I Don’t Care About Clients

by Olive Seraphim on February 19, 2014 · 139 comments

in Activism, Clients

(Image via memegenerator, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

(Image via memegenerator.net, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

I got an anonymous message on my Tumblr after a recent post I made complaining about how fashionable it seems to be for the sex workers’ rights movement to focus on the voices of clients of sex workers. Like me, the anonymous poster felt that clients’ feelings and experiences were being prioritized over theirs. This poor anon felt obligated to give a fuck about men’s feelings. I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I really don’t give a shit about clients’ feelings. If I’m not being paid to deal with male bullshit, I have no interest in it.

Yet I, like anon, feel like I’m alone in that position a lot of the time. The illustrious Morgan M. Page/Odofemi, a Toronto-based trans writer, artist, activist, and former sex worker, has written about the clients of trans sex workers and described them as “the missing link in obtaining trans* and sex workers rights”. Entire blogs are dedicated to telling the stories of punters. It seems like people are really keen on the idea that the men who use our services should be there to stick up for us. And why not? They’re being criminalized too (though we’re the ones who suffer the truly awful consequences), and I’m sure many other sex workers will agree that we do get a sense from some clients that they appreciate our humanity. It all sounds very good on paper. So, what’s the problem?

Well, first of all, have a look at the link to the blog about punters’ stories I posted. One of the posts is even titled “Women only sell sex because they have to.” Really? You’re speaking for us now? Excuse me, dude, please do not tell me why I do anything. I am entirely capable of doing that myself. Sadly, the voices of non-sex workers have long been used to drown out those of actual whores, and this divergence into punters’ points of view doesn’t seem any different from here. What are they actually contributing? Are they calling out whorephobia, talking to their friends about how to treat us with respect, designing laws and social policies that make our lives easier? No. What I’m seeing is eerily reminiscent of review-culture, which is about them, not us. I could live with that, if they stopped it there and didn’t tip-toe over to our side of the fence and, armed with their male entitlement, start speaking for us in ways that usually re-affirm victimized whore tropes. I remember one post in particular in which a man moaned woefully—and creepily—about the breakdown of his marriage, his ex-wife’s daughter, and his mental illness (hi, I have one too and I’m not a twat), then suggested that an escort he contacted clearly wasn’t “a real professional” and wasn’t “dedicated to her work” because she didn’t want to deal with him calling her repeatedly weeks before his fucking booking. Why should we listen to that kind of shit? Who is it helping? Hint: NO ONE. Oh look, here’s the post in question. Somehow I don’t think “everyday whorephobia” understands how ironic their blog name becomes when they post this trash.

The point I am trying to make here is that if clients were contributing something valuable or even something innocuous to our movement, I could deal. Instead, they are perpetrating whorephobia. I fear that people who don’t know better will see posts like this and think these men somehow have more knowledge of our lives and the realities of our work than we do. After all, the conversations surrounding punters and activism are largely cisheteronormative, and most of these men bring their male privilege to the table, while not even being aware of these advantages.

(Image via memegenerator.net, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

(Image via memegenerator.net, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

Beyond that, this issue seems to cause a divide between sex workers and, as evidenced by my anon friend, makes those of us who don’t subscribe to this thinking feel isolated, as if we’re doing something wrong. As if it’s our responsibility to listen and care about what men have to say. After all, it’s part of our socialization as women and marginalized people to listen to men, just as it’s part of our male clients’ socialization to speak over us and for us. How can we even begin to broach the subject of clients’ input regarding our rights if we’re not examining the dynamics of privilege? In addition to the gender differences at play here (remembering that not all sex workers—or clients—are cisgender), as sex workers we’re routinely silenced by everyone from fauxmanists to governments and police and even, sadly, our own communities. By radical feminist logic, if we’re able to assert any conviction of our rights, we’re too privileged to be representative. Of course, if we agree with them, then that privilege goes out the window. Thankfully, they don’t listen to punters’ self-involved bullshit either, but their influence—and silencing—is effective against us all too often, another hardship which clients never experience.

Those of us who have additional marginalized identities in addition to being sex workers are probably more aware of the problematic nature of self-declared ally status than the more privileged workers among us. Alliance always comes with a few fundamental problems. Firstly, an ally is always going to be approaching a marginalized person from a point of view that has internalized toxic shit against us, and having that privileged position means they can still act on those views in ways that harm us. When we then allow them into our spaces and into our conversations, we’re increasing their power both by giving them credibility to outsiders and also by giving them access to, well, us. The other major problem is that their voices inevitably drown out ours. Their experience of sex work is always going to be more valid than ours to society because non-sex workers are considered more valid than we are. We end up in a situation where people more powerful than us, whose ideas are skewed with bias, are representing us, speaking about realities they’re only vaguely aware of.

Since posting an earlier version of this article on my blog, I’ve received a number of comments, including one from a mod at everyday whorephobia. Predictably, they took objection to what I posted, as did some of their “ally” contributors. These “allies” felt slighted by what I wrote and proclaimed that they would now remove their support for us. Then, when another sex worker defended the allies, the allies responded again to me by saying, in essence, “I can ignore you because one other sex worker in the whole world thinks what I said was okay,” thereby tokenizing their sex worker friends and homogenizing sex workers as a group. The response of these ally friends was a perfect example of the problem of allies. They were able to pick and choose whose voices were valid and whose were not, thereby creating a Good Whore/Bad Whore dichotomy and using their support as leverage to try to force me to revoke my criticism of them. Having no actual stake in these discussions beyond their own self image, they prioritized their own feelings over important discussions about our rights.

The current practice of alliance to sex worker communities doesn’t allow us to critically examine the role that allies play. The assumption that all sex workers are the same is a problem even between actual sex workers trying to navigate the enormous variety of lived experience and perspectives we have as a group. That is, trying to create space for the huge variety of lived experience, feelings and views we have is a challenge within sex worker communities even without the complicating presence of outsiders. Intrusion from outsiders only makes this problem worse by prioritizing certain experiences over others and legitimizing some while in turn, delegitimizing others; in particular, those that do not agree with allies’ views or welcome their presence and input. The last thing we need is self-proclaimed allies using their token whore friends to further perpetuate a one-size-fits-all approach to activism. Beyond that, the ability to withdraw support when criticized is a highly manipulative, and I would even say it is an abusive misuse of power on the part of so-called allies. Anyone who does this has fundamentally misunderstood the fact that our struggle is not about them, nor is our entitlement to basic rights dependent on our placating them. Communities utilizing allies need to be able to educate and call out allies on problematic behavior.

Simply proclaiming themselves to be on our side because they pay for our services is not enough. If clients’ support is only due to their dislike of being criminalized for paying for our services, then their support is fundamentally selfish and missing the point. Support as it benefits the client is never going to address the wider problems we experience, such as whorephobia in dealing with the police, matters involving children such as custody and child protection, employment discrimination in non-sex work jobs, abuse from clients, and the like. In addition, the similarities between client alliance and review culture reek of class privilege, which leaves the most marginalized among us (e.g. street-based workers, drug users) out in the cold. The marginalization of street-based workers occurs in every context from review culture (which characterizes them with some of the worst whorephobic tropes around) to sex worker communities and even sex workers’ rights activism, where some still support criminalizing street-based work and view it as less desirable than indoor sex work. The dynamic of review culture is already dehumanizing, often reducing us to objects in very degrading ways; there is obvious danger in the fact that people who participate in both review culture and client support of sex workers’ rights will carry review culture attitudes and values over to activist work. When reading many client-written activist pieces, it’s plainly obvious that this is already happening.

(Image via memegenerator.net, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

(Image via memegenerator.net, courtesy of femmefurious.tumblr.com)

We, as sex workers, deserve rights simply because we are people and people should be able to work and support themselves and their families without being criminalized and harmed. Even when clients are criminalized, we are the ones who live with the lifelong stigma of being branded prostitutes and dragged through the court system. Misogyny and whorephobia intersect here when we note that a man’s conviction for paying for the services of a sex worker virtually never interferes with his life afterwards, yet women can lose their careers if their sex working past is made known.

Clients could do the sex workers rights’ movement a world of good, if they were inclined to. Their role could be one that focuses on breaking down stereotypes of abusive, exploitative johns and uplifting our voices rather than dominating discussions with their own. Recounting their experiences of hiring sex workers is always going to be problematic, placing us as subjects under the male gaze. Instead of anonymously recounting salacious stories of hiring escorts as if they were writing a forum review, I would rather see client allies highlight the fact that they exchange money for a service in a situation which is consensual, in which both parties get what they want.

Sadly, being a true ally is more than most clients, or most people, want to deal with; it requires too much effort, too much examination of one’s own internalized prejudice, too much thankless work. I would like to suggest—while knowing that this is very difficult in and of itself—that our families would be much better poised to do this sort of P.R. than clients are. While I have no statistics on how many sex workers are ‘out’, I think it’s a fair assumption that most sex workers have at least a few non-sex workers in their lives whom they’re close to and who know what they do. It’s these people who love us, support us, care about us, and share this world with us.I would like to see a blog written by our mothers, our daughters, our husbands and wives. They are the best shot we have of being seen as actual people outside of stereotypes, because they love us and see us as actual people who exist outside of the benefits we provide them.They are more invested in our humanity and in our safety than clients can ever be, and perhaps they can be the missing link we so sorely need.

While there’s no doubt that the myth of the murderous woman-hating bogeyman who purchases sex adds to our stigma or that it’s only through the visibility of our clients that this can be diffused, that is about as far as we can really get with punters. They need to stick to their own shit and leave us to deal with ours.

Mia McKenzie, editor of the Black Girl Dangerous blog, compiled an amazing list of attributes and behaviors that sincere allies possess. Clients of sex workers who actually wish to support us, rather than giving themselves an ego boost while prioritizing their own rights ahead of ours, could learn a lot from it.

{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Jolene Parton February 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. This has been causing problems in the San Francisco sex worker rights movement for years. Recently, Maxine Doogan was quoted as saying that the term “John” is as offensive as “n****r”, and causing every other sex worker rights activist to freak the fuck out because Maxine DOES NOT speak for us, and yet she claims that right. That, combined with a certain cis white male sex worker’s recent ranting about how SW activism is a social club for female hos and how clients are 90% of the rights movement and we should be freely inviting them to our events and meetings has left me wanting to tear out my hair.

