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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guest Post: 30 Years As A Sex Worker & Proud

The following is written by Mrs. Robinson, who has worked as a sex worker for almost 30 years. She is still working as a sex worker, and speaks out actively for sex worker's rights.

I think we can all agree the reason prostitution has always existed and always will, is because of poverty. We are living in a recession where our system is set up that you’re lucky to find a job paying 8 to 10 bucks an hour. Sex workers are not willing to work for wages that don't begin to cover their basic expenses. 1 out of 5 families in the US are on food stamps, which proves we are not being paid wages that cover basic living expenses. We have thousands of homeless and unemployed and all we have done for years is cut services and increase the number of non-violent prisoners; with the war on weed and prostitution. This is a HUGE business for law enforcement, and people like Dr Farley who make their living by collecting donations for victims, while providing these victims with no services. Then we allow the justice dept to fund 30% of Dr. Melissa Farley's fraud scheme, by creating public hysteria about teens being exploited. We have uncovered that this was all JUNK SCIENCE and a complete fraud, and still even the media refuses to print the truth.

In 2010 we spend 250 million for law enforcement to stalk and arrested 80,000 people for prostitution. Less than 1% were underage.

I see the governments criminalizing sex workers because they refuse to be exploited for wages they can't live on. Our whole system is set up to punish sex workers and run them out of their own communities. We give them criminal records so they are forces to stay in the sex industry. And make them lose what little stability they have struggled to create for themselves and their families.

Let’s look at how society punishes those who won't submit to their ideas. We criminalize sex workers so they can never get gainful employment again. We SEAL THEIR FATE. We also allow law enforcement to stalk, harass, abuse them, jail them and fine them. Law enforcement also refuses to investigate violent crimes against sex workers. 1000's of US sex workers are murdered each year,  10's of 1,000's are being raped each year. We allow this injustice by this insane idea that saving a few teens from being exploited is more important than all the dead bodies being left in the wake. We encourage HATE CRIMES against sex workers by promoting "they get what they deserve attitudes".

Prostitution laws were created as public nuisance ordinances, to "stop a woman from showing her wares in public", they were never intended to be enforced, by stalking adult women online down to their homes, to police their sex lives. We have created prostitute free zones, and even though they were ruled as unconstitutional, they are still creating new ones. The courts have ruled that Craigslist and Southwest companions are legal websites, yet the attorney generals office and law enforcement are still on the MORAL WITCH HUNT.

We have created laws that stop sex workers from receiving any public money, even though these women are tax payers and citizens. We do this by not allowing any federal dollars to go to any group who does not oppose all forms of prostitution. Therefore many of these women are forced to stay in sex work.
We can't police even 1% of the adult industry on a good day, so they punish the sex workers further by publishing their names and addresses. We allow law enforcement to police this one law with more zest than any other.

If law enforcement and the attorney generals office would do their jobs, they would be advocating to decriminalize indoor prostitution, between consenting adults as a harm reduction strategy to protect both sex workers and exploited teens. They would create laws requiring both parties to check the ID of the other, before engaging in any sex act. Then we would create laws that said anytime a man is caught having sex with a minor, they would get 25 years. This would shut down pimps at an alarming rate, because the only men that would not check ID would be the PREDATORS. All adult sex workers, or member of the community, would be free to report knowledge of any minors or women who are under another persons control. Sex workers would be able to report crimes against themselves and expect police assistance, and they would legally we allowed to pay taxes, without the fear of the FED"S charging them with money laundering, or the MANN act, if they happen to have crossed a state line.

I will never understand why any women who claims to be a feminist does not agree that all adults should have the right to make decisions over their own bodies, sexualities and their personal affairs with other consenting adults in private. These are basic civil rights, that we have taken away by created many unconstitutional laws.

Getting back to poverty. Its really easy to judge others, and sex workers are not looking for anyone’s approval, we simply want to be able to co-exist. I know if anyone one of us was cold and hungry enough, that they could be convinced to turn a trick for a burger and a blanket.

Matthew 21:31
Truthfully be told, prostitutes will enter the Kingdom of God, before most who call themselves Christians.

Hating on HOOKERS is society's need to misplace their own SHAME, for BULLYING OTHERS to CONFIRM + SUBMIT TO THEIR IDEAS.

This was written by Mrs. Robinson, who has worked as sex worker, in the adult industry for almost 30 years.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Girls Against Porn" Make Me Want to Vomit

In order to be against something, one has to know what he/she is against, correct? So, to be against porn would mean that one has either consumed it, been a part of it, or somewhere in the middle, right? Well, I guess anyone can say that they are “against” something, but if they have no knowledge of the subject, then they probably aren’t a credible source.

