Wednesday, 28 January 2015
The launch of, ‘Realising Sex Workers’ Rights in Ireland’, a briefing paper exploring a human rights based approach to supporting people engaged in sex work.
When: 1PM – 2PM, Wednesday 4th February 2015
Where: The Pressroom, Buswells Hotel, 27 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2
Speakers - Kate McGrew - Sex Worker and Activist
Wendy Lyon - Solicitor and Blogger (feministire.com)
Billie - Community Support Project Worker GOSHH (Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV) Limerick
For more information please contact email@example.com
We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.
Sunday, 18 January 2015
This week's blog was intended to be a less than gentle poke at Turn Off the Red Light, or Turn Off the Altar Light as they've become known in better circles. Unfortunately, circumstances have dictated otherwise.
My regular readers will know of my love for Boy Cat, who chose me at the cat rescue centre. For those who didn't read back that far, he was the runt of a litter comprised of himself and three big ginger bruisers, and he chose me, there's no doubt about that. When the centre manager opened the door he came straight to me and I knew he was my boy. We bonded from the offset and I cheered him on as the underdog.
It's safe to say we had our trials and tribulations over the years, I had him for eight years and we went through three house moves, his being locked in a church for five days and then getting a belt of a car/ned and under going emergency surgery to repair a ruptured bladder. I hit the knees that night, and no mistake. I prayed, and he came home, skinny and weak, but home.
Thereafter, he developed a habit of doing a disappearing act, from my new property. In the beginning, it was for two days max, and he would stroll in, so I was of the opinion that he had a second home where he was meowing loudly at the back door, not unusual for Tom cats. In the run up to Christmas, he did a bunk again, but this was long term. I knew something was wrong, but I really didn't know what to do. I spoke to all of my neighbours and asked people to keep an eye out for him. He had gone missing with a beautiful black sparkly collar and spotted bow tie, so I felt that at least he would be instantly recognisable.
Come the new year, there was still no sign of him and I knew something was badly amiss. I contacted a local cat rescue project to find that a black and white cat had indeed been found in an awful state and brought in by the SSPCA, to an emergency vets. I'm going to spare you a lot of the gory details, he suffered a terrible death. What I can tell you, is that he got his front paw stuck underneath his collar and as a result basically starved. The SSPCA battled through the night to save him, but he was so badly injured that it was decided it was better to put him to sleep.
I went to identify him on Friday, an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. It was very difficult, he had horrific injuries. But at least he looked at peace and I got to say goodbye. I will always miss him, he was my friend and comfort, and I know he loved me with ferocity too. I'm okay that he died, he's at peace. I can't bear that he suffered, he must have been so frightened.
The reason I shared this is not to evoke sympathy, it's to implore you - if you have a cat and they go outdoors, please DO NOT put a collar on them. Even the collars with a so called emergency release, useless. By all means, microchip them but collars? NEVER.
A very heartbroken,
P.S : Note to abolitionists - please do not take a period of grieving as an opportunity to try it on, I'll still nail you to the wall. Twice.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
If you follow me on Twitter or read this here blog from time to time, you'll know, the one thing I cannot abide is bad data. Sometimes it's down to sheer laziness, but in the majority of cases, it's a very deliberate misrepresentation by those who would further demonise the industry I know so well, usually for profit/funding. From the sublime to the ridiculous, one of my recent favourites was that there are at any given time, over 80 victims of trafficking in Galway. Not only that, but there are 20 men per day queuing up to have sex with women who are of course, chained to radiators. I can find many reasons to hold the Irish Alpha male in utter contempt, but actively pursuing victims of trafficking and in those numbers ? Not buying it. Antis can demonise the average client all they wish, but I'm certain that out of 20, several would have blown the whistle.
For a shining example of dodgy statistics, allow me to introduce Object. On their website they cite the The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), as saying "the sexualisation of women in the media ... is a 'conducive context' for violence against women" which they want to see an end to. I can't quite marry that statement with the recent demonstrations Object have had outside strip clubs, during which they are alleged to have spat on the strippers entering the premises. Yes, I said they were spitting on them, apparently this is how we end violence against women. Further, here is a video taken at such a recent demonstration, in which Object and their supporters call the men entering strip clubs scum, losers, wankers and rapists. At the end of the video is Roz Hardie, CEO of Object.
