Tagged: labour rights

Rape: bad even when it happens to sex workers

I hate how the conversation has been hijacked by the trafficking framework, as if the sex industry has become the only place where men rape, abuse, and exploit women and children.  As if all those things will stop once sex work has been made illegal.

As if they couldn’t be just as well (or better!) addressed by a concerted effort to make rape and assault illegal so that when these things happened anywhere, including within the sex industry, there would be legal protections for victims, and repercussions and punishment for the abusers.  Like why is that so unrealistic? So a woman could be like “This john raped me/my boyfriend is abusive and is basically a pimp and he takes my money” or “I was raped on set” because the problem, RIGHT? is rape and assault?  The two go hand in hand, like if as much energy was poured into ending rape culture as into ending trafficking, which after all isn’t it just an extension of rape culture? Women could seek redress for sexual exploitation without being criminalized for their work.

how do people expect to help sex workers if they won’t acknowledge that the problems in the sex industry didn’t begin with it, aren’t confined within its borders, and would continue if it was gone.

men rape, abuse, and murder women who aren’t sex workers.  family members rape and abuse other family members and this has nothing to do with the sex industry.

Why can’t people just say they want to stop rape and sexual exploitation in all forms and all areas? why limit it to the sex industry?

in the feminist framework seems like the very fact of sex/sexualized services for money is the real assault.  Trying to get politicians and legislators to focus on taking rape and sexual abuse seriously isn’t a realistic goal!  A better goal is just making sex work illegal.  And that suits politicians just fine, it leaves the actual issue of rape culture untouched.

Like am I being kneejerk and crazy here?  I just don’t understand how focusing on sex work as labour—how seeing that there is actually a difference between sex work (which is labour and sex workers deserve workers rights and human rights) and rape and exploitation. A woman who is being raped is being raped. That’s not sex work.  Sex workers don’t want to protect people who are profiting off rape. Like am I saying it clear enough?  You don’t need to criminalize sex work to punish people who rape women and or profit from the rape of women/children.

If sex work was treated as work we could focus on the people exploiting us and stop it.  If rape were taken seriously anyone who was assaulted could seek redress, whether they were a sex worker or a teenager running away from home. Those two goals aren’t incompatible and they seem a hell of a lot more reasonable and functional to me than banning sex work and punishing anyone who comes near the industry.

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the UN on decrim

ii.)                 The decriminalisation of sex work makes sex workers more vulnerable

We are unaware of any research that would support the claim made by Equality Now above.  In fact, the opposite has been found not only in the robust work and wide consultation of various UN bodies, but in the public health literature.

In a review in New Zealand five years after the implementation of legislation on decriminalisation of sex work, sex workers reported that their working conditions and well-being had improved, that they felt safer, and that they were more likely to report abuse to the police.[3] Researchers also found that sex workers were generally practicing safer sex and that there was no increase in the number of sex workers in the industry – a popular public fear associated with decriminalisation.[4] Elsewhere, in a study in Australia, data showed better coverage of health promotion programmes for sex workers in a city that had a decriminalised legal framework as compared to cities with a legalised or criminalised framework.[5]

These findings are in line with many other studies that show that stigmatised populations are protected, valued and respected if human rights-based laws are applied, and not the criminal law.

iii.)               UN bodies did not listen to sex workers in their recommendations.

A multitude of sex workers – including many from  Africa –  participated in the Global Commission on HIV and the Law’s deliberations which resulted in the report:  HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health.  Their voices were documented in a variety of media and forums, and were captured with precision in the various reports produced by the Commission.  Detailed submissions from Africa sex workers – also available online[6] – described how the criminal law on sex work in Africa have led to large-scale human rights abuses, torture and maltreatment of sex workers and their clients.

from Response to the misguided petition by Equality Now and allies attacking sex worker human rights and the decriminalisation of sex work

New Zealand and Australia have low rates (lower than Sweden, for one!) of trafficking and abuse, but both work with a decriminalised legal framework.

Ugh prohibitionists

Ok, sex work exists because men are willing to pay for sex and sexxii services.  If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be a sex industry.  I mean sure, you might have the odd escort here or there, but in general women don’t have the disposable income for it.  I’m not sure when anyone claimed otherwise.

And because your moral and ethical system sets more of a value on sex-as-intimate-and-integral-to-self than on food service doesn’t mean that all women share your views, and it doesn’t make either view wrong.

But we do live in a world where ideals need to coexist with life, and I’m not sure where you get off saying that someone who decides to work fifteen hours a week because night childcare is cheaper and easier to come by, and it frees up her days and gives her money for food and rent—where you get off saying that this person is a clueless tool of the patriarchy.  Compromise is inevitable, unless you have a lot of money, and if you do, did it come from a morally unimpeachable source?

Do you think you and your friends are the only people who know about classism and feminism? Activism is great but to focus on it exclusively is a surefire way to burnout, and more importantly, people have concrete and immediate needs. No, sex workers don’t have more agency than waitresses, but we do often have more money and free time, which translates into a kind of economic power that can compensate for being marginalized and endangered.  And if you think that sex workers don’t consider these things… you’re wrong.

Not all sex workers are as privileged as I am, many don’t like it (I don’t like it) but to write us all off as tools of the patriarchy is both shortsighted and unhelpful.  Do you think sex workers don’t work to help each other and end sex trafficking?  Does the fact that we sell sex mean that we have nothing of value to say—do you think sex workers don’t want to eliminate poverty and coercion and abuse?  Are you really that shortsighted?  Do you really live in a world where everything is so cut and dry, that selling sex makes us so stupid and useless that we have absolutely nothing of value to contribute to activism or even dialogue?

Last Days at the Lusty Lady Strip Club : The New Yorker

Last Days at the Lusty Lady Strip Club : The New Yorker

Not into the tone, like not all buxom looking normal strippers are idiots who are cluelessly taken advantage of by management (hello clearly, sorry did you think the boobs somehow cut off circulation to the brain? Maybe intelligence is in inverse proportion to length of hair) and the idea that the lusty is a beacon of light in a paternalistic and exploitative industry.
That only holds water if your employees are making money and successful, otherwise your beacon of hope is just a pipe dream. as nice as the lusty sounds in theory, and periodic individual success stories aside, it’s fucking immoral to have a sw business that pays its employees so little. Not even benefits make up for the pay cut.
Idk idk we’ll keep dreaming

Melissa Gira Grant writes about labour struggles in the club

Organized Labor’s Newest Heroes: Strippers

The words “labor dispute” make a lot of people imagine big men on a picket line. This, despite the fact that the high-profile workers’ struggles of the past year happened in jobs dominated by women stuck with low wages and little respect: from domestic workers securing benefits in New York state, to Chicago’s teachers’ strikes, to this week’s Black Friday actions organized across the country against Wal-Mart. There’s another group of women we should add to this list, women who have been continually fighting for their rights at work, who are met with disbelief and retaliation when they stand up, and smirking headlines and punny scorn even when they win.

Last week, strippers employed by the Spearmint Rhino chain won an unprecedented $13 million settlementin Federal court, the result of a class action suit to restore back wages and contest their status as independent contractors of the clubs.

By managing dancers like employees but putting them on the books as independent contractors, club owners get out of paying dancers the benefits they’re legally entitled to, which could include worker’s compensation, unemployment, and health insurance if they qualify.Owners and management alike tell dancers they’re independent, but they still exercise control over dancers on the job, routinely using the kinds of restrictive rules on breaks and conduct you’ve come to expect of Wal-Mart, not the mythically “anything goes” world of sex work.

As its currently organized, stripping is service work—and not unlike most service work in the United States, it’s a field dominated by women who have to fight to be treated fairly. Even in a strip club where she was getting a pay check, Mariko Passion, a former dancer and current escort and artist, said, “I was still being charged $80 every day to work there, not including my tip-out,” additional fees to be paid to DJ’s and other club service staff. Dancers’ tips can vary widely, depending on factors as unpredictable as customer whims and volume, to banal concerns like rain and football. On a shift where you pull in eight $20 dances (that’s $160 before tip-out, for your back of the cocktail napkin math), an $80 “stage fee” per shift means you just gave half your earnings to your bosses. You might feel differently if you get twenty dances or a big tipper, but the stakes are the same every shift, and they’re rigged to maximize club profits. “But restaurants can try to do exactly the same thing with your tips,” says Passion, who brought her own individual suit over illegal tip sharing and won against three California clubs. “It’s not just a strip club thing. It’s a capitalist thing.”