There’s a group called “Girls Against Pornography,” and I’ve been noticing their idiotic tweets more and more. Then, it struck me. GIRLS against porn? Um…why do girls (minors) even have that strong of an opinion on pornography? Who is letting these minors watch pornography, and who the hell let that one slip under the radar? I began to feel very alarmed, and wondered if I should call in a report of child abuse and possible involvement with child pornography.

Then, it occurred to me that perhaps this group is actually comprised of adult women, but prefer to refer to them as “girls.” Strange, right? Are they menopausal women in denial of their declining beauty and rising ages? Is it comforting to refer to themselves as girls? OR (the most plausible explanation) does this group prefer to use the term “girls” because they view all women (regardless of age) as young and defenseless? Ok, now we’re getting somewhere! Perhaps that is the root of the problem. How else can one explain a group of women that doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to her own body?

But wait…then something even crazier happened. GAP (lol great acronym for an anti-porn group- thank you Chris Evans for pointing that out) sent out one of the most na├»ve tweets that I have seen in a LONG while. For their sake, I hope that they actually girls because I can’t accept the fact that grown women would say something so stupid and inaccurate. GAP (hahaha never gets old!) was tweeting some bullshit about protesting Backpage. I tweeted them and asked what their solution would be if Backpage disappears, and sex workers continue to be forced further underground, resulting in even more harm and violence. Their response- “Its called getting a 9-5 job…Like the rest of the world has to; plenty of groups who would help them.”

WOW. There are so many problems with that one tweet- where to begin?!

Perhaps these “girls” should start approaching homeless people and saying “Hey, why don’t you just go get a job!? There are PLENTY of resources for someone such as yourself.” Fucking idiots- that’s the only way to describe this group.

Maybe these “girls” need to take a moment to remove their heads out of their asses and take a look around. There are people who have doctorate degrees who cannot find work. Our economy is shit. Yet, they think it is so easy to go out and find a 9-5 job! Oh, and expect that the job will pay just as much as sex work. Sure, get real “girls.” Someone needs to knock the silver spoons out of your mouths and bring you into the real world.

Also, where are these groups that are willing to help?? I tweeted them asking for the name of even ONE, and got no response. Perhaps I am wrong- do these groups exist? Is there an organization that takes ex-sex workers and gives them the resources possible to land a 9 to 5 job? Resources including money while searching for a job, money for higher education, someone to babysit the children while they’re at work for 8 hours a day, I could go on. Or- how about this- SEX WORK IS REAL WORK AND MANY WOMEN AND MEN ACTUALLY CHOOSE TO DO IT! Some women would rather have sex making $400 an hour, rather than scrubbing toilets for 40 hours to make the same amount (and it wouldn’t even be the same amount. It’d likely be less).

So “girls,” where are these groups? These resources? Perhaps the broke and desperate Pink Cross Foundation? Shelley Lubben is so broke that she’s on Facebook begging for donations. Yeah, good luck with that “help.” Perhaps Shelley should stop stealing and begging and get a 9-5 job as well.

Brilliant work, “girls.” Thank you for proving that white privilege is alive and well, and that some people in this country really don’t understand the economic, political, and social climate that exists. Sex work IS work, and for some, it’s the best option. For some, it may be the only option. For others, it’s an occupation that they truly love and wouldn’t give up for anything. Stop stigmatizing sex workers, and get out on the streets and actually fucking help someone.

Here is the tweet-

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time To Start Listening to Sex Workers & Activists- You CANNOT Delete Us

There’s an interesting thing happening in Hartford, Connecticut. A man by the name of Raymond Bechard (whom I have discussed in earlier articles) is here to save all of the victims of sex trafficking, prostitution, and sex work. Wait…what’s that you say? Sex trafficking and sex work are not the same thing? Well, will somebody PLEASE make that clear to Bechard and his little fan following?

I am not denying the existence of sex slavery and trafficking. It exists, all over our country and all over the world. However, it is a huge problem when the terms “sex work” and “sex trafficking” are conflated. This does a disservice to both groups. Sex workers are consenting adults who are choosing to engage in sexual commerce. Simply put, it is a form of income, as are many other jobs. Maybe YOU think it’s immoral and wrong and dirty, but guess what? I think that scrubbing toilets is gross and dirty, but I am certainly not going to put down a housekeeper for doing her job. It’s not my place to judge.

