Features Jun 24, 2015 at 4:00 am

How Anti-Sex Activists Use the Tactics of Homophobes and Racists to Marginalize, Criminalize, and Oppress Decent People

This isn’t about me, it’s about you. The Stranger


Ok enough of the business of taking the haters inventory. Can the legal porn and exotic dancers plz get your shit together and become proactive in your right already. Can u plz figure out already how to convert some of your social capital i to real political policy changes? If you need help, call me.
I feel that this article is expressing what so many sex workers are feeling each and every day. I will second Connor Habib's frustration over the silencing that occurs on a regular basis, how sex workers who sum up enough courage to "out" themselves and speak up publicly are shrugged off by as a privileged minority of :happy hookers", or worse yet, part of some "pimp lobby" (yes, yes...some of us are actually accused of that). Here's a very clear and recent example of members of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Seattle (SWOP-Seattle) being discredited as insensitive and out of touch in their "unprecedented organized opposition" to a slew of anti-sex trafficking bills being pushed through the house this year:


The person who wrote this report is Rose Gunderson, co-found of the anti-sex trafficking group Washington Engage, which hosts regular "Cultural Grooming" events to excite the public into the exact apocalyptic hysteria that Connor Habib mentions in this article. For a moment, let us meditate on the overall creepiness of events purported to be for "Cultural Grooming"....

It's hard not to get angry in the face of such an uphill battle, of trying to gain respect and equal rights for an occupation that's occupied the bottom of the respectability barrel for ages. Truly, what is more despicable an insult that to be called a whore? From my perspective and understanding of the sex worker rights movement, it is becoming clear that the anti-sex trafficking hysteria is a response to sex worker organizing, to sex worker defiance against stigmatization and systemic violence, to taking back the slur "whore" and nullifying it's sting through our collective rejection of our shared stigma. Where we were once indecent and dangerous, we have suddenly become victims who need to be rescued. Kittens up a tree. Those who are not in need of saving are obviously exploiters themselves or the lucky and delusional few. What is missing from this overly simplistic narrative is the reality of sex work as a means to an end, and the diverse and complex lives of the people who undertake it, by choice or by the force of economic circumstance. Advocates for decriminalization world-wide assert that criminalization of sex work not only harms sex workers, but makes conditions for those who are trafficked worse and less likely to be properly identified. I support this assertion.

Ever an optimist, I feel positive that our culture is going to wake up to harms of this exaggerated hysteria, and to set about figuring out how to address roots causes of harm in the sex trade (i.e. poverty, homelessness, lack of viable employment options, immigration reform, etc) without compromising the human rights of consenting adults. Slowly, but surely, we're going to turn this around.

For more information on sex worker advocacy work in Seattle, check out SWOP-Seattle.org.
Might as well add sexphobe and puritanical zealot to the synonyms for anti-sex activist. Let's face it, the driving force behind this 'activism' is puritanical neurosis plain and simple. This is why sex work is fundamentally different that other forms of work to these people. It is their major sexual hang-ups.

Truth be told, especially for heterosexuals in the State of Washington, and because of The Ratio, the costs of so-called Free Sex are enormously high.