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Audrey February 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm

What the actual fuck?!?! To both of those things (seriously, equating “John” with racial slurs? this bitch be trippin’) but the latter in particular is unfortunately something I’ve dealt with as well. In my town, massage studios are typically female owned and operated, with one major exception – a studio owned by a man who also does some sex work himself. He’s very sleazy and pushy with his girls, and he’s fired many for refusing to sleep with him. He whines incessantly about how he’s victimized as a male sex worker, and he claims that his voice deserves to be heard more because he’s a minority, and sex work activism discriminates against him. So essentially he’s appropriated the language of actual victims of bigotry to serve his own gross cis white hetero male agenda.

I firmly believe that we can do better as activists than to accept and embrace whatever allies we can get. Do white cis male sex workers deserve a place in our movement? Sure. But their comfort and happiness is not my top priority, personally. Clients, even less so. I care about their comfort and happiness for the hours they pay me for, nothing more, and sometimes less, to be honest.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm

What is a “white cis male sex worker”? I was under the impression that meant strictly hetero. That confuses me because I was under the impression that there is no market for males servicing women for a myriad of reasons that Maggie McNeill so eloquently explained on one of her posts.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

“Cis” means “non-trans”–it has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Oh ok I get it. So this “sleazy” guy that Audrey is complaining about, he services male clients and fires his girls who refuse to sleep with him…he’s bisexual…is that correct?

Audrey February 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm

I ran out of nested comments here, but duaneh1: the guy I’m referring to is a straight guy who offers service only to female clients. He’s not bisexual (as far as I know) and he doesn’t see very many clients as there isn’t a huge market of hetero ladies paying for sex. He also fires his female employees who don’t sleep with him.

Amanda February 21, 2014 at 9:51 am

There are a number of male sex workers for women out there, especially in other countries. They’re not hard to find. They do exist.

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Domina Elle February 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm

IT IS as offensive because it reduces human beings to a slur an epitaph which is absolutely dehumanizing! Considering the abolitionists are working feverishly to equate ALL clients with RAPISTS, the term is morphing into a more evil label as the days pass. They are certainly using words as phycholigical warfare. Didn’t we start using ‘sex worker’ instead of hooker and prostitute in order to effect perceptions and paradigms? We are doing the same in using terminology such as LABOR trafficking as opposed to just sex trafficking. In this context words are VERY powerful. It was a bold move on her part and I personally commend her for it! Our clients are being marginalized and stigmatized and it doesn’t matter what form or reasoning is behind dehumanizing a group of people, whether it’s based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or a persons personal lifestyle choices! If the end result is harm which can be prevented, if it results in the DEHUMANIZATION and with a persons civil rights being violated (clients indeed fit into these categories) it’s the same! DISCRIMINATION which violate human rights. Are our clients human rights not being violated here? Did I miss something?

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Kathryn February 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I don’t agree with using the term “John” (although I am not sure I would go as far as to equating it with a racial slur) because it reinforces the notion that all clients are or identify as male.

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 3:16 am

That’s a good point, and what about all the COUPLES? I wouldn’t refer to clients as johns because it’s a SLUR, an epithet (my auto correct was previously putting it as epitaph, DOI!) it’s derogatory and is meant to place a dirty mark on the person it’s used to describe. I firmly believe that as sex workers we must not sit idle and allow our clients to be dehumanized and demonized.

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Amanda February 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

I also see “John” as a pejorative (though not racist) and use the term “client” because it’s more humanizing and appropriate for someone who essentially pays my bills. “John” is part of the language used by people who refuse to use the term “sex work” and that really makes me want to not use “John.” That, and no matter how much I may get annoyed by them, clients are humans and I recognize that. (Those who don’t make it to client status because of their stupidity are fair game.)

But unless they’re willing to put their ass on the line with other sex workers — something I’ve so rarely seen — they remain clients and not activists. The most support they’re usually willing to give is money, which is welcome, but it certainly doesn’t give them a say in what happens. Even as strictly clients, and not allies, they risk much less than the average sex worker.

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Jolene Parton February 21, 2014 at 3:11 am

I don’t use John either. I use client, because that’s what they are. Just like if I were a massage therapist or a hair stylist.

The problem here is equating it with a disgusting racial slur connected to centuries of institutional abuse, slavery, and murder. These two things are not in any way comparable or equal.

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Phoenix February 22, 2014 at 8:49 pm

oh yeah hi. um if you are white, you do not get to compare things to the n word. you don’t get to claim what is or is not as offensive as racial slurs. If Maxine said that, she was out of line, and anyone who is not at any real risk of getting called certain racial slurs needs to take a step back. Sex workers have enough problems, we don’t need to encourage racism among our ranks. P.o.c./w.o.c. who are sex workers don’t need to be alienated because our friends and co-workers to diminish our voices or try to use our history to fit their own agendas. Don’t diminish out pain for your profit.

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Amanda February 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Is this a thing with US clients now too? If so, I’ve been fortunate to miss it. By and large, they’re too afraid to do anything like be an ally. Some have stepped forward and tried to get involved, and it always ends up with them being needy for free attention, with easily-trampled feelings, and nothing getting accomplished. Or it becomes something like a smaller, more political, review-board group. Pretty much what you just said.

I can think of one man who actually helps.

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Maggie Mayhem February 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I agree with this post. I think the Nordic model is contributing to this mentality. Sex workers aren’t safer, healthier, and better supported when their clients are subject to hard criminizalition because it’s still police surveillance, harassment, and processing as victims. I support full decriminalization of sex work, indoor and outdoor, buyer and seller. That said, I have no idea why the sex worker rights movement is taking the tone of client promotion and activism to achieve this. It’s largely a distraction because clients are already included in the struggle for full decriminizalition. Donating our movement’s time, space, and energy to rehashings of sessions won’t achieve that. It’s sad because power always seems to rise to the top and you can’t fight oppression in that climate, it only serves the status quo.

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duaneh1 February 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Maybe these client’s hearts are in the right place and just need a little bit of education regarding the hardships sex workers face with respect to issues like child custody, future employment prospects, abuse by LE, etc

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DOMINA ELLE February 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Well darling, what you and others so elequently demonstrate, is that there are people doing sex work even by choice, who should not be doing sex work. Yeah I get it, you have a right to survive, you have a right to do with your body as you choose and without interference. I call that SOVEREIGNTY, and anyone who knows me, knows it’s my mantra. But this does not take away the truth that there are indeed many people who would be better off doing something else, society would be better off as well. I have never hesitated to state this.

Did the Grand POOBAH of feminism Gloria Steinum write this posing as a sex worker advocate? Frankly it sounds no different than what she would state were she a sex worker advocate, or what an abolitionist might state!

The author contradicts herself by first stating that clients feelings are being prioritized over sex workers but in the next paragraph admits she feels alone with these feelings. Which is it sweetie? Personally I don’t see where this is happening, in fact I see clients being demonized with impunity! I see sex worker advocates panties in a wad over other sex workers speaking in behalf of clients (which happen to be the primary support of our industry DUH, this is why the abolitionists are targeting them correct?!)

I often say that ideologies need to be left at the door of these discussions and I’m usually talking about abolitionists but this also goes for sex worker advocates. Ideologically driven social engineering is deeply flawed and will always end up disenfranchising some demographic based on the ideological focus. But the more I listen to the rants of feminists, be they abolitionists or sex workers- it confirms my stance that ideologies gotta GO. It’s the perfect way to DERAIL everything. Talk about prioritizing! As a movement we NEED to prioritize what would do the most good for the most people first, which btw doesn’t involve arguing over words, arguing over who is the most marginalized, arguing over ideologies which I like to call idiotologies when they halt progress.

Some people love their anger. They love the resentments they carry around and they love projecting their anger onto others and into discussions. I see a lot of self described feminists doing this. It can be very tricky to honor people who are victims, yet who themselves are acting out in a way that attacks and disenfranchises. Just as it is tricky to demand a self described victim of trafficking to back up their claims (no one wants to question as if it’s a form of victim blaming, but you see this allows for people to LIE in this highly politicized situation, and we have already seen where people have faked victimization for funding).

Am I wrong to say that even if people choose sex work, they may be the last people who should be doing sex work?

I don’t think so. In fact I think it needs to be said MORE. People such as this are much more likely to be harmed if they do not possess the aptitude for sex work, and if they do not understand the implications. People shouldn’t do sex work unless they are doing it from a healthy platform! In my belief, money as the sole motivation to do ANYTHING is not the healthiest platform. This world is pretty screwed up because of this very thing. This is one reason why we need to focus on WHY people do sex work and in a great majority of cases it’s purely for economic reasons.

Why would such a person give a damn about clients when the clients in such an instance are being objectified as nothing more than a means of earning money? Such a personal, intimate exchange as SEX becomes nothing more than that.

WE as providers have the power to raise the energy up, to raise the bar, to demand no less than healthy constructs attached to who we are and what we do and we can change the world this way, through our choices and actions.

Of course this requires that you care about it, to care about the world and not only just yourself and your opinions.

Sure, I won’t say not to do it if you need to feed yourself in a desperate situation, but this person has a responsibility too, to society as well as themselves! Why? If you don’t know the answer to this I’d say you should go do some soul searching.

I’ve been a sex worker since 2001. I’ve worked the street, I have escorted for agencies, I have been a bdsm professional now for over ten years. I’ve worked quite a spectrum and have experienced clients from a variety of circumstances, some very unhealthy but vastly very positive. I attribute this to MY CHOICES. I AM OWNING MY CHOICES AND ACTIONS and the consequences of those choices and actions.

I demand that clients treat me with the upmost respect. Through the way I operate and handle myself professionally I attract clients who are awesome people. People who I cannot sit by and allow to be marginalized and demonized, whether it’s done by abolitionists or sex worker advocates.

I wish more people would OWN responsibility for the consequences of their own choices and behaviors. I wish they would ask themselves what was their part in where they are? It’s easy to blame everyone else or the world for everything. Yes we are wronged but this does not remove personal responsibility.

If you despise men (and their bullshit as you termed it) so much, why are you doing sex work if you are? Or were?

There are horrible people in the world, some of them patronize sex workers. But to broad stroke clients is no different than sex workers being broad stroked, stigmatized and marginalized. How can you separate the providers from the clients as you are doing? This is EXACTLY what the end for demand campaign is doing. It’s futile in both instances.

Yes, sex workers are being persecuted. So are the clients. I agree very much and know for a fact that there is a gross discrepancy in the laws regarding how sex workers are treated as compared to clients. Here in Denver a client with AIDS who knowingly has sex with a sex worker gets a lesser felony than a provider who has aids and is working. Arrested sex workers get a year long deferment program, while clients go for a day program. But is this the clients fault? Or does responsibility rest on the shoulders of the legal system? The same which publicly shames clients by posting their mug shots on the Internet for their families and coworkers to see (before a guilty verdict!).

