Unsurprisingly, the two recent threads on sex work are… active. There’s a lot of push-back (especially to mine) in the comments, so I want to address a few things. First, I stand by what I wrote in the post. But second, I did an inadequate job of focusing on the more important issue: Making life safer, here and now, for sex workers.
I said in the earlier post that I think most of the feminist divides on this issue come down to differences in philosophy vs. practicality — there are many of us who have a particular feminist view of how we would like the world to work but still understand that we live in the real world and need to take practical steps now to make sure that sex workers aren’t jailed, abused and killed. And I think there’s a place for discussion about how feminist views could fit with sex work in the theoretical feminist utopia; I think (I hope) there’s a place for discussion about the feminist ethics of buying sex, of what sex even is (a service, a commodity, a mutually pleasurable act). Those discussions are valuable and we should be having them.
But we have them too often, at the expense of getting shit done. So with this post, I want to highlight the voices of current and former sex workers who are actually out there getting shit done, even though they don’t have a place at the table when it comes to crafting the policies that most impact their communities. Talking about these issues in theory is fine. But we need to spend more time and exert more effort in supporting the women and men who are putting their own lives and liberties on the line by advocating for their rights.
The first post I want to link is by Melissa Gira Grant; it was linked in the initial Feministe post by Laurie and Debbie, the comments to which were the inspiration to my post, but I should have linked it as well; it was disrespectful that I didn’t, and I apologize. Grant’s piece details the many way sex workers are targeted by law enforcement, and how some feminists, in the name of “ending trafficking,” have made their day to day lives much more difficult. It’s a must-read, and an excellent piece of journalism.
This piece, at Jadehawk’s blog, is a direct response to mine (she obviously is not a fan of what I wrote!). I disagree with some of it, of course, but I think it’s an important contribution and adds quite a bit to the discussion.
FeministIre writes about the idea of a “representative sex worker.”
And this video, posted by Melissa Gira Grant, is produced by members of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers.
Finally, I want to link again to Audacia Ray, who I linked in my initial piece but whose work is great and should be highlighted — and it’s worth putting out there that I doubt Audacia would agree with all (or even most) of what my post said, so I didn’t intend to use her words as implying that she would be on board. I just thought they added an important element. So read them without the context of what I wrote. She also runs the Red Umbrella Project, which amplifies the voices of sex workers.
- An Invitation for Sex Worker Stories by Jill April 25, 2012
- International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers by Cara December 18, 2009
- It’s not just violent clients who abuse sex workers by Jill December 17, 2010
- Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers by Clarisse Thorn December 16, 2011
- Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex by Jill February 6, 2013