Am I a bigot if I wish that sex work didn't exist? I don't necessarily hate the people involved, and I don't advocate against it, I just wish it wasn't a thing, that's all.
not everyone wants the headaches a wife/girlfriend brings but they have a healthy sex drive (like me). Personally, I'm grateful for those women, i'd still be a virgin without them. The first escort I was with could not have been sweeter, more understanding or hotter. Now, there are a lot of lost souls in that business and a lot of women who really don't want to do anything for the money, that's just the risks that go along with being a John. But compared to dealing with all the games of courtship and the constant guessing and the emotional energy involved, it's heaven. Of course people aren't going to like it, some people are just miserable and don't want to see anyone else have a good time. This includes old used up hags, married women who are threatened by the workers and christians who are really the horniest most repressed people I've ever known.
The haters now call them sex traffickers and not pimps or panderers so they put them in the light of a victim. Many men need an outlet for sex for many reasons and there would be less sexual assault if men had an outlet for their sexual needs and wants. It's been happening since cave man times, and is still legal all over Europe and most of the world but not in a world created by religious zealots. And we all know what Religious zealots have done to other people in the name of the lord or to convert them to their belief system. ( ie. the Catholics and the Muslims have killed thousands in the name of religion. )
Being against rape is being a bigot. Gotcha.
Jesus, why does The Stranger/Seattle hate women so much? I've never seen so much concentrated male leftist shit in one place.
Wow... I can't even. So much screeching and so many red herrings, at least he left out a comparison to Nazis. I was on the fence, but reading this finally pushed me firmly to the sex-bigot side. I guess my inner hag (thanks #6! for making a johns perspective so clear) won out.
If sex is just like any other job, does that mean sexual assault is just like every other assault? Is childhood sexual abuse just like any other childhood abuse? Is asking my partner to do the dishes, even when I know she doesn't want to, exactly the same as ejaculating inside her even when I know she doesn't want to?

Unless you support eliminating the difference in sentencing between rape and a punch in the face, you don't actually believe that sex is "just like everything else." This is such absurd leftist dude bullshit, I can't even handle it. Comparing women who don't want to see middle-class white men purchase female strangers to fuck with racists and Christian fascists? Do you have any shame at all?
the world is divided into pimps and hoes. Your boss is a pimp, you are a hoe, he can treat you like dirt, insult you, demean you and you take it because you need the money. I've seen people torn apart by their jobs and bosses, I don't see how that is any different than letting yourself get fucked for money, it's the same thing.
@13 Maybe you could explain where your viewpoint diverges from that of 'Christian fascists'. I'd say the comparison is rather apt. If your neurotic hang-ups regarding sex and sex-work sync perfectly with those of religious zealots I'd think that might be a real good indication there is nothing feminist about them.
Rhizome, Christian fascists and pro-prostitution men are actually in perfect agreement on one thing: Women exist to please men. One group prefers the "pleasure" of dominating a family and pumping out children, the other prefers the "pleasure" of fucking a stranger. But both see women are objects to be used.

There is nothing "Feminist" about a man supporting the right of men to purchase the bodies of female strangers to fuck. Do you really believe there will be a world where men do not have systemic social power over women, where rape and battering have been abolished, but men still trawl downtown Vancouver at night for an Aboriginal woman to ejaculate inside for a handful of bills?
Not wanting men to see women's bodies as purchasable commodities for context-free sexual pleasure is hardly a "hang-up." When men stop raping women every two minutes in this country, we'll stop talking about the ways in which sex can and does function as an oppressive act.
Jonah, I think your mention of the pure exploitation of women is real but that's only once example. Lots of women make good money doing it, some women have no real options. It's sad but true. Some of the women I come across are older, uneducated, from a foreign country and can't speak english. To me, it's amazing how they are still upbeat and cheerful for what, to me, would have to be a depressing, dreary job. I guess not everyone sees things the same. Other prostitutes do everything they can to take your money and not give you a thing, that's almost like dealing with a civilian woman, more headaches. Some of them make a better living than you or I do. I think, like anything, there are all kinds of different stories. The only thing I can say for sure is that I treat every single woman I have come across in that line of work, with nothing less than respect. If they don't want to do something I accept it, and sometimes that means they want something for nothing, like just dancing for me (that's just weird, I don't need a ballet).
@17: You do know this was written by a male sex worker, right? That supporting or rejecting sex workers involves denying the agency of both men and women who choose sex work, not just women? Or, should we allow men to do sex work, but not women?
ya, lots of gay guys make a living servicing older gays. Long story short, the poor have always gotten fucked by the rich, either literally or figuratively. Also, the exploitation isn't all one sided, prostitutes are known to take a guys money and run off. I'm sure it happens the other way too. We are living in a cold, capitalistic society, it's not always clear who's playing who in it. One thing is omnipresent and that is distrust and suspicion.
@18 It doesn't appear to me that the 'purchasable commodity' that authored this piece is a woman.

