The campaign against Meghan Murphy

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Sineed
The campaign against Meghan Murphy

Quote:
We are feminists, grassroots community groups and organizations that support intersectional feminism. We are concerned about your ongoing relationship with Meghan Murphy as one of your editors. Murphy has been publishing material that dehumanizes and disrespects women with different experiences and perspectives than hers for many years, in particular Black women, women in the sex industry and trans women. By allowing Murphy to continue as an editor at Rabble.ca you are giving a platform to her hate and we are writing to demand that you end your association with her as editor and columnist.

http://shamelessmag.com/blog/entry/an-open-letter-to-the-editors-of-rabb...

The rebuttal:

Quote:

A small cohort of neoliberal organizations are attempting to silence and/or end Meghan Murphy's employment with Rabble. They've created a petition that reads more like a tantrum. This small group of people think it's appropriate to silence any woman's voice that doesn't march lock step in line with their opinions and politics. In their petition they've given no adequate reasons nor evidence as to why Murphy should be fired/restricted in her writing.

Meghan Murphy is a brilliant writer and gives voice to many in the feminist community, especially the lesbian community.

https://www.change.org/p/rabble-ca-we-need-meghan-murphy-2?recruiter=131...

 

6079_Smith_W

Jesus.

I don't know about "neoliberal" but what an embarrassment to read. 

Whether there is a valid criticism there or not, how does anyone help their cause by trying to force someone else to shut up? They have their own magazine. Why are they trying to tell rabble what to do with theirs?

 

 

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:

They have their own magazine. Why are they trying to tell rabble what to do with theirs?

If you read it, they address that question in the link.

And Shameless is just one of the signatories. The letter/[url=https://www.change.org/p/rabble-ca-we-demand-that-rabble-ca-end-your-ass... comes from:

ASTT(e)Q : Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec, Black Lives Matter — Toronto, