Can I get some input from folks (particularly people who identify as sex workers, but others welcome too - I'll just be giving more weight to those who identify as current or former sex workers) about what a respectful name for the forum would be, and perhaps we could discuss some guidelines for posting in it.
New sex worker rights forum
73 posts / 0 new
Fri, 2009-10-23 12:23#1
New sex worker rights forum
Amazing idea Michelle. Here are my thoughts:
I like Sex Workers Rights. It's broad enough to cover a lot of areas and the topics that can be included would still be open to those who oppose prostitution but at least step away from that and attempt to discuss harm reduction and the actual lived realities of sex workers. If a particular poster is getting aggressive against a sex worker then they can be told to take it to another thread. I think there must be at least 5 or 6 of them floating around.
Since there is a lot of people, like me, who take things from all waves of feminism it might be hard but also very interesting and educational as well. Perhaps we can even get skdadl, Tehanu and Bacchus to post here again.
I feel very strongly that the voices of "partial-decriminalization" and "abolitionist" feminists should be heard too. So the reason I'm proposing kind of a "safe space" forum to discuss sex workers' rights (love that name, by the way) is because it's important that sex workers' voices be heard AND supported - and I don't think that is happening right now.
At the same time, there has to be space for non-sex worker feminists who disagree with the paradigm that susan davis and others put forward to be able to say their piece too.
Since sex workers are the more marginalized of the voices in this debate among feminists, this is why I think it's important to create a more "protected" space for their voices. Mainstream feminist voices on this issue are not in the minority in progressive circles.
I hope this will be an acceptable solution to this impasse. Everyone is welcome to discuss the issue in the feminism forum OR the sex worker rights forum, but the sex worker rights forum will be primarily from the perspective of people who have been sex workers, while the discussions in the feminism forum will be basically open to all feminist perspectives.
I like the way Stargazer put it.
Okay, it's created and I've moved this thread into it.
Shall we think of some guidelines for respectful engagement that will respect the voices of sex workers and their allies?
This is funny.
Are parents sex workers too?
First suggested rule: No posts like #4.
Michelle, I think it's a great idea.
One of the things that happen when debates become polarized is that certain other kinds of discussions stop happening, or just never start. People don't feel free to put questions to those they support, to investigate details or challenge definitions, when everyone has become defensive and supporting your "side" takes precedence all the time.
Don't worry Unionist, I am sure to stay out.
I am just curious what will be my rights when sex becomes a recognized trade, maybe I should hang on to all receipts for posible expence claims.
How are you going to distingiush between a sex worker and almost everyone else?
Bubbles... in response to post #4: no, they are hobbyists.
Hahahahaha @ bagkitty. We won't be letting the real term fly. We would be in serious trouble
Paradoxically, you might get more input if you limited your output. And fewer might be offput.
You could have fooled me.
Anyway I am out of this forum as promised.
You have no rights here. You have the privileges granted to you by the owners of the site. Just like the rest of us.
I have not proposed an entire forum to support the prostitution of women. I've proposed a forum where sex workers' voices are heard first and foremost, from their lived experience, along with those who wish to support them in discussion as opposed to drowning them out with attacks.
Up to this point, there was no way for us to know that you were speaking from your lived experience, Infosaturated, because you did not tell us that.
As Stargazer said in the second post (which I agreed with),
That would, of course, include your lived reality, and what you consider to be harm reduction.
What it wouldn't be is constant attacks on people who identify as sex workers by people who do not identify as such, or choose to discuss the matter from a third person point of view if they are but don't wish to disclose. And it certainly won't be a place for men who are not sex workers to attack women who are.
As for your post that you said you didn't receive input into - sorry about that. I didn't notice it. I don't come even close to reading every post that everyone makes - especially when they post a lot of them that are extremely long.
Good point. If need be, I will appeal to the owners of the site for equal rights.
