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Beauregard

"sex Work Isn’T Stigmatised Because It Is Dangerous. Sex Work Is Dangerous Because It Is Stigmatised."

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Great article, thanks for sharing.

I agree with her pretty much 100%. Especially in regard to the silencing of sex workers. We try and try again to get some kind of voice in policy making, and so far the only country to really put their money where their mouth is in terms of SW representation is New Zealand.

So-called 'radical' feminist groups point to high rates of rape and assault experienced by sex workers as if this were an inevitable, natural consequence of selling sexual services rather than an atrocious working condition made actively worse by the fact that so many sex workers are even more afraid than other women to report their rapists to the police - particularly if they are black, Asian or transsexual. It’s as if someone who sells sex should have no expectation of consent at work. This absolute denial of agency, of personhood - groups like the EWL use the passive term "prostituted women" to refer to sex workers - is deeply dehumanising, especially for a campaign that claims to stand for human rights.

Interestingly, someone told me last night that the levels of rape and violence experienced in the sex industry are comparable to what domestic workers experience. But where are the calls to ban domestic work and criminalise their employers?

(As an aside, I'd be interested to hear which bits you didn't agree with?)

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Rose, for the most part I'd say she gets it right, but then there are a few matters where she slips up. For example, she talks of "the myth, widespread amongst both clients and law enforcement, that it’s impossible to rape a prostitute". I'm certainly not aware of this myth being widespread amongst punters - can't really say for certain as regards law enforcement, but I suspect it's not true of them either. One of the comments does pick her up on this, adding, "what is widely and correctly believed, is that it is very hard except under extreme circumstances to prosecute the prospective or actual client of a prostitute for rape". That makes a lot more sense to me.

Likewise, she talks about "an industry in which workers are criminalised and pushed to the margins of society". Unless I'm misreading this, that suggests that she thinks sex work is against the law per se, which as we know, it isn't. I guess she could simply be referring to the various ancillary bits of legislation that do fall under the heading of criminal law, e.g. the prohibition on brothel-keeping, but at best, it's a pretty misleading sentence.

But for the most part, yes, the article makes sense to me, particularly in its repeated references to the fact that sex workers are habitually excluded from any discussion on the topic. And the fact that it comes from a feminist who used to side with the antis, and has since changed her views after actually "listening to sex workers who they say that what they need is protection from abuse, better conditions at work and the ability to work without fear of arrest, thank you very much", is certainly encouraging.

Edited by Beauregard

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Agreed it is a very good article. One to pass on for sure. Thanks x

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Rose, for the most part I'd say she gets it right, but then there are a few matters where she slips up. For example, she talks of "the myth, widespread amongst both clients and law enforcement, that it’s impossible to rape a prostitute". I'm certainly not aware of this myth being widespread amongst punters - can't really say for certain as regards law enforcement, but I suspect it's not true of them either. One of the comments does pick her up on this, adding, "what is widely and correctly believed, is that it is very hard except under extreme circumstances to prosecute the prospective or actual client of a prostitute for rape". That makes a lot more sense to me.

Likewise, she talks about "an industry in which workers are criminalised and pushed to the margins of society". Unless I'm misreading this, that suggests that she thinks sex work is against the law per se, which as we know, it isn't. I guess she could simply be referring to the various ancillary bits of legislation that do fall under the heading of criminal law, e.g. the prohibition on brothel-keeping, but at best, it's a pretty misleading sentence.

But for the most part, yes, the article makes sense to me, particularly in its repeated references to the fact that sex workers are habitually excluded from any discussion on the topic. And the fact that it comes from a feminist who used to side with the antis, and has since changed her views after actually "listening to sex workers who they say that what they need is protection from abuse, better conditions at work and the ability to work without fear of arrest, thank you very much", is certainly encouraging.

In a community that until recently believed that it was not possible to rape your partner, I think she has a good point. Of course it is not going to be everyone's perception, but it only takes one to commit the act and get it very wrong. There are those that believe that they are paying for a sexual act and can have it which ever way they want. I know of someone who nearly lost their eyesight after having their eyes sprayed for refusing bareback sex. He felt it was his right as a paying punter to have what he wanted and got angry. This happened in the last decade, not back in the Victorian times.

Being an Independent is the only time it is legal. If we chose to work in pairs for safety or in a parlour then it is not legal. Independent Escorts only make up a part of the sex Industry, we are not the total or likely the majority.

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Fair enough, Kate, point(s) taken.

I also note, by the way, that far and away the majority of the comments are in support of the article, though sadly there are a few rather predictable, hostile posts full of the usual rhetoric and unsubstantiated assertions. Perhaps it's also unsurprising that because the writer doesn't agree with their dogma, one of them decides she's not really entitled to call herself feminist, hence (rather nasty) sideswipe at "Penny's brand of fun-fauxminists".

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Quite often criminals target sex workers because they think they won't report to the police because (a) they mistakenly believe some if not all of it is illegal(attacker or victim) ( :cool: they think the sex worker would be too ashamed and same goes for crimes against punters. Sex workers also tend to work alone and often during the night which can increase their vulnerability.

So for this reason I would say the laws and misbeliefs surrounding sex work does make the work more dangerous than it need be.

Edited by Strawberry

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In a community that until recently believed that it was not possible to rape your partner, I think she has a good point. Of course it is not going to be everyone's perception, but it only takes one to commit the act and get it very wrong. There are those that believe that they are paying for a sexual act and can have it which ever way they want. I know of someone who nearly lost their eyesight after having their eyes sprayed for refusing bareback sex. He felt it was his right as a paying punter to have what he wanted and got angry. This happened in the last decade, not back in the Victorian times.

Being an Independent is the only time it is legal. If we chose to work in pairs for safety or in a parlour then it is not legal. Independent Escorts only make up a part of the sex Industry, we are not the total or likely the majority.

Agreed.

It's impossible to say whether a majority of people really believe that a sex worker can't be raped, but we do need to ask why the rapists are almost never convicted in such circumstances. I spoke to a woman last night who had been viciously assaulted by a client, and sure enough, her status as prostitute was used to discredit her in court. Unfortunately the tendency is to consider women who engage in particular sexual behaviours (who are then 'sluts' or 'whores') as unrapeable, because they've brought it on themselves in some fashion by being sexually available. This makes its way into juries.

And on the criminalisation point: well, it's not illegal to buy or sell under very specific circumstances, but it's illegal to work together for safety, work outdoors, buy outdoors, employ sex workers or otherwise provide them with a premises or advertising services, etc. It's also perfectly legal to discriminate against a current or former sex worker in matters of housing, jobs or child-custody. They've left a tiny loophole at the centre of a web of offences and discriminatory practices.

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How refreshing to read an article that treats the subject with something approaching common sense : and I think she has got it about right that a lot of the real issue is that much of the knee jerk emotional reaction is precisely because it is about sex. How dare mutually consenting adults enjoy themselves ! Disgusting ! I'm not saying that there aren't serious issues around trafficking, street prostitution, sex workers safety and so on, but this seems to be invariably obscured by moralistic lobbying that tars everybody and everything with the same brush.

"Firstly, the anti-prostitution lobby makes little or no distinction between sex work in which prostitutes retain a measure of agency and sex trafficking - modern slavery. This is because it's the "sex" part of those activities that really causes knickers to be twisted in the icy corridors of bourgeois moral opprobrium. It's a school of so-called women's liberation that remains fundamentally resistant to any analysis of work or economics: work can't possibly be the problem, so the problem must be sex."

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That title pretty much coins it perfectly

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I've been a fan of Laurie Penny for a while - this piece is pretty much spot on, and such a refreshing change from the usual left-wing feminist perspective.

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