But am I willing to hate on clients for this? No. And it doesn’t even make rational sense to do so.

Oh if only the world were so simple that you could put everyone and everything in special categories where everything fit perfectly. LOL. it’s never gonna happen.

Try not to support the narrative and agenda of the very people who are trying to shut us up and make us go away. The same people who want to destroy our means of survival. Make sense to you?

I am not a victim. My clients do not victimize me. If you are an independent provider not being forced, perhaps you should consider another line of work. How can your sex work be healthy if you resent men so deeply? What are you doing to your own being in that process?

We must create our own realities, setting the standard. You (meaning everyone in general) DO have the power to do this as long as you are alive. Unless you truly are convinced that you have no power here. In which case I say again, you shouldn’t be doing sex work!! HEALTHY sex work requires that you be empowered.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I’m not quite sure you read Olive’s posting–they’re not demonizing clients as a whole, but rather taking issue with the way most clients are doing sex workers’ rights advocacy–that is, prioritizing their needs over our rights. And making assumptions about whether or not Olive is doing sex work from a healthy place or not is ad hominem, inappropriate, and irrelevant. I think it’s fair for us to be able to criticize clients and for us not to love them every single second–workers in *any* industry have complaints about their customer base.

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Domina Elle February 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

You are entitled to your views. As I am mine. Once decriminalization is established what do you think the next steps would be? Cleaning up the industry from inside. Establishing a means of self regulation which would involve quality control that protects clients as well as providers. I guess if a provider says she feels it’s her right not to use condems I shouldn’t say anything and that would be irrelevant too? HARDLY. I’m not here to sing kumbaya. I’m here to fight for human rights. Yes I believe it does matter when providers are not healthy especially when you are talking legitimizing sex work but many haven’t bothered to think that far ahead I know.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

I’d be regulated right out of the business under your new regime, as would many of the best sex workers’ rights activists, from Emi Koyama on up. You’d basically be creating the new criminalization of survival sex workers in such a model of “decrim.”

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 4:04 am

Caty Simon, That is you jumping to conclusions imagining the worst I assure you. I started out doing survival sex work myself. Eventually as I worked to get into a healthier place, I realized that I had a responsibility to myself first and foremost, then also to the greater culture- to be living and working from a healthy platform where I was or I needed to change my path to make that happen. Under very adverse circumstances I managed to do it. I believe that some people underestimate the power that they have to create their life to be what they want it to be.

By quality control I’m referring to providers themselves maintaining high standards of safety and operation (many already do) who collectively support the sex worker community with education, services, perhaps establishing unions, etc. you won’t see me supporting any form of government regulation.

Are you saying you can’t or you won’t provide your services with a standard of health and protocol? Can you not engage in survival sex work and do it with the highest standard of operation possible under your circumstances? Such as practicing safely?

How exactly would you be regulated out?

FIRST we need to get laws changed! This can happen through challenging the government through filing a legal case. Know of such a thing? Why YES! The Erotic Service Providers case, an effort being headed up by Maxine Doogan. Is anyone else working on such a case? I’m not aware of it. Please inform me if there is. If you understand how government works, then you know this has to happen. Does it matter who does it? Not really. It just needs to be done damn it!

We MUST challenge the law and aggressively fight for decriminalization and do you know why? Do you have any idea how much harder your lives, and the lives of clients are going to get if abolitionists succeed in further criminalizing us? How about if they succeed in federalizing prostitution laws first? Currently it is a state by state issue.

Theoretically it should be easier to get prostitutuon decriminalized than it was to get marijuana decriminalized based on this fact. Too bad there isn’t more cohesiveness in our movement or we could have already raised the money for that case ten times over by now! I’ve heard that organizing marijuana advocates was like herding cats, but look at what they have accomplished! LOL. There was a time when marijuana opponents laughed at marijuana activists.

Whose laughing now?

How about this: establishing programs which help people to not have to do survival sex work in the first place!? I love this idea how about you? If we sex workers established more power we ourselves could make this happen! And as far as those people who truly want to do sex work, let it be from a healthy platform where something awesome is being contributed to individuals lives as well as society on the whole.

It is about THRIVING not just surviving. I want you to THRIVE.

Yes there should be a standard and sex workers themselves should establish and maintain that standard. It can and should be done without government involvement. Massage therapists did it. Ironically they did so because they were tired of being stigmatized as sex workers (and they wanted to legitimize their work to insurance companies to make more money of course).

I too think a number of activists are truly the cats meow, I love them, admire them and I am very grateful for their diligence, But I feel that every person actually doing this work is equally valuable (I’m not talking sitting behind a PC writing in threads I’m talking about people who are kicking up dirt getting things done, investing their time and money, risking their asses while others sit back debating and blogging). Frankly, if half the people who sit at their computers arguing and expressing their opinions on these topics would actually get out and get involved that would really be something.

We need more people! We need to see torches being passed around more, more of a share in this great responsibility and it is. People have made great sacrifices and for all you know, the ‘best’ as you put it, sex worker activists go unnamed and anonymous.

Why are people here if not to get things done? I’m not here to get credit I’m here to get things accomplished to establish change and I don’t care if anyone ever knows it!

None of us will be remembered 100 years from now. But what we ACHIEVE as activists can make a difference 100 years from now! THATS THE REAL POINT ISNT IT?

Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 4:46 am

Not sure why the comments format isn’t allowing me to reply directly to Domina’s most recent comment to me, but here’s me trying to reproduce my comment in the thread:
Sure, I absolutely agree that policy activism is very important, though I don’t agree that creating an activist sex worker culture by running blogs like this one isn’t just as important to the movement.
I think you’d probably regulate me out b/c although I practice safer sex diligently and try to serve my clients in the best way I can, I do drugs, so I’d assume you’d think I’m “not working from a healthy place,” or however you put it. I’m sure other reasons would apply to other sex workers, and such in-house regulation would basically turn into a clique-fest of the haves and have-nots. One of the reasons sex work is so persistent in society is b/c its something people can turn to for work when no other options are available to them, and standards set by privileged sex workers wouldn’t stop that phenomenon. It’d just leave people who do so pushed out in the cold by their peers. I agree that sex workers should work with other activists to provide resources so that people who don’t want to have to do sex work if they don’t want to, don’t have to. However, until we live in an economic utopia in which no one has to do sex work unless it’s their true calling, regulation by sex workers of the profession sounds like structural violence by higher class sex workers against lower class sex workers to me.

Evie February 19, 2014 at 7:41 pm

If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t be advocating for mental/emotional qualifiers for people in the business – especially, as Caty notes, restrictions which would discriminate against so many of us, myself included. (Probably most of my sex worker friends, too.) If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t give a fuck about reasons why, or how someone feels, because we’re talking about HUMAN RIGHTS, and none of that has a damn thing to do with what we DESERVE.

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 4:35 am

“If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t be advocating for emotional/mental qualifiers for people in the business”

Actually, I promote that ALL humans take responsibility for how they impact the world regardless of which vocation we could be talking about. I think it is unfortunate for anyone who works in a job that they don’t want to do, which is a great many people isn’t it? They are forced to work in jobs that make them unhappy. Few people are doing what they love. When you do what you love it makes you happy. I want all people to be healthy and happy.
Do you think this is wrong of me? I think if ALL people took responsibility for themselves and what they are contributing to the world as well as how they impact things, this world would be a lot better for everyone.

It is my personal wish that sex work would be performed by the human beings most suited to do it and who will thrive doing it. Is this wrong of me?

I even stated I wouldn’t try to stop someone from choosing to do sex work out of desperation or for reasons I don’t agree with. I get it. I’m not entitled to tell people what they can and cannot do. THERES THAT SOVEREIGNTY AGAIN.

Though I can still wish that sex work would never be done with less than the healthiest of reasons, circumstances and motives, I can also wish for the world banking system to fail, or for the military industrial complex to crumble in ashes. I won’t be holding my breath on any of these topics, LOL.

Show me. I am very willing to learn. Help me to see if I’m not seeing something.

Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Elle can have a personal wish that everyone finds fulfilling work that they love and that feeds their soul. It is not her business to dictate what that work should be, or what that looks like for that person. It is also an impossible standard, and it is not her place to tell someone that if they can’t find that in their work, then they are not allowed to work (in any job, most people cannot find this in any job) at all and should just starve. It is also not her place to judge a person’s commitment to “personal responsibility” harshly because they do not share her (massively fucked up) values and are living their life according to their values rather than according to hers. Actually I think in general that phrase just tends to mean, “I am nosy and judgmental and I know absolutely nothing about you.” Elle does not stick to her “personal wishes” about other people’s work and lives. She might not admit it, but she thinks she has a right to go way, way beyond that.

Olive February 20, 2014 at 11:15 am

Maybe try reading the post before you write novellas of inane drivel full of whorephobia and privileged posturing. None of what you’re talking about even relates to my article but suffice to say if your activism is only concerned with people like yourself then you’re a shitty activist and part of the problem. If you consider critiquing activist clients as hating my clients and hating sex work then I think your reading comprehension skills need some work.

“The author contradicts herself by first stating that clients feelings are being prioritized over sex workers but in the next paragraph admits she feels alone with these feelings. Which is it sweetie? Personally I don’t see where this is happening, in fact I see clients being demonized with impunity! I see sex worker advocates panties in a wad over other sex workers speaking in behalf of clients (which happen to be the primary support of our industry DUH, this is why the abolitionists are targeting them correct?!)”

Don’t call me sweetie, I am not your sweetie. Show me where what I said is a contradiction. What I am saying is that clients voices are being held up over actual sex workers and drowning us out and this doesn’t seem to be addressed in activist circles; look what happens when anyone dares to criticize clients! People lose all critical thinking and go bananas. The only time anyone seems to feel able to bring up these problems is in private conversations, and it’s no wonder.

To be completely honest, I think this whole area is out of your depth considering your area of work. You’re not dealing with the same kind of sex work and issues surrounding it that many other sex workers are. If you were perhaps you wouldn’t be so out of touch

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Felicity February 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Actually, I think the client whose review you posted was pretty balanced. You show zero insight into what it is like to live with bpd, which is what motivated him to book het 6 weeks out. Nowhere does it say he called her repeatedly, just he booked earlier.