Be sure to be accurate when you ask. You're not asking for an "anti-prostitution" forum, you're asking for a "non-sex worker" forum. The new forum is not the "pro-prostitution" forum, it's the sex worker forum.
Right now you already know one babble sex worker and her take on things, but there's no saying there won't be another sex worker who joins and posts from an abolitionist perspective. As I understand it, the forum is about their voices, not where they stand on legalization/decriminalization/abolition.
sex worker rights
A place for sex workers and their allies to discuss issues around, and advocacy of, sex workers' rights.
You have framed the topic in such as way as to validate prostitution as a valid form of employment for women. It is to advocate "sex worker rights" rather than abolish the prostitution of women. Please point me to the posts attacking sex workers. Then I can point you to the ones where sex workers and supporters are doing the attacking.
Debating based on facts and progressive reasoning, is not "attacking".
I did not "disclose" earlier because I wanted my words to be evaluated from the perspective of reason based on facts and progressive thought. What is said should be far more important than who is saying it. I still strongly resent the confessional requirement particularly on a topic such as this one.
There are "safe space" message boards for all manner of victims and minority groups. If someone has lived experience of course they should be treated respectfully but the topic we are discussing is not "the lived experience of sex workers". It is whether or not, as a society, we want to legitimize the prostitution of women to men as an industry. That's worth repeating.
The issue is whether or not, as a country, we want to legitimize the prostitution of women to men as an industry.
This is not an isolated "sex worker" issue it is an issue of significance to all Canadians who are dedicated to social justice. All progressive Canadians should be educating themselves on this issue, grabbling with the information available.
Given that this is a progressive message board, not a debating club, I would hope that posts would be judged based on the value of the information they are providing and adherance to progressive principles rather than how many are on each side. Susan Davis, as one of the three women making the challenge, has a vested interest in the outcome and an advantage in having her arguments prepared over a period of years with the support of lawyers.
Nevertheless I have no objection to threads limited to her supporters. I do object to dedicating a forum with a biased title and description to her cause unless the same privilege is offered to those of us who oppose the commodification of women's bodies.
Actually it is a debating club, or have you not noticed? We have been actively debating for years on Babble. You can frame this any way you wish but that doesn't make what you say real.
You seem to prefer that we pretend that all sex workers get into the business out of fear, poverty, drugs or low self-esteem. The reality, as clearly stated by Susan Davis and myself is that there are *gasp* people who enter this business without being forced into it.
No one is denying the reality of human trafficking, underage street workers, exploitation or the bigger one - patriarchy. We would very simply like to have a safe place for sex workers to speak, without posts like yours, which refer to sex workers as "willing slaves" and shut out any support for sex workers at all.
Sorry Infosaturated. It doesn't work that way. You have sucessfully started and partcipated in how many threads now that ran Susan and her ideas into the ground? Now the moderators have decided she should have a voice along with others where we can discuss making things safer.
It is about choice here, and you cannot deny that choice to anyone.
I wanted to add that Prostitution already exists and is not going anywhere, so again, why pretend it is? You'll be going around in circles all your life waiting for there to be true equality between the sexes. It is not going to happen in my life time, nor my son's and probably not even my grandson's. So let's deal in reality. There is much common ground here.
Then let's invite the right-wingers in. There is a difference between a debating club in which teams are assigned positions to argue and an actual debate based on progressive principles with the goal of supporting social justice.
I said that I support the idea of Susan having a gazillion threads purely for the support of "sex worker rights". What I object to is the bias of the title of the forum and the overall mentality that stresses who people are rather than the arguments they are presenting. I also object to the issue being framed as one that is about "sex worker rights".
If there is going to be a separate forum, which I support, it should be named something neutral such as:
"Canadian Charter Challenge of Prostitution Laws"
The description chould be: For the discussion of decriminalization of prostitution law that hinders third parties from profiting.
If there is a belief that Sex worker's need a special thread, or two, or three, just for "supporters" they should certainly have those threads but those of us who disagree should have the same. They can even be made "stickies" to ensure the full decriminalization supporters get to keep their arguments right at the very top, first thread, first three threads if you want.
