Sex Workers Against Rape

I’ve been in discussions with other activists, one who came up with this great title “sex workers against rape”. I want to say her name and credit her for the title and the concept but I haven’t heard back yet for permission to quote her name. But the title is not mine. But I’m proud to be part of it.

Rape should not be an occupational hazard. But it is. Sex workers are particularly vulnerable because of social views about women being responsible for male sexuality and it is increased exponentially when the woman happens to be a sex worker because of social stigma of sex workers as asking for it, or putting ourselves in a position for it to happen or all the associated myths.

Here are some facts.

Sex Workers can be raped. Not all are but many of us have been. I was. My distrust of the legal system kept me from pursuing my legal rights when it happened. What happened to the survivor in Judge Deni’s horrible decision is exactly what I feared. What kept me silent. The legal system was as frightening a prospect as the rapist as first you live the rape, then you re-live it over and over in the justice system while every detail is analyzed to attempt to find some way to make it your fault or to prove that you are making it up, embellishing, hate men, or any of a large group of horrible myths. For all intents and purposes there was a significant time frame in my life when I was in fact captive in the sex industry. Where rape was consistent because I could not stop the process. Being a prostitute, I could not go to the police for justice, for freedom. The police are often a series of Judge Deni’s. Even if they are not and you make it to trial, now you face the likelihood of a Judge Deni, of a Jury of Judge Deni’s. I’ll come back to this point below.

In 2005 in a “straight job” as a supervisor with TSA, I was sexually assaulted by a co worker, it was all on videotape, at least until that tape was “lost”, the perp confessed, there was no issue with “what I was wearing” as anyone who has flown in the last 6 years has seen what all TSA “are wearing”. But everything that I feared about the justice system as a sex worker still happened even though this time I wasn’t a sex worker, I had five witnesses, four of which were men, who backed me up both with the employer, with Internal Affairs and in court. I had an attorney. I had 120 page TSA EEOC investigation which backed up my story, I had the determination from Human Resources, which backed me. And what did all of that amount to? Nothing. Because those in power were of the same thought process as Judge Deni. Because I was female I must have done something or have some scheming agenda like advancing my career through reporting and proving being sexually assaulted by a peer. While I was condemned, the powers that be, looked for every way possible to find ways to prove the perp was a “nice guy” and couldn’t possibly have done it. 364 days later after fighting for the entire year, I gave up, because the process simply was too hard, too stacked, too many Judge Deni types. The only possible vindication was horrible as the perp assaulted another female nine months later. Proving my point. But she had to suffer because no one in power wanted to side with the woman. Despite having all the circumstances above in my favor, ultimately I still lost. Having your life, your ethics, your honesty, your actions, all put under a microscope and judged through a lens slanted against you is a horrible experience, which is exacerbated by the Judge Deni’s of the world who want to protect those they view as “good people” and live in the myth that only those that deserve it get sexually assaulted, get raped. The process was horrible and felt like it sucked much of my life away and took a long time to heal from emotionally and I was coming from the perspective of being the “good” girl. How painful and difficult it must be for the sex worker survivor in PA that Deni so horribly denied rights. That she had to go through that process reliving being gang raped, having her story torn apart by the investigators, and with the end result of Judge Deni’s ruling. It is brutally difficult for any woman that has been sexually assaulted to first live through the experience, then try to get justice, but with society feeling that sex workers are the “bad” women, it is only further magnified exponentially.

Sex workers can and are often raped. Sex workers are opposed to rape. We are as vulnerable to it as anyone, we feel as strongly opposed to it as anyone. Because money is exchanged for sex does not change the fact that we do not want to be forced into anything sexually that we do not consent to nor do we want any other woman to.

Supporting sex worker rights is essential to fighting rape. As long as there is a class of women considered “bad” and somehow deserving of rape, all women, sex workers and non sex workers suffer. NO ONE chooses to be raped. The need for society to respect a woman’s right to choose, to consent, or not to as it comes to sex, regardless of how she dresses, what time she is outside, where she is walking, who she is with, and what she does for work, is a social necessity that we all must stand together for. Ending social views that deem some women as bad and deserving of rape is essential.

As long as social stigma against women in sex work and perceptions exist and are accepted in society, any woman deemed to be in the class of a sex worker, is a target, and vulnerable. Only when no class of women is considered acceptable to take sex without consent will we all move forward. We have to do that together.

