Hypocrisy, Randall Tobias, Radical Feminists.


 

Anti Prostitution Czar Randall Tobias, architect of the USaid anti prostitution oath, which ostensibly is a war on human trafficking.  This call for abstinence from prostitution, from the sex industry, this war on human trafficking which is great for PR, for photo ops, great for President Bush to declare war on something else.  This time human trafficking, which anti prostitution radical feminist activists have conflated trafficking as any woman in the sex industry going as far as Hooters Girls being made into victims of sexual slavery by the vast forces of the radical feminist titled rhetorically named Pro Porn/Pro Prostitution movement.  Which in itself is a misnomer.  But let’s deal with Randall Tobias first.

 

Randall Tobias was Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  Randall Tobias, a pro-abstinence zealot who couldn’t abstain from enjoying the services of D.C. Madam Jeane Palfry’s escort service.   A high level government administration member hiring an escort is probably not much of a shock in most cases.  Then again, in most cases it shouldn’t be a big deal.  Except Tobias was Director of US Foreign Assistance and Administrator for US Agency for International Development, USAID.  USaid, the same organization that required the anti prostitution oath from organizations seeking USaid.  By taking the anti prostitution oath an NGO and it’s members could access large amounts of funding from USAID.  Organizations that would or could not take the pledge and deliver needed services to sex workers in need of medical care, education, housing, and many other needs worldwide were shout out of the funding.  Many programs using harm reduction models simply were financially suffocated leaving the very sex workers without needed resources all in the name of fighting a supposed war on trafficking.  Only the war wasn’t on trafficking it wasn’t even inherently a war, just a creative alliance between the Bush Administration, many radical feminist activists and organizations and the religious right.  Spun into their war on trafficking was a creative way to grab all the funding for themselves and financially starve programs that were harm reduction or sex worker human rights based.  This war to end trafficking, which allegedly is a war to end sexual slavery, had little to do with ending human trafficking and forced labor.  It was a financial ploy for a certain sect of the government to show it’s war on prostitution, for radical feminists to shut out the sex worker rights movement and harm reduction movement from funding and the religious right to demonstrate their faux war on trafficking.  This was all a great chance for a Bush Administration/radical feminist/religious right campaign to position themselves as the moral beacons fighting a war on trafficking.  All of this this conveniently began at the height of Bush’ popularity.  When mission accomplished was being declared in Iraq. 

 

Had Randall Tobias not been the outspoken anti prostitution czar and leader of this alliance to end prostitution, his hiring of escorts probably would have gone unnoticed.  But while he publicly campaigned to end the sex industry, he was privately hiring escorts.  The very escorts he was seeking to force out of the industry if his alleged goal to end the sex industry were to succeed.  Which time and truth have shown, it was just a nice high paying government job high in the Bush Administration.  Should it be a problem for Tobias to hire an escort, an escort who is an adult and a consenting sex worker?  If it weren’t for who he is and what he espouses and his actions the answer should be no.  But he is who he is.  The hypocrite who sought to steal the occupation and rights of the sex workers he hired, was himself hiring them.  The hypocrisy is blatant. 

 

Now onto the radical feminists.  Melissa Farley, Donna Hughes, and so many others have joined this alliance, have profited from it, have become what their egos have always desired, to be considered leaders in the war on prostitution.  A war on a topic in which neither was a first person participant.  Neither Farley or Hughes were sex workers although Hughes often claimed she wished she had been so she could better understand.  But lack of knowledge is power in their case.  They have their studies and academic writings to allegedly make up for their deficient knowledge of sex work and the sex industry.  

 

These radical feminists made their alliance to cut sex worker rights orgs and harm reduction orgs worldwide out of the funding pie. For the radical feminists, it apparently was a great idea in 2003 in the post 9/11 national willingness to support Bush’ war on terror, on anything.  These same radical feminists who are so willing to criticize sex worker rights activists and organizations with real and imagined transgressions as being pro porn, as being unwilling to address the harm caused by some men to women, children, transgendered in the sex industry suddenly are silent about a client.  A client whom otherwise they would be stating bought rape through a Madam who they would say sold rape of “prostituted women”.  Only since the client was the poster boy of their war.  They are silent.  Apparently “purchased” rape in this case was ok since it was their man doing the buying.  While the radical constantly posture about their opposition to the men “prostituting” women as all encompassing evil in this case they are silent.  If they were a true movement with true motives, they would oppose Tobias as he is what they claim to be fighting.  Instead silence.  In other words it is ok if he is their man.  I guess they feel they can’t bite the hand that feeds.  

 

As Director of SWOP East, which was once an anti sex industry political organization, I choked in 2003 on the lies, the rhetoric, the hypocrisy that I saw inside the radical feminist movement, inside the beltway conferences, even from the invitations from President Bush to attend dinners, events to showcase us as one of their token organizations.  I choked on this and balked.  It began my personal realignment with the sex worker human rights movement and initiated the process that lead the complete change from being an anti sex industry activist leading an anti sex industry organization to a sex worker human rights activist taking what is now SWOP East, to a sex worker rights position.  

 

This transition has come with a price.  I am essentially the anti Christ to the radial feminist movement.  Our organization has been shut out of funding and is relying on all volunteer efforts for survival and growth.  But it is worth it.  The sex worker rights movement is fighting oppression, marginalization, exploitation and stigmatization of sex workers through human rights and labor initiatives.  We too take on issues of coercion and have zero tolerance for coercion, for forced labor, for human trafficking.  But we choose to believe there are many if not most in the sex industry who are their by choice and their exploitation is due to lack of labor and human rights.  Not some vast pro porn/prostitution machine as stated by the radical feminists and some vast network of human traffickers enslaving all women in the sex industry as the government plays it to be.  

 

I am very happy that I listened to my intuition in 2003 and walked away from the radical feminist movement and it’s alliances taking what is now SWOP East with me.  The price was high for me, facing threats of injury and death from alleged radical feminist activists, facing lies, distortions, censorship.  SWOP East has been a target of hatred for years because of the change in ideology.  But time is proving our point.  We were right to walk away.  Heretics to radical feminism?   Yes, and proudly so.  Am I the radical feminist anti Christ?  The Judas of the movement?  Probably.  I’m glad to be and see it as proof of doing the right thing.

Right now Randall Tobias’ hypocrisy is blatantly obvious.  The Bush Administration’s war on trafficking is a pathetic misappropriation of funding for those who align with him.  The radical feminists hypocrisy is perhaps the worst.  They refuse to take the very stand that they trumpet as their core value because it would mean criticizing their now disgraced leader and the hand that fed them so well.  Their intentions and self serving goals are now apparent. 

 

For the sex worker human and labor rights organizations, for those doing harm reduction for sex workers in need, the criticism we have faced, the financial suffocation we have endured to stand in the face of hatred, in the face of hypocrisy, in the face of those who would like to destroy our activism and abandon sex workers in need now for some alleged end of the sex industry, supposed end of sexual slavery in some mythical day in the future.  

 

Please, now is the time to reassert our voices.  Our movement is the mainstream, is seeking practical and pragmatic social change which can bring great advances in human and labor rights for sex workers.  We endured and the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration, the radical feminists and the religious right have been exposed.  Now is the time to speak, to be heard, to claim our space as sex workers and sex worker rights activists for a movement about ending oppression and exploitation of those in the sex industry.  There was take back the night.  Now lets take back our rights.  This can only be done by networking, by speaking out, by joining together which we have and are!  Great advances have happened in just the last year.  Stay strong, stay together and speak out about sex worker rights!

 

Solidarity

 

Jill Brenneman

SWOP East Coordinator

www.swopeast.org

www.myspace.com/jillbrenneman

www.myspace.com/swopeast

www.myspace.com/swopeastnc

 

5 Responses

  1. “I am essentially the anti Christ to the radial feminist movement”

    Really? I’m a radical feminist and I’ve never even heard of you. Maybe you need to realize the feminist movement is much bigger than whatever couple of feminists you seem to be having a feud with.

    Your “movement” is hardly mainstream! Most people are just not that interested in legalizing the buyinng and selling of human beings.

    If you really want to help prostitutes, get them out of prostitution.

  2. Annaj

    Just because you haven’t heard of me doesn’t mean I haven’t been around. You aren’t Christopher Columbus. I was a major radical feminist activist from 1997 to 2003. If you want to know what I was involved in you can check my CV on swopeast.org. I worked with a major rad fem org from 2001 to 2003 called Escape until I flipped the program’s ideology to sex worker rights/harm reduction and was a speaker at International Day of No Prostitution except the event made me gag and was a turning point.

