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the importance of having your experience counted

Posted 5/18/2012 at 5:49:25 PM

The conflation of consensual sexual labor with human trafficking is exactly why more conversations and information needs to be shared.  If we stay silent, others speak for us.  This is why I have shifted my focus to activism, writing and public speaking.  

Contrary to what some may think-from the typical salacious news reporting (certainly most of it is not worthy of being called journalism...), people do listen, and can differentiate, between the various perspectives and experiences of those that work in the sex trades.  I currently sit on a human trafficking coalition, and have found people to be quite open to hearing what I have to include in the conversation.  My input has been influential in stopping a proposal for a city ordinance requiring dancers and other adult entertainers to get a license to work, as well as our coalition refusing to sign on to a letter pressuring Backpage to shut it's adult classified section.  Part of those successes have been because I work with an amazing, forward thinking group of people that are focused on helping those that are exploited, NOT a moral agenda.  Many anti-trafficking groups are using the hot button issue of HT to push their own morals though, including (as if you fellas haven't felt/seen this already...) the vilification of male sexuality.  As this issue continues to get attention, the picture painted of clients is one of co-conspirator in the trafficking game, one that is as true as saying that all persons working in the sex trades are being trafficked.  

Workers have been organizing around civil, labor, and human rights for the sex industry for years, but clients and consumers have been absent from much of this conversation.  We are at a critical time when those that are on the purchasing end can either get involved, or suffer the consequences of that silence.  I know that there are men out there that think about this issues, and are mindful in their choices, but I know there are a number of men out there that prefer not to think about it...or think it isn't a relevant issue for "them".  The campaigns we create will aim to increase the conversations across the board.

What and how will we disseminate that information?  The same way anything else gets shared in our communities, and through many of the same channels.  Message boards, social networking, YouTube, etc.  We have already created one PSA about the importance of including sex workers and sex workers rights groups in the anti-trafficking efforts, and I'm sure we will create one (or more) regarding consumer awareness.  

As it stands, we are getting ready to launch an anonymous survey about awareness and reporting of human trafficking for all the sex trades (porn, strip clubs, escorts, BDSM, tantra, phone sex, adult modeling, etc....), and this will include the workers themselves, management and owners that make decisions/hire/fire employees, supplemental staff-drivers/bouncers/waitresses/etc., and consumers/clients.  After that data is gathered, we will be creating industry standard protocols for awareness and reporting, and possibly creating our own reporting hotline that is insulated from government and LE entanglements.  We will of course announce that survey through proper channels here, social networks, etc. and it will be important for as many people to weigh in on that survey as possible.  So that is one thing you can do...

The other is that we need more clients telling their stories about how and why they hire sexual labor. Workers or ex-workers can tell second hand accounts about what clients tell us, but it's not the same as clients coming forward and speaking for themselves.  Yes, yes...discretion...yes...  How can you share that information without compromising your own livelihood?  If you want to tell your story, contact me...we can brainstorm ideas on how you can get your perspectives out there while also protecting yourself and your home life.        

Anti-trafficking groups are looking to shift the penalties to the consumers, thinking that if they increase the risk, that business will drop and trafficking will end.  This hugely flawed theory shows the lack of understanding about what creates human trafficking (people in vulnerable positions, usually at the margins of society), and the real reasons behind why people choose to buy and sell sexual labor.  

While this latest Safe Harbor bill is not aimed at all consumers, only consumers of trafficked and underage, but how long will it be before the next bill is introduced?  Our input, those that are working, have worked or hire workers can help shape those future events if we keep pushing to have our input included.  I know not everyone can do that directly, but there are ways to do things indirectly, even if it's just giving donations to sex workers rights groups...

In solidarity,


ps-I did not proof read for grammar, etc.  Hopefully this all makes sense as I have to get to some other tasks...



Posted By: zguy8
I applaud your efforts Megan - but I'm curious. How exactly are you trying to get real information out in this polictcally charged atmosphere? Politically correct liberals seem to be just as adamant as conservative religious puritans on this issue. Both equate human trafficking with prostitution and want nothing less than to "stamp out the scourge". In Ohio, even lap dances in strip clubs are legally defined to be prostitution. I find almost no one even wants to discuss any distinctions. Tough environment for a consumer awareness campaign. So tell us, if you will, what you're doing and what you think any of us can do.


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