Sex workers are against rape. Please stand with us in the fight to end violence against women.

11 Responses

  1. Only when no class of women is considered acceptable to take sex without consent will we all move forward.

    As a woman with disabilities, I also belong to a class of women that especially vulnerable to sexual assault. I stand in solidarity with sex workers. They are no more deserving of sexual assault than any other group of women. All violence against women must come to an end.

  2. Jill, I am so sorry to hear about your sexual assault in a legal job.
    As a “radio host” with apparently a sexy voice I have heard it said by men that creepy calls from men are an “occupational hazard” and they laugh at the girls who have been harrased by calls. Its similiar to the attitude, “you are a prostitute/stripper etc, what do you expect?”

  3. Speak it, sister. I am with you.

  4. Hi I’m a sex worker in NYC and a friend recently found my posting on the internet. Instead of calling with concern or offering support, she made this degrading comment like, “I hope you’re not prostituting yourself. You know there are people out there who just want to hurt someone.” This is only the beginning of what I hear every day, though to most people I’m not “out.” Very often women are not supportive or are even more judgemental than men. But either way there’s this mentality like, “she must be crazy or on drugs or stupid” which maybe is the case sometimes but sometimes not. I agree that rape is intolerable but there’s so little solidarity now even among feminists. I gave up going to meetings because it was getting really ugly.

  5. bint, hologirl, whatsername, and lola,

    Thank you for participating last night!

  6. […] because my husband has to work late.  Why am I so adamant to vote you ask.  I am voting because I do not want to ever have a judge think that rape is “theft of service“.  If you are in Philly vote against Judge Deni, no matter what your profession is. If you […]

  7. […] Sex Workers Against Rape […]

  8. First off, I want to apologize for not being able to participate in this protest against this grievous and totally wrongheaded decision; unfortunately, my work schedule got in the way.

    Of course, it should be plainly said that this judge has proven herself to be woefully unfit for her position of authority by her statement that being forced at knife point to engage in sex against your own will — which remains, to most humans with a working brain cell, the ultimate definition of rape — is hardly the equivalent of “denied services”. IT IS RAPE…PURE AND SIMPLE….and no degree of consent or exchange of money can reverse that principle.

    Aside from the imposition of not only the usual anti-sex and anti-sex work stereotyping, though, the angle of race and class privilege cannot be avoided, either. Suffice it to say if the accuser wasn’t poor and Black, would this privileged White woman who sat at her judgement been so dismissive of her pleas for justice even if she wasn’t a sex worker??

    Needless to say, the issues of sex-hating and sex work are not that far removed from the fundamental issues of race and class and economic privilege. As the old saying goes: An injury to one is still an injury to all.

    A job well done, Jill and the rest…and hopefully, the people of Philly will rectify their error and remove this judge….and appoint a real human being to replace her.

    Anthony

  9. Jill, your story about getting sexually assaulted after quitting sex work (in which, as I understand it from your other posts, you were raped?) at another job reminds me of another friend and of the anecdotal pattern that women who have been raped that…rapists look for them. Y’know, in a few years, as this woman is healing up but perhaps not completely ready to fight off a rapist again, I’d been thinking about getting in touch with her through the DA and saying, “By the way, if you want a sense of a do-over or just want this in your life in general, here’s the address of a respectful, caring self-defense course that is both high-quality and affordable (they give up to full scholarships when you need them).”

    Anyway, I might or might not do that, depending on how things seem to be coming along later on in the news cycle, but boy, oh boy…I didn’t even think about the idea, until reading your story, that practice at kicking asses would be specifically new-job-related. The program just seemed like a sort of general thing that I’ve heard about survivors appreciating a few years out past a rape (mostly for the do-over feeling, but in other cases because of future violence aversion).

    Anyway…now that I’ve rambled…I really don’t even have a point.

    Just that you got me thinking & connecting.

    Anyway…over & out.

  10. No person should have to suffer the nightmare of rape. I support all people who have been through that horrible situation.

    I don’t care what your profession is. No one asks to be abused, raped, or attacked.

  11. I so much agree with you. I am not a sex worker but I have been raped at the age of 14 and i agree with you so much. Any woman is met with the same disbelief you described not only sex workers. My heart goes out to you and any other woman in the same situation.

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