News Apr 10, 2018 at 11:30 am

Last week the FBI shut down Backpage. We talked to a sex worker on what that means for her.


Not all Nazi's were brutal, aggressive, Jew-haters;
so, really; the Third Reich wasn't all that bad, right Katie?
The persistant apologizing for and justifying of an industry that inflicts so much horror on so many innocent often children victims is nauseating.
Never has a young child said they want to grow up to be a sex worker.

If shutting that website brings a slight halt to child sexual exploitation or saves even one kid from it then it's worth shutting down.
L. isn’t being very imaginative. She’s obviously a sensitive, professional massage therapist and a good listener. Think of all the special populations she could work with: grieving people, people with PTSD, sexual assault survivors, people with anxiety, people who are afraid of touch.

There are so many people who want massage but are fearful — if L. markets herself right, she’d have a clientele clamoring for her expertise. (And this time, L., set your rates high enough so you can have an emergency fund.)
@2: You are just assuming that L did not grow up dreaming of jacking guys off for rent money. You don't know her.
Oh look, americans are being weird about sex again.
$100 for a tug job? Unless you're a quadriplegic or so overweight you can't reach yourself I don't see the point.
Never has a young child say they want to grow up to be an asshole on the internet.

And yet here you are.
L's story is sobering, sad and not at all uncommon. The same stories were heard with the shutdown of MyRedBook, TRB and other web platforms that made life both better and safer for sex workers.

Ironically, if L traded in her well paying sensual massage job for work scrubbing toilets down at OPS, SAS or Youthcare she would once again fall below the poverty line and face eviction from her apartment, but the women at those organization would gain SO much more respect for her

"hey, you missed a spot honey."

The violence women in the rescue industry perpetrate and support against their fellow women dressed up as for the public good and "for the children" in the form of a proven higher murder rates is truly staggering.

It's fascinating to see how they rationalize that moral bankruptcy here in he comment section.
Come on, you twits actually believe that the 'anti-trafficking' crusade has anything to do with preventing trafficking? I'm looking at you @1 - @4. I suspect you all know it is a complete fraud but you are very much interested in the same thing its perpetrators are: policing the sexual proclivities of other consenting adults.

I'm curious why sex work is such a touchy subject for you. You must know most people doing so do sex work out of desperation, not aspiration. Same is true of working for a lot of people, it's true. But their jobs don't put them in danger of assault, sti's, social stigma, poor later life job prospects and possible arrest. So that comparison doesn't wash in the end.

As in the other thread prostitution made legal and heavily regulated would be fine with me. I'm not specially bothered by the existence of consensual prostitution or pornography, though I won"t be a customer of either and think it a bad idea for a variety of reasons. I don't have that finely honed rage you do for those unsure if legalisation is a good idea either. I haven't spent hours reading books about how good prostitution is or combing the internet for articles of or by happy prostitutes. Or the opposite. Just not that motivated. But you are.

Well, curious is strong. Mildly curious.
Katie Herzog, you write about the sex trade a lot. Have you ever considered interviewing women who are currently involuntarily prostituted? Your stories are consistently completely one-sided. Prostitution is overwhelmingly exploitative and harmful to women. Most women who are in the life don't have gigs like L.

Yet I'd bet you're of the ' if gun laws can save ONE life we need to enact them' persuasion.
Ask for the "Slippery Slope" special. Yosemite Sam loves that one. Gets his pistols a-firing.
@13 Actually you would be wrong about that, but not surprising coming from someone of the 'fringe right is the center' persuasion.
I think the name was 'centisright' I apologize for any misspelling, I can't see the screen.

You make it seem like you are not heavily invested but this is your 7th post on two articles none of which attempts to directly comment on the content of the articles. Here are a few of your comments:

"...think it a bad idea for a variety of reasons..."

"Sex workers aren't generally chosen for their sense of humor and personality..."

"I know that not one girl or boy I knew growing up said 'I want to be a hooker!'"

"If I asked any of the younger women I know through work or family or friends 'how'd you like to go into sex work?' (of course I wouldn't) I can't think of one who wouldn't be visibly appalled and disgusted at the thought."

"...anyone who thinks more than a very very few people go into sex work joyfully keen to do so is a fool."

Pretty strong opinions for not being heavily invested?

Here is another quote: "Ease up. Relax. It doesn't always have to be a battle."

Perhaps you can comment on the content of either article and not pretend to be something you are not.
@16 you're trying to communicate with an eternatroll. You're a better human than I am I guess maybe.
Prostitution: The only so-called "crime" where the victim and the perpetrator are the same person.
Re-read this article and have difficulty finding the writer getting involved. It is well written and uses a style of journalism that informs me most by depending on its subject and not distracting from it.

Except maybe one point with the ILO statistics. The rescue industry cites often, very often, the high number. However, those number are based on dubious methodology made worse by the controversial use of the term "slavery" (maybe worse by 3rd Reich?).

Ms. Herzog is a great writer, but I'm always amused by the comments when this topic is written about. Laura LeMoon is quoted as someone who experienced coercion. To the one commenter asking Katie to find a victim of a crime to satisfy her need: why isn't Laura's experience good enough? Does this journalist need to be called an "apologist" for not providing your victim-centered porn addiction you receive normally?

Don't answer, IDC. Sex workers are a form of feminist litmus test. We all agree we hate cis-white-males (not too happy about the MOC, either) but if 'you're not for the subjugation of sex workers then you're not my type of feminist.' This type of feminist dialogue is toxic and carceral.
The recent web sites witch hunt is not so much about trafficking nor child prostitution. If that was the real case then legalization, in safe designated establishments and screened employees, would solve the issue.
It is mostly an attempt to disrupt any legalization attempts.

Funny how those frustrated unemployed rightwing guys sit all day by their computers in mum’s basement, waiting for a story to pop up on The Stranger so they can be the first commenters.
Is this how you collect points to earn the coveted “Slade Gorton Lifetime Achievement Award” in the next WA republican convention?
@20 Exactly. Can't imagine how it could be made easier to catch traffickers than by allowing them to advertise. This is all about countering the creeping legalization of sex work that the internet has facilitated.

Amazing these busybodies can't see the damage they are doing. No one who is paying attention is going to believe anything said by any organization supposedly dedicated to eradicating trafficking if so many of them so transparently have ulterior motives.

Nice! Quoting half the sentence and leaving out that portion which puts it in context is an interesting approach to summing up what others wrote. Also fundamentally dishonest.

How about adding the 'but' clauses- prostitution should be legal and regulated. Or but- you're entitled to your view of sex also. No? Prefer straw men for your attacks. You can only assume disagreement with you is driven by malice or stupidity?

Well, have fun with that. Consider this though. We all have biases. I dislike gay marriage and would never use marijuana for example. Some of that is practical, much is the place and time and people around whom I grew up. The difference between us is this: I shut those off and voted for both a few years ago since both made sense in a larger context than my biases. I realize my capacity for error. I doubt you could accept any point of view on any terms that isn't 100% in agreement with yours, frankly, or recognize your inevitable errors.
The Stranger: exploiting trafficked sex-workers since, well, at least the 90's.
So . . . what did sex workers do to attract customers before the Internet? The "world's oldest profession" thrived for millennia before anyone ever dreamed of an Internet. I have faith sex workers will continue to find plenty of customers even if they must resort to old-fashioned ways.
Imagine two populations. One is the population of women who "screen" sex buyers online. The other is the population of women who are sold to sex buyers online but have little access to the internet themselves. The only way this whole argument that "SESTA/FOSTA makes "sex workers" less safe because they can't screen clients" makes sense is if population one is bigger than population two. Does anyone actually believe this?
@26 Well genius does it not make sense that it would be a hell of a lot easier to find traffickers if they were advertising on a well known website than if they were operating in the shadows?

Of course we know why that does not make sense to you. Your agenda is crystal clear.

Not that those are not potentially "honorable" options, but in no line of work (IT, science, analytics, admin, management, anything!, etc.), does "expertise" get paid as much when done in service of those in need as it does in service of those who have money and "wants/needs".

Cleaning someone's yacht is always going to pay 3x more than cleaning someone's non profit org.

"Massaging" rich dudes will pay 3x more than massaging special needs populations, I don't care how amazing you think her marketing might be.

As much as I personally like the idea of working for a nonprofit, I couldn't afford to do so and still save money to send my kids to college.

If you think massage therapist for PTSD patients will pay the bills in the same way, then you're coming from a place of privilege where you're oblivious to the realities of capitalism, and where suggesting building an 'emergency fund" by serving underprivileged populations is a cruel joke.
Is this article a joke? "L," left out of a job and in the dark, what is she going to do. Um, here's a thought get a real job. She isn't a victim as portrayed by the author, who from what I am getting from this article supports, "L." I feel that there are many sides to this story, and she is only writing about her opinion and not of the many, many victims that are out there. Get a grip on what the real world is about. Oh, the next "Stormy Weather," book coming out about various johns and their weirdo requests. Um, ok.


My understanding from sex workers is that most of their sexual exploitation comes vice cops? Sorry, I mean "protect the children high crime vice units."

Exploitation defenseless women since the beginning of time.


@28 If you think niche massage is “nonprofit” work, then you don’t know many professional massage therapists. I know massage therapists who make a very good living — because they’ve identified a niche that people are willing to pay for (that doesn’t involve hand jobs). Furthermore, you’re implying that all people with PTSD, sexual assault survivors, etc, are impoverished. Not an accurate assumption.
@2 and 11: you can never know what someone's dream job is. Maybe it's not quite the same, but I grew up wanting to become a porn star. Seriously. From the first fuckflick I saw at about age 13, I knew that's what I wanted to do. Sadly though, having a completely average-sized penis largely precluded that dream. I scratch that particular itch these days by being a cam boy in the evening after I get home from my "real" job. I don't think I've ever made more than $50 in a month as a cam boy, but it doesn't matter - I'm doing what I really wanted to do, even if it doesn't pay the bills.

True, though is suicide considered a crime (by anyone other than the catholic church, that is)?
good tutes, bad tutes, i don't get the difference makers, like how many are massaging it out or squatting on skulls for 1k/hr, how many are current and former victims?
I love how the new left glosses over child exploitation.
#37 And there's the party line; it's all for the children! Every time a prohibitionist can't explain why they should have a moral right to tell other adults how to live their lives they claim it's for the children!

In the context of Backpage, the "what about the children?!" shtick is especially disingenuous.

Backpage regularly worked with the authorities and credible child support services like Children of the Night to help children out of prostitution and convict their clients.

In contrast, parasitic NGOs groups like SAS and OPS give women who decide to leave sex work a $50 gift card and a yoga class and consider their work done. With 6 figure salaries for themselves all around of course.

In the 2016 illegal arrest of Backpage owners by Kamala Harris the government used the very fact that Backpage worked with the Feds to catch and convict those engaged in underage prostitution as proof that they were aware child prostitution existed on their site.

That's like arresting someone own a shop and tries to stop a robbery for supporting theft.

Your response to this Backpage story is telling. Until now I figured the "save the children!" prohibitionist crowd were simply disingenuous. In the case of Backpage, you are actively throwing the children under the bus to further your prohibitionist goals.

That's the thing about crusaders. They really don't care who they hurt (that apparently includes children) to further their own warped view of the way other adults should live their life.

Let's see how many misguided comments I can include just by switching a couple words. Before i do that, let me just quote from the article:

The International Labour Organization estimated that, as of 2012, there were 4.5 million people trapped in sex work globally and another 14.2 million trapped in other kinds of forced labor, including in agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing.

I'll use domestic work -- specifically house cleaning, because that one is easy. OK, ready, go:

Never has a young child said they want to grow up to be a house cleaner (2). Instead of cleaning houses, she could clean non-profits (3). Katie Herzog, you write about the house cleaning business a lot. Have you ever considered interviewing women who are currently involuntarily cleaners? Your stories are consistently completely one-sided. House cleaning is overwhelmingly exploitative and harmful to women. Most women who are in the life don't have gigs like L. (12).

Imagine two populations. One is the population of women who "screen" people who want their house cleaned. The other is the population of women who are sold to people who want their house cleaned online but have little access to the internet themselves. The only way this whole argument that "SESTA/FOSTA makes "house cleaners" less safe because they can't screen clients" makes sense is if population one is bigger than population two. Does anyone actually believe this? (26)

Not all Nazi's were brutal, aggressive, Jew-haters; so, really; the Third Reich wasn't all that bad, right Katie? The persistant apologizing for and justifying of an industry (house cleaning) that inflicts so much horror on so many innocent often children victims is nauseating.

[End of analogy (I saved the best for last)].

The entire argument rests on a couple of fallacies:

1) The vast majority of people in sex work are victims.

2) The best way to handle the oppressed sex workers is to shut them down as much as possible. This means that shutting down the websites is good. You also want to shut down strip clubs, as well as pornography.

Supporters of this argument show no evidence for the first item. It is also highly unlikely. Pornography is just another form of sex-work. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of the men and women engaged in pornography are the product of exploitation. Same with strip clubs. Some are coerced, but most engage in the activities because they want to make a few bucks (there was an article a while back that backed up this idea). So that leaves the relatively small number of prostitutes who don't work in the strip clubs. Again, you can break it into two categories: street walkers and escorts. I have no data, but my guess is that street walkers have the highest ratio of exploitation, as there is no paper trail. I would also guess that you have the highest number of desperate people -- they don't have the wherewithal to create a simple website, communicate with other sex workers, screen clients, or get a job at a strip club. This is pure speculation (no hard data) but it does seem highly likely that this change increases the number of people in the most easily exploited area of sex work (street walking).

Furthermore, at what ratio is it justifiable to shut down an industry? If 50% of the nannies are exploited, should we outlaw babysitting? 30%? 70%?

Finally, there is no evidence that cracking down or outlawing the behavior makes things better. It is a lot like weed. Before weed was legal (around here) some people said there would be a huge increase in underage weed smoking. That hasn't happened. If anything, the problems with weed (excessive smoking, toxic chemicals, underage use) have actually gotten better. Heavy users have switched to edibles, while teenagers smoke about as much as they always have. Meanwhile, the problems with the law (e. g. lots of people getting busted) have largely gone away. It should be clear that outlawing prostitution and strip clubs is a bad idea, and that all forms of prostitution should be legal and heavily regulated (as is the case with weed).

I had Rob Mckenna come to my class this last quarter and discuss this. As some of you know this is a bit of a pet issue of his. A question came up about the positives of legal prostitution and safety of sex workers. His response was, I've never read any of those studies. I was completely flabbergasted. If you want to push your agenda, fine, but at least know the other side before you do. His willful ignorance was a complete and total turn off. I couldn't listen to a single thing he said after that.
@39 Excellent.

Of course the views of every cheerleader for criminalizing and oppressing sex workers rests on the firm belief there is some fundamental difference between sex work and other kinds of work. Aside from the puritanical hang-ups of the individual asserting this fundamental difference it is quite difficult to see what that fundamental difference is.

Particularly despicable here are some of the resident lefties weighing in in favor of authoritarian measures to police the sexual proclivities of other consenting adults. The children! What about the children?! Proud of yourself there @37? Did you just sign up to join the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Eradication of Vice?

That's a lot of writing. I think I can refute more briefly.

Legal work in housekeeping or being a nanny or agricultural work doesn't subject a person to arrest and possible criminal record. It can be done for decades if a worker wishes, not for the brief time they look young and attractive. Picking fruit rarely exposes one to an STI, and I sincerely hope changing a diaper as a nanny wouldn't either.

I see nobody arguing for pornography to be made illegal or strip clubs closed. Not sure what sent you off on that tangent.

Victim status is up to debate. If addiction or poor self image or prior sexual abuse or anything else make a person feel like sex work is their only option- coerced? At the least it's highly likely that most prostitutes realize the tenuous nature of their work and would gladly do other if they believed it possible.

I know nothing about pornography as an industry and won't spend much time learning right now. So for the moment I'll concede what I believe personally to be false- that all the actors and actresses love their jobs and willingly sought them.

For the rest as I've repeatedly said legal and regulated prostitution seems to me the least bad option here.


Disliking how most people in your culture view sex and sex work is your right.

Ignoring it to push your personal view on everyone else is not.

Yes. Selling sex is fundamentally different for the vast majority of people around you. Should it be? It doesn't matter. It is, and that's highly unlikely significantly to change. Sex work exposes the worker to potentially harmful social, financial and legal consequences. At least the first two are very unlikely to change just because you and a minority of those like you wish it.

For now the best you could do is lobby for legalized prostitution and advise your friends eager to be sex workers of all the pros- and especially the cons- of that choice.

Or, you know, continue to tell everyone else they're wrong
How far will Herr trumpo go?
They also pretty much forced the closing of all Craigslist personals. Even platonics. Now trump and his cronies have passed a law, whereby The Department of Homeland Security, monitors all aspects of journalists, websites, blogs, for their "popularty," inappropriate contents, emails, comments, etc. Etc. . Also make recommendations for propaganda.
The far right, which includes most of the neolib ,neocon-dems and the fascist-nazi alright trump fuks and repuclican shitheads, already controls many horrible propaganda websites and media, like alex jones , fox, thrush limbaugh. Even cnn , if u think about it. Dark times. Welcome to the new/world disorder planned all along. Its what the vampires wanted and the scummy treacherous, altright bloodsuckers, opened the door. Maga you traitor bastards! Not hot plqce in hell for you fukers

The Fascist wing democrats will go right and with it too.…
To call for a vote that allows consenting adults to agree on boundaries and permissions seems, as Mudede wrote, the people's demand for the satisfaction of recognition.

Do we vote on people's abilities to date outside of race? How about gender? Those issues were decided by the courts, thankfully.

We have laws that are built in the concepts of liberty and justice. We have rights that protect minority viewpoints. The issues today are that common knowledge of sex work is not understood and a moral panic is being driven by an industry that relies upon fear.

The greatest example of corruption with the bill Ms. Herzog wrote about is that President Trump's wet signature is on the line.

Mudede wrote eloquently with regards to Hegel's master->slave dynamic. I think his ideas could be applied to this topic.

Sex workers desire legal identities. Carry your stigma all you want once those identities are granted because at that point they have legal standing to defend themselves.
These elaborate analogies fail because prostitution isn't "work."
To be clear: My position is that people who sell sex should not be prosecuted, and people who buy sex should be prosecuted. I'm guessing most people here agree with me on the first. So really, our only point of difference is that I think pimps and johns should face criminal charges, while you all seem to think that pimps and johns are fine upstanding citizens. Not only that, but you're getting all exercised in defense of pimps and johns on a public site. I think that's pretty weird behavior.
Let me edit #47: I think people whose bodies are purchased for sex should not be prosecuted, and people who buy or sell other people's bodies for sex should be prosecuted.
Hope Zeferjohn was trafficked at age 15. She contacted through Facebook a minor she met through church camp. She now sits in federal prison for 10 years.

Your position has been made clear. Let's deal with the realities and complexities made worse by your refusal to deal with what is truly happening.
Real, live sex-worker here! Thanks Katie, for the thoughtful, nuanced coverage of the huge blow (yep i made a joke) to my industry and livelihood.
We are reeling from this recent push for further crimininalization. Reporting like this is vital and much needed. Conflation of sex trafficking and sex work all to limit free speech (FOSTA/SESTA) may be viewed as a turning point in American history.
Also, LOL at @8, I needed that!
@46 "because prostitution isn't "work." "

Ah, well you pulled this statement out of your ass so it must be fact.

I'm pretty sure you consider yourself a feminist and pretty sure you think it is absolutely feminist to infantilize grown women who are not as 'enlightened' as you are. The thing is it doesn't matter what fraudulent euphemisms you have handy. Whatever you want to call slut shaming, stigmatizing, promoting double standards and pushing neurotic Victorian ideas about female virtue, that's what you're doing.
Hi CloudSun (as we all talk over you like you don't exist, so sorry).

Rolando, I read your link, thank you. Farley is cited multiple times please do visit Canada's Bedford decision and Judge Himel's decision to lend Farley's information the lightest weight possible. Mackinnon is also cited multiple times. She endured the feminist sex wars in the 80's, please do visit history.

It cites a mortality rate greater than loggers and those in the fishing industries. Please understand that it was a study of Colorado Springs evanescent street walkers during 1967-1999. The tracking for mortality rates was made easier due to the information gathered at local free healthcare clinics. A very high proportion of those under study had AIDS and were active needle users.

Regarding the OSHA standard considerations, please note that New Zealand does have decriminalized markets and OSHA standards. They invited sex workers to sit at the tables in order to set those acceptable standards.

Finally, Marxist exploitation is about a labor-management dynamic under a capitalist system. The laborer not earning what their labor is worth. When somebody tells you that they are independent and chose to set their own labor rate, why do you still deny them their truth? From observation alone, as well as Katie's article above, to which I hope you read at some point, independent workers are not the minority or at least you haven't cited a valid Farley-esque study that is even partially believable.

Your link even provides that a decriminalized environment is better for the worker but, as the whole paper is constructed, it's very clumsy.

Since I read your study, please read Amnesty International's Policy statement. Please read the World Health Organization's model of localized community empowerment where sex workers are granted access to health clinics staffed robustly by capable health care providers and not art school dropouts and theology majors like Seattle provides. Finally, please think about providing justification for not addressing socialist leaning universal basic income and universal health prior to eliminating sex work as an option for a consenting adult under their terms.

But you won't. At the least, please ask yourself why this form of carceral feminism is needed. Incarcerated females is the highest growing prison population currently, and you are advocating in support of that truth.

I think we all could engage better and step outside our echo chambers. Maybe give CloudSun their truth.
I really don't understand the whole sex worker stigma. I view it like I view other vices - legalize it, regulate it, tax it, and everyone wins. Customers get their rub n tug, the workers get safer working conditions and more agency to determine how to conduct their business, the city and state gets tax revenue, and everyone goes home happy

But no the fucking puritanical sexually repressed assholes have to ruin it for everyone because someone, SOMEWHERE, is having FUN and that is *STRICTLY FORBIDDEN*

For fuck's sake, if you're a consenting adult and the other party is a consenting adult, who gives a shit what the two of them are doing as long as it's on the up and up? Criminalizing all this shit just forces the clients and the workers into the shadows and it's still going to happen but now there's a much higher chance of you just ending up dead.
"Criminalizing all this shit just forces the clients and the workers into the shadows and it's still going to happen but now there's a much higher chance of you just ending up dead."

That's their goal. The mostly female workers for these rescue groups dress up their personal sexual phobias and slut shaming hatred of sex workers as faux concern for the public good and the children.

For years I wasted energy explaining how their failed Nordic model had a proven track record of creating more dead and raped sex workers. I naively thought they had an interest in preventing that.

Finally I realized that they knew exactly what they were doing and wanted violent outcomes for sex workers. Their unstated goal behind the more acceptable sounding "holding men accountable" was always to justify violence against what they consider their female competition. Their imaginary concern was simply unresolved anger towards that girl who was invited to the prom instead of them.

If you want to understand their depravity, listen to them talk with dripping hatred towards the sex workers they pretend to care about when they commit the unforgivable sin of stating they choose to do it.
I used to do male sensual massage on CL back in the day and I have a hard time felling any empathy for "L".

First of all, she already has an "established business" with regular clients who presumably have her number.

Second, nothing is preventing her from going to GoDaddy and setting up her own website for under $10 a month. After that a trip to UPS to get 500 business cards for another $10 and you are good to go. Next, pick out a suitable bar on a Saturday night, pay another $10 in cover fee and drop off those cards left and right.
@51, I hardly pulled the statement "out of my ass"; rather, I cited a lengthy argument in its favor.

Your assumption that I'm judgmental of prosituted women is incorrect. My judgment is reserved for pimps and johns. I made all this clear in my comments #47-48.
@52, I'm well aware of who MacKinnon is and I have read Amnesty's position on prostitution.
@56 But you cannot even lend the women the recognition of agency. You infantilize those women by choosing the passive voice you have suffered to demonstrate. Slaves to ideology are still slaves.
Hey everyone, I'm not on either side, very new to these issues and just trying to learn more. People who are against FOSTA/SESTA, what steps should be taken to end sex trafficking?
It's always good to be curious. However, do you really see it as an issue of this side versus that side? Seek out information and apply against your value system.

There's the non-secular side: NCOSE (formerly Morality in media). There's the third wave feminist ideology: Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Julie Bindel, Meghan Murphy. There's the liberal feminists: Harriet Pilpell. There is the pro-sex work: Janet Mock, Mistress Matisse, SWOP-USA. There is the libertarians: Libertarian Feminists,, Elizabeth Nolan Brown. There's the constitutionalists: Judge Posner's 2015 opinion, the 9th Circuit's opinion on McKenna's 2012 RCW.

Not a two sided issue, sorry, you need to put the work in. However, understand that there is messaging involved. The Seattle Times Editorial Board has an editorial praising the shuttering of Backpage. It uses "trafficking" 11 times for 93 counts none of which are for trafficking. The rescue industry has intentionally conflated the horrors of trafficking with adult, consensual work. Radical feminists use the term "prostituted person" to indicate a lack of choice reinforced with a passive voice. Labor trafficking is simply ignored. Katie is a fantastic writer but this report will receive over comments and Sydney's report about the striking Sumas immigrant farm workers I think received five.

The Stranger has incredibly 360 degree writing.

It truly is a fascinating topic if you put the work in. But, like homelessness, it's very, very complex and only works if it represents your value system. Good luck.
@60 Dworkin and MacKinnon third wave? That's the first I ever heard that. I think they are rather the most strident members of the second wave temperance brigade, that is fraudsters who have slapped together a flimsy 'feminist' rationale for their congenital puritanical neurosis.

Oh by the way @57, your argument may well be lengthy but that does not mean it is not complete bullshit. People do all sorts of work out of 'economic desperation'. That does not make it 'not work'. And your claims of being non-judgmental are about as credible as the claims of anti-prostitution zealots that their aim is stopping trafficking.
@61, TY, I'm not strong about the boundaries of 1st (Freidan?), 2nd (MacKinnon) and 3rd (Bindel?) waves.

@59, If I could restate and simplify my reply: it comes down to the female body and who holds the right of ownership. The individual or the groups listed? That's a way to break it down to two sides, but may not be helpful for a debate.

The fact that Upside thinks Julie Bindel is a 3rd wave feminist should discredit everything they have to say on the topic of prostitution. Julie Bindel is a 2nd wave abolitionist. If you don't know that, I'm not sure why you're even here.
@62, it's not "my" argument; it's a paper written by someone else that I cited. And its argument is not that prostitution isn't work because prostituted women are often economically desperate. So clearly you didn't read it, so maybe you shouldn't opine on it.
@64 LOL...that's why I consider all of your points specious.
"...Third-wave feminism refers to several diverse strains of feminist activity and study, whose exact boundaries in the history of feminism are a subject of debate." Wikipedia (the most general of sources).
@65 - I enjoy the othering of that comment. (Those) "prostituted women" (insert faux sense of compassion). Rolando's answer: we should make that economic situation more desperate.

Who does that satisfy? You and your ideology. Certain not "L" the subject of Katie's paper.

Also, TY for clarifying that Murphey/Bindel are 2nd wave. But, really, for the economically desperate it all sounds like a title for the erudite.
@65 That seems to be the thesis. Is the thesis not the argument? You are right though, I am not going to wade through a dense thicket of sophistry just so I can take it apart with more care here. I am well familiar with the arguments and I am pretty confident that my assessment of where you are coming from is quite accurate. You've got some flimsy doctrine to use as a veneer for attitudes you are predisposed to. That's great. Except sex workers, loose women, dirty sluts have been stigmatized since the beginning of time by the enlightened who are really just concerned about their well-being. Your critique here is something new? The fact that you grew up marinating in the miserable puritanism that has infected this country since it was founded has not at all influenced your views?
I'm amazed at how people suspend common sense during moral panics...

The comments are downright crazy. "Let's just save one child." Potentially dozens or hundreds of sex workers will be more vulnerable to being killed.

Guess what? There will still be child sex rings. Do people really think 10 year olds are being sold on back page? You'd have to be an idiot bc you as a trafficked would be reported to the police very quickly. I think there are sex rings for kids, but those will be underground or on the dark web and probably consist of rich and powerful people.

Most of the 'children' on back page are 16, 17 years old and posting their own ads. If that's a problem, the solution is to make people provide is a online like That 16, 17 year still may not be deterred from sex work as it can happen at any corner or track.
Also, let's think about this.

If there are really so many victims of sex trafficking, why do cops waste time chasing consensual adults?

Cops lobby for the right to have sex with prostitutes and sometimes extort sex from workers (sometimes bust them anyway)?

If there are so many victims in the open,why do cops have to charge sex workers with trafficking themselves to pad the numbers?

Cops could ignore consenting adults during busts to focus time on finding real victims, but they don't. There's someone out there not getting the help they need bc cops are spending their time being morality police.

If it's wrong for a trafficker to hold sex workers against their will, why is it ok for the government to hold sex workers in prison? The criminal record the so called caring justice system gave the sex worker locks them into sex worker.
@68, no, that's not its thesis or its argument. Its argument is that "sex work" isn't "work" because, by its nature, it can't comply with U.S. employment law. It's not that hard to understand.

You're convinced that I think prostituted women are immoral and am trying to hide that belief. I don't know where you got that idea, because I never said or implied it; in fact, I directly denied it in comment #56. I think pimps and johns are violent and exploitative and should be prosecuted. I don't know why you're so uncomfortable with this position that you have to repeatedly put up straw men instead of arguing against the position I actually hold.
@71 Ah well maybe it's because I am quite familiar with 'feminists' of your ilk and every single one of them without exception has dressed up their quite apparent puritanical impulses with some flimsy doctrine much like you have (and most of them will deny to the bitter end that any such puritanical impulses are behind their views). I skimmed that piece and noted the part about OSHA. Not clear what is any less specious about citing OSHA to argue that something is 'not work' than stating it is not work because (some) people do it out of desperation. In any case prostitution is in fact legal in one state of the US and there is a thriving porn industry in another and it appears OSHA hasn't done much about it.

Leaving aside the ludicrous idea that there is anything 'feminist' about infantilizing less enlightened women, you do realize what banning shit entails yes? You are talking about putting the armed coercion of the state in service to your agenda. Throwing consensual adults engaged in practices that offend you into the gnashing gears of the criminal justice system.

The straw-man device is what Rolando is using. Scare quotes?

The greatest form of violence and oppression is the criminal justice system. The model Rolando proposes is asymmetric but continues to entail encounters with Law Enforcement that are anything but decriminalized.

- Arrests still occur
- Money is still confiscated
- Electronics and other devices are taken
- Diversion costs money
- Neighbors are notified/alerted
- Police make sure that landlords understand that assets can be confiscated
- Court dates are still required
- Screening becomes more difficult and trusting clients become less involved

Your straw-man (literally men/customers) is a weapon to destroy and hurt women.

The greatest evil is that your polluted policies are what they call the Seattle Model which has zero oversight and could only be considered a vanity project.
Rolando criticizes this writer and then posts a link to a thesis. Theory can only do good the closer it gets to the skin.

Katie provided an authentic voice. Rolando provides citations. I don't know if Rolando is part of the rescue industry whose vanity/finances are more threatened with more exposure, or part of white feminism, seeking to quiet the criticisms of those it helps to marginalize, or maybe both.

To read the actual concerns of a sex worker is a rarity in Seattle. Thank you The Stranger.

"Its argument is that "sex work" isn't "work" because, by its nature, it can't comply with U.S. employment law."

the purpose of groups like OSHA is to serve the worker, not the other way around. Only an authoritarian places the needs of souless bureaucracies like the DMV or OSHA before human rights of and the dignity of the individual.

"You're convinced that I think prostituted women are immoral and am trying to hide that belief."

You appear to be the last person on earth oblivious to your own complete distain for sex workers. You cannot deny an entire group agency over consensual adult sex while simultaneously claiming you have anything other than disdain for them.

Until 20 years ago the criminal system argued that a sex worker could not be raped because that is what they signed up for when they became a sex worker.

Now people like you argue it is always rape because she is incapable of giving consent without your approval.

The the result and sick mindset that idea springs from come from is the same place.
@72-75: You guys are getting super exercised against me. Literally the only difference between my policy position and yours is that I think pimps and johns should be prosecuted and you don't. So in disagreeing with me, you're coming back here over and over to offer a full-throated defense of pimps and johns. Why are you so concerned about pimps and johns? It doesn't seem like they need anyone's help.

Why are you not concerned?
@76: Criminalizing customers and business owners that support sex workers leads to wild misuse of the law, (great url upside) more dangerous transactions for sex workers, higher STI rates and encourages even more corruption, rape and sexually exploitation of sex workers by the police than we already have (which is a lot). Why do you have this fetish to arrest anyone? Perhaps a sex worker could help with some role play to help you with that.

America has 5% of the worlds population and 25% of its prisoners. We arrived their because people like you think of incarceration as a win for society and can't seem to separate lifestyle crimes that personally offend you and mental illness from actual violent crimes that hurt people. The rest of us are having to pay they bill.

What does that bill look like?

Our prison rate between 1980 and 2010 increased 500% at a time when violent crime dropped 45%. We have increased spending on law enforcement 3 times faster than education.

The enormous money that does go to this new moral panic rarely reaches those who actually need the help. It's instead wasted on feel good "raise awareness" campaigns and fat salaries for members of the rescue NGOs who are nothing more than cheer leaders for mass incarceration.

Only the police and the carceral state (prisons, prosecutors, NGOs like OPS that profits from incarceration) gain to the detriment of society at large.

Schools, critical infrastructure, social security, medicaid and medicare all suffer because funds that could support them are re-routed to the one branch of government (the police-prison-NGO carceral industrial complex) continually drains money and value from society that results in fewer productive citizens to pay for those more important programs.
@77, if pimps are prosecuted, then they won't have a chance to turn their victims into pimps. That example doesn't change my mind.

@78, should we also stop sending murderers to jail because the jails are full? If a person suggests that men who abuse women shouldn't be jailed, I suggest that that person is a misogynist.
@79: Did you really just conflate murder with consensual adult sex? I find your hyperbole both astounding and scary.

I will restate from my post what you apparently failed to read.