The second wave temperance league's dogma surrounding sex and sex work is essentially a desperate 'feminist' rationale for the pre-existing puritanical neurosis that are deeply embedded in this society.

It doesn't make you the least bit squeamish that your views sync up so nicely with those of right-wing Christians? Doesn't rattle your convictions at all that the most progressive societies in the world in terms of women's rights also tend to be the most sexually permissive, whereas the most oppressive societies tend to share your apparent view that women are all precious delicate flowers, innocent children not able to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies?
@22 And it doesn't make you a bit squeamish to see that you're defending an industry driven by men who hate women? Or perhaps that your neoliberal focus on "consent" and "choice" is a desperate rationale for the structure of male supremacy that has been enslaving women for sex since 10,000 BC?

http://the-invisible-men.tumblr.com/ - These are your comrades, not mine.

There is nothing "sexually permissive" about a system in which middle-class white men purchase the bodies of majority poor, majority non-white women. That is the opposite of freedom. The fact that you believe the highest freedom possible for a woman is to be fucked by a man who has social, political, and economic power over her is your tragedy, not mine.
The idea that feminists are somehow "puritanical" because they occasionally align with the broadest position of conservatives, but advocates of the sex industry are not misogynistic for protecting and defending an industry run through violence, exploitation, abuse, and systemic misogyny for ten thousand years makes *zero* sense. For every conservative who supports abolishing prostitution, I can find a dozen rapists who are delighted to see you spinning their abuse as a feminist act.
@24 Ah yes, soliciting prostitutes, that's rape. Hey rape is everywhere to you and your ilk yes? Beauty pageants - rape. Lingerie catalogs - rape! Barbie - rape!!

I'll take your defensive, if not downright unhinged, tone, for at least some recognition of just how wobbly our viewpoint is. You are practically oozing slut shamey puritanical neurosis from every pore. It is pure fraud trying to spin hang-ups that come directly from the repressed puritanical substrata of this society as in any way feminist. Sex phobia, sex-negative: anti-feminist. The supreme irony is that the puritanical agenda nurtures, exacerbates the sort of meathead, sexist attitudes you decry. Meatheadism is puritanism's parasitical twin. And let's not be using 'feminists' is such a casually general manner either. You are promoting the view point of the sclerotic second-wave here. A substantial faction of feminists, hell even second wave feminists, do not agree with you.
If you buy into the ridiculous trope that feminists are just inventing rape when it's not really there, I've got a few men's rights conferences you might be interested in...
@21 (partially) There are plenty of non-gay guys who serve women, too. It's not all gay guys charging the wrinkles-and-jewelled-cufflinks set. The people screaming about prostitution these days have deliberately conflated trafficking with all other types of sex work so as to create the drama necessary to arouse anti-sex legislation and social crusades. It's the sort of intellectual laziness demonstrated by a lot of other grifters who are happy to lump any perversion at all into their stories in order to wring something -- usually money but sometimes votes, sometimes power, sometimes just sympathy and acknowledgment of their (self-created) victimhood -- out of the public. It's tedious. Some younger gay guys even go to sex workers, for various reasons -- they don't feel attractive or they've been unsuccessful too long in trying to date, they don't have the emotional makeup to want a relationship at a given moment, they're in a strange place for a limited time and don't want to start a relationship that will have to be broken off, they're just plain bored with their own hand as sexual companion. I know that there are cases of women being brought to this country specifically for sex work but under false pretenses, and I think that's reprehensible, but to say that all sex work is slavery is just stupid if that's what the speaker truly believes; clearly, in that case, s/he has done no serious thinking or research.
Conner what an amazing analysis of the shitty political landscape we have to face particularly in the United States, what I like to call the most backward ass "free" nation.

