You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right…

Ok, so something quite exciting has happened in the world of Sex-Worker rights activism! Well, I think it’s exciting as I’m still very much trying to keep up and catch on with what’s happening.

(I’m a terrible activist. I don’t make clear arguments and have a terrible habit of needing flip-charts and marker pens to make a point rather than lovely, big clever words. If I tried to debate anything, the team I’d be on would just end up with their heads in their hands, and ask me to go and make the tea before quietly apologising to the opposition whilst I’m out the room.)

But allow me to do a basic (and I mean basic) summery of wha’ gwan in the world of Sex-Worker Rights and Why We Need ‘Em.

So, we the so-called ‘happy hookers*’ of this world believe sex workers rights should be debated, decided and discussed with real sex workers. Y’know, the ones who are actually doing the job.

However, some people think it should be decided by ‘Others’. Be they unions, churches, councils, refuges..even people who stand to make more money the more illegal the purchasing or selling of sex becomes. Who’d have thought!

It’s about this time I’m going to start using everyone’s favourite Epic Space Opera to make comparisons (this is the bit where my debate team start rocking in their seats)

Much like when Trade Federation set up a blockade around the peaceful planet of Naboo, the sex-workers of Ireland are being threatened by the same. As we all know, the only reason the blockade was set up was so that Darth Sidious (a.k.a Senator Palpatine, the baddie) could take over as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Boo!

So in the Federation, we have the typical religious anti-sex work companies like Ruhama, and campaigns like Turn Off the Red Light (I’ve linked straight to their ‘who we are’ page so you can see exactly the total lack of actual Sex-Workers they have working with them) who believe that sex-workers who enjoy their work don’t exist. They even say it on their website –

Some argue that prostitution is a harmless, commercial transaction between consenting adults. That women choose to become involved in prostitution and should have the freedom to do so. We refute this.

Well, we do exist. And we’re awesome.

We’re basically Jedis.

We’re the ones you want on your side, and the ones you should be rooting for. I’ve been many things in my life, but Totally Fictional is a new one! Anyone else find it a bit ironic they’ll believe in an omnipotent being controlling their every move who has never actually given any concrete proof of his existence, but there are several escort out there explicitly saying they enjoy their work? No?  (OK, ok… I have no doubt they are doing great work with women who need it, but tarring us all with the same brush isn’t helping. I applaud their work, I really do. Even if they don’t applaud mine. Still, they’re morally obliged to forgive me. It’s in the manual.)

Step in The Rebellion, with campaigns like Turn Off The Blue Light (nice!), several bloggers, columnists, and escorting alumni of note who are using the internet The Force to stand up for Sex-worker rights, real rights, so that they can work in safety. Cos that’s what we want, right? That’s what everyone should want…for sex-workers to be safe. They have the right to not be afraid of pimps, ‘managers’, clients, and especially not the law.

Anyway, the Galactic Senate (i.e – the Irish Justice Committee hearings on prostitution) has been meeting to discuss using the Swedish Model. Sadly, this isn’t a leggy blonde, it means making the purchasing of sex illegal – thus pushing it further underground, making more women reliant on pimps and brothels, harassing clients , and further stigmatising sex-workers. I did a really quick google, and found this document from The Global Centre for Womens Politics, and makes the arguments for and against a lot clearer than I can –

http://www.glow-boell.de/media/de/txt_rubrik_2/160305LLVortrag_Eriksson.pdf (If anyone has any further documentation, please add a link 🙂 But it includes how police had to video not just the purchase, but the actual sex itself. Fucking. Disgraceful. )

Basically, making the purchasing of sex is just not going to help anybody.

Ok, I totally understand that the girls who are being trafficked and used against their will need protection, but this is a blanket law that effects everyone. They need to concentrate more on the helpless victims of sex crimes, not alienate and stigmatise women who work hard to provide a consensual service.

So, you would have thought the Justice Committee would have asked Sex Workers what they think, wouldn’t you?

But no. No they haven’t. You can see all the commentary on what’s been happening through Jedi Sexwork.ie and Jedi Brooke Magnanti who, like many other Sex Workers and activists, have been trying to get the people the senate need to hear from. As it is, only a few of them have gotten through the blockade and their transcripts have been kept private, so no one knows WTF is going on, only that many of the women who need to be heard from, aren’t.

And tonight? It turns out that one of the women – a prostitution ‘survivor’ – has been to the committee on behalf of Ruhama/TORL, and giving her ‘harrowing’ account of being a prostitute (fortunately, she’s got a book out in the spring, so we can all read about it then! Ain’t that lucky?!)

But it turns out she’s been a brothel owner. Twice!

So…can’t have been that bad then, eh?

So it’s been a twitter flurry of Retweets as many brilliant people place the importance of this into a mere 140 characters –

Summing up why this whole hearing is important quite nicely –

False Consciousness@pastachips Er. Exploitative managers *don’t want* decriminalisation, geniuses. D’you think the mafia want to see an end to the War On Drugs?

And on why this is an important discovery –

False Consciousness@pastachips – Let’s be real, this is significant because HYPOCRISY, *not* significant because “brothel-keeping” is a meaningful conviction. IT ISN’T.

Gaye Dalton@mechanima  –There is a bigger problem with her being put before the media and committees with a totally fictional “harrowing life story”!

Banjaxed Brehon@belowcontempt – Great weekend, and now a huge hole in Ruhama/TORL credibility before the Oireachtas Committee.

And finally – please, please read http://sexwork.ie/ for more information if you haven’t clicked already. None of these people are making this kind of fuss for fame and attention, they’re doing it to help others. They’re doing it because they have intelligence, a voice, and they are standing up for people who don’t..or even those people who may just take their rights to work safely and legally for granted. Just like I did, for a very, very long time.

*Urgh, I hate that phrase. There’s no other career choice where you have to put an adjective in front of it to show you’re actually OK with what you do. I’m yet to hear anyone say ‘Hi, I’m a miserable admin assistant’ or ‘I’m a nonchalant retail manager’.

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3 Responses to “You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right…”

  1. Sharrow Says:

    Reblogged this on Activism and Agitation and commented:
    A wonderful take on the Fight for Sex worker’s rights, explained using Star Wars!

  2. Prostitution: Isn’t it about time we stopped blaming the English? | sexwork.ie Says:

    […] were some great responses to Padraig MacLochlainn’s announcement yesterday by sex workers, You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right… and Padraig MacLochlainn makes political decision based on tweets, bullies public, and doesn’t […]

  3. You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right… | Sexworker Blogs Says:

    […] You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right… […]

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