Common examples of sex work include escorting, exotic dancing, performance in pornographic films, phone sex, prostitution, webcam modeling, dominatrix, and the list could go on. Some of these types of work are legal, and some are not, depending on the region. Unfortunately, we live in a country where prostitution is illegal (except for Nevada), and this has been proven to be a horrible system. You can read about the utter failures of criminalization here-  The Failures of Criminalization- SWOP-NYC

Whether or not you morally agree with prostitution is not the issue. Prostitution will NEVER go away, just as drugs will never go away. You can wage a war on it, and it will just keep going further underground. Let’s start being realistic, and think in terms of harm-reduction models. Does it make sense to keep something such as prostitution illegal, spending hundreds of thousands of the state’s money every year to arrest and prosecute prostitutes?  All while providing no services, such as STD testing and safety resources, to sex workers? To turn a blind eye, pretend that they don’t exist, and then arrest them when they are found? Imagine this scenario (and it happens all too often)- a sex worker gets raped. She goes to the police (most have learned to not do this). What do you suppose will happen? I’m sure most people are intelligent enough to guess the outcome. It’s not a good model, and it is not working.

So what resources do sex workers use in Connecticut? The Hartford Advocate’s Backroom section is one way that workers can advertise their services. Bechard has been on a crusade to have the section shut down, without ONCE addressing what will happen to sex workers in CT. His goal is to reduce human trafficking (another problem that will never go away. Especially not by getting rid of a section of the newspaper), although he speaks of “sex work” and “prostitution.” Okay, well if he’s going to use the terms interchangeably, he needs to start considering the different needs of BOTH populations. It has been shown time and time again that the shutting down of services, such as Backroom, will drive sex workers even further underground, potentially leading to even more violence against them. Why isn’t that point brought into the discourse? Is it because nobody in CT cares about sex workers? Is it because everyone cares about child abuse, but no one cares about abuse against adult women? I find that strange, don’t you? For more information on how the shutting down of these services increases violence against workers, read what this sex worker has to say here- Why Backpage is Important to Me- SWOP-NYC

To see what Bechard is trying to do to "stop trafficking" in CT by shutting down Backroom, go here- Publishers of Adult Advertisements

As with anything else, this is just more propaganda to make our society feel good about itself. Hooray, we are trying to get rid of this scummy part of the newspaper, and save our children!! So what if it will hurt an already disenfranchised and under-served population? To hell with them! They’re sex workers- they DESERVE what they get.

THAT is the mentality of these people, and yet no one comes out and says it.

So, I’ve written about this before- why am I writing about it again now? Well, on Wednesday at 7 pm at the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary Culture, a staged reading from Bechard’s book is being performed. Here is the information, right from the facebook page

Join us for the Staged Reading of Project Turnpike and Meet & Greet of Author of The Berlin Turnpike: Raymond Bechard.

HARTFORD, CT. – HartBeat Ensemble, Hartford’s local professional theater ensemble, will perform a staged reading of their newest play in development, Project: Turnpike at 7pm on June 20th at the Hartford Public Library.

Based on the 2007 landmark federal trial of United States vs. Dennis Paris, which took place here in Hartford, Project: Turnpike presents 72 hours in the life of four exploited sex workers in a motel room on the Berlin Turnpike. In addition to personal interviews with people affected by the industry, HartBeat is working with Raymond Bechard, author of The Berlin Turnpike, in order to create this new play.

Bechard explains, “With a long and sordid history, the Berlin Turnpike serves as a metaphor for the landscape in which human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and all forms of prostitution have existed in the US for centuries while continuing to flourish today.”

Also, one of the women involved in the play sent me a facebook message today, to let me know about a new play about “the sex industry.” So, we have the terms “sex industry,” “sex workers,” and “prostitution” all here- without a single fact about what sex work really is. The play is NOT about these things, but rather, about sex trafficking. I am sick and tired of seeing these words used interchangeably. So, being the concerned activist that I am, I went on the event page and posted some helpful resources and links, explaining the difference. I also posed the question of how Bechard and his crew plan to cater to the needs of a population that they would be harming, if Backroom were to disappear. Nobody could answer me. Then, actual adult consenting sex workers started posting as well. We were all respectful, and trying to offer sex worker resources, such as this one-

So what happened? Well, we were insulted (screen shot below), and the entire thread was deleted, along with every other resource that we had posted. Wow. So, I guess these people really don’t care about sex workers, do they?