Susan is not just a sex worker. She is one of the faces of the charter challenge.
I don't accept the validity of a "sex worker forum".
Stargazer, I am not going to get into discussing the pros and cons of prostitution in this thread too. I am contesting the idea of a dedicated "sex worker and allies" forum.
I also object to placing more stress on individual identity than on progressive thought.
Well Info, I think you're going to lose on your wish to exclude this type of discussion. I'm not a moderator but you have seen how this is going to work. You're the only person opposed to it. I highly doubt that not allowing a place for the discussion of sex worker' rights is going to fly. We tried it your way. All it was doing was causing a lot of people real grief.
And yes, this is usually a big debate club. We discuss, we debate. That is babble.
In regards to threads, you might want to check yours on this topic, as you've posted and started a ton, many of them in response to or as an attack on someone else's take or stance. Seems to me you have had a lot to say, and have had no one stopping you from saying it, yet you'd like to dictate how this whole topic should be presented and debated and in fact would like to see it all put to an end.
BTW I had no idea we were debating the pros and cons of protitution. I thought we were discussing ways to make their lives easier. My mistake.
This isn't a democracy. I trust the moderators will evaluate the situation and try to come up with a more equitable solution.
Well it's a darn good thing that isn't my goal I certainly support the right of sex workers to have a place to discuss their rights.
Not at all!!! I should think requesting a more evenly balanced approach is reasonable and I definitely don't want the discussion to end!
People who are sex workers right this minute are not the only people to be considered when crafting laws. The interests of future sex workers, or the future of those who could avoid being exploited in the first place, are of significance too. So are the ramifications on people who are not sex workers.
Personally I find that whenever government policy and laws are concerned it pays to examine what other progressive governments are doing.
This comment does not belong in this thread, whose purpose is to select a name and suggest guidelines. Read the OP.
One could consider them as "volunteers." I don't know how that would look on a résumé, though.
Excellant idea Michelle. Of course as long as other forums don't start threads devoted to trashing the workers and insulting people, to their back so to speak.
I'll see if I can get some of my sex worker friends to drop in with posts. Second hand from me really isn't the best way to get their voices ehard
and most aptly chosen babble name ever?
I haven't noticed anyone trashing sex workers or the prostituted themselves. But if you can insinuate that it's "worker-bashing" to critique the sex industry and the people who are prostituted within it, then all the more power to upholding the status quo. To upholding men's right to sex on demand and that oh-so valuable market that is created by the continuing refusal to examine demand.
I have no problem with that kind of analysis, jas. Let's do that in the feminism forum, and leave this one for people to discuss this issue along the lines of what Stargazer said in post 1, and I said in post 15. Probably some of that will spill into this forum too.
Infosaturated: do what you feel you need to do re: talking to my supervisor (feels weird to type that since the relationship the staff has with the publisher doesn't really feel like "supervision" so much as "collaboration", but I guess for lack of a better term...). I highly doubt that the publisher will have a problem with this forum. But in the meantime, this forum is going to happen, and we'll figure out along the way what the parameters are since it's new.
For instance, I have no problem with Infosaturated's suggestion of having "protected" threads, where the person who starts the thread indicates in the opening post what kind of boundaries she'd like to see respected in the thread. That could work quite nicely.
My apologies, I missed this. This is a personal attack and not allowed on babble. Especially here, in a forum dedicated to hearing the voices of women who have been involved in the sex trade (which Infosaturated has shared with us that she has been).
If you have nothing to add but comments like this, then please don't comment at all. Thanks.
Edited to remove personal information
Is this a debating club or a progressive board? Genuine reasoned debate should sway people's opinions. Isn't that the whole point? When I started posting the majority seemed in favor of prostitution. Few people could be bothered enough to actually do research because it's only women and we are still just not that important. Take a look at what progressive governments are doing and what capitalist/patriarchal ones are doing. Ya figure just in this one area progressive governments suddenly decided to oppress the rights of happy hookers because they're prudes? Ya figure Chavez is a prude out to suppress women?
