Harlots Parlour

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In a previous post (actually a cross post) Laura Agustin references inaccuracies written by Kajsa Ekis Ekman in her book Varat och varan. You can read Laura’s response “HERE” .
In the same book this anti sex work feminist makes some accusations about myself, especially in relation to the IUSW (International Union of Sex workers).

Ekmen made claims that I run the IUSW. I do not. I never have run the IUSW or even had a position of authority within that organisation other than briefly to hold the position of treasurer when a separate IUSW bank account was opened.

Ekman claims that I am an escort agency owner/manager and therefore my membership invalidates the IUSW as a representative union for sex workers. I am however not an agency owner or even manager. The IUSW is not as far as I know run by people holding any such positions within the sex industry. She has no proof that it is or that I am an owner/manager other than some early naive press interviews with myself and some misinformed blogging and accusations made against me by anti sex work campaigners.

If Ekman had bothered to do her research fully, perhaps interviewed myself or others or read articles written by myself then she would have been in a position to report the truth about myself and my relationship with both the IUSW and the IUSW GMB sex workers branch. The IUSW and the IUSW London GMB branch are two separate organisations. The fact that I am an activist who writes about sex work and who campaigns for sex workers rights, often under the IUSW banner, does not imply that I either run the organisation or even have any influence. It simply suggests that I support the aims and objectives of that organisation

I will however make the following statement that I hope people like Ekman will read.

Firstly I am not an escort agency owner or manager. I am and always have been an independent (although I have worked occasionally through escort agencies) gay male escort. My civil partner owns and runs an escort agency. I have always been very open about this. The confusion that arose at the beginning of my campaign work I accept was my fault. But those early mistakes have since been corrected many times.

I first became involved in sex worker rights after a court case when my partner was arrested for living off immoral earnings. As his life partner I was also arrested and charged with the same offence. Arresting partners and charging them with that offence was then very common.
The subsequent publicity both during the case and afterwards (we won the case) meant that I was presented in the press as an agency owner. When I first started speaking publicly therefore it was easier to get attention from the press by speaking alongside or even for my civil partner.
I have spoken in a previous “article” about the problems that anyone who is out in this business has to face. The stigma and intrusion into your personal life does not just affect you personally but also your family and friends. I therefore offer no apology that it took time before I felt confident enough to be totally open about who I am and what I do.

Secondly the IUSW and the IUSW GMB branch are two very different and independent organisations with separate constitutions and rules governing them.
The GMB sex worker branch is organised and run by the GMB under GMB rules and constitution.
The IUSW is an independent organisation which advocates for sex worker rights and governed by its own constitution and rules. I am no longer on the IUSW list, (there is no formal membership). So therefore I really no longer am truly part of the IUSW. I remain a GMB member however just like thousands of other UK citizens. Membership of he GMB is governed by the GMB not the IUSW so to blame the IUSW for GMB membership rules is wrong.

In conclusion I second comments made by Laura in her response to Ekman where she suggests that unionisation is only one form of representation and organisation open to sex workers. That said, trades union representation in my opinion is important because it legitimises sex work as labour. As a sex worker I reject all claims made by anti sex work (who are also in my view anti human rights) groups that sex work is not legitimate labour but rather coerced and abusive exploitation. Coerced and forced labour exists in all forms of labour but is not exclusive to sex work. To claim that it is is in itself a human rights abuse because it legitimises state persecution of sex workers.

I will not make any further public announcement to refute claims made by anti sex work campaigners about who I am or about my work as a sex worker. Personally I don’t especially care about being called names or having untruths told about me by anti sex work campaigners. I take it as being part of the job as an activist. I object however when untruths about me are used to dismiss sex workers voices.

If anti sex work campaigners want to write about me there is plenty of up to date information on this blog or very soon on my own personal blog. Better still speak to me personally or email me at dfharlot@googlemail.com


About Douglas Fox

7 comments on “RESPONSE TO EKMAN

  1. sil
    13 November, 2010

    There is one thing you muddle, though, which bears someone else saying, even if I see why your activism might prevent you. In claiming the IUSW to be completely separate from the GMB you hide the fact that the elected branch secretary of the one runs the other, and always has. The separateness is a technicality, the two entities are one, the same little bunch of insiders the same in both.

    Another thing I thought Augustin was too cagey about concerns the membership figures. The Swedish author said there were 150 members and got the number from an article from 7 years ago. Now there are nowhere near that many. Things have gone downhill for the IUSW.

  2. Douglas Fox
    14 November, 2010

    Hi Sil,

    I have made the IUSW and the IUSW GMB sex workers branch aware of your comment.

    Because I am no longer on the IUSW list and have have never had any elected position within the IUSW GMB sex workers branch I think it would be innapropriate for me to comment.

  3. Sue Metzenrath
    15 November, 2010

    Fantasticly lucid written piece:-) I guess men make easier targets & it buys into their skewed analysis of all “pimps” r males!! Really enjoyed reading this & insightful 4 someone who is a lil outta the loop:)

  4. laura agustin
    16 November, 2010

    I agree with Sil that the distinction between iusw and gmb is false. the gmb requires quarterly meetings that must address bureaucratic issues and only gmb-paid-members can attend those. the iusw meetings were monthly and anyone could come if they got in touch with someone like me early enough. a small core of people attended those meetings, not all having paid dues to the gmb.

    the branch secretary directs both activities and there is someone who takes care of the financial accounting required by the gmb. the gmb requires a minimum number of paid memberships in order to remain a branch, but other than that plays no role, nor do they seem to care what happens.

    best, laura agustin

  5. Thierry Schaffauser
    17 November, 2010

    The GMB sex workers branch and IUSW are not completely seperate but they tend to take more and more seperate directions.
    The GMB branch works more within the labour movement and tries to be more in a role of a classic trade union while the IUSW wants to be more independent from the GMB in order to do more campaigning activism.
    The people may be often the same but are not always. The majority of GMB branch members are not on the IUSW mailing list and many IUSW members have not paid their fees to the GMB.
    It may appear complicated since the two bodies are still linked and the GMB branch secretary is indeed also on the committee of the IUSW and she is our most visible activist.
    However there are differences among people and I think Douglas and I for instance have been clear about what are our differences politically.
    I hope it helps to understand.

  6. Douglas Fox
    17 November, 2010

    You will often have cross over of members within activism groups.
    You do in the anti sex work lobby.

    The IUSW is governed under a separate constitution. This was not the case when Laura was involved in the IUSW.

    As Thierry has stated there are a variety of opinions and allegiances within the IUSW and the IUSW GMB branch. This I suspect to an outsider may be confusing. But sex workers are a diverse bunch.

    Criticism of the IUSW has to be tempered by an understanding of the legal situation in the UK.
    Stigma and social exclusion suffered by sex workers make traditional vehicles of labour organisation or of political protest difficult within the context of sex work.

    People have to understand a little more of the history and the cultural issues that affect sex workers and sex work organisation before making judgements. As laura and I said in our responses traditional labour movements such as trade unionisation are only one form of representation and perhaps in the UK it may not be the best. It is certainly still in the process of developing in my opinion. I think both the trades union movement and sex workers are still in the process of understanding each other.

    This is a topic that needs further discussion. I hope to write something further on harlot about this subject soon.

  7. Douglas Fox
    17 November, 2010

    My apologies if anyone had seen my previous comment which was gobblygook…..I had a sudden computer glitch which meant the comment was posted before I had time to edit.

    Sorry 😦

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This entry was posted on 13 November, 2010 by in Anti Sex Work, IUSW.
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