I hope you can take the time to read this, I'm a Transgender sex worker and I was able to have a cover story for my local newspaper Metro Philly and they did such an amazing job on giving the realities of sex work! http://www.metro.us/philadelphia/inside-…
Calpet, I don't think "plenty" of men service women, I wouldn't know though. My impressions are that women often don't really like sex, are much more repressed than men and even if those things don't get in the way, any woman at any time can get sex for free so there is no point in paying for it. I'm sure it happens, there are gigolos but I'd say it's rare in comparison to the gay and male to female markets.
I'm curious about something @23. I understand you believe that the current state of the sex industry is highly misogynistic and should be destroyed to create a more equal society, but how does prohibition further that aim?

According to your diatribe, I should feel guilty that I chose to go into sex work in my 20's. I was out of college for a year, didn't feel like getting an office job or barista job or other mainstream service job, so I decided to start escorting. It was a choice made out of financial necessity, I don't come from money and needed to pay bills like everyone, but it was not something I was forced into over another line of service work. Or maybe I was just a dupe to the patriarchal system.

The lesson I took from my year or so in the industry was how extremely stressful it was due to the risk of being arrested, not anything to do with the actual work. I was fortunate to have good clients, partly due to the ability to screen potential clients and interactions with other escorts who traded information. And I understood what a privileged position I held in the industry, which made me angry at the system for perpetuating the prohibition, not from any of the men who contracted my services. If cops weren't busy trying to punish people for engaging in this business, women could better organize and create a safer system.

I don't claim that sex work is the "highest freedom" that feminism promises, but I do see full autonomy over my person as part of that highest freedom. And that includes being able to engage in sex for money.
As a john, the cops are one thing to worry about, also, the possibility of a setup. Lots of guys show up to see a woman and a couple guys hop out the closet and rob them. It's stressful. You also have to ask if they are a cop and if they are of age. One girl looked awful young, but she showed id, I think back and only hope the id was real. The haters are totally dismissing the power of greed, greed makes people do anything, rob banks, steal, sell drugs, work for people they hate, do things they hate. Some women make damn good money and that's all they care about. I used to hang out at the strip clubs and it was sooooo weird to see a total reversal of the social roles. Women were the ones facing constant rejection as they asked unattractive men for "a dance" which can cost a min of 20 and up for 3 minutes. Some of these women were as aggressive and nasty as anyone in trying to get that cash, they would insult you if you said no, get sarcastic. It was just another reminder of why I don't want a relationship with the women in this country. In America, women run the men around, i've seen a lot more examples of men being driven way past their limits by their wives and girlfriends, controlled, manipulated. Does it happen the other way? Of course, but based on my experience, women pussy whip the men in this country. I know it's not like that around the world but women here are really coddled and they don't even realize it because they've never seen what women in other countries have to deal with so to the feminists there is a war going on.
and let me not forget, sometimes, which are the best times for me. The woman enjoys every single bit of our time together and those are the best times of my life. No one mentions that very often but sometimes, it's just great sex that leaves the woman glowing and joyous. Nothing is better for me.
I commented earlier and it edited out my response. Here is the article:


This is me: Jara Krys a transgender woman sex worker on the cover of Philly's Metro Newspaper (very positive report on sex work and transgender identities).
ooh nice, let me have some Jarak, i'm straight too.
This guy is so tiresome. Conner, I so want to hear something meaningful from you and all I get is grad school blab. I hope you're better at sex than you are at writing, honey.
"if you're against sex work, you're a bigot." That's quite an accusation, considering "sex work" is a euphemism for sex trade and human trafficking, in which women and girls are manipulated, exploited and sold as sex slaves. The notion that anyone would consent to being a slab of meat solely used to provide male sexual pleasure has no basis in reality and is just another male delusion. Some women succumb to such work, with the other option being starvation.

You are an active porn star, so you are clearly biased in favor of the capitalistic industry that pays your bills. I agree that the U.S. is a sexually repressed society, but generalizing all sex work as consensual isn't the answer. That's a disgusting generalization that has been routinely used to justify male entitlement and female degradation/abuse, as well as the sex slave industry and its heavily documented objectification, exploitation and violence against women.

And straight pornography has become just that. Maybe if the porn industry focused more on the passion and intimacy of sex, rather than gagging women and spitting in anuses, porn would be more accepted.
Dear Dr.Facecult check a box-Free love is still around (thank God!). I started practicing it in my early 30's and after a long break started to again in the past few years. There's not many of us "sex angels" but we all count and are as needed as sex workers. I say there should be sexual options for ALL (except pedophiles and true rapists). Unfortunately, some of the horrible things said about sex workers are also said about sex angels. It shouldn't happen to either group. While sex work isn't for me those who choose it need the right to do so. Just because something exists doesn't mean we "have to" join in. I believe sex work should be fully decriminalized in every country.
Sorry to see that the comment asking about what happened to free love is now gone.
@32 Boy Gerald. You have really swallowed the kool aid on that whole, "it was good for the woman I am paying to have sex with me" thing, aren't you?

She is essentially in the role of providing you a service you are paying for and, like many other service industry positions, like bartender, server, hell even barber, part of the job is making sure you enjoy the experience. If she picks up from you that part of your enjoyment comes from sensing hers, oh ya, she gonna tell poppa he's a big man who knows what he's doing and mama can't wait for more!

You remind me of poker player totally convinced that the pretty female dealer calls him "sweety" and "baby" because she is really that into him. What he fails to notice is that she has also called everyone else at the table "sweety" and baby" too... even the other females...right after they win a pot and shove a tip her way!

It's part of the service, dear. You are paying her to "like" you. Don't you get it?

Also, you are really delusional about some of your comments. On the one hand you claim going to pay for sex is easer than a wife or girl friend or "old hag" (I think it was you who made that comment, if not my apologies).

Then right away on the other hand you say a John can get arrested, ripped off, beaten up... and you didn't even mention the potential health issues or fathering a child unexpectedly (Jeebus! What then?? I am sure all you John's stick around for the long haul on that one, right?! /rolls eyes)... you didn't even bother to mention that.

So, for you being a life long John is less of a hassle than developing a positive, healthy, lifelong relationship with someone... and I don't mean you have to be married or even monogamous the entire time.. learning how to relate to a grown woman in an adult manner is so much more difficult than taking the above risks??

Jeebus H. Almighty!

And.. you were only stopped in your tracks for one nanosecond when you thought a person you were paying for sex may have actually been underage... you even say she looked too young to you, (seems you don't really have a "too young" threshold for sex, you just have one when it comes to the potential criminal implications of it).. but since she had what you hoped was and could pass for legitimate ID stating her above the legal age of consent to have sex with an adult, that was OK, then.

Again... Jeebus, I say! And, yuck.

Never mind this may have been a child you were having sex with. As long as she claimed she was old enough, well.. you know, the child is an American and has a right to her "freedoms" to sell herself long before she knows what life is really all about anyway...

Nothing exploitative or harmful about that scenario!

Adult sex work should not be vilified. Sex workers should stop whining, though, and get a move on with creating a safe and healthy industry where they are in control of shaping it and regulating standards that benefit the workers and the customers.

If sex workers take a strong stance on people not being exploited in ANY industry for ANY reason, perhaps they could create some real momentum in gathering more people openly supporting the work as a legitimate profession.

Gonna have to take down that whole historical sexism/misogyny/women don't even have the status of pets/children are property thing first though. Or at least take on the issues simultaneously.

Just own it. People, boys, girls, women and men are all exploited all over the world still to this day. Does that mean we as adults have to lump a professional sex industry controlled by the workers into the same boat?

Jeez.. start talking TO each other people and not AT each other. The sex workers are not better or less crazy sounding than the "bigots".
I agree with the core of this incisively written article, except to say the only time a sex worker does deserve maligning is when she (usually she) does not provide the warmth and professionalism of service to justify what she's charging, or worse still falsehood on her 'do's list. Things like a miserable attitude, lack of kissing (especially if she styles herself a quality escort).

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