Recently, a first-person account of a woman who finds out her partner visits sex workers was anonymously published as an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald. The writer shares her decision to leave him, and her opinion on sex work (and sex workers) as a whole. The next day, the SMH published a counter piece by a sex worker who uses facts and her personal experience to counter the typical anti-sex work narrative. Find out exactly what was said inside...
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Louise O'Neale wrote the "Sad Reality Behind Pretty Woman Tale" in order to, I assume, share her realization of the Universal Truth™ of prostitution and its ills with the rest of us. As with nearly every op-ed piece regarding the sex trades written by non-sex workers, the message is a clear one: sex work is bad and sex workers are worse.
While a tired and overused standpoint and opinion, it seems readers never tire of the salacious nature of such writings and the dirty details which non-SW writers are sure to include.
An excerpt from the original piece:
"Research tells us that most prostitutes are themselves victims. Many have been sexually abused as children. Drug addicts abound. Worst are those trafficked as sex slaves. At the heart of this billion-dollar industry, which rivals the takings in oil, arms and illegal drugs worldwide, is sexism. Women are chattels to be bought. While there are people who claim sex work is a valid career choice, I dispute the argument that these women have made a legitimate choice. Selling sexual intimacy degrades us all."
Nevermind that this elusive "research" (which is so often called upon in these sorts of op-ed pieces) isn't cited, nor supported by actual facts, O'Neale's article immediately paints the picture of drug-addled victims who are so degraded by their vocation as to have no respect for the institution of marriage or feminism. Workers in the trades are painted as mindless animals, carted hither and thither at the whim of some illustrious, faceless, nameless FarmerPimp. But, and this question comes to my mind nearly every time I read an anti-SW piece, I wonder what the author is actually saying in this writing.
Are we mindless VictimCows, hustled for someone else's monetary benefit, as the word "chattel" would imply, or are we soulless dilettante succubi, out only to ruin serious relationships and marriages for our own monetary benefit, as the word "degrade" would suggest?
An anonymous sex worker wrote in with a response simply and aptly titled, "Why I'm Happy To Be a Sex Worker," and says:
O'Neale leads us to believe that the research shows sex workers are victims who need to be rescued. She also argues we are sexual deviants. Our clients, she argues, are also sexual deviants who require professional help. I think O'Neale has watched too many Hollywood movies like Pretty Woman.
Well-meaning feminists have spent decades trying to “rescue us” by relying on, and at times perpetuating outdated feminist ideological and theoretical frameworks, that unrepresentatively position sex workers as victims and/or as home wreckers and sexual deviants.
As is expected with many, if not all of these types of pieces, no one is left happy and there seems to be no solution or benefit at all to the inital piece, save getting innocent people riled up with unsubstantiated attacks on our work and lifestyle. I sympathise with Louise O'Neale and her terrible situation; I and many of my friends and family have had to deal with the aftermath of a partner's infidelity. It is no laughing matter and the phrase "broken heart" seem a pathetic understatement. My heart goes out to anyone, regardless of gender or occupation, who must cope with learning of a partner's dishonesty.
I have also learned, however, to put blame where blame lies: not on a provider in the sex trades simply doing her job, but on the man who chose to engage her service in the first place.
Sarah Elizabeth writes a guest post on prostitution and trafficking directed at feminists who are not anti-sex work and conflates, yet again, sex work and human trafficking. As with all discussions around and about sex work, made without the input of sex workers, the pieces flails wildly before...
Finally...sex workers are creating our own research about human trafficking. Share your truth about the experiences you've had in the industry with possible victims of human trafficking. Is this as large of a problem as we are led to believe it us? Tell us what you know...