Week in Links has been on hiatus. It’s come back to you in a new form: Month in links! This is gonna be good, you’ll see.
In the meantime, momentous things have happened!
In August, despite protest from such well-educated and experienced sex workers and sex work researchers as Lena Dunham, Anne Hathaway, and Meryl Streep, Amnesty International voted to develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of sex work. The move is based on international agreement among public health, HIV, and human rights organizations, from the WHO to the Lancet, UNAIDS, and beyond, but still faces opposition from the prohibitionist moral police. Despite a year of highly visible police brutality and murders and protests against this brutality in the United States, prohibitionists continue to advocate for End Demand and other versions of criminalization that increase law enforcement power over sex workers.
Which is both very funny and very sad, because stories like this one, about police entrapping and raping sex workers, are only slightly less common in the news than stories of another police murder, and probably happen unreported with even greater regularity.
In the wake of the Amnesty vote, DC is contemplating decrim, Seattle is still pushing hard for End Demand (and Seattle SWOP is pushing back, here’s our own Maggie McMuffin talking about it); internationally organizations in South Africa are pushing for decriminalization as well, as are public health groups in Zimbabwe, while Vietnam officials say they need red light districts.
While the Amnesty vote encouraged LAMBDA legal to finally come out in support of decrim, gay male sex workers took a hit the very next week as the Feds and Homeland Security raided Rentboy.com. Unlike virtually every other raid on an escort site ever, this one was met with outrage and media commentary in support of Rentboy. With overblown commentary like “Is Rentboy the new Stonewall?” (Katherine Koster and Derek J Demeri speak for a lot of us when they respond with an emphatic “no“) the history of raids on women escort sites and sex worker protests of that phenomenon was erased. Men, you know, have sexual agency and are able to decide what’s best for themselves, even as sex workers, while women’s sexual agency and ability to self determine must always be in doubt. Did HuffPo post videos of sex workers affected by the seizure of MyRedbook?
So LAMBDA, what’s good? Will LGBT organizations support all sex workers, or just gay male ones? Where’s your support for Amber Batts, a woman who served essentially the same function as Rentboy for some Alaskan sex workers, and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “trafficking”? Lily Burana has some opinions on the disparity in coverage, and she’s not alone.
In light of the media’s response to the Rentboy raid, plus Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s repulsive, condescending GQ piece on sugar babies which we will not link, our own founding editor emeritus Charlotte Shane had 15 telling points to make on the public allocation of sex worker stigma in Jezebel.
And speaking of supporting sex workers, this protest is not actually supporting sex workers, because describing us as bodies that are bought and sold is not actually supportive of sex workers. Haaretz, I do not think that word means what you think it means.
As this op-ed in the Malay Online asks, what about the welfare of sex workers? What empowers sex workers to enforce safer sex? What protects us against serial killers, or men so high on toxic masculinity and so entitled to our time and attention that they hurt us when we deny them?
The same things that protect and empower anyone: rights. Legal rights over our own bodies and the ability to enforce our boundaries and report violations. Because if anyone was wondering, the End Demand model isn’t working out so hot in that department.
The Oregon stripper bill passed, and should be taken as a sign of Oregon sex workers just beginning to flex their advocacy muscles.
Also in Oregon, the world premiere of the Red Umbrella Diaries took place on September 2nd at the Portland Film Festival, kicking off a week of sex worker activities: a writing workshop to generate content for Working It and Prose and Lore, and a media training, as well as a special extra showing of Red Umbrella Diaries for sex workers and allies.
And check it out: After Heather’s self-defense slaying of alleged sex worker serial killer Neal Falls, sex workers thwarting violent crime against us is the new trend for fall: this woman wrestled a gun from two men trying to rob her.
So that’s the big news. Stay safe, and if anyone tries to shut you up, shut them down.