The Morning After

I got up this morning intending to catch up on all of the posts and comments that I didn’t get to last night. To my surprise I came across Melissa Farley’s letter to us in my mailbox. I received it in a strange sort of round about way, I’m not sure why it wasn’t just sent directly to me or to the blog administrators. Anyway, I was bummed that I didn’t receive it last night so that it could be posted for our live bloggers to see, so I posted it this morning in hopes that maybe there would be some folks awake early enough on the East Coast to post some responses.

To my delight, we had some heavy-hitters from the West Coast all over it practically the moment that it was live. You’ve got to love it when you see RF, MD and SH finding common cause!

September 17th-18th our blog had more traffic than it’s ever had. It’s thrilling to see that sex worker’s voices are being heard by a growing audience. We owe so much of this growth to our contributing authors and all the bloggers who linked to us and encouraged their readers to “listen to sex workers.” Thanks to everybody who contributed their time and energy!

The debate around legal prostitution and trafficking in Nevada was still getting coverage in Las Vegas  as late as Monday, September 17th.

We sent out a press release  about the live blog event, but we eren’t that surprised that we didn’t get any mainstream media coverage, considering that the release went out pretty last minute.

Meanwhile, another politician announces resignation after being caught in a prostitution scandal.

Barb Brents reviewed Melissa Farley’s new book and Iamcuriousblue provided some discussion about her methodology.

We got some great comments from sex workers in different places.

Stephanie comments:

I believe that Melissa Farley is motivated by compassion towards sex workers, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s played a pivotal role in hurting many of us around the globe. I even wrote her a somewhat lengthy e-mail several years ago (before I realized that she was irrational and too blinded by anger to truly care about our well being). I started the letter by praising her for her efforts in helping women who want out, to escape their bad situations. I have always believed it was a noble cause to assist women needing help to improve their lives. It is unfortunate that she got so caught up in her anger towards all sex work that she lost sight of what she started out doing- helping women.

We were joined by two of Farley’s supporters, Jody Williams and Josie. They kept the debate interesting and we thank them for their participation. I hope that these conversations will evolve into cooperative problem-solving. I strongly encourage readers to check out all of the comments sections.

We also inspired the creation of a new blog! (Or is it just coincidence that the blog was created yesterday?) I came across it while checking out SkyBabe’s blog.

This morning we were mentioned over at Reno and Its Discontents as well as at the $pread Magazine Blog

And finally, Renegade Evolution breaks it down feminist expat style.

Thanks again to everybody who participated! More live blogging to come!

In solidarity,

Stacey

25 Responses

  1. Y’all did a great job.

  2. just settling in to catch up on all this.

    on a very petty and quick note: whoever did the International Day Of…blog might want to consider using an editor. also, “womyn” tends to alienate all but the choir…but wth, Not My Problem, really…

  3. I’ll be playing catch-up on this all night. It’s inspiring and just generally bad-ass. Y’all rock!!

  4. The live blogging last night was amazing! In light of the recent media coverage about Ms. Farley’s new book, it was refreshing to actually hear from the people at the very center of the conversation about sex work…sex workers. As well, to hear from allies and researchers who do not discredit the voices and views of sex workers.

  5. “on a very petty and quick note: whoever did the International Day Of…blog might want to consider using an editor. also, “womyn” tends to alienate all but the choir…but wth, Not My Problem, really…”

    That’s Ashley, the rather petulant junior radfem from over at Jill’s blog.

    I agree, trying to get men to stop seeing sex workers, especially random guys out on the Vegas strip, with rhetoric about “womyn” is beyond quixotic. Then again, we’re talking about the radfem equivalent of people who think if they just go out on the street and scream about Jee-zuz loud enough, surely people will get the message, because surely they just haven’t heard The Word yet.

  6. Why is Farley writing in third person?

    Day of No Prostitution is some UNLV freshman named Ashley. Spell check doesn’t seem to be her strength. She is having a crisis right now on my blog as it was proven by ICB and others that Farley did write ” Why I Chose To Become a Prostitute ”

    She is sulking that people are making fun of her for being wrong in saying there was no way Farley would have written that.

    I guess to her credit though, she did admit she is wrong and that she doesn’t like it. Granted it was stated in the context a 12 year old would write it but perhaps she can see some facts when presented with them and be willing to grudgingly admit they are right.

