This really takes the form of a personal letter to a lady on twitter who keeps trying to ask the abolitionists a rather obvious question:
Why not make exits for people that DON’T like being sex workers and make good labour laws for people that DO like being sex workers?
She has received no answer from the abolitionists in several days. Let me also say that she is one of the more serene and civil tweeters, so there is no excuse for that ignorance.
Anyway, that was pretty much the second thought through my head, right after “what kind of moron is going to believe sex workers will be better off with their earnings drastically reduced” when I first noticed that abolitionism was a rising fad in NGO scams…
In real terms it is like throwing the most desperate of survival sex workers under the bus so that the others can get away. I agree that it *is* a form of compromise but it is a very ruthless and unfair kind of compromise indeed.
I was an utterly miserable survival sex worker. The only reason I could sell sex was because I had no way to survive otherwise, and the reason I could not save money was because as soon as I had some spare I could not get myself back in to work until it ran out.
Here is some of that story from when it was fresher in my mind (I date locked the file for copyright purposes in 2001 and your guess is as good as mine what the password might be!).
One of the things that makes me most angry with the abolitionist lobby is that I was exactly the kind of sex worker they claim is the reason why we need to “end demand” and “eradicate” sex work, despite the fact that “ending demand” and “eradicating” sex work would have been one of the worst things anyone could have done to me, and, at some times would have been tantamount to murdering me.
I never underestimate people, and I am sure the abolitionist lobby are just as capable of recognizing that as I am. This immediately shows me that they are demanding funds to rescue and defend people without an iota of sincere concern about whether those people live or die. That, in itself demonstrates that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are these people fit to be given vulnerable lives to play with. They have proved they are incapable of taking anything like sufficient care of them in the most basic ways.
This is before we get to their cavalier approach to the truth. I recognize that a lot of politics is about posturing and point scoring, even though I cannot understand or relate to it. If I say a negative thing to or about someone, the truth of that negative thing is the reason why I am opposing them. If I have to invent negative statements to oppose them I cannot see anything to oppose!
Abolitionists are also at a serious disadvantage when it comes to facts, because they are fighting to dictate other people’s lives, about which they know next to nothing, while sex workers are fighting to defend their own lives, about which they know just about everything.
But I never catch the abolitionists trying to find out, let alone telling the truth about anything. It seems to me they literally do not know, or want to know what the truth is at all.
Now that is one thing as applied to lobbying (if you can’t stand the dirt and corruption – stay out of the debate) but when the same attitude is applied to providing resources for women to leave (“exit” is a term for voluntary euthanasia which is abusive in the context of sex work), it becomes intense gaslighting and very serious emotional abuse in and of itself.
That is NOT OK, let alone “good enough” for anyone who wants to leave sex work to buy time for those who want to stay.
My old memoir doesn’t contain the full reason why I left sex work, because in 2001 to state it would have endangered me.
What happened is that I was approached by a well known figure in organized crime in 1992 who was planning to move in and take over what was, up to that point, an almost totally independent, decriminalised street based sex industry using re-criminalization planned for 1993 as leverage.
I turned him down, and I wasn’t very polite about it (if I had realized who he was and that the offer was genuine I would have turned him down far more civilly, after all, he was not disrespecting me!) after which, “being me” became an escalating and very dangerous pursuit. I stuck it out until the night I realized I was not just risking my own neck, but the neck of any man who hired me, and I did not have a right to do that.
I had no way to survive without sex work, and, equally, no way to survive if I stayed in the only form of sex work I could handle, on the streets.
I got through the first couple of months alive by dating a Detective who slept with an (official) loaded handgun under his mattress. Sadly he also had a bad habit on control and emotional abuse so the relationship could not continue indefinitely.
Then there was the small matter of me having no money to live on. A few old clients rallied round and really helped me (often for nothing) but I am not a beggar, and I could not live with letting them do that for ever.
The only organisations here for sex workers The Women’s Health Project (the lead org at the time and now under the umbrella of the health services and officially taking a back seat in lobbying) and Ruhama were so degrading and abusive that they compounded my pre-existing PTSD in ways that sex work and clients never had.
They got even worse and more powerful in the 21 years since. But, of course, that is just Ireland. It could be an isolated problem.
However, in order to heal some of the damage caused by my family of origin, and institutional abuse, I had to learn as much as possible about psychopathy, as well as all forms of mental, emotional and even cult abuse and that is all I can see coming from the frontrunners in the abolitionist lobby (who tend to also check out as liable to make a lot of personal gain out of “rescue”).
I cannot justify handing desperate and vulnerable women over to that level of abuse and damage to buy time for their more fortunate colleagues.
Here is an article I wrote about the above in 2000: