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Sex workers are people, too, ad campaign reminds us

I noticed the link to this article on a face book friends page. I immediately thought that this is exactly the sort of advertising that we need here in the UK. These adverts were created free of charge which suggests that sex work activists in Canada are as short of cash as activists here in the UK. It would be wonderful if an add company here in the UK was to offer to do something similar.

Reading the comments it is lovely to read how many people support the adverts and support sex workers in their struggle. It is equally shocking to read the tone of the moralists as well. Very sad. I noticed that someone pointed out that Christ sat down to eat with prostitutes; which I doubt some of the so called Christians who made some of the hateful comments would contemplate.

A controversial campaign designed by a local ad firm aims to humanize the gritty image of those practising the world’s oldest profession.

At first glance, you might expect the wholesome-looking woman staring from posters in Metro Transit bus shelters to be selling something like milk or granola.

“I’m glad my prostitute made me finish school,” says the jarring copy that accompanies the ads for Stepping Stone, a Halifax group that advocates for and offers outreach to street-level sex workers. And then in much smaller type: “Sex workers are mothers too.”

Another one of the ads shows a grandmotherly woman who looks as if she’s about to offer you a cookie.

“I’m proud of my tramp, raising two kids on her own,” is her double-take inducing message to passersby.

“Sex workers are daughters too.”

A bearded man in a sweatshirt smiles in the third Stepping Stone ad, produced by Halifax’s Extreme Group.

“At my wedding, my younger hooker gave the funniest speech,” says the copy. “Sex workers are brothers too.”

Violent attacks against prostitutes were Stepping Stone’s motivation for the campaign, according to Anthony Taaffe, the creative director at Extreme.

“People have a bad habit of pigeonholing sex workers as not being people,” Taffe said Tuesday. “It’s easy not to care about a certain group within society if you actually don’t see them as people.”

Remove the moral aspect of sex workers’ jobs and the public might relate to them as human beings first, he said.

“It’s easy for people to kind of go, ‘Oh, that woman’s just a whore,’ ” Taffe said. “Well, no, that person is also somebody’s mother or somebody’s daughter or somebody’s sister or something like that. So it helps humanize them a little bit.

“And I think that’s what we want people to really understand is you might not necessarily agree with what they do for a job, but don’t forget that they’re humans and they deserve the same respect that you give to your brother or your father or your mother.”

Extreme, which crafted the campaign for free, couldn’t find local actors willing to volunteer their faces for the ads.

“They didn’t want to face a lot of the stigma,” said Rene Ross, the executive director of Stepping Stone.

Her own grandmother, Doris Lees, is the woman in the ad who looks like she’s about to dispense cookies. “I knew right away that she would be the perfect fit for the campaign,” Ross said.

Extreme employees James Rothenburg and Julie Lawrence are the other two faces in the ads.

Stepping Stone has never reached out publicly in this way in its 20-plus years, Ross said.

“We did want to get people’s attention,” she said. “And we really wanted folks to see sex workers for what they are, and that is people, and to get people talking about the issue, because the reality is sex workers are criminalized in Canada and they face a great amount of stigma, marginalization and violence.”

This would have been a tough advertising assignment, said Ed McHugh, who teaches marketing at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Community College.

“I like the execution, I like the theme and I like the shock value of it,” McHugh said Tuesday of Extreme’s campaign. “It makes you stop and read and say, ‘OK, what’s going on here?’ ”

Read full article with links “HERE”

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About Douglas Fox

5 comments on “Sex workers are people, too, ad campaign reminds us

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Sex workers are people, too, ad campaign reminds us « www.harlotsparlour.com -- Topsy.com

  2. Sina
    28 January, 2011

    This is a great campaign.I sometimes have inexperienced clients who have never before booked an sex worker. I’m schocked to find how surprised some of them are that I’m actually a normal, intelligent human being they can interact with on multiple levels. But it’s no wonder they don’t know any better if their only source of information on prostitutes is victimizing, dehumanizing stereotypes.

    This is EXACTLY the kind of campaign that could actually help prostitutes.

    • Douglas Fox
      28 January, 2011

      I agree absolutely. I am so tired of the stereotypes used in the media. Even when a positive story appears they always resort to using the same old stereotypical images of a woman in stockings and suspenders, usually on a street corner.
      They are of course trying to do the same thing to clients now. Present them all as serial rapists or misogynistic monsters.
      Campaigns such as this are important because they at least make people think.

  3. marybysshe
    28 January, 2011

    What an excellent idea.I wrote on my blog about the whole”nice girl” reaction I get.Clients often express surprise that I have a fully rounded personality.This despite the fact that I have booked me.

    Another interesting reaction is from those,worried about discretion,who ask that I not turn up looking like a prostitute,although rarely expressed in so many words.I do wonder how they imagine I will arrive dressed.

  4. Pingback: Sex workers are people, too, ad campaign reminds us (via www.harlotsparlour.com) | frankensteinsdaughter

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This entry was posted on 27 January, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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