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Newsweek Embraces Melissa Farley’s Unscrupulous Crusade

Farley in action, probably explaining how all prostitutes are "slaves"

It’s common knowledge ’round these parts, and in every sex worker activist circle I’ve ever bumped up against, that the work Melissa Farley does is misleading, ill-intentioned, and downright vile in the way it determinedly misrepresents the whole truth. She’s a self professed “abolitionist,” meaning she wants sex work (and by necessary extension, sex workers) to be eradicated, and everything she’s ever done in this arena has been deliberately intended to further her point of view. This is not how real academics are trusted to work; like scientists, they’re expected to go after information in an attempt to minimize their own bias, not cater to it. And, as was true in the case of Ashton Kutcher, real activists deal with complex realities. They don’t require and supply a histrionic alterna-world where there’s only one story.

It’s always easy to spot the glaring flaws in Farley’s “reasoning.” She habitually ignores the existence of men who sell sex or women who buy it. (That includes porn, lap dances, etc.) She relies on emotional appeal. She draws from self-selected and otherwise skewed populations and treats them as definitive, expansive samples. She equivocates to serve her ideology. (Prostitutes are raped because they are in a job that “exposes them” to rape, not because laws around that job make them  unusually vulnerable.) This is a woman who once called indoor sex workers “house ni****s.” You could play a “spot the logical fallacy” drinking game with almost any one of her articles and end up with your stomach pumped.

When she argued against legal prostitution for The Economist, readers across the pond overwhelmingly rejected her shoddy case. Empower Thailand commented, movingly:

Miss Farley called us terrible names and accused us of being like toilets! She never talked to any us for her research […] We wish powerful women like you would stand beside us instead of against us. Many other professions have developed from slave like conditions into occupations we all respect today like wife, child care, soldiering, construction, farming, domestic worker and nursing. Why won’t you respect us?

It’s a question Farley is not inclined to answer. She’s very much in favor of dominating the discussion, and she often gets away with it.* She won’t acknowledge sex workers who want rights, because giving us the ability to better control our own labor is not the equivalent of halting that labor altogether. And now Newsweek has given her the floor.

Can You Trust Your Sex Worker?

This Tracy Emin piece is in USB's art collection. Does that make you want to laugh or cry?

In a recent survey about trustworthy professions, Australians ranked sex workers at number 40 of 45, which means we beat out journalists and real estate agents but not bankers(34) or lawyers (33.) I sort of expected myself to be outraged  by this, but for once, I didn’t think it was a matter of stigma unfairly steering people’s opinions.

It’s bad—really, really bad—if these respondents meant that they wouldn’t trust sex workers who say they’ve been assaulted, or wouldn’t trust sex workers who were testifying in a criminal trial. But I don’t think that’s what they meant at all. The survey was presented in way that inspired client vs. professional thinking, and professionals in all service industries have a vested interest in keeping their clients happy. That often manifests in the form of little white lies.

Just A Regular Day in the Park…

I have a policy that fetish play is just that, play, and as such I am loathe to take it into the public eye. This policy exists for a few reasons, the most important being that I hate when people push their shit on me, so I’m not going to push mine on them. I get grossed out by overly lovey couples, religious zealots, and the lot. Walking a slave on a leash in the middle of Downtown Dallas would be right along those lines as far as I’m concerned.

Having said all that, it is pretty hilarious. I imagine that there are submissives wanking to this as I type, so many people have that “In Public” fetish. Most of them are too chickenshit to go through with it though, so I admire this guy’s bravery. He isn’t even wearing a costume!

“Pretty Woman” Is Real

Ahh, marital bliss.

If there’s one element Pretty Woman is most commonly maligned for, it’s the improbable ending of a street working prostitute whisked away by a filthy rich client. Civilians love to crow about how wildly unrealistic it is to think that a john will ever marry his sex worker and yeah, if you’re entering into sex work with the goal to use it as a dating service, you’re probably going to be a disappointed. That goes for clients and providers. But it’s not uncommon for sex workers to have romantic, unpaid relationships with men they first met as clients. I’ve been in just such a relationship for almost six years. And at last count, I know five married couples who fit the same bill. (I should stipulate that two of these are now divorced, which is consistent with the national average.) It’s not just escorts; strippers, too, can end up with a patron. Nor it is limited to folks who work indoors. A street worker I know spoke to me once about a burgeoning unpaid relationship with a former client, although she made it clear to me (and to him) that she had no intention of quitting work just because she began dating him.

That’s where Pretty Woman really gets it wrong: even when sex workers find a man willing to support them, they often want to keep working.

But What About The Wives?

In part 5 of her series on sex work Rachel Rabbit White asks a question every ethical sex worker has to ask themselves at some point…What about the wives?

I don’t think of it much anymore, because most of what I do is stuff a lot of wives apparently won’t do (or so these guys think, most of them have told me they’d never ask anyway). But I did when I was doing other stuff. I highly doubt any wife is going to bristle at her husband begging to worship my feet. But, I reserve the right to be wrong, I am consistently amazed by the things women count as cheating.