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Ever since I became involved with the sex worker rights movement over ten years ago I have argued that there is a huge gulf between the “sex worker” and the sex worker rights activists.
I am sure that a certain distance between any activist and those they activate for is probably common and “perhaps” in some instances even a good thing “sometimes.”
I learned that in activism you learn very quickly to be more careful in the language you use in interactions with, media, politicians, activists from the opposing side.
The result of course is that activism becomes, like much of modern politics, a middle class, elitist and privileged and rarefied and politically correct world where similar types interact as enemies, very politely of course, before sharing a tofu burger and a soya decaffeinated, fair trade latte’.
This is all very well, but with this snobbishness often comes a cruelty, a tendency to abruptly and cruelly shout down anyone who dares have an opinion that is expressed in the language of the everyday, the real language used by people and in this case sex workers.
Any opinion that questions the assumed superiority of those who fixate on being politically correct, who claim to defend minorities, who in this case, claim to be an authentic voice of sex work, as if any such thing could ever exist, is labelled silenced. It is bullying and within activists ranks bullying thrives I am ashamed to say.
In this case a male escort, the type of person who we desperately want to join or at least support sex worker activism, was vilified on a public networking site by a group of so called sex worker activists.
His crime was that he retaliated against a radical feminist who had insulted him. He used the language of the everyday and referenced his abuser as being a lesbian. I have no idea if she was or was not and it is irrelevant to the point being discussed.
Instead of receiving support from “all sex workers” as a sex worker suffering a whorephobic attack and telling his abuser in explicit terms that her behaviour was unacceptable, he instead receive a tirade of hateful tweets against him from a small group of so called sex worker activists.
They called him a misogynist and “like all male sex workers” a woman hater. The sex worker activist leading the assault is (or claims to be ) a street sex worker and possibly a drug user (the drug use I mention to clarify comments in his blog post below).
The reason I have chosen to re-blog his response to his abuser/s is that the treatment he received has relevance to the constant discussion about why so few sex workers in the west involve themselves with the sex worker rights movement.
“Steve escort” represents so many real sex workers that I meet out side of activism, male and female.
Male sex worker voices should be equal to women. They suffer abuse and stigma and the effects of criminalisation the same as women. For so called activists to deny their voices is to deny a large portion of the sex worker community.
The particular activist who abused Steve Escort, like many in activism, presumes that her street work credentials and possible drug use gives her voice more authority. Such activists dismisses others as prejudiced or privileged and often express hatred for all men including fellow sex workers, clients, managers. All men are pimps and misogynist according to this cruel and twisted activist logic which has far too much authority within the movement.
What we need in activism today is a sense of community and we must learn to extend a welcome hand of friendship to all supporters regardless of gender or orientation or class or ethnicity or faith.
If you cannot learn to accept an inclusive and welcoming community, to have a sense of humour and a readiness to engage with the real people within sex work, then perhaps sex work activism is the wrong place for you.
As long as snobbishness exists within activism and intolerance then we will never be a populist movement.
I have however pointed out many times that many of the organisations that presently exist to represent sex work are not inclusive and not welcoming and do not want to be populist movements.
So we are at an impasse are we not.
I have included Steve Escorts response, which I think is a good response to those who attacked him and who really do sex worker rights no favours at all.
Enjoy and I am sure that he would welcome comments.
My oh my, this really is the word of the moment. Dare to say anything as man to a feminist, lesbian or even co-sex worker and you’re labelled misogynistic.
I am a very intelligent guy and I had heard the word maybe a couple of times in my entire life until recently when it seems to be the “in word” to describe any guy who dares to question a woman’s integrity. I’ve been called misogynistic by fellow sex workers, by lesbian feminists and sex work campaigners all because I dared to have another point of view which doesn’t fit with their lefty labour voting, trade union type beliefs. Not all sex workers are female yet there are some female sex workers who think they’re the only ones on the party invite.
As someone who has always been always been pro-rights, sometimes the people labelling others as misogynistic are really just that themselves, they use the word to make themselves look like the ones being persecuted and carry on their vendetta towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them by being thoroughly nasty, spiteful and vindictive, doing themselves no favours in the process. Instead of having a healthy debate, their posts spill out into vile hatred of anyone who isn’t a street junkie striving to put bread on the table. Maybe if they stopped shooting IV drugs into their veins and went on a drug rehabilitation program they may be able to re-build their lives and see other peoples points of view. Until then I still have a block button for the times they get nasty.