The last time you suggested a forum for sex work I supported you because I thought it would be to represent the interest of all "sex workers", even those who could not be present because they don't speak English, or because they are being held captive, or because they don't have access to computers, or because they are dead.
I think it's outrageous to suggest an entire forum purely to support the prostitution of women while those against are to be relegated to the feminist forum. As usual, when women's rights come up against what men want we are second place. Let one woman support what men want and suddenly she's a protected minority and other women are just being prudes. Nevermind the data.
I put a great deal of effort into making the first two posts in my last thread balanced, and editable, and the third requested input from anyone who disagreed..
I would also like to point your attention to this post which resulted in zero input:
My suggestion is this. How about a topic in this area to suggest sub-topics within "The Sex Industry" that deserve separate treatment. This list could be added to if need be. Every sub-topic can have a thread of it's own but not all at once. As a group we can discuss which ones and how many can run simultaneously based on avoiding overlap with the mods making the final judgement. While thread drift is probably unavoidable to some extent the mods agree to be strict about staying on topic whatever that topic happens to be. If I am criticizing the NZ model then whatever I am saying has to link directly to it.
A new topic (after the first set has been agreed on) gets approved by consensus or the mods before being started.
Does anyone agree?
For example Susan, I know you have a lot of ideas and documents prepared concerning how you or the organizations you are involved in foresee things working in Canada post-decriminalization. I don't believe you are correct and I have examples of why and it's fine for us to debate why and why not, but wouldn't it also be nice to have a thread that is dedicated completely to discussing your ideas from a positive perspective? That is, posters could question your suggested plans but from a constructive perspective not from the perspective of trying to prove you wrong.
Michelle suggested the possibility of a special section for this topic so we could explore the many different issues involved. I can think of at least a dozen basic threads right off the bat. Not saying I'd start them all at once and I would still like to discuss how it should work but that's the basic idea.
What do you think Susan, and what does everyone else think?
So yeah, I want a forum, but it better not be biased in favor of prostituting women on the holy altar of what men want. You want some protected pro-prostitution threads fine, put a sticky on them. But I DEMAND equal rights. If the pro side gets a sticky then I want the against side to have an equal number of stickys. If the pro-side gets their own forum then I want the anti side to get one too. In any other threads we battle it out.
"Sex Workers" are not a minority any more than "soldiers" or "politicians" or "dish washers" or "seal hunters" or "teachers" or "fire fighters" are a minority. It's a job description not a state of being. I can tell you what "Sex Workers" are though. They are women. Women who sometimes get lucky. But like women who throughout history have had to depend on the "goodwill" of the men who have the money and the power most of them aren't working the Disney circuit. Men aren't going to them for the "girlfriend" experience or because they need an understanding woman to talk to. Most of them don't want a "mature" woman. Most of them want fresh meat, and the fresher the better.
Maysie posted a link to a rant about how personal ads mention race when describing what kind of woman a man wants to DATE. That's offensive. But if a man just wants to fuck, then all of a sudden shopping for women based on race as well as other attributes is just fine and dandy. That's "empowerment". Oh, and another interesting detail, in the Amsterdam red light district the transgendered women in the shop windows get blue lights because we wouldn't want men getting mixed up over just what they are buying.
I want a forum for the rights of prostituted women because "sex worker rights" is biased. I would settle for a "Sex Industry" Forum if you want to combine the two.
Then you haven't been looking at the threads. Attacking them and denying their beliefs and experiences is commonplace, if they go against the theory that there are no volunteers only victims
Nice post Bacchus.
If expressing an opinion can be bashed as "denying someone's beliefs" and criticizing statements may not be distinguished from attacking people, we might as well close down Babble... I prefer to think that Bacchus is exaggerating his concern.
