Personal and Professional Stories of A Working Human

More whorephobia and misdirects from the anti-sex work crowd

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 ( 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.



12 comments on “More whorephobia and misdirects from the anti-sex work crowd

  1. Chaz
    September 7, 2013

    Unfortunately, most people don’t believe anyone would choose to be a sex worker. It’s a common belief that sex workers are coerced, have run out of options or have a drug habit to feed.

    I know several sex workers who chose the life because they can choose their own hours and they earn good money, which is tax-free.

    One girl I met was paying her way through University to earn a degree in journalism. Another was sending her daughter to private school. Yet another had 5 children to support after splitting from her husband and escort work gave her flexibility and security for her family.

    These women all chose their line of work. There was no coercion, no drugs, no pimps, just them making a choice and earning more in a week than I do in a month with my office job.

    There are many women who are trafficked into prostitution and, for them, perhaps legalization is the solution. My sex worker acquaintances would disagree, as this would mean them having to pay tax, but by legalizing prostitution, this takes away the criminal element.

    Ideally, all sex workers would be registered and could work on their own or in a licensed brothel. They would have protection from abuse from clients and harassment from police. Safety is the main issue affecting sex workers.

    Because prostitution is illegal, sex workers are vulnerable to rape and violence. I don’t know the statistics, but sex workers have less chance of being believed when it comes to rape than a non-sex worker, and rape convictions are pitifully low even then. I would hope that legalization might change that, although this might be naive of me.

    Society needs to change its attitude. What’s wrong with selling sex, if that’s your choice? Do we not own our own bodies? Isn’t it up to us if we want to rent them out? Models do it. Actors do it. Clinical drug trial participants do it.

    Until there is a change in the law, nothing will improve for the women – and men – in the sex industry.

    • respectsexwork
      September 11, 2013

      Very true. Thank you! Society needs to change it’s attitude!

  2. Diana Barker
    November 16, 2013

    Why do so many people equate sex work with sex slavery, or somehow think that sex work is against a woman’s will? I just don’t get it. A great article for people who like to see things through a narrow lense is because it does a great job, as this post does, of highlighting some of the fun benefits of sex work.

  3. olly
    November 4, 2014

    Im a prostitute, have been for the last 14 years which is more than half of my total years lived. More than 90% of us want help to exit prostitution immediately but are trapped for various reasons. I take issue with the minority of prostituted who call themselves sex workers and say it is their dream job and rally against radical feminists who actually try to help the vast majority of us get our needs meet, educate us, help us become liberated from this hell. I am pychologically crippled from abuse and I am trapped in expensive rent and medical and bills and my learned helplessness has me in bed home alone as often as possible instead of being able to force myself to work a bit more, make some money for more than just rent food and occasionally drug use out out of desperation of escape, in order to get a plan and work my way out of this. I really don’t believe I’m capable after so many failures and so much disapointment I don’t try because I can’t believe. I feel I have a very slim chance of ever being free and I struggle with that reality everyday please dont keep making it harder and harder for us. Yes I understand that you are saying you are very happy and etc etc and fine whatever really I’m too tired to argue, just remember us 90% we exist, you have more privilege and you are deciding all the laws and reforms and social opinions etc that affect us all far worse than you and no one is listening to us, I guess most of us are not on the internet or engaged with society in such ways or at all and there is much propaganda I see my sisters who want to leave like me fall into that has been promoted by you happyhookers about broad decrim and sex work and bla and bla and bla which isnt actually helpful for those of us who want to escape, the sweedish model is. Remember us when you represent us. Speak to our existance along with your words on your own. Don’t put down those who try to help us, we are your sisters too.

    • respectsexwork
      November 9, 2014

      Decriminalization will only help people who want to exit. I think that’s incredibly clear.

      • lib
        November 16, 2014

        I live in a country with decriminalization (new zealand), trust me there is no help for us who want to exit. We want the sweedish model.

  4. lib
    November 16, 2014

    Prostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003, prior to then I was underage and didn’t know that this meant I was not a criminal for what I was doing to survive. In my experience there is no difference for us between illegal or decrim.

    We are subject to the whim of pimps and clients, they exploit our economic need in order to do things to us which we never wanted to do, which are painful, and risky to our health. We don’t have control or agency over what “services” we provide or how violently or humiliatingly we are treated because we need the money, and as criminals we can’t go to the police for help and now that it is decriminalised the police protect the owners of the brothels and the men who pay to rape us. It is very common that in attempting to assert my boundaries (all I ask is for condoms to be used for oral and vaginal sex, to not be forced to recieve anal, and to not kiss or otherwise share bodily fluids for hygeine/saftey reasons and to be treated with the minimal respect for my human rights that I not be smacked and swore at and burnt with cigarettes and etc. That when I say don’t do that please people would stop instead of asking why and when I say because it is painful they would actually refrain from insisting I enjoy it and doing it anyway, calling me a stupid whore for flinching, etc) the client will leave after assaulting/raping me and complain to the management about the standard of my “service” and recieve a refund meaning my boss will never pay me for the booking. So I am forced to grit teeth and persevere through it and as if that were not enough to smile and pretend I enjoy being violently sexually and verbally abused and ridiculed.

    There is nothing I can do to stop this because in the eyes of the law my rapist is an innocent client and my pimp is a respected and wealthy businessman. I have been to the NZPC our “sex worker rights union” and I have been to police and I have realised they do not exist to help me but to make money off of my torture and after decriminalization they are now seeking to enforce that we pay income taxes in other words adopt a second pimp. I can barely afford to live as is, if I had better options I would not be here in the first place, my “service” costs clients less than the hourly room rental provided by the brothel, surely my body and life is worth more than a room for an hour.

    My boss is a millionaire and we are struggling but the system finds us to be responsible for our own tax because we don’t meet the requirements to be considered employees, but we are not independent contractors either we have no employee rights and no independent contractor freedoms, the alternative is street work where the going rate is lower and it is more dangerous and I would not escape pimps either the gangs would become my pimp and the other prostituted would become fiercely in my opposition as competitors, and on the streets is not just girls like in the brothels but men and transwomen and they are stronger than I am and I would be kept in place by that, its no more freedom than indoor.

    If we had the sweedish model clients would treat us better because we would be able to report them to police if they didn’t, where they would be seen for the criminals they are and we would be offered resources to help us exit if we choose, no pressure. This would benefit you who don’t want to exit as well as us who do.

    If we had the sweedish model our bosses and management would treat us better because we would be able to press charges against them if they didn’t.This would benefit you who don’t want to exit as well as us who do.

    Please listen, decriminalization is a disaster. I know you are only seeking to end the stigma against us and access human rights by calling yourselves sex workers instead of prostituted and clinging to the concept of your choice as free agency because you desperately want to be free (either that or you are exceptionally lucky to have the option of being a doctor, lawyer, astronaut or etc instead but freely choose the sex industry because you are exceptionally lucky to have good pay and conditions of such work and are exceptionally lucky to not be so damaged from years of abuse that you can’t stand to be touched) but this sex worker, decrim, happy hooker propaganda is just that, it promises rights and dignity but it was never created for such purposes, it was created to expand the industry, to allow men to more easily access and control our bodies/sexuality, and for more pimps and governments to make more money while ending their own stigma.
    They don’t care about you and the definitely don’t care about me either.
    I care about you, please care about us who don’t want to be doing this.

    • respectsexwork
      November 22, 2014

      No. Decriminalization gives you every single right to exit. There are many many resources for you if you wish to exit. The Swedish model does absolutely nothing except make it more dangerous for clients which means you get a totally different type of client who, to be honest, are often the dangerous type of client.

      If you want to exit, abuse to you is illegal, there are resources in New Zealand for you, right now, if you need them. If you think that putting me at risk, and millions of other women at risk because you hate clients, you are basically playing games with women’s safety.

      I don’t think I can repeat this enough. Decriminalization does absolutely nothing but help you. There is nothing to decriminalization that says you can’t get out if you don’t enjoy sex work. The only thing that it does is make it safe for you to go get help rather than you having to worry about legal repercussions. Do you need resources? Do you need help finding an organization that wants to help you?

      I’m sorry if you have had abuse by the hands of evil shitlords, now please understand that I am living in a world of total criminalization and I see police rape sex workers and police commit crimes against women, and police be the aggressors, in addition to all the other shit we have no control over because we cannot report. I would never want the good clients that I see to be criminalized. I want bad people to be the criminals, and I don’t want police having all the power over me. The Swedish law is disrespectful to women and disrespectful to people who wish to make their own adult choices. Sex with underage people is, and will be, illegal even with legalization or decriminalization. The protections would be there without the barriers.

      And as for giving pimps control, it’s illegal to pimp! It’s always illegal to pimp. Everywhere. That has absolutely nothing to do with decrim.

      I’m tired of these arguments that say, you have had a shit time with people so therefor you should be able to control everyone else’s decisions. Guess what. If I could make sure no one is ever raped again I would do that in a second. Allowing consenting adults to have sex with one another isn’t at all something you should have control over in another person’s life. Pimps, are illegal, trafficking, it’s illegal. Decriminalization means that sex workers have the power to run a sex business without the fear of abuse from police, and while still being able to report abuse from the public. That is what it means.

    • Ada
      February 23, 2015

      Nice transphobia there.

      • respectsexwork
        February 23, 2015

        I’m sorry, where was I transphobic? Genuine apologies if I was.

      • Ada
        February 24, 2015

        My comment was in reply to lib, no problem with you.

      • respectsexwork
        March 1, 2015

        Oh phew. I mean obviously if I’m being a true asshole I like to know which way, but I’m so glad I didn’t just miss something.

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