Responding to Madisson Missina:
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US – JUST WHO IS ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT LIFE AS A PROSTITUTE?
We have nearly “met” a couple of times I think. One of the many things everybody seems to have forgotten is that I was always one of the most “anti sex work” activists of all, and that “always” goes back as far as 1971.
I don’t even like (and this is the subjective, value judgement use of “like” here) porn. Hardly surprising, I like my sex elegant, passionate and without fetish, always did, so why on earth would I enjoy porn? But I am pretty insistent that my dinner should arrive without boiled carrots too, and never once has it occurred to me those should be banished from other people’s lives, and it never will.
I literally cannot imagine anyone being enthusiatic about the “sex” part of sex work (which is a little weird to deal with these days, since I have met so many young antipodean sex workers I have more in common with than most people).
Even so, the Nordic model would have been a death sentence for me at several times in my life, and as bad, or nearly as bad for so many others, so it is a nightmare I will always oppose.
Don’t rely on my memory (I wouldn’t dare these days!) scan and dip into this https://mymythbuster.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/hooker.pdf – it was written in 2000 and 2001 to epublish (hence the date lock for copyright – and I have more chance of guessing the password for the FBI than remembering the one I put on it, so it is unchanged since. That was the finalised version of my activism between 1993 and 2000, unaffected by the current wave of abolitionist propaganda.
If you like that is my neutral and subjective take on sex work, based on 30 years first and second hand experience. I had heard the idea of punishing the clients but I thought, eventually, good sense would prevail, and people would realise that as so many sex workers were desperate for the money that bird was not to be allowed to fly.
I ALWAYS campaigned primarily for “exit” resources, in fact I think I may have coined that phrase single handed when I opposed the recriminalisation of Irish sex workers with the catch phrase “If you want to get rid of sex workers, don’t punish them, their lives are hard enough just give them a door marked *Exit* and they will leave of their own free will”.
The deepest darkest nightmare in a life full of them has been looking now and seeing all the travesties seeking both funding and ways to coerce enough sex workers to engage to justify that (at least 90% of sex workers are no fools and will not go near these indoctrination and lifelong dependency schemes voluntarily) – that’s the main reason why they are demanding increased 6 month 1st offence prison sentences for sex workers in Ireland and in the gaslighting twist of the century, calling it “decriminalisation…they took a look at the notorious and loathsome “project Rose” and decided they wanted a piece of that action, albeit in a subtler, more sneaky Irish way.
Ireland is a small country. There are good reasons why I broke with these organisations in 1994 and was actively opposing them in 1997. I found out two things, that they were willing to move heaven and earth to block any initiative that might offer sex workers full time, adequately paid, alternative work and independence of them, and that they were refusing to allow sex workers, former or otherwise, any executive or consultative role in their organisations.
It was tragic, watching the handful of women who had made the leap of faith when they were promised everything, being strung along, year after year, offered no vocational resources, still having to sell sex to pay the bills 6 years on..I was not in a position where I could do that if I could (or would) have handled the condescension, abuse, manipulation and deceit. I was more innocent in those days, so was the world, I was literally horrified by how genuinely wicked and arbitrarily self serving these organisations seemed to be.
These days I realise the same patterns of ambition, control and ruthless empire building run all the way through civil society like the lettering in seaside rock…then I though I might be suffering a degree of subjective bias. I was also scared to death of them.
These days I the same organisations have pole position on the list of things Irish sex workers need protecting from.
Lets see if the whole of this (so far) will post at this convenient break point, and I’ll come back to the present and continue…
When I got back into this in 2011, it was as a back door to persuading the Irish government to abandon the practice of excluding self advocacy from consultations in favour of NGO input that was usually made without mandate from or consultation with the actual user group. This NGO input seemed to focus on the advantage and agenda of the NGOs in question to the exclusion of all else, and most especially the real needs and limits of the user group any resulting legislation was going to be imposed upon. The extent and reach n the damage that was causing was heartbreaking, terrifying, and totally unnessecary.
I knew the sex work issue and all who sail in it arguably better than anyone else in the country, my recognised credentials go back to 1993, and, unlike every other issue the sex work related orgs had no helpless and dependent “human shields” to absorb the colateral damage.