This was my response on the thread, after I realize that everything we did was deleted:
"I was asked earlier today on this page if I am "against freedom of speech," which seemed like a very strange question to pose to someone such as myself. Of course, I am not, but now I can see that there are individuals here who are against free speech. Earlier, I posted a few resources for those interested in sex worker activism, explaining the differences between sex trafficking/slavery and consensual sex work. Every single resource and post was deleted.
The public that's consuming the material of the play, and that of Bechard, have a right to hear both sides. That sex workers and victims of trafficking are NOT the same. These are two different populations, that the language of this play continues to conflate. In the ad for the play, they're referred to as "sex workers," and the descriptions discusses prostitution. Additionally, I have seen this play referred to as a play "about the sex industry," which it is NOT. As a sex worker advocate, I feel very concerned by the issues that are raised by Bechard's work, and by the false information that is being presented here. For example, I (and a few ACTUAL sex workers) posted information about the harms that will come to sex workers if the Backroom of the Advocate is shut down. These are legitimate concerns that MUST be part of this discourse. If you're going to do something to try to help one population (traffick) victims, but it hurts another population (sex workers- forcing them further underground and increasing the risk of violence towards them), then BOTH sides must be discussed. The problem is that people in our society do not care about the welfare of sex workers, and this is a real shame. As an activist for this disenfranchised population, I will not be silenced. I am incredibly disappointed that a group of individuals who claim to be concerned with one group have absolutely no regard for another at-risk group.
You are speaking of under-served populations, such as "sex workers" and "prostitutes," without actually addressing or having concern for the safety of these populations. This is not a play about sex work or prostitution. It is a play about sex slavery. If you're going to silence the voices of sex workers and not allow them to bea part of the discourse, at least use the proper terms. Words DO matter. Additionally, if one is going to have an agenda that harms a group (such as shutting down Backroom ads, as Bechard is attempting to do), then one needs to look at the HARMFUL consequences of that. Stop turning a blind eye and stop ignoring the under-served. Lastly, someone on the thread responded to (name removed) and I in a very disrespectful and sexist nature. That was deleted as well, but luckily, I grabbed a screen shot."
In response to a sex worker who supported my efforts, I also wrote:

“Until they stop conflating the terms "sex work" and "prostitution" with sex slavery, I will not stop talking about this. People need to recognize and respect the difference. If you're going to go out and publish books and write plays about "exploited sex workers," then get to know both sides of sex work. TALK to actual sex workers who AREN'T exploited, such as the ones that attempted to post here. LISTEN to their concerns, and the ways that the decision to shut down Backroom will affect them. They matter too.

No one has yet responded. For more information on Raymond, check out this link. Interesting article about how his charity was faced with a lawsuit a few years ago. Just food for thought. Charity Organization Faces Lawsuit

Here’s an article written by Bechard, in which he can’t seem to keep his terms straight- 

He writes: "While the Internet is mushrooming with sex-for-sale sites like Backpage, Fling, Adult Friend Finder, Eros, and The Erotic Review, something else has emerged, bringing an entirely new dynamic to human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.” 

Raymond Bechard is also founder of a group called Men Against Prostitution and Trafficking. Once again- he fails to recognize or address the difference.

Now, I’m sure Raymond knows the difference. Perhaps he just doesn’t care about the safety of sex workers. Perhaps he wants the entire sex industry to be shut down (please keep your morality away from my vagina). He’s obviously against prostitution, as is evident by his articles. However, when I brought these issues up in the thread on the event page, Bechard-fans were quick to say that the play is not about sex work, it’s not about consensual prostitution. WELL THEN WHY ARE YOU USING THOSE WORDS?? WHY IS BECHARD CONSTANTLY TALKING ABOUT THESE ISSUES?

So- is it about sex work, or is it not? If it is, then what is Bechard’s response to all of the sex workers who will continue to be pushed underground if the Hartford Advocate’s Backroom section is shut down? Does he care? Well, according to his websites, he’s a human right’s advocate, so he SHOULD care. Time to wake up and recognize the fact that there are women, men, trans individuals who are consensual sex workers, ENJOY their jobs, CHOOSE to do porn, prostitution, stripping, etc etc etc, and that THIS IS OKAY. And YES, there are also victims of sex slavery in our state and in many others, so let’s start talking about how we can help BOTH populations, rather than helping one at the expense of the other.

Here’s an article by Bechard titled “What Do You Really Know About Hookers?” in which he never once mentions sex work, or “hookers.”  What Do You Really Know About Hookers?

Last but not least, this lovely screen shot from the thread that was deleted. Another activist and I were discussing these issues, and we were told to "do what we do best" and bring the batteries- an attack on our sexuality. Big surprise. 

So, what now? Will Bechard and those that support the shutting down of The Hartford Advocate's Backroom section address the concerns of sex workers? Or just continue to ignore them?

By the way, thank you so much to members of SWOP-NYC for helping me today and for putting out such incredible articles! xo