I will respond with:
Denying their beliefs and experiences is commonplace, if they go against the theory, that to be against decriminalization means you are taking away women's agency.
There are 4 or 5 examples....in this thread alone....that are denying, at best, the voice of a sex worker, and 2 posts now, of yours. Some were even direct attacks against said voice.
And they like you, are not sex workers. But yet you all seem to feel that you have the right, in the sex worker voices forum, to deny a sex worker's voice, while making claims that others, who see something different in this than you do, are the ones doing so.
Please do spare us, your accusations, while standing in a glass house.
This is a serious subject and it does not deserve to be highjacked by socio-political lobby interests fabricating things.
So stop with the accusations and hostilities, it is annoying at best.
And that is all I have to say in this thread and forum.
I deny no ones experience nor consciously try to condescend to people or attack their experience. I leave that to you and Martin
Personally I believe in harm reduction, poverty reduction and decriminalization as the best paths for sex workers
Um it is when your 'opinion' is to deny the experiences or beliefs of others. Disagreeing with someones stance is one thing but you go the extra mile to attack and discredit people, their voices, their experiences and everything that does not fit your view. You cannot 'agree to disagree' but instead have to completely discredit the other viewpoints with whatever means possible.
Bacchus, I think it would be great if you could invite your friends to come to babble. Please do! And it's nice to see you around again.
Thank you so much ennir and Remind. I appreciate your support.
I am glad for Michelle and Remind speaking up, I did not appreciate the insults nor the gang mentality it seemed to be generating.
I am grateful for Infosaturated's posts.
Hey, yeah, poverty reduction -- now there's a promising angle we can all presumably get behind.
And for all women and people, regardless of definition, i.e. without having to put out for the rich.
The term "sex worker" is not a synonym for "prostitute". (check google) It is a misleading term that seeks to mask the gendered nature of prostitution and to blend it with aspects of the sex industry that have nothing to do with prostitution.
It makes invisible the many women and children who are forced or coerced into prostitution. It makes invisible the racism inherent in a function in which minority women are over-represented. It makes invisible the physical and mental harm inherent in the prostituting of women and girls to men.
Prostitutes are absorbed into the general category of "sex worker" and their subjegation is dismissed by stating "trafficking" and "coercion" are separate issues best handled by police. This effectively puts the preferences of "willing sex workers" stage center.
Prostitution is not the oldest profession because it isn't a profession at all. It is a system under which men with money buy access to the bodies of women. No profession values virgins, the girls with the least experience, over "workers" with the most experience.
We don't even have a "Working Class Rights" forum, yet this forum exists?
Al Q, this whole forum is set up to be pro worker. You even have to adhere to the board policy regarding pro-worker prior to signing up and we have a Labour and Consumption forum. Why not a sex worker's rights forum (although I know or doubt you're in opposition to it). Or are you saying put this in the Labour forum? Because that is actually a good idea. A sub forum, although it appears there are a few people here who do not think sex work is actually work.
You know what pisses me off about that? Who the hell are they to tell me what I do or did is not work? Note to info above: exotic dancing is work. I got a paycheque, I paid bills with it. It was work. Not excitement. Work. Got that? What susan does is work. She gets to define that. Not you. You cannot speak for all sex workers since you don't even acknowledge that there are some of us who did and do the job willingly (and hey I really started hating guys I tell you but I still did it willingly). It was far better money and the last thing I needed, which I got on a regular basis, was the warth, scorn and morality of others being imposed upon me and what I did. Did I feel exploited? Sometimes for certain, because certain people would be complete assholes. You want to know the absolute worst experience I had as a dancer?, it was from a client who was also a cop. Now these are the people you figure should be controlling us more. I say no. Try going to the police for anything as a dancer, ex dancer or sex worker in any of the many places and they treat you like shit. That is the reality. Not some fantasy land where the police are our buddies and will do their best to get a bad john or bad client.
