[link] Who gets a say? The sex work lobby & the silencing of feminist voices
I’m late to the game with this piece (not for the first time) because I’ve had it saved in “pocket” to read. I’ve read it now, and so should you. As I said earlier today, I don’t agree with everything that Meghan Murphy says but what she does say, she argues well.
It’s become so predictable that, now, I just sit back and wait. I’ve written several pieces about prostitution and the abolitionist movement, and several more that don’t directly address these issues, but perhaps mention the word “prostitution.” And really, that’s all it takes these days.What I’ve come to realize is, no matter what I write, no matter what argument I make, no matter the points I bring up, the sex work lobby doesn’t care. Because if you aren’t agreeing with them, you must be stopped.
Public use of the word “prostitution” is enough to justify skimming right past the contents of any article and heading straight to the silencing. The silencing is the most important work, after all. It is the goal. “If we can bully them into shutting up, maybe we’ll win,” is what they seem to be thinking.
In October, I wrote a piece exploring, what I saw as a neoliberalist take-over of the feminist movement. I argued that we needed to focus our efforts on building a progressive feminist movement that looked at freedom and empowerment for women as a collective effort, rather than focusing on individual (and temporary) feelings of empowerment or catharsis. Real change means liberation for all, not a privileged few.
I mentioned the efforts to decriminalize (I realized, after I wrote the piece, that it is probably more accurate to name these efforts as efforts at legalization as, really, it is the abolitionists who are fighting for decriminalization of prostituted women, whereas so-called decriminalization advocates argue for the legalization of pimps and johns as well as prostituted women) as an example of, and a manifestation of, American neoliberalism’s impact on the feminist movement. And, according to the sex work lobby, that’s all she wrote.
Almost every comment was the same (and, of course, these comments are nothing new, it’s as though they came from a script):
“I cannot believe that [this site] continues to allow non-sex workers with absolutely no experience of working in the sex trade, let alone working the streets to speak on their behalf. “
“I demand that as a feminist organization, you remove this article and commission a sex worker with experience of the streets to write about why sex workers are demanding their rights and how real feminists can support their self-determination.”