    The “feud”which you discuss with a “couple of feminists” is much larger. The two I mentioned were examples. Beyond that it isn’t a feud. It is reality. They don’t agree with me, I don’t agree with them. They have made a great deal of threats and false allegations about me since I left radical feminism. Perhaps because I was inside and was a significant player in their movement.

    As far as you quoting me as feuding with “feminists” feminism isn’t exclusive. There are diverse views of feminism.

    You also misquote me. I have never advocated legalization. I advocate decrmininalization. There is a difference.

    I have worked throughout my activist career to get those prostitutes that want to get out into that process. Before you offer condescending advice find out who you are talking to. You don’t know me.

    For those that don’t want to get out, I advocate human and labor rights.

    It isn’t the buying and selling of human beings if both parties are legal age and freely consent. You are conflating human trafficking and forced labor with all prostitution. It’s not realistic.

    You also didn’t address my point about why radical feminists are so silent about Tobias. Instead you stated you never heard of me than pretentiously attempted to minimize and invalidate my opinion, throw in some standard rad fem rhetoric and offer a simplistic myopic answer that fails to address what I am working on in terms of activism.

    Do your homework before you launch the minimization techniques and the rhetoric. You can read my blog and see that there has been plenty of rhetoric tossed my way recently which sounds remarkably like this. For me to debate issues they are going to have to be more than just repeats of the standard radical feminist rhetoric otherwise one can refer to my blog and get the same answser. I lack the energy to keep repeating the same responses to those that don’t agree with me. If you don’t agree with me, you don’t. That is your right. Best of luck with your activism.

    These are human and labor rights initiatives that I am an activist for.

    AS a member of IUSW, International Union of Sex Workers, SWOP East closely follow their political goals.

    * Decriminalization of all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults.

    * The right to form and join professional associations or unions.

    * The right to work on the same basis as other independent contractors and employers and to receive the same benefits as other self-employed or contracted workers.

    * No taxation without such rights and representation.

    * Zero tolerance of coercion, violence, sexual abuse, child labor, rape and racism.

    * Legal support for sex workers who want to sue those who exploit their labor.

    * The right to travel across national boundaries and obtain work permits wherever we live.

    * Clean and safe places to work.

    * The right to choose whether to work on our own or co-operatively with other sex workers.

    * The absolute right to say no.

    * Access to health clinics where we do not feel stigmatized.

    * Re-training programs for sex workers who want to leave the industry.

    * An end to social attitudes which stigmatize those who are or have been sex workers.

    * Zero tolerance for child sexual tourism

  3. I just meant to say that you seemed to be referring to radical feminists as some small group represented by these two obscure people and it just isn’t so.

    In a weird way I admire how much blather you’ve managed to put on the Internet as just a few people with a weird mission….feminists who want to decriminalize prostitution…what a crazy idea. I’d say that’s quite a minority of feminists.

    It kind of reminds me of the feminists for life, a group of about 20 women who are so well funded they can make themselves look huge! Or those busy socialists who seem to crank out a new newspaper every day. Where do you all get the time and money and ENERGY?!

    Given the many reasons that prostitution is illegal, I doubt you are going to make much progress.

    Unfortunately what you are doing is hurting a lot of women by trying to convince them this is legitimate work. Ask Brandy Britton what it’s really like to be trapped in prostitution. Oh that’s right, you can’t ask her – she hanged herself.

  4. Wonderful post, Jill. Just wonderful.

    Nothing else I can say by way of comment, because you have already said it all.

  5. I was one of those women that was trapped in prostitution. Again, do you homework.

    I am not funded to do any of this work a full and a part time job. So save the analogy for someone it applies to. This is all volunteer fo rme.

    Had sex worker human rights and labor rights existed my oppressor would not have had the methods of coercion which kept me trapped. I wouldn’t have had to fear escaping him only to be violently brought back knowing the police would be very unlikely to help a prostitute, but rather to criminalize me. I would have been able to get legitimate medical care because I could have told health care providers what actually happened instead of partial truths to protect myself from having to reveal I was a prostitute. The list goes on.

    Meanwhile the radical feminists writing about ending prostitution did what? They wrote books
    So great a later date I could read about my own oppression through the eyes of others. Many researchers who were never actually even sex workers themselves.

    I haven’t blathered at all so save the condescending attitude. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean your words are important and give you some position minimize or invalidate others.

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