We arrive at the extremely expensive highest prison population in the world because those like yourself lack the capacity to separate mental illness and lifestyle crimes (like sex work) from violent crime. Without additional massive tax hikes and heavy cuts in social spending, we are quickly loosing our capacity to meet your expensive criminalization fetish. What school teachers do you plan to lay off and what seniors do you plan to deny medical coverage under medicare so America can once again respond to a temporary moral panic with more incarceration?

Not listening to active sex workers who have been unequivocal that arresting clients and those who financially support their business harms them, stealing all their money through civil forfeiture during raids, placing them in handcuffs and at the disposal of armed men in uniform who are often the most likely to sexually assault them (you know, the non-consensual kind) while calling them "victims"(I guess they should know) and removing all their screening tools like Backpage so they are at greater risk of rape, murder and yes, human trafficking. That is misogyny.

You appear to be a supporter on all counts.
Oh my.I tried to debate with a crusader. This person implied I was pro child sex trafficking because I didn't agree that backpage and review boards should be shut down. I tried explaining that shutting down online resources was dangerous because it would drive women to the streets-where they were more likely to encounter pimps and traffickers. I told this person Backpage made it easy for someone to report themselves as being trafficked and also helped find victims. I told this person getting rid of backpage would drive perpetrators deeper into the underground or dark web. It was amazing how unfazed they were. Fascinating.

It was a lot like debating with an anti drug warrior. They don't seem to care who they hurt in the process.

I think the issue here is that some people can't understand that many people choose to be hookers.

These poor people think cops actually help hookers. LOL yes, help them sexing them then busting them, taking their money and laptop, giving them criminal records which prevent them from getting other employment. People think vice cops actually want to help sex workers. Ha.
Sometimes I do think there are people who get a sexual thrill from incarcerating other people. Their zeal is so fervent and blind. Its almost like a religion.
@80, I consider pimps and johns to have committed violent crimes. Your argument fails.

@82, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I am opposed to prostitution. My position needs no further explanation.
@83 Stomping your foot with a simple assertion while not addressing my argument does not mean my argument fails. It means your beyond engaging in reasonable discourse.

It's also mean you are making the weakest moral argument one can make. The appeal to violence towards those who do not share your view.

@80: If your opposed to prostitution, than don't participate. Problem solved.
Here's a "sex worker" I've "listened to":

"There was only one group of people who were ever responsible for endangering my life when I was in prostitution and they most certainly were not abolitionists; they were sex buying men. The same sex buying men whose dicks will never be sucked by the liberal feminists who defend and uphold the right of those men to have their dicks sucked by other women; economically disenfranchised, economically disadvantaged, socially deprived, and racially marginalized women."

-Rachel Moran
@84, I addressed your argument. You said that there isn't room in prisons for non-violent offenders. I said that pimps and johns are violent offenders and therefore your argument doesn't apply. I don't think this is unreasonable discourse.
@85, I'm guessing you intended to respond to me and not to @80. It doesn't work that way. When men buy women's bodies for sex, that harms women as a class because it reinforces the idea that men are the default class and women are the class that exists for the purpose of providing sex to the default class. The fact that I'm not personally providing my body to other men for the purchase of sex doesn't change that dynamic as long as other women's bodies are available for that purpose. So no, it's not as simple as "don't participate, problem solved."
Men pay for sex all the time in a myriad of ways. Prostitution is just honest. Basically with prostitution people are upset because the woman is taking cash money. If he turned around and bought her a car, paid her rent, paid a bill, etc (which people do all the time) there wouldn't be as much controversy. I've had plenty of men take me on a date then immediately turn around and try to have sex with me.

It may be your opinion that getting paid for sex harms women as a class, but truthfully, men usually pay for it one way or another. That being said, people shouldn't go to prison because of your opinion. If two consenting adults want to exchange sex and whatever, that's their business. Other people out there may not view prostitution the way you do.

A woman can have sex with her husband or boyfriend, he give her $200 cash or a credit card, and no on cares. A johns and hookers crime is exchanging sex and money while not being in a romantic relationship.

By the way,about half of all hookers are men.
That women are harmed by the sex trade isn't my opinion. It's a truth. If people don't "view it the way I do," they're wrong.

And it is completely false that the population of people whose bodies are purchased for sex is equally distributed between men and women. The people who buy sex are men. It is not the case that half of men are gay or bisexual. Therefore, it is utterly illogical to claim that prostituted people are men and women in equal measures. That doesn't pass the smell test.
@84, No, you didn't address my argument, you responded with an unsubstantiated personal assertion. One is a long list of personal assertions you present as "facts" because they serve your narrative (fallacy).

Your most recent unfounded assertion:

"That women are harmed by the sex trade isn't my opinion. It's a truth. If people don't "view it the way I do," they're wrong."

Why is that a fact? Because you assert it's so? And the many sex workers you erase by ignoring their agency with that assertion. What about them?

That is the true violence and exploitation. It's not about money for sex, but about prohibitionists that ignoring and violate the consent and agency of a sex workers denying them agency.

By denying their autonomy, their volition, you place yourself in the same category as the pimps and customers who violate their boundaries. That also makes you far more damaging to them than the customers and pimps who honor their boundaries and respect their agency.

@86 Rachel Moran. She doesn't appear to actually know anything about sex work when asked by other sex workers and not a single sex worker where she claims she worked as a teenager recalls every seeing or meeting her, but she's very pretty and has a nice accent.

I know how much prohibitionists respect "re-framing reality" in the survivor community. It really helps when they don't have any actual sex work experience to get in the way of that re-framing to create their survivor narrative.

You should have stuck with Somaly Mam. She seemed like a much better spokseman for your movement to deny women you don't agree with agency.…


I got that stat from Getting Screwed, by Alison Bass. There could be a lot of factors, like straight men who are gay for pay, etc.

Women harmed by sex trade...Yes, if she's being coerced into that. Other than that, the sex trade is harming women by helping them pay their bills. Depending on their clientele, quite a few sex workers do well for themselves.

That's fine if you don't like sex work, that doesn't mean it should be illegal, on either end. I hate obesity, but I don't think obese people should go to prison or be hounded by vice cops...
@91, I have no idea what this "long list" is that you refer to. My comments here have been relatively short.

And regarding your comments on Rachel Moran: I see. We're supposed to "listen to sex workers," unless we don't like what they say, in which case we claim they were never sex workers. OK.

@92, I don't think sex work should be illegal because I "don't like" it. I think it should be illegal because it is bad policy and is harmful.

Not to overly tax you, but here are just a few items that were raised that you refuse to address:

1. University of Leicaster Department of Criminology: "Internet making sex work safer, report finds"…

2. Craigslist Reduced Female Homicide Rate by Over One Sixth…

3. When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply
By Max Ehrenfreund July 17, 2014…

4. National Police Misconduct NewsFeed: Sexual Abuse in the second most common crime committed by police just after unjustified violence. These are the sadists and perverts you want to "protecting the women and girls!"…

After refusing to address any of this, your solution to resolving your inability to distinguish consent from force is, predictably, incarceration. Of course you leave it to the rest of society to pick up the tab for your police solution fetish:

5. The high price of incarceration in America…

And how do you respond?

"That women are harmed by the sex trade isn't my opinion. It's a truth. If people don't "view it the way I do," they're wrong."

Wow, good one. Why didn't I think of that? I guess the facts got in my way.

Rachel Moran; you chose that fake, not me. There must be credibly survivors out there that actually worked in the biz and agree with your view that we should arrest our way to your solution, but they those survivors tend to have earrings in all wrong places and are the wrong color and from the wrong socioeconomic background to appeal to the white, privileged, middle ages female reporters you rely on perpetuate your false narrative that continues to victimize sex workers.
@94, dude, I am not going to go read a list of links and respond to them. That's far more work than your comment warrants. If you want me to react to an article, at minimum you should summarize the thesis of the article.

Are you saying that you think Rachel Moran is a liar because she's white? That seems racist.
@93 There are many things in life that could be considered harmful, like alcohol, but prohibition only makes it worse. Take a look at the war on drugs.

Also, you may think something is harmful, but the next person may not. It's your opinion that prostitution is bad in and of itself. Prostitution isn't much different from modern dating. It's also not different from how people exchange sex from day to day. Exchanging sex for money in one way or another is very common. People get emotional about the word 'prostitution.'

"Prostitution isn't much different from modern dating." This statement is absurd.

"People get emotional about the word 'prostitution.'" I assure you that nothing I have said here comes from an excess of emotion.

If I were you, I would ask myself why I make absurd and unsupported statements in defense of prostitution. What's so great about prostitution that it must be defended at all costs?
Rolando, on the same day you posted @96 Mr. Savage posted this: "One way to de-stigmatize sex work: the rest of us, those of us who don't "have to" pay for sex, could acknowledge this awkward truth: we all pay for it. We don’t all pay cash but we all pay. All sexual and romantic relationships involve an exchange."

You have committed yourself to the continuation of stigma. Worse, you place yourself as the victim of sex work. Absurdity is the commodity you most often trade.
Totally agree with you. I was a sex worker for twenty years and I was very good at promoting the myth of the happy and dignified sex worker, but every bit of it was a lie. The clients are rarely violent because they're loathe to risk incurring legal consequences, but they are *always* looking for ways to emotionally exploit and abuse and berate us for being "failures at life" and "making poor choices". They pretend they just want sex but they spend 90% of their session time interrogating us for details about our lives that they can use to shame us and beat us down psychologically.
You can let it roll off of you for a long time but when large groups of them decide to stalk you and gang up on you it is a very abusive and ugly thing, and very difficult to withstand. The nature of the industry is inherently abusive and hateful, because the clients themselves are not really there for the sex we're selling; they are only there for the thrill of seeing a woman/child degraded and made wretched. Their sexual gratification is dependent upon their feeling that they are participants in our shame and degradation. Even when a prostitute is not being physically assaulted by pimps/clients, it is a lifestyle of nonstop psychological harassment, intimidation and degradation, and the clients who bang on in their blogs about what a "gentlemanly hobby" it is are typically the most odious, demanding, condescending, insidiously hateful @ssholes in person. It's not enough for them to just hate us; their sexual gratification is fed by their need to make us hate *ourselves*.
No sex worker who is still in the industry can admit this online without being stalked, doxxed, outed, harassed and intimidated into silence, but I'm retired now so I don't care. I'm glad backpage is dead because they were not simply a website, their employees also engaged freely in street-pimp manipulation tactics to pressure those of us who advertised into giving them sexual favors. *Ding dong*, I'm glad backpage is dead.
"What's so great about prostitution that it must be defended at all costs?"

It's the only way he ever gets laid. ;)
Seriously though, it needs to be more stigmatized. Acceptance of prostitution is not the answer to lessening the abuse and devaluing of women; prostitution itself is inherently abusive and devaluing of women and it needs to be discouraged by all possible means, not normalized.
@98, my response to Dan Savage would be verbatim what I said in my comment #97. His formulation is absurd and indicates a desire to absolve prostitution at all costs.

@99-100: Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sorry no one listens to you - never mind everyone's claims that they "listen to sex workers." I hope you're doing OK these days and have the support you need.
Your post is a perfect example of the rampant ignorance and outright lies that prop up an industry whose only purpose is to keep vulnerable women trapped in a situation that destroys their humanity.
Who told you half of all prostitutes are men? Your pimp? I only ask because I heard that exact same lie from my own pimp twenty years ago. It's kind of a joke in the sex industry, one of the well-known lies that is often repeated by pimps to manipulate naive young girls into thinking it's about "equality".
Anyway, sorry you got caught up. Stay strong.
If it were legalized and regulated, sex workers would just get abused, intimidated and exploited by the government regulators instead of the pimps and websites who do it now. The nature of the industry would not change at all.

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