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An interesting article by Amanda Brookes on how she believes sex work activists discriminate against the majority of sex workers.
By the time I began stripping, I knew what a sex worker activist was: a lesbian vegan living in San Francisco who didn’t shave (let alone wax) and was often very overweight. She had a useless degree in philosophy or women’s studies from Berkeley (unlike my highly-useful photography degree!).
Yes I can see activism will bring to the front those who have or had other battles to fight, and those who belong to the LGBT already have been fighting stigma in their sexuality, so promoting sex workers rights is really an extension to their previous activism.
“Inclusiveness” and “diversity” are such huge preoccupations in the movement that they often derail energy and focus on the real-world issues staring all of us in the face. In the stampede to be inclusive and make sure that all ethnic/gender/occupation/whatever boxes are ticked and that a token representative is present, a huge majority go unnoticed and unwelcome.
I agree we must be inclusive of all ethnic/gender/occupation/whatever, but I do take the point that the majority female heterosexual escort is under represented in the activist groups. Why is this? Is this because they are actively discriminated against by the activist groups, or some other reason.
I think the reasons in the UK are a little different to those expressed by Amanda, but I do take the point that activists must be more inclusive. Yes the group I help with are inclusive, and that means total decriminalisation of sex work, including street sex workers and their clients. This point of total decriminalisation does though stick in the throat of many potential supports. Amanda alludes to this.
They’re generally an open-minded bunch: they have almost zero tolerance for racism, understand the discrimination gay people face and most are cautiously open to transgenders. The most unfortunate thing about them is a widespread adherence to the sex work-hierarchy and their profound dislike of street workers. This is something that a little education and mind-opening personal interaction could change.
There are several reasons why the majority sex worker does not get involved in activism. This is a qualitative list from my interaction with several thousand sex workers and not in any way quantitative, and the points both support Amanda, and oppose Amanda.
There are positives, and when our livelihood or hobby is threatened by potential legislative changes as the Labour Government were thinking of, then many groups and people start to campaign, and the draconian laws the Labour Government were thinking of implementing were not proposed. That was a success, though I see the Abolitionists consider their action a success also. We have to build on our success and ensure that Scotland does not go down the Abolitionist route as Trish Godman would like, and that we can take the generally positive view sex work gets in this country and move for safer laws associated with sex work.
We have to be more supportive of the sex workers and advocates who put their head above the parapet. Madam Becky Adams who has done much to bring prostitution to the news and provides course material to Teela Saunders students was heavily criticised by many sex workers and sex work supports for her Five News TV program, along with the escort Kat Lee who has appeared on many TV shows including the Becky program. They are criticised for not following the total activist line, or for not being lucid and well spoken. Instead of criticism they should be welcomed into the activism fold. They can and do so much good and could do so much more with support.
I am though optimistic, there are many sex workers in the UK who fit the Amanda Brookes invisible majority and they have become activists. They have joined as activists because of the antics of the abolitionists. The more the abolitionists lie and exaggerate their case, the more sex workers join the ranks of the sex worker activists. The abolitionists are our best recruiting tool.