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Posts tagged ‘sex workers’ rights’

March 3rd is International Sex Workers’ Rights Day

SWOP USA has more info and links on the history of March 3rd and International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.

 

I believe that Sex Workers are human beings.  That pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject, but for anyone new and following along at home let me expound on that.

I believe that Sex Workers have a right to their own bodies.  Meaning, they alone should have the agency to determine what they do w/ it, and w/ whom.  So long as all parties involved are consenting adults it is none of my, nor anyone else’s business.

I believe that Sex Work is a valid line of work, and that those who work in the industry have a right to be treated w/ respect.  People who choose to work in the Sex Industry are making a living, sometimes the best way they know how.  I believe that we should repeal criminalization laws regarding voluntary sex work in order to protect the lives of people working in the Sex Industry.  I believe that this would be a first step in making health care and security available to Sex Workers, and allow us to focus more on dire crimes like trafficking and child prostitution, which would be illegal anyway, even if prostitution were legal everywhere.  It could put some women in more control of their lives, and help them to get things like insurance and retirement.

I believe that the criminalization of Sex Work puts more women at risk of bodily and mental harm.  I think that projects like nation-wide stings that are supposedly aimed at saving children are really about punishing women who have the audacity to be sexual.  It enforces a moral code of few onto many.  Criminalization can prevent Sex Workers who are abused, beaten, raped, or even killed from getting justice.  Fear of criminal action could prevent women already at risk from seeking help.  It also seems to overwhelmingly let people who are paying for services provided by Sex Worker off the hook, which seems hypocritical when we are arresting Sex Workers in huge numbers w/ the excuse that “it’s illegal!”.

Feel free to chime in w/ comments on Sex Workers’ rights.  This is a pretty basic post, since I am new to getting into the issues of Sex Workers’ rights.

I also want to thank everyone who commented in my last post on Sex Work w/ lots of information.

*This post is dated March 4th b/c I am not yet used to blogging from another time zone.  My apologies for the lateness, but it is technically March 3rd somewhere.

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Let’s talk about words…

I try to think of myself as an ally to sex workers.

This is one area of progressivism or whatever in which I have very little knowledge but a heap of opinions.  Making those two connect is quite a bit of work, as I am trying to be as informed as I can be b/f I engage in discussions elsewhere.

But lately I have come across two posts where I have felt the need to engage in the conversation, and I am finding that I am met w/ a bit of contention, and don’t really know where to go from there.

I am not an expert, by far, even after spending as much time at RenegadeEvolution as possible, and lurking in places like Bound, Not Gagged, and any where else I am kindly pointed.  Finding “101” information is challenging, and I want to approach the subject w/ as much sensitivity as possible.  Just like I try to do w/ everything else I consider myself an ally for.

So, my big issue right now, why I am all in a bind over the above linked posts:

The use of the word “prostitute” when referring to sex workers is one.  I have come to the understanding that the acceptable term to use is sex worker.  I don’t know the issues entirely, or the exact feelings of actual sex workers, but from what I can read it seems that “sex worker” is the appropriate word to use.  I don’t know how it breaks down w/ people who voluntarily work in the industry as opposed to those who are trafficked.  My gut reaction is that treating prostitution as a monolith and calling all of the people in it “prostitutes” dehumanizes them in a way.  In my mind, it does two things.  One, it equates the person w/ the job.  It goes back to this thing where I think we too easily see a person as the sum of their job and nothing more.  We look at a woman who has depth and many hobbies and interests and who also happens to be a sex worker and paint her “prostitute”, stripping her of anything more than the value of her job.  Two, it uses a stigmatized word to place a person in what we think is their place based on some moral code.  We are privileging our own morals over the worth of a human being.  I don’t think I am over thinking this, b/c words fucking mean things.  We are lumping the entirety of people working in a particular industry that has facets and treating them as if they are some huge uniform structure.

And at the same time, perhaps I am placing a squicky feeling where there really doesn’t need to be one.  If people working in prostitution call themselves prostitutes, then consider me corrected.  Perhaps it is more complex than that.  I really don’t know.

Just like when I came into the feminist sphere I realized quickly that I had a lot to learn.  It isn’t up to anyone to educate me, so I have to read and listen as best I can.  I can’t just run in w/ guns a blazin’ and expect everyone to patiently explain to me what is the proper way to address things.  Just like being an ally for anyone you can’t expect people to hand you the work that has been done, and you need to know what you are running your gob about b/f you stick your foot in your mouth (or keyboard).

By that same account, if I am going to be any kind of ally I need to know damned sure what I am talking about.  If my understanding is off I need to get it straight.  Words mean things.  Also, the way a person prefers to be addressed sure as hell matters.

Yes! on K

h/t to Pizza Diavola.

 

This November there is an issue on the ballot in San Francisco called Proposition K (PDF).  It is pushing to decriminalize prostitution in a effort to make life safer for sex workers, and allowing the Police to focus on other crime, such as sex trafficking, child pornography, rape and other violent crimes.  Pizza has a pretty good summary at her place. BTW, child pornography, sex trafficking and such crimes would still be illegal, in fact, K would free up time to actually go after and prosecute these crimes.  It would also encourage sex workers to come forward and report and testify about these crimes w/o fear of retribution.

Thanks, Pizza, for the info.  And anyone else w/ info on K, feel free to drop links and discuss in comments. 

 

Also, if you are in Hawai’i, check out this site about Prostitution law reform in Hawai’i.

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