The article, called "Dear Feminists", was posted on Feministe on September 7th, 2013. It has since been removed, but the impact hasn't been forgotten.
The guest blogger opened her post by saying:
"Today I rode with the people on the frontlines. I went with two networks of mine who do street outreach to women in our city who are being prostituted.
Their primary focus is reaching out to women and men who engage in prostitution to support themselves, their families, and their addictions and also to those who prostitute against their will."
As with most anti-sex work rhetoric, it is a two pronged approach:
1. shame and discredit the worker, and
2. play on the sympathies of those reading the writing or listening to the speech.
The quote above was a perfect beginning and completely in line with the usual antics of the anti-sex work Feminist crowd.
Mixed with a healthy dose of transmisogyny and violence against women in the comment section of the article and both imaginary violence and actual shaming against workers in the article itself, quotes like this take the cake:
"The hard part for me was seeing pregnant women prostituting and addicted to drugs, and the teenage girls. The agency I was riding with told me they have seen an uptick in teenage girls being prostituted, they are afraid to approach the vans and each time we would see their pimp standing and watching us about a half block down the street."
However, when one listens directly to workers, one finds a much, much different story.
For a few examples:
- Tits and Sass curated a lovely discussion regarding sex workers who are or have also been IV drug users called "Outcasts among Outcasts"
- The Red Umbrella Project holds regular classes for sex workers to assist them with writing and storytelling
- FeministWhore writes extremely regularly on the intersection points of sex work and feminism
- The discussion of Feminism Vs. Sex Work has been going on, literally speaking, for years. Blogs like T&S, SexWorkerProblems, RedUPNYC, Sex Workers Project, SWOP, SWOU, and more have been regularly tackling this issue and amplifying their voices by repetition and even echoing each other.
Many sex worker created and led blogs and organizations have long said discussions regarding the sex trades without the input of sex workers and escorts are virtually worthless. We wonder when people who are not involved in the sex trades will come to see this also. For groups of people who claim to care for and support us, to want to help us, I fail to see how helpful any activity directed at any party can be when the party being helped is not consulted (or, in some cases, is barred from participation).
It's for a myriad of reasons I shy away from the label of Feminist. I find the privileged Feminists crying the loudest about the "ills of sex work" more than a little off-putting. What it boils down to is this: If assisting workers in the sex trades is your goal, start by consulting -and then listening to- the workers themselves.