Personal and Professional Stories of A Working Human
If you haven’t already seen this movie, I suggest you watch it. Because that’s what this post is about.
Do you know why this makes me so angry? It’s taking advantage of people who know NOTHING about this issue. This is directed at people not even involved in this conversation, so they will take up this anti-trafficking standpoint that actually happens to be anti-sex work and has nothing to do with trafficking. There are definitely people who are trafficked and misled into working jobs, and some of those jobs are sex work, but it’s a much lower number than most other industries. Think: Dishwashers, Think: All the shit jobs no one else wants to do. That’s where most people are trafficked. “Sex Trafficking” may be an issue, but it’s not an issue that’s related to legalized sex work. It is, in fact, an issue to do with gangs and traffickers. This seems fairly obvious to me and yet I have to point this out every single day of my life. Legalized sex work does not increase trafficking. It actually affects trafficking very little as it’s a different industry.
So, trafficking is bad. Get that? It is not, however, legalized sex work. Trafficking people is illegal. Forcing someone to be a sex worker, is actually slavery and is actually considered kidnapping and probably some other shit that I don’t know the legal for. Having sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you, isn’t sex, it’s rape.
The people who make this video are Stop The Traffik (stopthetraffik.org) who seemingly do some good things. I imagine with a bit of overhead, but that’s not uncommon with many aid organizations. If you get things done it’s probably ok right?
I’m not here to attack them directly, although I probably should, but I’m here to point out how this is harmful to the cause and to sex workers. So either way you aren’t helping. That is sort of always true though. When you equate legalized (consensual) sex work with trafficking of humans, you do a pretty serious disservice to those actually harmed by trafficking. Us sex workers, the ones who chose our careers in the sex industry, we are in no need of your help, especially when it most often comes in the form of prison and ostracism. And if that’s how you help trafficking victims, then it’s not really a service to them either.
This is what the video shows at the end, these words that apparently changed all these men’s minds about whether they were going to get a hooker or not.
“Every year thousands of women are promised a dancer career in Western Europe
Sadly, they end up here”
I’m pretty insulted by that, on several levels. It is insulting. You should be insulted too. This isn’t a coherent message and it takes advantage of people’s lack of understanding about the issue. It’s implying (by the sheer fact of the productions location) that when you walk by a window in the red light district of Amsterdam all of these women are there against their will, having been lied into a life of sex work.
Now let’s talk about this part: “Sadly, they end up here.” That, is straight disrespect for every women who works in the red light district, saying that they are something to be sad about. That where they work is somewhere you only end up when you are trafficked. Somewhere no one would really want to be and it must be so awful it’s only a place for trafficked people. Sadly I ended up there once. I met some of the most amazing people I would ever meet there, some of the strongest women I will ever have known, or would ever hope to know. There were a mix of people there, some happy with their work, some not. I never met any women who had thought they were coming there to do anything other than sex work. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it did not happen that often if it did.
Trafficking is a real problem. An actual problem. Not something to make money off of when you pretend to be trying to end it.
Sex workers are murdered because people think they don’t matter. They think their lives mean little or nothing. Anti-Trafficking organizations have made a lot of money dehumanizing and insulting sex workers. They make a lot of money and make very little difference because many of these organization push to criminalize sex work even further, which punishes those sex workers who do it consensually, and it criminalizes those people who are actually trafficked, not saving them but punishing them even further.
But those words just keep floating through my head. “Sadly, they end up here.” As if completely ignoring all the sex workers working in the red light district, ignoring their voices and their experiences. They never fucking listen to the sex workers. They never fucking listen they just talk over us and cause us harm. I’m just so sick of it.
We should talk about the trafficking that happens, and we should keep everyone as safe as possible, but this type of media attention and blatantly insulting all sex workers, is not the way to do it. Let’s have an honest discussion about trafficking. One that doesn’t involve blaming sex workers, insulting sex workers, or equating trafficking with sex work.