For those not familiar with it Reclaim the Night has a long and not particularly glorious history when it comes to the treatment of sex workers. The early marches deliberately went through red light districts, preventing women working. In the UK there is a history of confronting and in some cases abusing street workers. Which is a pity because the underlying idea, that women don't need to police their behavior, rapists need to not rape, is a good, strong , powerful message.
In no particular order,
1) Stop having those endless feminist discussions of whether choosing to do sex work reinforces ‘partriarchy’ – you want to talk about that? Ok fine, but not in the context of ‘social justice for sex workers’ you won’t. Most sex workers don’t give a fuck if you think they reinforce patriarchy or not, and most of the ones that *DO care* only care because they know you are wrong.
2) Stop categorizing criticism of feminist theory or policy as a criticism of some ‘out-of-date’ thing. When a sex worker says ‘feminists are oppressing me!’ your answer should be: ‘I’m not surprised, what can I do? Let’s put a stop to it!’ and NOT ‘no way, you gotta extra-hard prove that cuz all the bad radical feminism went away 30 years ago!’ and you also should NOT demand that they define ‘what sort of feminist?’ before you are willing to believe them. Feminists who are calling themselves feminists are oppressing sex workers, that’s who.
3) Stop thinking that you have to determine what ‘the majority experience’ is before you can decide what policy is best. The best policy is NOT prohibition. Ever.
4) Understand that those oh-so-unhelpful ‘end demand’ policies where they ‘don’t’ go after the sellers, and only the buyers are criminalized are still prohibition and there is not one single recognized sex workers rights organization that endorses them, and neither does the UN.
5) Be prepared to lobby mainstream feminist organizations to support sex workers rights and for them to extricate themselves from the anti-porn/anti-prostitution alliance with conservative christians.
6) Understand that the anti-trafficking industry that has sprung up in the last 10 years was created by and backed by people who profit off of the cheap labor of desperate people. They focus on ‘sex trafficking’ and work to ‘rescue’ prostitutes because they know that when the prostitutes send that money back home, those communities become less desperate and they are no longer able to profit off of them as much. Be VERY careful and apply MUCH skepticism to anti-trafficking orgs – there are some good ones, but they are few and far between. Anything founded after yr 2000 is HIGHLY suspect.
8) If you’re in California, vote No on Prop 35:
There’s a piece about trafficking & backpage on Salon containing the quote:
“While the aim of FAIR Girls to rescue victims and stop the sex trafficking of young women is laudable, the devotion of significant resources to an ad campaign dedicated to a non-solution is unfortunate.”
To which this comment was posted in response:
“…non-solution…” I don’t agree that it’s a non-solution. It’s just one that Village Voice Media doesn’t want to make. If you knew that your enterprise allowed for children to be prostituted over and over again, you might want to consider going as far as shutting it down.
To which I say:
Criminalizing and stigmatizing prostitution IS the “enterprise” which allows for “children to be prostituted over and over again”, so perhaps we had best shut that down.
Here is a small out-take of a much larger piece in which Dr. Brooke Magnanti totally fucking nails it:
Prohibition never works
There is a lot of talk in the political sphere about the need for “evidence based policy”. This means rejecting approaches that are moralistic and manipulative. Sex workers have suffered the tragic consequences of prejudicial social attitudes that lead to bad policy. The prohibition approach has not worked. It will never work. The people who endorse this view are putting people in danger and should not be guiding public opinion any longer. Disliking sex work is not a good enough argument to justify criminalising it. Is there any public interest served by preventing adults from engaging in a consensual transaction for sexual services? No, there is not.
Bit like the war on drugs: making the business profitable only to criminals, awaiting the inevitably grim results, then claiming that it’s the drugs themselves, not the laws, wot caused it. Few reasonable people believe that line of argument when it comes to drugs. Why does anyone believe it when it comes to sex?
Moral disapproval is a bad basis for policymaking. I don’t find the idea of taking drugs at all appealing, but I don’t assume my own preferences should be the basis for law.
The condescension heaped on people who do sex work is embarrassingly transparent. All this mealy-mouthed, ‘oh but we want to help them, really’. How’s that again? By saddling people with criminal records and taking away their children? Do me a favour.
As well as the happy prostitutes there are unhappy sex workers in need of support. Society should protect the unwilling and underage from sexual exploitation and provide outreach for those who need and want it. We already have laws and services for that. Maybe the laws should be more intelligently enforced and the services better supported. But prosecuting the victimless crimes does neither of these. It helps no one.
From Emi Koyama :
At that point, an audience member who is a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office was invited to make a statement, which she was completely unprepared for.
But it is then she slipped the information that confirmed what many activists knew was the case but most government experts were smart enough to conceal: that the U.S. Attorney’s Office views domestic minor sex trafficking as “primarily gang-related,” and has moved the issue to its “gang unit”; transnational human trafficking on the other hand was moved to the civil rights unit.
The admission that the U.S. Attorney’s Office views domestic minor sex trafficking as a “gang-related” problem is significant. While right-wing anti-trafficking groups such as Shared Hope International has always insinuated racial overtones to the issue (e.g. urban Black men kidnapping suburban white schoolgirls), government officials tended to be more careful in how they communicate the issue. With the admission, however, it should now be a public knowledge that human trafficking is becoming yet another way for young men of color to be criminalized and imprisoned, while leaving behind many economic and social circumstances that lead many youth to engage in the sex trade.
Below is the Diwataman video that I mention, the part with the definition starts around 3:45
There was this video uploaded on the ZJemptv youtube channel.
The most disturbing thing about it is the comment thread where there are actually some people saying “thank you for the balanced overview of the two sides”. Of course it is NOT a balanced overview, it’s a textbook ”radical feminist critique of sex positive feminism” – which should be assumed unbiased about as much as you’d assume that The Joker would offer an unbiased “critique” of Batman.:
I sent a tweet – which is rather out of character for me – which said “Thank you ZJ for giving someone who is not a sex worker yet another chance to speak for sex workers”. You can see the rest of our exchange, and some of the other twitter exchanges involved in the video below. I was pissed and things got ugly:
And just in case you are wondering, as one of the comments on my video says, if “zj had a chance to process everything” you should know that as far as the Love146 charity drive is concerned, it’s unfathomable that zinnia hadn’t heard about it months ago, considering how many people were sending pms and leaving comments about it, including links to the following video:
And also just-in-case, if you’re maybe thinking I was too angry in that video up there with all the yelling, take a listen to my initial reaction to the charity fiasco, where I’m sure a few people were disappointed that I wasn’t angry enough:
Sorry if this has ruined your day, it has certainly ruined a few of mine.