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Cath Elliots blog/article
Thierry’s letter in the Morning Star
The CIF article by Cath Elliott and Thierry Schaffauser
Well who would believe that the hunter and the hunted could ever agree? It has happened however. Cath Elliott that doyen of the left and leading activist for the unison trades union women’s group (one of the largest trade unions in the UK and principal banker for the Labour party) and Thierry the president of the GMB sex work & adult entertainment branch have combined forces to create an article in CIF calling for the repeal of soliciting laws. Cath Elliott recently persuaded women unison members that the Nordic model of criminalising clients of sex workers is somehow a positive step toward women’s liberation while Thierry wrote a letter published in the Morning Star rebutting her for inciting one set of trade unionists to attack fellow trade unionists like him who also happen to be sex workers. Do opposites attract? Perhaps, however considering that both Cath Elliott and Thierry do like to trade in stereotypes and both are bound hook line and sinker to leftist ideology that excludes those for whom freedom is more important than political rant perhaps they are not such odd bedfellows. Thierry when he announces on sex workers talks of the poor, the disadvantaged, the queers, the punks, the drug users and of course the migrants whom he argues are all in dire need of unionisation. He dismisses all those who exploit sex workers including fellow sex workers who charge other sex workers for the use of their working space. He specifically targets advertisers and anyone whom facilitate for a profit (or even to cover costs) for sex workers. Only sex workers or his definition of a sex worker should make money. Cath Elliott views all sex workers as exploited victims and all clients of sex workers as rapists and sex worker managements as exploiters and traffickers. So there are differences but also quite a lot of common ground between these saviours of sex workers even if they view the process of liberation from opposite sides of the fence.
Undoubtedly however politics aside this is a very positive step forward in that two people from at first glace opposing camps should find areas on which they agree. It potentially marks a positive break though. The laws on soliciting are an example of bad law that targets those who work on the streets with intimidation and very real threats of criminal convictions which traps them in a vicious cycle from which it is hard to escape. Many street workers do have issues with homelessness, addiction and multiple forms of social exclusion and should be helped by the government and not turned into pariahs and criminals. New legislation contained in the policing and crime bill passed on the 12th of November last year and which becomes law on the 1st of April will only exacerbate their situation.
If Thierry who speaks the same political language as Cath Elliot can persuade her that she is not helping either sex workers or women’s rights by her stance then I support him. If he can persuade Cath Elliot that she is actually endangering sex workers and infantilising women by refusing to acknowledge that not only women but men and trans men and women (the latter are always ignored) can and do make qualified choices with regard to their labour and that selling sex is one of those choices then even if I disagree with his politics and his use of stereotypes that alienates so many sex workers including myself I support him. Personally I would sup with the devil if that were to result in the recognition of human rights and an end to suffering, stigma and persecution for all sex workers. Sex workers only want to be left alone and to be protected by the law and not persecuted by the law. People’s lives are at risk because of bad laws and that fact has to create some common ground somewhere surely. Who knows now that I am no longer a member of the IUSW/GMB branch there may even be common ground for Julie Bindel and I to have a cosy chat….YOU never know.