I had the good fortune to meet Roz at a recent speaking event in Carlisle and she sat and watched me take Object's statistics apart. I have one of their "fact" sheets from that event (pictured) which contains some statistical beauties -
- "75% of women became involved when they were children." That has been debunked so many times it's laughable. It is a statistic based on a study of street based sex workers, ALL of whom were underage on entering. Aside from that, street sex work represents about 12% of the overall industry so that statistic is, I'm afraid, hogwash. See also, this resource.
- "9 out of 10 women would exit if they could." Funnily enough, if you interview women for your "study" ALL of whom are already part of an exit program, that's not quite so compelling.
- "In Sweden there has been a significant reduction in prostitution." Huh ? There was an initial fall in on street prostitution but the number of massage parlours in Stockholm doubled.
- "The law in Sweden is working." Now you're just being silly. Have a read of this account straight from a Swedish sex worker.
I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. No-one denies that abuses happen in the industry, as they do in every industry, but it's really not helpful to finding a real solution (psssst....decriminalisation) to grossly misrepresent such important data for your own agenda. As sex workers and also as campaigners, we get very frustrated, and understandably so. I get emails all the time from sex workers saying - "What they're saying is rubbish ! I've been doing this for years, I wish I could come out and speak with you." I wish you could too, but wouldn't ask that of anyone, there is a very high price to be paid when you tackle NGO's where it hurts, their pockets.
As a big fan of Twitter, and on a day when I really needed a good laugh, (I had just finished reading a press release from Doras Luimní) a hashtag #sexworkstats started. Sex workers around the world used the opportunity to poke fun at the abolitionist method of scare mongering with stats. Below I have listed some of my favourites, the sense of solidarity was badly needed and the sense of humour in our community was never more apparent. Enjoy.
97% of statistics used against sex work are ficticious. The other 3% are privileged and unrepresentative. #sexworkstats
100% of pro-dommes report that "I want to do whatever you want to do, mistress" doesn't mean what you think it means.
100% of sex workers failed to realise they'd sold their bodies & continued to use them afterwards. #sexworkstats
76% of escorts state their favoured position as doggy style, so they can pretend it's George Clooney. #sexworkstats
97% of escorts try to make the other escort laugh during threesomes. #sexworkstats
84% of sex workers have at least one cat. 5% of the cats reported being awake when a client was present. #sexworkstats
5% of sex workers do not own a cat, we dont talk about them #sexworkstats
Only 17% of girls growing up with a pony became sexworkers. As opposed to 78% of girls growing up owning cats. #sexworkstats
Study proves that a history of engaging in prostitution leads most women to later having a sandwich for lunch. #sexworkstats
99% of men think they'd be great at sex work. They'd be wrong. #sexworkstats
73% of #sexworkstats are made up. The other 38% are impossible.
#sexworkstats Jenga 54% is the most popular game among sex workers followed by twister 17%
87% of 2028's sex workers will enter sex work because their parents let them stay up and watch Game of Thrones. #sexworkstats
Friday, 2 January 2015
In the debate about sex work, people constantly bring up the question whether or not someone can ‘choose’ to do sex work. Radical feminists and other abolitionists argue that no one would ever choose to sell sexual services; and that people (or rather: women, as abolitionists tend to ignore male and transgender sex workers) are ‘forced’ to sell sex because of whatever their life circumstances are. The opposing view would be to say that it is (usually) sex workers’ ‘free/rational choice’ to engage in sex work.
I would like to pose the following question to escorts/sex workers:
Do you feel that becoming an escort was a ‘choice’ you made? Why/why not? Were there alternatives, and if so, what kinds of alternatives? If you feel that it was a choice, what led you to make this decision? If you felt that it wasn’t really a choice, what was it that led you to sell sex in the first place?
And I would also like to ask: do you feel that other people (family members etc.) who are not sex workers had more (or less) of a choice regarding how to make a living and feel less ‘forced’ (or more forced!) to do what they are doing?
A bit about me: I am a researcher and supporter of sex worker rights (and opponent of the criminalisation of clients). You may have read about the piece of research we did in 2014 – the study on sex work funded by the Northern Irish Department of Justice (which, by the way, is available here.
I am currently writing a critical academic article about the idea of ‘choice’ in relation to sex work and would like to include the views of sex workers (and clients, if they want to comment) in the article. As always, I will not use people’s names or aliases nor will I include any information that allows readers to identify the people cited. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org