idea of not giving it away! These books encourage women to hold out for something, whether it’s a wedding ring, gifts or whatever. But the end result is always offering sex in exchange for something the woman wants. Technically, that’s not giving it away! Which begs the question, is there anyone who really gives it away? Or are they just deluded? Is “giving it away” actually part of the old joke to which the punchline is “Now we’re just negotiating on price.”
Some of you are aware that I appeared on a National Geographic documentary that first aired in February. Now the rest of you are aware. Once again, my brush with mainstream media is generally negative. Eventually I’ll learn.
NatGeo spoke to me in April 2009 about appearing on their Taboo series. One of their episodes was going to cover sex work. Though I spoke for 90 minutes on the phone with Kate Witchard and emailed with her, they decided not to use me. This was right before I was beginning my travels and I pitched the idea to her, but she told me National Geographic wasn’t interested in following a working escort around the world.
Utter waste of time. I don’t take kindly to having my brain picked for free. (Shortly after, someone whom I suspect was producing the Belle de Jour series wanted to do that too so I quoted a price and never heard back.)
Last summer I was approached by NatGeo again. I was not interested. Daniele Anastasion, the producer, assured me this was a stand-alone documentary focusing on the US and the legal issues surrounding prostitution. After back and forth emails, I agreed to a 5 minute phone call that turned into 45. It seemed okay and I agreed to it. Of course they weren’t going to pay me a dime. (It’s a documentary! They wouldn’t do something so icky as pay for interviews!) No makeup provided either. But it seemed like it would be intelligent. It’s National Geographic, after all.
We settled on a shooting date. They weren’t thrilled about having to come to Dallas but since they weren’t paying me to show up anywhere else, Dallas was it. They wanted to shoot an interview — which was the point. They also wanted to shoot “B-roll,” which is silent footage that shows up in the background with interviewed voiceovers. This is where it started getting to be a bit much.
This is a very quick post. I’m sure I’ll think of better things to say this weekend.
a little background
After Craigslist fell, everyone’s attention turned to Backpage. The attention cranked up but Backpage wasn’t saying much, however it instituted new advertising policies that just got in the way of adult sex workers advertising there.
The point of intersection came with the Superbowl in Dallas and the hordes of underage girls being trafficked into the city. Like, so many of them every single hotel in the metroplex would’ve been booked solid with working girls under the age of 18. The Dallas Observer, part of Village Voice Media, made much of the non-event that was the Superbowl (not including the ice storm — which was an event).
Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, along with assorted other female celebrities, have been braying about the problem of child sex trafficking in the US. They’ve been raising millions, attempting to influence legislation and are making a lot of noise about this huge “problem” that even they admit has no solid numbers.
The Village Voice ran a story making fun of Ashton’s “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign and questioning the numbers of underage trafficking victims. Ashton took offense and started a Twitter war. He has a scary number of followers who are not sex workers yet consider themselves experts on underage trafficking because they follow his Tweets. Um, yeah.
I don’t have a problem with the awareness and understanding of privilege. Being aware of one’s advantages (luck, earned, given) is what’s known as “counting your blessings” where I grew up. It’s something every person should do at regular intervals. Counting one’s blessings is a private moment of personal reflection and it’s not necessary to be beaten over the head and/or ostracized if others don’t think you’re doing it right. There are ways of educating others about the concept of privilege and pointing out ways in which one may have an advantage. Then it’s time to move onto something else of greater importance: like changing laws that affect everyone regardless of any supposed privilege.
I apparently confused some [white] people by using the words “KKK” and “prejudice.” The KKK itself (or those who follow its value-system) hates quite a lot of people for a wide variety of reasons. It’s not all about skin color, folks. Prejudice and racism are different words, which is why I used “prejudice.” There is some overlap in concept (racism being a form of prejudice) but they do not actually mean the exact same thing. I wrote this post as clearly and simply as I could and it still confused people with too much schooling. Sigh. One activist who should know me better reacted as though I was a pet who pooped on the rug. No I’m not, and no I did not.
The UK seems to have some similar issues as the US. If you would like to take a look at thoughts from UK sex workers, please go over and enjoy the musings of Elrond and Douglas Fox — who made the most brilliant statement on the whole issue: “Activism groups have to understand that sex workers have many voices and many political allegiances and many experiences. Our diversity is our strength but instead it is being made our weakness.”
Furry Girl was inspired to bring the issue to a head. She is absolutely right in that it’s a (literal) working class issue. She boiled it down to 4 important points. I look forward to the start of her new project. Changing minds is changing minds. It needs to be done. Period.