  7. […] The Morning After « Bound, Not Gagged “September 17th-18th our blog had more traffic than it’s ever had. It’s thrilling to see that sex worker’s voices are being heard by a growing audience.” Awesome! (tags: awesome sexwork law prostitution blogging newmedia) […]

  8. Aleta said…
    “it was refreshing to actually hear from the people at the very center of the conversation about sex work:”

    Dear Aleta, the women discussed in Farley’s book don’t have access to the internet. They have pimps and bruises and fear and stress and pain and 10 strangers dicks in their mouths every day. If you think the voices here are representative of all women in prostitution then you either don’t want to know what is really happening, or you don’t care. The people here are prolific to be sure. They are fast typists and are excellent at cut and paste. Some are even good hearted though a bit misguided. But they most certainly are not the voices of all sexworkers!

  9. Josie, this paternalistic rhetoric of yours does grow tiresome. You seem to have some notion that you have some kind of hotline to a silent majority of prostitutes, that they’re all marginalized and beaten down, and that the bloggers here are some kind of tiny “elite” who can’t possibly be at all representative on any significant segment of the sex worker population.

    What I’m asking you, is – just how do you know this to be the case. Are you a sex worker? Do you work directly with sex workers? I’m calling you on this – where is your knowledge from?

    You seem to set yourself up as the voice of the most downtrodden. Are you one of the downtrodden or are you, in fact, simply yet another middle-class feminist playing the “I’m more radical than you” card? If its the latter, get over it, because that shit gets old really fast.

    I fully admit that I’m not a sex worker. I’ve known a few personally in my life (and they weren’t always exactly YayStripping or YayTricks). I’ve read the writing of quite a few more. And I certainly know the different venues where prostitutes and other sex workers are selling services in my town, which gives me some idea of the class differences involved. (And I have to say, I rarely come across “book learned” feminists who even have a clue about what sex work actually looks like at ground level, even compared to the most casual trick.)

    But at least I can admit to the complexity of the world of sex work – that it takes a lot of different forms, that there are class differences among sex workers, and that there are global differences among sex workers, in other words, like you said earlier, real life is complicated. Which is exactly why one-size-fits-all abolitionism, or paternalistic references to “the women discussed in Farley’s book don’t have access to the internet”, as if that represents all sex workers, is utterly simplistic.

  10. I’m not sure who the hell you think you are to call me on anything iamcurousblue. As far as I know you are a john and that’s about the extent of your interest in the conversation.

    I don’t claim to speak for anyone. But I can honestly tell you that there are prostituted women who are not represented in this conversation. Jill and Ren and you and Amanda do not seem to know very much much about their lives. I am still trying to figure out if that is just ignorance about the facts, or if you are truly trying to ignore the reality. Being a kind and generous soul, I am trying to come down on the side of ignorance – that you are simply unaware of the lives of quiet and frequently violent desperation of women in prostitution.

    Do YOU feel any need to see that those women’s realities are represented in discussions about prostitution? Or are you content fighting for the happy hooker myth?

  11. This is my first time visiting this site, but I can’t help but notice that almost everything on here is not about sex workers’ rights, but about discrediting radical feminists who are opposed to prostitution.
    I thought it was just the first post or two, but as I scroll down I see that it makes up the majority of your posts.
    I find this extremely disturbing.

  12. Why do you think so many of us are “johns”?

    I find the assumption laughable.

  13. And, yes, there are women, such as the street-based workers I’ve worked with in new york city, who should be in on this conversation. We are in a privileged space; we’re all on computers and we’re all accessing the internet.

    (Ha! You are here talking with us too, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

    Many of us work on the ground-level in our activism, and if you can help us get computers and internet access set-up for more street-based workers, then, by all means, let’s talk.

  14. I never claimed to be typical. However, the women I see working with HIPS are, commenter Freya2 on my blog is (well, shes a transwoman, so I hope she still counts), and yep, many of us actually engage in REAL ACTIVISM!

    Now, most of the Real Women Working in the Sex Trade I know are more concerned with having some recourse legally, making money, avoiding getting their asses kicked and STD’s and being Left The Hell Alone that being saved by whomever.

    But I am sure they’d love a chunk of the royalities on farleys books about hookers.

  15. Josie,

    I don’t know where any of us on this blog claim to be speaking for all sex workers, except in the case of wanting social justice.

    We might be “privileged” in your eyes, but you don’t know our personal histories (nor is this the place to share). Sorry we don’t have enough street cred for you, but if you’re going to judge the validity of our words based on your own perceptions — there’s nothing we can do about that.

    The point of this entire blog is to break the silence. If the “under-privileged” sex workers don’t have access to the Internet (as you seem to think), then are those of us who do have this access supposed to shut up? Are we supposed to silently let non-sex workers tell us what our lives are like, what we want and what we need? Because you think we don’t represent any sort of majority, we’re supposed to apologize, sit down and shut up?

    Who does our silence help? Who benefits from sex workers quietly waiting for change? Who likes it when flaws in their arguments aren’t pointed out? Who doesn’t want us to encourage more sex workers to speak up? If we don’t speak out, then who will?

    The silence is deafening.

    XX

  16. Honestly, Josie, I really don’t give a fuck if you consider me a “john”. I’m asking you an honest question.

    I am calling into question your right to pontificate as to who can and can’t speak as a sex worker, because you sure as hell are doing that. And quite honestly, if you’re a “civilian” without much contact with actual sex workers, your basis for saying who is and isn’t a typical sex worker is suspect.

    And I think its more than a little bit disingenuous of you to be calling people here out on their “creds” non-stop, while doing nothing to say what exactly is YOUR basis for credibility. I’m not the only person who has asked you to do this.

    As for saying I’m “fighting for the happy hooker myth”, I suggest you fucking learn how to read, rather than just projecting what you THINK people are saying.

  17. I might add that the analogy is a white liberal pontificating on whether Barack Obama is “really black”. I’m usually quick to call such people out on this kind of malarky, even though I’m also white, and not even a particularly big supporter of Obama. But I recognize sheer hubris when I see it.

  18. Josie said…
    “the women discussed in Farley’s book don’t have access to the internet. They have pimps and bruises and fear and stress and pain and 10 strangers dicks in their mouths every day. If you think the voices here are representative of all women in prostitution then you either don’t want to know what is really happening, or you don’t care. ”

    Which women, which book? My understanding is that Farley has done her “studies” in San Francisco, Turkey, Thailand, Ukraine, Uganda, Nevada and several other places. What you are suggesting is that they are all more or less the same; with the same needs, same problems, same emotional scars -yet totally different from anyone here.

    I really don’t know that much about the street-level prostitutes in Turkey, but most of the San Francisco street walkers (including the most beaten and poor) do access the internet from time to time. They do it from cleints’ homes, coffee shops and community centers. But they seem more interested in placing ads on craigslist.com than wasting their time debating a bunch of feminists who won’t be paying them for their efforts.

  19. Stephanie: I really don’t know that much about the street-level prostitutes in Turkey, but most of the San Francisco street walkers (including the most beaten and poor) do access the internet from time to time. They do it from cleints’ homes, coffee shops and community centers. But they seem more interested in placing ads on craigslist.com than wasting their time debating a bunch of feminists who won’t be paying them for their efforts.

    Here, here.

    On a serious note, after an assessment of over thirty sex worker rights organizations worldwide, conducted last Spring by Open Society Institute in collaboration with the Tactical Tech Collective (I consulted on this survey), we found that though many sex workers the world over — including in South Africa, Thailand, and other countries where internet access is expensive and not widespread — do use the internet to find work, very very few use it to find health information, read blogs, get access to services, or connect with one another socially. This is a huge gap we can work together to fill. Boundnotgagged is just one way to organize us. But there’s so much more we can do.

    Getting sex workers voices to the forefront of these debates about “what to do with us” is crucial. If workers are using cell phones to organize dates, it’s one small step from them using cell phones to document police brutality and raids & rescues. And it’s already happening!

  20. Dear Josie,

    I believe you misunderstood me.

    When I said that it was refreshing to hear from sex workers, I was referring specifically to those writing on the blog. I did not make any logical extensions to say that they represented the totality of sex workers. I am not so naive as to assume that all sex workers can be grouped into one category. I certainly do not appreciate it when researchers, journalists, etc. extend the experiences of a group of sex workers to the entirety of sex workers, so I wouldn’t want to be accused of the same thing.

    I was just letting the amazing people on this blog know that it is wonderful to have access to their opinions and insight on these extremely nuanced, and often misrepresented, issues firsthand. It is about time their voices were represented in the conversation.

  21. Um, Josie, as far as I understand it from reading her myspace, Jill -was- one of “them.” So, there’s a lot of calling out here all around that’s, well, not very smart.

    I’m not a sex worker/prostitute(d). otoh I’m not a “john” either. I’d like to think I’m *koff* “kind and generous” also; but well um that’s kind of for others to say, I rather think. certainly I’ve found Renegade to be so, for one. I’m quite sure that plenty of the other “selfish selfish” people you seem resolutely determined to not listen to are as well. And do, as they’ve been saying -repeatedly- now, work to help real! live! prostitutes. Too.

    Yeah, it’s true, there’s a certain amount of privilege in being able to use the Internet and speak for oneself, much less be heard. still I’m not real jazzed by the suggestion that anyone who -is- able to do so and -who disagrees with the abolitionist position- automatically doesn’t know what she is talking about, whether they’ve been prostituted/are/were sex workers or not. Whereas, those who -do- agree with the abolitionist position are automatically valid spokespeople on behalf of whomever they purport to be speaking…whether they’ve been prostituted/are/were sex workers, or not.

    I mean, I’m sure that’s not at all what you or anyone here is trying to say; still I do come away with that impression, sometimes.

  22. btw, I don’t know about Turkey, but here’s an interesting take on the situation in Ukraine:

    http://nataliaantonova.wordpress.com/2007/09/18/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/

  23. meanwhile, here’s the take of one person who’s done street-level hustling. He’s a dude, yes; I hope that’s okay. And yes, somehow, he managed to get access to a computer, and can type, and everything. And yet I wouldn’t call him terribly privileged based on what he says here:

    http://brownfemipower.com/?p=1179

    “I have little direct experience of porn, but for many years I’ve been an on-and-off sex worker, in brothels or, at my most desperate, on the street in Melbourne, where there is really only one male sex work strip, a few hundred metres from effectively the only trannie sex work strip and totally surrounded by streets and streets of women working the streets. Street sex workers in Melbourne are predictably varied in race but in the majority white, certainly so on the street though there are eg. brothels solely devoted to Asian women: what all these sex workers have in common, overwhelmingly and banally, is poverty.

    Over the decade of my working I’ve seen all ‘categories’ of sex workers subjected to violence, over ninety-nine percent by men. Most recently I was drugged and raped by an HIV-positive man, since which I have not worked in the sex industry.

    I know of exactly two instances in which women were involved in sexual violence against workers, once a man and woman who hired a woman and together raped her while both laughing, the other two women who hired a man and sexually assaulted him. Assaulted me. Both of these cases were in brothels. Actually the number of women who are clients of sex workers in Melbourne is small, but the percentage of these who go to the streets is microscopic (though it happens).

    As a male sex worker I have had multiple experiences with clients who also engage in what is essentially sex tourism in ‘Third World’ countries, especially Thailand and the Philippines but also Bali. Sex tourism, or sexual-assault-mediated-by-money tourism. For obvious reasons these have been men who use their power as relatively rich westerners to exploit these people, overwhelmingly male, often quite young boys. I know of but have had less experience of clients who use sex tourism to do the same with young girls. And over the last few years I have become aware of Australian women going overseas to similarly exploit young guys in impoverished parts of Asia, which it turns out is a surprisingly large economy though still dwarfed by its male equivalent.

    The power/economic differences in these cases makes the nature of the ‘transactions’ clearer, but to me also make clearer that the difference between those cases and say those on the street in Melbourne is one of degree as much as, more than, kind. Quantity doesn’t really become quality here quite often.

    Partial legislation of sex work has not really helped very much, for complex reasons, though I still oppose the criminalisation of sex workers and support any efforts at the self-organisation of workers, for all their limits.

    …I think that these discussions are important and only wish that more sex workers could find ways to create such spaces or participate in debates such as these, which are so directly relevant to our daily lives, to our experiences of violence, gender, class, state power.”

  24. …mind you, I don’t know if this will immediately render everything else he says suspicious even if it -is- okay to hear from a male sex worker:

    >>Partial legislation of sex work has not really helped very much, for complex reasons, though I still oppose the criminalisation of sex workers and support any efforts at the self-organisation of workers, for all their limits.>>

  25. Belle:

    Wow. I have a friend whose story is so similar to that guy’s that for a moment I was convinced it was the same person.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: