An Open Letter to those who voted No on Prop K

I don’t live in San Francisco. I don’t even live in California. I live in one of those traditionally, until last eve, red states. Republican, moral right, conservative red. I also happen to be a sex worker. Now, where I live? Something even like Prop K on a ballot? Well, that’s like a kid who has long since known the myths of childhood still believing in the tooth fairy. I’d expect a Prop K on my ballot the same way I’d expect a couple bucks under my pillow for a lost molar at age 40. However, even seeing a Prop K? Anywhere? Well, that made me want to believe. It gave me, and countless other sex workers out there, in and out of San Francisco, some sort of hope. It gave us this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, we counted as humans to the rest of you, that we mattered, even just a little bit, to the rest of you.

Those of you who voted no, and those of you who campaigned for others to vote no, and those of you who claim to care about us, make book deals and educational credentials off of us and convinced others to vote no…well, you’ve proven that hope was ill-fated and you do not care, and that no matter what we, actual sex workers, say or do or plead for, we don’t matter, not even a little bit, to you. We don’t count as humans the way you do.

Prop K did not making trafficking legal. Prop K did not make the sexual abuse, rape, or exploitation of minors legal. Those things are and would have remained illegal. Prop K would not have ended sex worker outreach or exit programs. Yet those were the arguments you used to shoot down Prop K. You worried about your precious neighborhoods, which apparently mean more to you than the lives of sex workers and prostituted people. You used the lives and stories of the very people you then threw to the lions to make your case and defeat something that would have meant so much to all of us, even those of us who live in places where things like Prop K are just a fanciful dream.

And what has your no vote done? Well, people: women, men, boys, girls, of all colors, of all sexual orientations, of all ages, cis and transgender, will still be involved in prostitution. In homes, in hotels, in cars, in massage parlors, in alleys, in clubs, everywhere. The sex trade will continue on, just as it always has. Whether there by choice, or by force, or because there are no other options, people of all kinds will still be selling sex, and people will still be buying it. You know it, and I know it. However, thanks to you, when a young woman is raped, when a young man is beaten, when any of these people get cut up, sodomized, violated, abused, mutilated, harassed, tortured or robbed, they will still have no where to go. They will still fear the law; they will still carry, along with the stigma of being a whore, the stigma of being a criminal. Their murders will still be written up with the tag NHI (No Humans Involved). You have not helped these people, why yes, real live human beings with thoughts, dreams and emotions just like you, at all. You’ve only hurt and marginalized them further.

Your exit programs and assistance- for those who even want such things- includes arrests, jail time and criminal records, which are so helpful when trying to find a legitimate job. Your concern includes relegating these people to the shadows, after all, if you don’t see them in your little neighborhoods they don’t exist, right? Your vote has insured these people do not have the same rights and protections that you do; they do not have the same status as human beings as you do. Someone mugs you, beats you, stabs you, rapes you, well, you can go to the police and look for justice. Your no vote makes that a dream, a myth, much like the tooth fairy, for sex workers. So tonight, when a sex worker, when many sex workers, get abused, raped, beaten or robbed and have no place to go, out of fear, out of dehumanization, out of criminalization, I hope you are happy. I hope you are satisfied with yourself. Actually, I hope you have the same kind of nightmares those sex workers have, that is, if they survive. You live in fear for your neighborhoods? We live in fear for our lives, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. Things you people take for granted.

And whom did you listen to when making your decision to vote no? Your pastors? Your politicians? Anti-Prostitution academics? Well, pastors and politicians have wonderful records with staying away from sex workers themselves now, don’t they? Anti-Prostitution academics whore us out for their own reasons and profit from our labor. All of these people make money and build credentials off of us. My question is did you listen to any sex workers? Did you wonder, for a second, what they wanted? What they needed? What they supported? Did you ponder them for a second; do you even care about them at all? Do they even count as humans to you? Your vote says otherwise.

But trust me when I say this, you, who worry about your neighborhoods and vote no and do not care at all…somewhere, sometime, in your life, you know, will know or have known a sex worker, someone who does, or has done, what you’ve decided deserves to remain criminalized. Look around you. We’re out there, and we are no less human or deserving of legal rights than you are.

But also know this: Even all the way out here in that generally red state, I still want to believe. I want to think that maybe one day people will see sex workers of all kinds as people too. We’ll also continue to fight for that, if we have to make you see us as such, then so be it. This fight isn’t over yet.

So, those of you who voted no? Know that. You may not see us when you don’t want to, but we do exist, and we’re not done with this yet. Not by a long shot.

Sincerely-
Renegade Evolution

4 Responses

  1. *claps* And may I add, those who voted no on prop K yet voted for Obama being particularly hypocritical because isn’t his election supposedly symbolic for recognizing the equality of all people? Hmmm.

  2. You said it so well, Ren. On another note, I would like to thank all the voters who voted yes on Prop. K and helped this initiative come close to passing. We only needed 9 more percentage points to get to the 51 percent of votes needed to pass, which is closer than we came in 2004 in Berkeley. Thus, we’re headed in the right direction and I’m confident that we’ll acheive decriminalization if we keep advocating for it and voting for it.

  3. *standing ovation*

  4. Wow!! Thank you!!

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