(You think I exaggerate? Denied 2% of their funding in 2009 one of the biggest providers of residential services to the disabled insisted this was forcing them to shut down bungalows for the intellectually disabled forcing them to share 24/7 accomodation with inappropriate people, like those with “challenging behaviour”. I am told one sweet lady just sat in a corner praying in tears after this – THAT is the type of colateral damage I am talking about. The NGO in question had an equal number of administrative and frontline staff on high salaries and an enviable fleet of brand new vehicles it was hard to justify).
My reasoning was that if the closed shop could be broken and and the government could be forced to accept sex work self advocates it would be impossible to justify the exclusion of any other self advocates henceforth…
…AND it was gonna be a walk in the park because this was the one area where the NGO had almost no contact of any kind with a user group that were, at best, totally creeped out by them.
The first thing that horrified me was meeting the sex work activism alliance – it was deja vu but with crack…they were showing all the same attitudes and warning signs that the abolitionist group did in the 1990. Their primary focus seemed to be on excluding self advocacy. Which was taken to surreal lengths at times.
The second thing that horrified me was the abolitionist group creating and grooming their own “survivors” to slot into the self advocacy role. One was a complete fraud (and I will never be sure my eyewitness position on that was an accident of fate. I wish I thought it was to shut me up, but I fear it was intended to force me on board because the only sincere thing about these organisations is their inability to see sex workers as equals capable of the integrity that is so alien to them), one was a convicted pimp, one was a messed up soul prepared to fight for anyone who gave her a sense of absolution (it surprised me to discover this is a recognised phenomenon in the psychology of radicalisation ).
I hadn’t “listened to survivors”. I never needed to, I had more experience of my own to draw on and be objective about than any of them had to offer subjectively. I have yet to see a “true life”sex work book written about any time and place I was part of that stuck to anything like the facts. The last one I had read (because I knew the person) had me laughing out loud with the barefaced cheek of some of it, and worried to death by the twisted vindictiveness of some of the claims that seemed more about settling a personal score with an individual or two with poison than communicating fact.
I certainly was not about to start listening to “survivor” accounts I knew for sure to be anywhere from heavily embellished to people please abolitionists to outright fraud.
When I have the patience to look at any of them, globally, they are written to formula and remarkably similar to the “saved and born again” literature a long ago partner used ram up my nose (What can I say? I was very young, and it was a mistake I avoided making twice) on called “from Witchcraft to Christ” sticks in my mind, but it was a whole genre, and most of these “survivor” stories seem to have just upgraded and sometimes secularised the language and recycled. I’ve no patience with that, and here is why:
“I am aware a lot of the survivors are seeking the Nordic Model as recourse to rectify their exploitation”
Even where the exploitation is real (and therefore too subtle to make it into print) – on which planet is is ok to sacrifice people you claim are just like you in order to feel better about your past?
There are a lot of things in my past I want and deserve “recification” for…mostly because I cannot bear to think of someone like me going through the same today (as they no doubt are), but making that worse for them, in the here and now, with something like the Nordic model would horrify me and make my wounds deeper.
“Feeling hurt? Getting with the program and crucifying someone like you will make you feel SO MUCH BETTER”
NO! NO! And NO!
Some of the new wave of “survivors” and their handlers are worse again, ruthless, unscrupulous, up on the bandwagon and manipulating for all they are worth.
The exact kind of people and behaviours that we are supposed to abandon and apply the “no contact rule” to in our personal and relational lives are suddenly become something to be carried shoulder high and treated as the 5th gospel in terms of sex work??
I don’t think so.
“One of the most publically cut throat and bitchy environments around, where bullying has become so engrained its become a form of communication in itself.”
…it’s not new, and if you scan the right parts of my old memoir you will find plenty of old validation for that impression…unfortunately some of the sex workers who *LEAD* that kind of abuse have left and rebranded themselves as “survivors” too.
I think it was Barbara Taylor Bradfield who said “In times of was the psychopaths tend to rise to the top like the cream in coffee” and recognising that makes a lot of sense of the worst of the world…
But also, frankly give me a choice between the group dynamics of women and a firing squad and I will happily round up the guys and load the guns myself – and I knew THAT before I had ever even met a single sex worker.