Oh and I was taking feminist courses at uni as well. Do you know how hard it was for me to be considered a feminist when I was stripping? I had to hide what I did because I was so afraid of people like Info and so on accusing me of not being able to be a feminist while I paid my bills. Thankfully I had an amazing feminist art teacher who was extremely helpful and non judgemental (among other excellent women's studies teachers) who could understand how hard it was to go to school, have a small child and do sex work and who didn't make me feel like a subhuman for doing what I did to keep a roof over my head and pay for my education.
Edited to add: Let me get this straight? Bacchus is being taken to task for denying the voice of a sex worker, while that same so-called ex sex worker a) denies what we did or do is sex work, and b) is opposed to almost anything in the way of helping sex workers with a different view? And then there are big claps for Info? She has not been silenced (judging by all of posts I'd say she pretty much can say and has said what she wants to. No what is happening here is anyone who dares say opposite what Info believes is getting shut out, drowned out and silenced or just sneakily attacked.
I'm not even remotely buying Info as some victim of babble or of anyone attempting to silence her. Besides, I'm not even sure she ever did sex work, and if so, what she did. Until she tells me that I don't consider her a sex worker or ex sex worker. All she posted up was some info about some of her family members in sex work - not her.
Exotic dancing is legal. We are talking about prostitution. I confessed. Now it's your turn. Did you prostitute?
Thank-you for making my point. Stripping is legal and cops still treat dancers like shit.
Sex workers can be feminists and I never said otherwise.
I spoke of my personal experience and that of my family, not just my family. I made my confessional once, I'm not doing it again.
Your turn Stargazer. Were you a prostitute?
I'm not sure babble is set up that way bagkitty but that is an amazing idea. You're right, we really shouldnt need a sex worker's rights forum but until sex workers can come onboard here and actually post that they don't feel exploited and would like to end the criminalization of their work and also not be drowned out by a a lot of people subjecting them to their own world's we sort of need a protective space.
Okay Info, so you were a prostitute. You felt exploited, and that is terrible, but you're attempting to shut down the voices and views of those who don't feel the same way as you do. Even that I truly don't have a huge issue with. I have a huge issue with people against legalizing and making their work legit, so they can be safer.
Word up Info re: police - they treat a lot of women like shit. Ever try reporting a rape? Have fun. Making it legal may take some of the stigma off it but it sure isn't going to make the police culture change. I didn't prove your point. I proved that a lot of cops are assholes when it comes to women and how women use their bodies.
Street workers are hassled a hell of a lot more than dancers are, which is why police love to patrol in areas where there are a lot of strip clubs. At one of the places I worked at there were two cops who would come in every day and watch the shows. And they were on duty.
Lets see. From inception of babble (2001?) to creation of LGBT forum (August 2009) roughly eight years. From PRD's "what is a sex worker" thread (Jan 2009) to creation of new forum (Oct 2009) roughly 10 months. From when proliferation of threads on the topic became really noticeable within the feminist forum (Sept 2009) to the present, less than 2 months.
I am not certain if an entirely new forum was the correct route to go, although I can see where there is confusing overlap between the feminist, LGBT and labour forums. It is unfortunate that there does not seem to be some way of creating what would be essentially sub-folders within the main forum folders themselves.
...you're attempting to shut down the voices and views of those who don't feel the same way as you do...
I don't think so.
Um, I see a bit of a problem here with the confessionals.
I see why Michelle (and other mods) would want to be able to weight the voices of people who have been sex workers more than those of others in this forum. But I'm suddenly feeling civil-libertarian twinges when I read demands that people confess in detail to what they did or do. There must be some way around this problem, but forced confessionals really seem to me a step too far.
Shouldn't saying "I am / was a sex worker" be enough? Anything beyond that should be voluntary imho.
I'm not a sex worker, btw, just a concerned believer in freedom of conscience, which means that no one should ever be able to force you to say anything you don't want to say.