Of course we don’t want want clients explaining our experience. They are part of the ibdustry though.

I am disturbed by how saying ‘ white cis gendered male/female’ prior to totally discounting
that persons statement is becoming a thing. If you do not wish to be discounted yourself because of you colour or gender, don’t do it to other people either. And stop whining about privilege! Get on, do the work.

Would you believe a whole Deaf rights movement was managed without the word privilege being mentioned? We got sex work decriminalised in NZ without needing it.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 19, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hmmm, as someone diagnosed with bpd, I’d have to say I don’t quite understand this client’s actions, either.

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Audrey February 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm

He says “we exchanged emails several times” which I suppose could mean normal pre-booking communication (“are you available this day/time” “no sorry, how about this day/time” “sure that’s fine” type of thing) but judging by the context it sounds to me more like he wanted to have extended conversations on her time for free. Which would certainly irritate me, and most sex workers I know.

Not even going to touch those comments about privilege…

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Olive February 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

There is a looot of nonsense going on here most of which I’m too emotionally depleted to go into right now, however, a few things; I’m not sure if the link has been edited but in the original piece, he mentioned calling an escort several times and when she seemed sick of hearing from him, he moved on to doing the same thing to someone else thereby wasting her time prior to the booking. I suppose everyone has different experiences but if a client contacts me more than twice before a booking, a red flag goes up and if it’s several times, they’re almost always a time waster. Also, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, not she/hers thanks.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 11:34 am

Hey, Olive, sorry about my pronoun screw up–I edited it out.

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Zander (aka Dexter) February 23, 2014 at 11:43 pm

As the person who wrote the post “How I Became A Client” I would like to clear up part of the arguments about it. If one takes the time to read what I wrote one will find that I PHONED only 1 sex worker and only once. The sex worker I did end up seeing, all communications were via emails. A total of 4 emails to be exact. All of which were short and to the point. It was my first time seeking out a service provider then and I had a few questions and I had been asked to by her to use this method to communicate. I was trying to book in advance for my birthday and she was not willing to book that far in advance.
As for my own activism, I have listened AND acted upon every constructive criticism directed my way. I was new to advocacy and as a made mistakes I learned and changed how I did things. I do not try to speak for others. It try to raise the voices of sex workers themselves. At least I used too. Recently I made a choice to stop sex work advocacy all together.
Advocacy for Human Rights has always been my primary goal. I am open about this on my Twitter @furyofpatience
I’ve never read client forums nor agree with the idea of client speak over the voices of sex workers themselves. Clients can have their own voice on the criminalization of purchase under the Nordic Model but never at the expense of the voices of sex workers. My own view on this.
I consider myself a former client now. Not sure I will be one again. I think it is sad that my writing of my first experience as a client, which is about my own experience only, is so misquoted and being used to fuel a war within a movement that needs solidarity. Too few do stand up with their real names and where they live in support of this. I have been on TV, radio, in newsprint, online, and out with my own family about my being a client and my support of sex work and the need to decriminalize.

Olive, you and your supporters have made it crystal clear to me that I have ZERO place in sex worker rights. So I have left. But please, if you are going to quote ME, get it right.

Zander Dexter Falcon
Saskatoon, Sk, Canada
@furyofpatience
zanderfalcon@sasktel.net

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Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

“With their real names”? Yeah maybe in Canada dude.

Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

To clarify – wanting everyone to use their real names in an environment in which they are criminalized (and getting sabotaged by other activists with no compunction about researching them and enacting petty revenge) is actually pretty horrifying.

Bella Robinson February 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I think this escort doesn’t like their clients, and its so problematic that we just discount their voices. Many of our clients are standing up for sex workers and many of them have donated money to our legal challenge and other organizations. Clients have faced the same discrimination and stigma that sex workers face, however since they are not stalked and arrested as much, people like to ASSUME that they have not been hurt by criminalization. I also found it problematic that this person goes on about “those who claim they do sex work because they have to” well this is a REALITY for most sex workers I know’ as they have decided sex work is the best option for them, because they don’t see any other alternative that pays a living wage. Lets face it we all do it for the money. Another problematic statement was that clients don’t recolonize their privileged, and I am sure some of them don’t and some of them do, as I have been told that as a white cis sex worker I have no right speaking for sex workers. This is IRONIC because the majority of US sex workers are white cis women, and this isn’t about who has it worse, this is about all of us that are being oppressed and discriminated against and criminalized. I am the first to admit that law enforcment targets people of color and people living in poor communities. If the sex workers don’t stand up for our clients, we will see the Nordic model spreading from country to country. They are already starting to target our clients with huge verse stings from coast to coast, and these men are publicly shamed, forced into JOHN schools, and they even have a website that logs in any number that calls a a fake escort ad to further shame them. I am in no way saying that all clients care about sex worker or the plight we face, but many of them do, so to discount the voices of our clients is problematic and defeats our goal of getting the government out of the sex lives of consenting adults. Our clients are being portrayed as predators by the media and the abolitionists. 30 years ago there were very few sex workers that would come out publicly because of the public shame and harassment, so its makes perfect sense that the clients may take a while to come out, after all many of our clients have families and jobs that they would lose if they came out publicly. It also hard to fight the end of the demand campaign if sex workers don’t stand up for their clients,. I often refer to the industry as THE ADULT COMMUNITY and our clients make up more than half of our community as I recently read that there are 10 clients for each active sex worker, which means there are way more clients than there are sex workers. So my question is, would you want to be apart of a community that said you have no voice and you doesn’t matter.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I have to say that I like my clients, a lot–some of them have been better to me than my friends and family!–but I agree w/ a lot of what Olive’s saying. They’re taking issue with a kind of presumptuous client sex workers’ rights advocacy, not with clients as a whole.

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Audrey February 19, 2014 at 7:14 pm

“Clients have faced the same discrimination and stigma that sex workers face…”

NOPE.

Yes, criminalization and stigma hurts clients too. Just like the patriarchy hurts men too, racial stereotypes can hurt white people, and heteronormativity can hurt cis straight people. Those hurts are real, and shouldn’t be dismissed, but they are not equivalent to the bigotry that actual people who are the victims of discrimination face.

I agree with you that it’s harmful for our clients to be portrayed as predators or rapists, like the abolitionists like to do, but I don’t see anyone here making those arguments, simply saying that their self-serving activism is unhelpful, and centering the conversation on their feelings and needs is often harmful to our fight for human rights.

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BP February 19, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I appreciate this. I don’t care about clients either. In fact, I see their interests as fundamentally opposed to my interests, beyond the issue of decriminalization. I certainly won’t expend any energy trying to “defend” them to the public.

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sarah m February 25, 2014 at 7:24 am

“In fact, I see their interests as fundamentally opposed to my interests, beyond the issue of decriminalization.”

BP puts it so clearly and succinctly. My role as a worker is to get paid as much as possible for my labour under conditions that best support my wellbeing. The client’s role is to extract as much unpaid labour as he can — to get value for his money. There is no such thing as an “ally” client.

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sarah m February 26, 2014 at 7:37 am

“Zander Falcon” decided to track me down on Twitter and DM me a guilt-trip over comment above:

“‘There is no such thing as an “ally” client.’ your words on tits&sass comments. Sorry you think so ill of me & my trying to raise SW voices.”

You don’t like that your interests are necessarily opposed to those of them women you pay to fuck? Talk to capitalism.

As far as “trying to raise SW voices” goes, well, thanks, but I can raise my own. Watch!

DON’T FUCKING STALK ME TO WHINE ABOUT HOW I SAID SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE ON A BLOG, YOU ENTITLED, CONTROLLING, PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PIECE OF SHIT.

There is no such thing as an “ally” client.

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Evie February 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Quoted from Bella Robinson above: “If the sex workers don’t stand up for our clients, we will see the Nordic model spreading from country to country.”

See, this argument to me proves Olive’s point perfectly. If, under the Nordic model, everything was fine and dandy for workers but poor clients were getting harassed and experienced stupefying amounts of stigma, I would be right there with you. But that’s not why the Nordic model is a fucking disaster, it’s because, under the guise of legality and compassion, people who trade sex are still denied recognition as laborers, still stigmatized, still made vulnerable to violence (see Petite Jasmine for one heartbreaking example), ESPECIALLY if you work outside, use drugs, are a person of color, an immigrant, etc. Kind of like Criminalization Classic ™. The problem with “demand side” criminalization is that it’s still bad for workers. Why is that not enough to fight or ourselves and our community? We should be expected to spend energy outside of work on our clients as well?

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duaneh1 February 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Hair stylists, Nail techs, Doctors, Lawyers, etc don’t express the same contempt for their clients like so many Sex workers seem to do. If a sex worker truly can’t stand their clients then they need to find another line of work. Such open hostility to those whose livelihood’s they depend upon only give more fodder to those who want to see their profession destroyed.

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Bubbles Bubbles February 19, 2014 at 11:45 pm

1) It’s not contempt, it’s anger at clients who presume to speak for them and 2) they most certainly do complain about their bad clients/patients/customers, you’re just not (for whatever oh-so-mysterious reason) hanging out on their websites, blogs, and message boards.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 12:46 am

My wife is a hair stylist and yes, she does have some “bad” clients and she has a blog about her line of work. However, she would never…I repeat never…post an article degrading any of her clients and to post something like “I don’t care about Clients” would be the epitome of stupidity of anyone in her profession or anyone else in a profession that caters to personal services…except apparently, sex work.

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 5:07 am

Duane1 I totally agree with you. Others here will find it totally flawed- in my opinion because they can’t see beyond the loop running in their heads. We all get that way, including myself, especially when it’s an emotional topic. I practice regularly stepping out of my ‘norm’ and proactively attempting to see things from every vantage point which I can imagine as well as SINCERELY trying to see things from an opponents vantage point (try it people I DARE YOU)

There are indeed a myriad of circumstances in the realm of sex work! Sex workers cannot be broad stroked, lol.

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Evie February 20, 2014 at 1:27 am

More ways in which that analogy does not work:
- Hair stylist, nail tech, doctor, and lawyer are fully legalized professions; they do not work in the shadows.
- Violence at the hands of clients/customers/LE is not enough of a workplace risk that they feel the need to use a buddy system, create a “bad date” alert, or in any way alter modify their behavior.
- If they were assaulted while working, a hair stylist, nail tech, doctor, or lawyer wouldn’t be afraid to report to police or seek medical care, as they would have no reason to expect shaming, or fear arrest, when admitting they were working when they were raped.

“If a sex worker truly can’t stand their clients then they need to find another line of work.” You’re either a client, an idiot, or both.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I couldn’t imagine working as personal services professional and being disgusted by ALL my clients. But again, perhaps I’m the one who is Abbey Normal or perhaps this is what makes Sex work unique from other service professions, since I’m not a sex worker I have to concede I wouldn’t know.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

No one is talking here about being disgusted by all their clients. You’re making all sorts of false assumptions about sex work as unique, simply b/c, as has been said, you don’t hang around in industry forums where other professions complain about their customers. For some reason you are hanging around in a site by and for sex workers, though.

Miss Margo February 20, 2014 at 4:52 am

You are full of shit, dude. How many “nail techs” do you know…? Also, I was partnered with a physician for five years, and the things he said about his patients would turn your hair white.

Your comment has nothing to do with the article. You are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile. Sorry, dude, but we don’t owe you love–only service for payment rendered. If you want a woman to really love you, you’ll have to cultivate a relationship with her and love her back. I understand that might be beyond your reach.

I have compassion for my clientele and I give as much of myself, emotionally, as I safely can. But in my career as a fetish sex worker, I have been mistreated and emotionally/psychologically vandalized in ways that I have never been in any other profession. Clients who are emotionally evolved and have two brain cells to rub together recognize this and don’t get bent out of shape when I screen or treat them with caution the first time around.

Why am I even responding to this troglodyte? I’m out.

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BP February 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

“you are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile.”

EXACTLY. Spoiler alert: It’s an act, I don’t actually find my clients attractive or special, and they mean nothing to me beyond the $

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm

“You are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile.” Jeezus Christ…So I’m now a nasty “client”, when I posted on Equality Now’s facebook page defending sex workers I was labeled a “Pimp”. No, I am not a terrible “client”, A friend and I did hire a couple of hookers in Mexico when we were 19, they had some weed, we all got high and fucked on the same bed-was fun but I’ve never done that again and now I’m 49. My wife always tells me about her bad clients but still her good clients makeup for the minority of her bad ones. She loves her profession and finds it rewarding that her clients feel beautiful after she’s finished with them. I’m fully aware that sex workers have no feelings towards their clients other than the money, as Maggie McNeil puts it, she is an “Entertainer” and if she puts on a good show, she’ll get repeat business. I have no dog in this fight other than I’m a staunch libertarian and the Government has no business regulating what consensual adults do in their bedroom. For years, I’ve defended Mormon Polygamists and even made friends with a couple of them despite my status as an Agnostic.

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Eva Angelica February 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm

And the fact that you’ve labelled sex workers “hookers”(and on a sex-worker run website, no less) shows your true colours towards us. Also Olive’s post was concerning clients who take up space from sex work activists, as you indeed are doing here. You stuck up for the industry on Equality Now? Awesome, keep doing that but stay out of our spaces otherwise you’re just confirming all the negative connotations about clients.

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Amanda February 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm

So true!!!! “If you want a woman to really love you, you’ll have to cultivate a relationship with her and love her back. I understand that might be beyond your reach.”

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Amanda February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

I have seen an anonymous lawyer blog or two ranting about stupid clients. Then there are blogs like Waiter Rant. I’m sure there are blogs like that for every job.

Since you mentioned legal professions, it’s probably far easier for them to find someone in their real life to vent to (like hiring an escort and spending an hour venting to her about their stupid clients). Sex workers often don’t have trusted confidantes in their real life, and so we vent online, anonymously. This skews your sampling and perspective but people are people and everyone vents about the idiots they encounter in their jobs.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Of course all professionals will have bad or stupid clients, as I’ve said, my wife has had plenty of bad clients and she doesn’t hesitate to give me all the details. But this was a general attack on “all clients”.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

It wasn’t a general attack on all clients, just clients doing activism in a wrongheaded, presumptuous manner.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Yes I get it about the client activism. Maybe if she titled her post “I don’t care about Client Activists”, perhaps it wouldn’t have set so many people off…including me.

danielle February 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm

“Sex workers often don’t have trusted confidantes in their real life…”

And even when we do, they’re often not fellow sex workers, and they won’t understand the nature of our venting! When I complain about sex work issues to non-sex-working friends, they look at me blankly; it’s only online that I have a whole /community/ of fellow sex workers to complain to.

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Bella Robinson February 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I don’t see any self serving activism going on by clients or have I missed these huge headlines in the media regarding this. This isn’t a contest about “who has it worse” its about standing up for all our rights, and I don’t see clients running any sex worker rights organizations. I am sure the abolitionists are laughing their asses off, as no doubt this article will be targeted with headlines like “look even prostitutes don’t like their client and won’t stand up for them so we need to criminalize them” . If this was really about clients being activists, why was it not titled “Don’t you hate when non sex workers play the activist. Then there would have been no need to UTTERLY BASH OUR CLIENTS and publicly state that they don;t matter. Surely we can come up with better language than this. Then these terms like “self serving, and their needs before the needs of sex workers”. Please attack some links that shows our clients doing this. If your accusing them of doing this, then tell us who they are. There seems to be a HUGE BUZZ around about who represents who. Personally I represent MYSELF and I allow other activists to represent me too.

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Anonymous February 19, 2014 at 8:51 pm
Terra February 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm

I think Olive was only talking about this one small segment of the client activists, not clients as a whole. Then towards the middle of the article it became more unclear and generalized. I don’t think they were saying that they hate all clients or that we shouldn’t have allies.

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Olive February 20, 2014 at 10:34 am

I was giving examples of some shitty activism I’ve seen from clients to point out some of the negative tendencies I’ve seen and then talking about them specifically. It wasn’t meant as an attack on anyone; at one point I criticized a couple of articles in blogs, which still isn’t an attack. Thanks for pointing this out because a lot of people seem to have skipped the parts where I said that I do think client activism serves a purpose and it should continue but within a certain framework outside of the retelling of salacious stories that read more like reviews than support.

TL;DR : Yes, this is basically what I was saying, sorry the middle was unclear. It was referring to this type of activism in general.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 1:19 am

Mental health professionals work with clients on personal level pretty much on par with sex workers…am I wrong? Are there any blogs by Psychiatrists and Mental health professionals degrading and disparaging their clients?? I guess that is one reason why their occupation is treated with respect while sex workers are so often labeled as “victims” and otherwise stigmatized.

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 5:08 am

BAM!

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 20, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Do you really not see any difference in the professional codes of conduct between mental health workers and sex workers? Or the difference in our client bases? No? Carry on then.

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Domina Elle February 22, 2014 at 12:58 am

<Do you really not see any difference in the professional codes of conduct between mental health workers and sex workers? Or the difference in our client bases? No? Carry on then.<

No I personally do not see the difference.

Perhaps this has to do with the MOTIVES for which I do sex work compared to yours? Not to mention how I conduct myself.

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Robin D Robin D February 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

There’s a lot of people out there who would dispute this about how she “conducts” herself. Like holy shit. Also, pretty sure Lori does sex work to support herself as do you so actually you would have exactly the same motives.

Lori Adorable LoriAdorable February 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Haha wow This is just incredible. It’s like Respectable Sex Worker bingo

Caty Simon Caty Simon February 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

(As for a mod stepping in, Lori, unfortunately she hasn’t violated the letter of the law, yet.)

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BP February 23, 2014 at 12:38 am

I don’t know what the “letter of the law” is here at T&S, but the ableism in these comments is really awful.

Honestly, I do want our movement to have room for multiple voices, even ones that I disagree with, but fuck this is hard to read without feeling triggered.

Eva Angelica February 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

As people have explained to you above when you posted THE EXACT SAME COMMENT except using nail technicians and hairdressers as examples, psychiatrists and mental health professionals are stigmatised and criminalised by society. Do you hear jokes about dead psychiatrists or see disgusting negative portrayals of people in the mental health industry every time you turn on the television? Does one have to hide being a shrink from their family and loved ones? Does one risk arrest for being a mental health nurse? I think even you are smart enough to know the answers to the above. Now take your chest thumping man-pain and go somewhere else because you’re repeating yourself and it’s boring.

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Robin D Robin D February 21, 2014 at 8:50 am

The power dynamic is also flipped entirely between a mental health professional and a client, and a sex worker and a client.

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Domina Elle February 22, 2014 at 12:53 am

>The power dynamic is also flipped entirely between a mental health professional and a client, and a sex worker and a client.<

When it comes to consensual sex work- NOT SO unless that is allowed by the provider!!! I dare say you and others here are TOTALLY supporting the abolitionist narrative and you don't even see that do you??

AGAIN, this work is best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it. It IS therapy under such conditions, healthy for the clients and the providers!

There are many people here who do not seem to understand what TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for one's actions means. It's every one else's fault. It's about gender, it's about class and privilege, it's about racism, but it all boils down to a bunch of pie holes spouting off and never actually DOING anything but HOLDING THINGS BACK!!!!

To be seen as a professional YOU NEED TO BEHAVE AS ONE.

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Robin D Robin D February 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Look in the mirror dude. I take responsibility for everything I have done and I really, really don’t think you can say the same. You act less professional than practically everyone everywhere. I take absolute responsibility for my actions but I sure as fuck don’t take responsibility for racism, sexism, etc. Do you really want to put all that shit on us?

Lori Adorable LoriAdorable February 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm

“Work best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it” At what point can a mod step in to stop her here?

Evie February 22, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Good god, get the fuck outta here with that nonsense. Telling us we’re essentially our own oppressors because we don’t live a life as charmed as yours?

I’m happy you take so much pride and enjoyment in your work, I really am. Even though we disagree fundamentally on justice and compassion and the idea, as flawed as it may be sometimes, of a community of people in sex work. Even though you’ve said some offensive and hateful (though you may not see it as such) statements towards myself and the many, many others who don’t love every aspect of how we pay the rent, particularly the criminalization which makes sex workers the perfect target for violence, be it from clients or institutions. Even though I think it is YOU who is bad for the movement. But I feel no bitterness that you see such value in your work. I will still fight with every molecule in my body for your – our – right to health, safety, love, and freedom from oppression, just like I would for anyone who tricks in the club or on the corner or gets $2000 to sleep with a politician without a condom.

I wish you felt the same way about us.

Miss Margo February 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm

“AGAIN, this work is best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it. It IS therapy under such conditions, healthy for the clients and the providers!”

First: who are you, the Sex Work Gatekeeper? What sort of authoritarian self-righteous bullshit is this? Are you going to make the selection?

How long have you been in this industry? I’ve been a fetish worker–Prodomme and Prosub–off and on for several years.

I ask because while I agree completely that sadomasochism can be therapeutic and a joyous expression of sexuality (among other things), I’ve been around long another to know, for a fact, that some clients are engaging in repetition compulsion, sex addiction, and various other hostile or destructive behaviors. Elle, we work at the apex of sex and violence and we carry out scenes of ritualized oppression. I do not believe that making this simple observation constitutes pathologizing clients or providers.

Wendy Lyon February 20, 2014 at 1:38 am

Without taking a position on the general subject of this post, I do want to point out something. The blog that you linked to, Stories From Behind the Red Light, is described as being “an entire blog dedicated to telling the stories of punters”. It isn’t – it’s just that a punter’s story is the last post to the blog, and hence is what comes up first when you go to the home page. And the reason there’s an article titled “Women only sell sex because they have to” is because it’s an Irish blog and at the time it was posted, Ruhama were running an ad campaign in Ireland with that theme. The article is written by a sex worker and is clearly arguing against the proposition in the title.

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Olive February 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

I’m the author of this piece, and I’m glad to see that people are engaging with it and discussing it. I want to clear a few things up though.

1) My pronouns are they/them/theirs

2) My personal feelings about clients is completely irrelevant to this conversation. Sex work, like most professions, doesn’t require me to have any particular feelings towards my clients and the fact that a few people (including a particularly whiny dudebro, lol) are getting so angry about my refusal to expend emotional energy towards them is pretty staggering and in my opinion indicative of precisely the kind of entitlement I’m talking about in the piece. I wrote this specifically discussing clients involvement with politics and now people are attacking my merits as a sex worker. What the hell? Talk about ad hominem arguments. I like most of my clients, they seem like nice enough human beings but I don’t feel obligated to engage in emotional care-taking outside of bookings. I guess for some people that’s an affront, and if that’s how they feel then fine but it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. What’s even worse though is the lateral whorearchy going on towards sex workers who *don’t* like their clients, as if they were somehow required to do so. And “people who need to do sex work shouldn’t be doing it” WOW. I hope I don’t ever come across you in my activist circles cos you’d probably get a concussion falling off your high horse. I’m sorry not everyone can be as privileged as you are but many people do engage in survival sex work and if our activism isn’t centered around them and their needs then we are failing considerably. The kind of people who can dismiss the most marginalized among us are also the kind of people who are least likely to be on the wrong end of criminalizaton. But I digress.

3) I am pro clients being involved in sex work activism, I just don’t like the way it’s often carried out. I did actually say that in the piece but it appears that I wasn’t clear enough on that. Activism requires more than just a willingness to help, it requires knowing HOW to help, which was basically my point.

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BP February 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm

“I don’t feel obligated to engage in emotional care-taking outside of bookings.”

YES, this.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

“including a particularly whiny dudebro”. I agree with you when you say you don’t they way clients try carry out sex work activism. During the civil rights era, Whites who spoke out against Jim Crow and defended African-Americans often came across sounding just as racist as KKK and segregationist leaders. Like I originally said “Maybe these client’s hearts are in the right place and just need a little bit of education…”, what I mean is that perhaps they are in need of sensitivity training and perhaps sex workers would be best qualified to give them that.

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Miss Margo February 21, 2014 at 5:36 am

“Give us sensitivity training!”

Truly, there is no end to the needs of men…

There is something uniquely offensive, though, about the acknowledgement that you are a rude, insensitive asshole, and then demanding that women invest their personal time and attention to “train” you to be a decent human being.

I think that you are too conceited to be teachable, but if you really want lessons in “sensitivity training,” I’ll charge you what I charge to prepare students for the GRE: $80/hour.

Hell of a bargain. I charge three times that for domination.

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Audrey February 20, 2014 at 8:25 pm

1. I sincerely apologize for carelessly mixing up your pronouns earlier in this thread.

2. Thank you for this followup comment, you’ve clarified your position very well, and I (still) agree 100%. And can I get a HELL YEAH for not expending emotional energy on clients outside of bookings. Seriously, in what other profession (other than perhaps childcare, which is also fucked up) are workers expected to care deeply about their clients around the clock regardless of how much/when they’re getting paid?

3. Yet again, so well said. Good intentions are lovely and all, and I’m sure that many of these activist-y clients have good intentions, but like all privileged people they need to first listen to the people who know what they’re talking about, and only then proceed to speak and help.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Ok I give you a Hell Yeah. I didn’t realize many clients expected their “service providers” to care deeply about them outside of the work.

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Eva Angelica February 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I think the clients who have a modicum of perception will get your point, Olive. Though some of the comments here remind me of the way white people sound off with this ‘BUT NOT AAAALLLLL WHITE PEOPLE ARE LIKE THAAAAAT” shit every time a PoC talks about racism.

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Domina Elle February 22, 2014 at 1:17 am

>2) My personal feelings about clients is completely irrelevant to this conversation.Sex work, like most professions, doesn’t require me to have any particular feelings towards my clients and the fact that a few people (including a particularly whiny dudebro, lol) are getting so angry about my refusal to expend emotional energy towards them is pretty staggering and in my opinion indicative of precisely the kind of entitlement I’m talking about in the piece.What the hell? Talk about ad hominem arguments.I’m sorry not everyone can be as privileged as you are but many people do engage in survival sex work and if our activism isn’t centered around them and their needs then we are failing considerably. The kind of people who can dismiss the most marginalized among us are also the kind of people who are least likely to be on the wrong end of criminalization.<

Privileged? What a CROCK!! Are you referring to ME? Not sure, because you didn't name me. But I am going to guess yes based on the whole comment.

The activism should be centered around challenging the law! To establish DECRIMINALIZATION which would effect EVERY sex worker regardless of what their circumstances are. Have you gotten behind that effort? Well!!!!????????

Activism requires people to get off their asses and DO SOMETHING. Rather than just having opinions.

KNOW how to help? It's obvious most of the sex workers don't know how to help so why are you alienating clients out of the equation?

And just LOOK AT THE TITLE OF THE OP….Do you think this helped?!

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Domina Elle February 22, 2014 at 1:31 am

Not sure I think I partly accidentally deleted my post.

>2) My personal feelings about clients is completely irrelevant to this conversation.Sex work, like most professions, doesn’t require me to have any particular feelings towards my clients<

This is what is wrong with most professions!! It's just about the money. There was a time when people took great pride in themselves and what they did, and why.

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Ms. Pris March 5, 2014 at 6:19 am

“There was a time when people took great pride in themselves and what they did, and why.” This is, and always has been, a fantasy of privilege. There have always been people who did the work they did, whatever kind of work it was, *only* in order to make money.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

I’d also thank you not to use pejorative terms when talking about injection drug users.

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Bella Robinson February 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I think calling clients “punters” is OFFENSIVE AS HELL. and when clients are bringing up their own experiences in the red light blog doesn’t make them activists. LOL
Too bad nobody is concerned over all the NON SEX WORKERS that are running sex worker right organizations, as there are way more of them and they are doing a lot more damage then the clients on that redlight blog.

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Bella Robinson February 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Calling clients “PUNTERS is OFFENSIVE AS HELL. Claiming that clients who discussed their own experiences and opinions on the redlight blog, as activism is a bit much.

Too bad nobody is concerned about all the NON SEX WORKERS that are running organizations as they seem to be harming our movement more than the clients on the red light blog and there are a lot more of them too.

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Amanda February 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Can you be more specific about the non sex workers running sex work orgs? I’m asking out of real curiosity, the US orgs I’m aware of have current or former sex workers in the leadership positions. Is this a thing in other countries? Are you calling out specific orgs?

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I don’t think this was about non sex workers running sex work orgs, but about clients trying to do activism in sex workers’ steads. I’ve heard about a lot of small, local examples, but a large scale example we were talking about in a discussion about this post on the Scarlet Alliance Facebook page is the notorious hands off my whores campaign in France.

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Amanda February 21, 2014 at 9:57 am

Oh, I was responding to Bella’s comment “all the NON SEX WORKERS that are running organizations”, not Olive’s piece.

Okay, the French campaign, yup. Other than that, Bella??

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Ms. Pris March 5, 2014 at 6:21 am

I know of at least one sex worker org run by a hobby ho. This person was an upper-class student who turned a few tricks for fun and parlayed that into a career as a high profile sex worker activist.

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Miss Margo February 21, 2014 at 5:24 am

Clients call THEMSELVES “punters.” I myself call them “clients.”

I am unfailingly gracious with them (unless they’re masochists and specifically request otherwise), but I do not respect or like all of them…and I don’t think that is a problem.

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Olive February 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

I did call her privileged, which she is now regardless of whatever her starting point was. Telling other sex workers that they shouldn’t do their jobs because they don’t feel the same way about it you do and supporting frameworks that criminalize them because she won’t be criminalized is privileged and whorephobic. I can see why someone who is solely interested in how any givens situation benefits them personally with no concern for anyone else would be OFFENDED! at an article that called other people doing the same thing selfish. But moving on.

a really good point a friend of mine mentioned to me just now reminded me of a convo from a while ago that I wish I’d thought of when I was writing the damn article is that the relationship between sex worker and client isn’t one of friendship; it’s a business transaction and one in which my bests interests aren’t always going to line up with theirs, e.g. its in my best interests to get paid the maximum I can for my labor, but that’s clearly not in the clients’ best interests. Pretending that we’re buddies and “in this together” ignores a materialist analysis of the fundamental relationship between worker and client.

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Amanda February 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

“…the relationship between sex worker and client isn’t one of friendship; it’s a business transaction and one in which my bests interests aren’t always going to line up with theirs, e.g. its in my best interests to get paid the maximum I can for my labor, but that’s clearly not in the clients’ best interests. Pretending that we’re buddies and “in this together” ignores a materialist analysis of the fundamental relationship between worker and client.”

This is also so very true of most of the legal professions referenced above, like doctors, lawyers, estheticians — no surprise the same holds true for us. This is one of the reasons sex work is work, a concept some male “allies” seem to still have trouble with accepting (which comes around to one of the reasons behind your entire post). There are certainly times when a relationship with a client becomes something like friends with benefits (he has his needs effortlessly met, she gets a good-paying, regular, safe client) but it’s not the rule by any stretch. Nor does it mean she throws her boundaries out the window, stops making decisions that benefit her first, and she still bears the brunt of whore stigma and criminalization.

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BP February 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

“it’s a business transaction and one in which my bests interests aren’t always going to line up with theirs, e.g. its in my best interests to get paid the maximum I can for my labor, but that’s clearly not in the clients’ best interests. Pretending that we’re buddies and “in this together” ignores a materialist analysis of the fundamental relationship between worker and client.”

I was having trouble articulating this exact point, thank-you. I consider clients to play the role of the “bosses” in the struggle for worker’s rights. They want to extract the most time and services from me at the lowest cost to them. They don’t especially care for my health/safety if it doesn’t align with the services they demand. They expect “off the clock” emotional labor, and do not value my free time as my OWN time.

Of course, once in a while you get an exception to this. But when I was working in retail and food service and in other industries I occasionally got “nice” bosses as well. Doesn’t change the power dynamic. One of us needs to eat, the other has money to spare.

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 20, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Good lord, yes yes yes yes. Thank you. For this comment and this piece and just being you generally. I just want to walk around with a sign that says, “I don’t care unless you pay me. And even then I’m probably just pretending,” and this piece made my mean little heart melt in solidarity.

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Robin D Robin D February 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

So, some of the remarks directed at Olive are often directed at me, by someone who is local to my own political milieu and making the same comments about Olive. Just to set the record straight, and give an example of how unfounded such accusations often are, much as those remarks do not fit with Olive’s situation, they do not fit with mine either, though I am fully aware that people say these things. First, I did not have any sort of responsibility to avoid the sex industry. Frankly it was probably going to happen and waiting longer would have just put me in an even worse situation. I think maybe some people here think they are the only ones who didn’t have any family support. Similarly, I think we can all agree that it is best practice to use condoms. Sex workers who do not always use condoms do this in response to a demand, and it’s not our demand (why would it be?), whether there’s overt coercion around it coming from the client or not. Like, obviously, there is a reason that you can get more money for condomless sex, and that one’s on the clients who desire that sort of thing. Secondly, people everywhere seem to be under the impression that I have a miserable life just because I struggle with mental illness, and that I don’t take responsibility for making it better. That’s completely untrue. I do struggle with mental illness and it is a particular struggle when situations get triggering, but I’m not in a bad place in my life at all. I am very much in love and both my partner and I work hard to build up a nice life around us. We have a wonderful dog that loves us. I am employed part-time and struggle with it constantly but my job is also really good for me. If I were, by some chance, really struggling and unhappy with the general trajectory of my life, this would in no way invalidate my thoughts on the sex industry, my experiences, nor those of my friends. Thirdly, if people are genuinely doubting that I have been subject to third party coercion in the sex trade and want evidence, this actually something I am able to provide, and I am in a place where I might be willing to do so under certain circumstances, though I am concerned about certain people playing “detective” and looking for “holes” that don’t really exist, ala Wendy Davis.

Now, let’s talk effective strategy. I’ve certainly heard charges that I do “nothing” because I am “too low functioning.” While I admire the tenacity certain people show in terms of monitoring legislation and so on, why don’t we talk about the ways in which certain “organizations” that have, for a long time, been unable to get anyone other than two particular people involved, people who absolutely no one else has been willing to work with for any real period of time, actually are counterproductive and DERAIL real-world efforts? Do you want to know what REALLY makes you look crazy to people in power? Threatening frivolous lawsuits does that. Registering yourselves as an LLC does that. Ranting to them endlessly, hard-headedly, and ideologically about sexual freedom and angelic clients does that (for that matter, stating publicly that the word “John” is just as bad as the n-word does that too). That shit is so counterproductive it is hard to even express how much. I can tell you right now that people find it pretty damn frustrating to try to reach out to people on, say, the local City Council who we’ve heard may be sympathetic, only to find that a certain pair of people got there first and turned said politician off from the issue forever and entirely, so much so that this politician refuses to meet with any sex workers rights organization ever.

I have a long personal history of real-world involvement in this movement, and I find a lot of value in what Tits and Sass is doing. Actually, I think it is really necessary. There’s a reason that we don’t have a lot of cohesiveness, and that is that we are at each other’s fucking throats all the time. Community organizing involves consensus. It has to. There is no way to come to any consensuses about these divisive issues (clients, violence, trafficking, drugs, strip club “extras,” STIs, etc.) without talking and working them out between as many sex workers as possible, and Tits and Sass is doing that really well. People have alluded to needing more people involved. Absolutely! Look at the DMSC, an organization in India with THOUSANDS of members. Tits and Sass is doing that too – a lot of people find this movement through the internet, unfortunately. I know at least one sex worker that joined the organization with which I am involved specifically because of the interview I published here. I know another that tried to get involved with YOUR organization for months and months, unsuccessfully, and then eventually joined the organization that I am involved with instead and has since become a really integral and important member to our efforts. It is one thing to rant endlessly at everyone you meet about DOING MORE because you are so overwhelmed, but it is quite another to legitimately build membership in an organization.

I am frequently told that I “play into” the trafficking narrative. Well guess what, I’m just honest. I’m pretty sure that I have a better record than most at getting people who have experiences that fit the definition of trafficking involved in this movement (also, male sex workers, as well as transgender women). Don’t think that’s effective? Just wait and fucking see how effective that is. In a political landscape that is enormously hostile to us, our biggest advantage is the degree to which we are *genuine*. Our biggest disadvantage is people who rant endlessly about sexual freedom and angelic clients and the n-word and whose inflated egos make them think they are effective while they actively derail the efforts of others.

Finally, Amanda asked if this client-activist thing is a problem in the USA. I can attest that it absolutely is. I have seen clients get involved and then make people uncomfortable, flirt endlessly, and treat the groups as venues for finding dates. I have seen a male bisexual sex worker/sometimes-client tell women in a group I have been in that he went home and masturbated to them after a protest. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

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Amanda February 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

“I have seen clients get involved and then make people uncomfortable, flirt endlessly, and treat the groups as venues for finding dates. I have seen a male bisexual sex worker/sometimes-client tell women in a group I have been in that he went home and masturbated to them after a protest. That’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Ew!

Thank you for expanding on my question, Robin.

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I think we need to have a whole thread just to rant about the cis male bisexual sex workers. One recently hit on me *via an activist listserv*. Another routinely offers ‘business opportunites’ to new, young women sex workers. Vom.

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Robin D Robin D February 22, 2014 at 11:44 am

Yep, I’m aware of at least one of those people – as you know quite well. Aware of/was unfortunately briefly involved with? Yeah. Awesome. And the man I referenced above was a friend of his! This guy knows how to pick ‘em, let me tell you (*cough*). Also, I’m pretty certain that the men that Jolene and Audrey reference are not the same men as any of these. Probably.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm

“For some reason you are hanging around in a site by and for sex workers, though.” Caty, I bookmarked this blog over a year ago because I believe sex worker rights are everyone’s rights…”right to privacy, no business govt. in our bedrooms, etc.” I’m not a client, nor a pimp, nor a sex worker. Is it weird, unusual, and strange for someone like me to be “hanging around” a “site by and for sex workers”? That was a rhetorical question.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

No, it’s not, I’m just saying that you’re more likely to hear sex workers talk about their clients b/c a sex worker blog is more exciting to read then, say, a bulletin board for hair stylists. Sorry, that came across poorly–of course we like potential allies viewing our site.

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duaneh1 February 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Of course sex workers stories are more exciting to read about than those by Hair stylists. I just don’t think it is a good idea for sex workers to provide fodder for self righteous tarts like Rachel Moran, Alice Schwarzer, Nicholas Kristoff, Megan Murphy…to name a few.

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

“Talk about sex work my way, or else you’re helping Meghan Murphy,” says the client who decided not to take any of Olive’s piece to heart because it definitely does NOT apply to him.

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

This comment thread is full of people who could use a history lesson, so gather ’round. Every major rights movement in the West has, at one point or another, made a show of distancing itself from sex workers in a gambit at respectability politics– civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights. “We’re good, upstanding people like you white/male/ straight people!” they said, as they threw revolutionaries like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson under the bus. The most that’s been achieved through that method is clearing a few token spaces at the white capitalist heteropatriarchal table (to paraphrase bell hooks). Respectability politics hasn’t dismantled any system of oppression, hasn’t done shit for the likes of trans women of color sex workers. It isn’t supposed to. Its purpose is to expand who’s allowed at the top by just a liiiiitle bit more. Sex workers are not ever going to be allowed there. You’re not going to win yourself a place at the table by trying to shift away from The Bad Sex Workers– those who don’t like their clients or are poor or who would rather be doing something else or who are drug users or mentally ill or abuse survivors or whatever kind of thing you definitely are not. The people at the table don’t give a shit that you’re leaving a comment on a sex work blog trying to separate yourself out from Olive and Caty. You are not winning anything except the distrust of the people who are the core of this movement, the workers like Rivera and Johnson. If you manage to separate yourselves from the Bad Sex Workers, you’re not going to find yourself among the likes of the decriminalized and non-stigmatized. You’ll just be by your lonesome selves.

So, you know, maybe you want to cut the respectability crap and get back to the original topic. If I recall correctly, it was a much more advanced discussion of sex worker rights advocacy than the nonsense that has ensued below.

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Lori Adorable Lori Adorable February 20, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Also, just in case no one’s noticed: the endless debate over whether sex work is moral and whether it should be criminalized is never centered on the workers who loooove their jobs and their clients. When antis acknowledge those experiences at all, it’s to dismiss them altogether in favor of presuming to speak for workers like Olive. So if you love your job, you should be singing the praises of workers who don’t care about their clients. They– we– are standing beside you to ask for the same thing you are and to tell the antis to shut up and let *all* sex workers speak. But instead you’re telling Olive to shut up and find a new job. In other words, you’re reproducing the same behavior that antis throw at you.

What a world.

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Tracy February 21, 2014 at 2:32 am

Wait, wait, wait, you guys. Hairstylists do not blog about clients *because there is a code.* A cone of silence. It’s a thing with stylists not to talk about the punters – I have even overheard my stylist telling the assistants not to discuss the clients with other clients. Just saying.

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Robin D Robin D February 21, 2014 at 9:37 am

Oh gee I wonder if you talk about them with other hairstylists, if you would do so if one of them assaulted you, and if they write sexually explicit reviews of you online with regards to your criminalized profession that can be accessed by law enforcement.

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Domina Elle February 22, 2014 at 1:35 am

Did you tell your clients NOT to write reviews? You will not find any reviews about me on the internet other than what I have approved because I demand this of my clients.

Me thinks some people don’t want to be empowered because it means they have to OWN RESPONSIBILITY.

I think ANYONE can overcome ANY ODDS if they are determined enough!!

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Right, the rest of us are all whiny, unprofessional, evaders of responsibility, whereas you’re a diamond in the rough. We’ve never given our clients therapeutic services or taken pride in our profession, but if we’d just exert some will power then we could rise above situations like criminalization, racism, poverty, etc entirely. Oh, and of course you’re the only activist here–the rest of us just sit around on our asses and complain on the internet.

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Robin D Robin D February 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Ahahaha, right???!?

Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm

And I know this is patently obvious to most people but it is still irritating me…like she does not seem to realize that 1) sometimes people need to use that as a business strategy and 2) you can tell them not to do it and they will still do it. At the high end and at the low end. If there are decade-old reviews out there of me or something then I wouldn’t even have realized at the time that they did such a thing. Others won’t see anyone who doesn’t have them. Hell there was that man who was using his review site to extort sex and then hired a hit-man on a sex worker that he outed…and that was written about here, and Elle certainly seems to read this blog. But I don’t know what her deal is really. Beyond that she likes to show the same behavior as that man and research the real names of other activists and then enact revenge for seemingly no reason. It is frankly pretty sociopathic. Also, she and this other woman think everyone is me. I think at this point they think maybe 20-30+ people who are not me, are. Other members of SWOP, random internet commenters, everyone really. I don’t know why this is.

Evie February 22, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I know, these hos just need to pull themselves up by their own bra straps!

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Amanda February 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Hairstylist love to gossip, just maybe not your hairstylist.

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Cyd February 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I rolled my eyes so hard at this string of replies by petulant clients, hysteronic dommes, and black and white thinkers that I think I sprained something. “I don’t want to center a movement around the destigmatizing of tricks/johns/clients” ≠ “I hate all clients and I need you to explain to me why I shouldn’t be in the sex industry”. If your reading skills don’t enable you to distinguish between the two then maybe you should get off the internet. Also if you think that the word ‘john’ is comparable to the n word then I suggest not only getting off the internet but taking a vow of silence for the good of the community.

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jessa jay February 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

oh my god; thank YOU thank YOU THANK YOU! i am sharing this with everyone i know and pretty sure it should be required reading for everyone. where i am it is currently ‘trendy’ in the industry to defend the clients rights over our own, to badmouth blacklist systems & those who use them and to overall just degrade us as women and workers in general. i have no idea why so many ladies are falling into this but they are. i am so glad i’m not the only one who feels this way! THANK YOU again!

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Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Excuse me but sex workers are now *badmouthing blacklist systems*???!?

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Lindsay Berlin February 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I fully support Olive’s article. It was so OBVIOUS they were not talking about all clients, but a particular type of client. Our feelings about clients are irrelevant to this post–it’s not about client-hating at all–at least that’s not how I read it. And please, don’t even try to tell me that clients face the same amount of stigma and harassment that sex workers face. Just don’t.

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Zander Falcon March 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Olive,

I doubt there is anything I can ever say that you would want to hear from myself. While I have always considered myself a Human Rights Activist first and a sex work client 11th or 12th, I will only ever be seen as a client here. I hope you read this because I agree with you for the vast majority of what you say. Sex worker rights are about sex workers and should be heard from them. Clients who want to help should ask how and follow the lead of sex workers. Never speak for them, never speak over them, and in many cases just never speak at all. Giving money to a SWOP so they can organize what needs doing, combating stigma, or just not perpetuating the client review board mentality.
When I wrote that piece on How I Became A Client, I wrote it for my own blog on mental health and personal life. At the time it had nothing to do with any sex work activism. It being posted elsewhere does not show it’s original context (the other posts). I hope it shows that people can make mistakes early on in learning to be an activist though and change. I do feel I changed and learned as I went on.
As an activist, not as a client, I tried to bring local awareness to situations and raise the voices of others. If I had to speak myself, I tried to keep to Human Rights. If we are going to keep using that blog post as a reference as to why I should not speak up please consider adding the more public ones I add here:

http://metronews.ca/news/saskatoon/830572/petition-opposes-city-of-saskatoons-potential-isolation-of-strip-clubs/
(when it went to a vote before City Council I had gotten 10 people from the strip club industry to each speak publicly in front of City Council…there own voices)

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/life/Advocates+politicians+grapple+with+prostitution/9366644/story.html
(because of my previous public activism the reporter sought me out when no local sex worker at that time was willing to go on record…again I avoided speaking for sex worker)

http://www.newstalk650.com/sites/default/files/JGLPROSITUTIONDEBATEJAN14.mp3
(this is a debate that was on live radio between myself and a Pastor regarding the Nordic model with people calling in afterward…one caller is a local sex worker)

http://issuu.com/verb/docs/verb_issue_s275_jan_31-feb_6_14/1
(go to page 4 to see an interview with a local sex worker…I mention this piece because all the above ones had a role in leading to this one to be possible here in Saskatoon…doors opened, connections made, people introduced, and finally sex workers voices being heard locally and publicly)

That is what I have wanted to do all along. Never my own voice speaking for you. I made mistakes along the way. Crossing the line from activist to client was one of those mistakes. I think had I stayed only an activist this conversation would be different. In your article you mention that “the ability to withdraw support when criticized is a highly manipulative, and I would even say it is an abusive misuse of power on the part of so-called allies.” I agree with that overall when the criticisms being directed are valid, as they most often are. The criticisms at me are correct for the most part. I disagree with the ones where I am misquoted. I made mistakes in the past. I fixed them. I have not been allowed to move past those mistakes by many people however.
For this part I ask you to stop seeing me as a client or an activist. Please see me as a human struggling with life right now, for that is how I began this journey into blogging, Twitter, and activism. As just a person already dealing with depression, I recently began receiving hate tweets, hate email, and false accusations. Even in these comments someone took a private message and claimed I was stalking them. To send a Direct Message on Twitter the other person must follow you. (can I stalk someone following me?) My support for sex worker Rights will never waver, but my ability to withstand hurtful words does waver. I will continue to do things in real life locally. I have left Twitter, deleted my blogs.
Lastly, Olive, if you are still reading this, I want you to know that you played a big role in my learning to let sex workers speak for themselves, to not speak over them. That the intersection of drugs, mental illness, and sex work needs to be listened too more. Thank you.

Be well.

Zander Falcon
(not a client, not an ally, just a person who gives a shit)
zanderfalcon@sasktel.net

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Peter March 9, 2014 at 6:59 am

I’m curious as to what the author and readers think of what I’m trying to do as a photographer, which involved being a client, as I continue to try to be an effective ally.

http://worldphoto.org/news-and-events/wpo-news/collection-photographer-interview-peter-brian-schafer/

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Kitty Stryker March 11, 2014 at 3:12 am

Thank you for this post. I think more people need to read that BGD post about no more allies.

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Astrin March 19, 2014 at 10:50 am

It amazes me when clients don’t respect their hires. First of all, you hired her – that’s a professional relationship. Secondly, she’s a fellow human being. Thirdly, she’s working a profession which is inherently dangerous, facing a level of risk every day to provide a clearly valued service (otherwise you wouldn’t be willing to pay for it).

But your piece is about clients’ ‘rights’ or ‘feelings’. I agree – making a big deal of the feelings of a sex professional’s client’s feelings is like emphasizing the feelings of a plumber’s client or, even the client of a non-sexual massage place. This isn’t social work – we pay different people to care about or validate or [insert buzzword here] our feelings.

I’m preaching to the choir. But I’ve found my many conversations with women working at strip clubs to be interesting, provacative and mutually respectful, as it should be. But, then again, I live in the friendly upper midwest, and escorting differs from dancing.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 4:14 am

Sure, I absolutely agree that policy activism is very important, though I don’t agree that creating an activist sex worker culture by running blogs like this one isn’t just as important to the movement.
I think you’d probably regulate me out b/c although I practice safer sex diligently and try to serve my clients in the best way I can, I do drugs, so I’d assume you’d think I’m “not working from a healthy place,” or however you put it. I’m sure other reasons would apply to other sex workers, and such in-house regulation would basically turn into a clique-fest of the haves and have-nots. One of the reasons sex work is so persistent in society is b/c its something people can turn to for work when no other options are available to them, and standards set by privileged sex workers wouldn’t stop that phenomenon. It’d just leave people who do so pushed out in the cold by their peers. I agree that sex workers should work with other activists to provide resources so that people who don’t want to have to do sex work if they don’t want to, don’t have to. However, until we live in an economic utopia in which no one has to do sex work unless it’s their true calling, regulation by sex worker of the profession sounds like structural violence by higher class sex workers against lower class sex workers to me.

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DOMINA ELLE February 20, 2014 at 5:18 am

Privileged? I CRAWLED UP FROM HITTING ROCK BOTTOM scratching and tearing my way up out of a living hell. I had no family support, no friends (junkies are not friends) I was totally alone. I have fought and worked my ass off for everything I have. NOTHING CAME EASY. I got involved in sex work advocacy after being stalked harassed and assaulted and then terrorized into not reporting.

Oh yes I’ve come a long way from that juncture.

Boy am I calling MAJOR BULLSHIT on the privileged comment you just made.

Maybe some people just don’t want to own responsibility. Could be.

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Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

And let’s be honest, “people who do so” are *already* pushed out in the cold by their peers, and it is hugely damaging and worsens their situations considerably.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

I didn’t call you privileged, I wrote that the sex workers who would have the power to regulate other sex workers in such a system would no doubt be privileged sex workers.

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Miss Margo February 21, 2014 at 5:15 am

Good god, woman, save it for the deposition.

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Robin D Robin D February 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

I don’t know who this was directed to since the formatting is screwed up, but just in case this is directed at me, no one is suing me because they were being ridiculous in threatening it. There are no depositions.

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Robin D Robin D February 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

There are no depositions. There were frivolous threats but no one is actually suing me.

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Miss Margo February 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

It was directed toward DOMINA ELLE and her little triumph over adversity bootstrap speech up there.

I am glad that you are not being sued for anything, though. Going to court is stressful and it sucks.

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Robin D Robin D February 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

Phew ok. My mind was making that comment into a reference to the frivolous lawsuits that I mentioned in my comment, and continued doing so after Caty told me that she really didn’t think that the comment was about that. So thank you for clarifying.

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Caty Simon Caty Simon February 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Sadly she hasn’t actually violated the letter of the law–yet.

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Robin D Robin D February 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

This was supposed to be a reply to Caty’s comment two comments up.

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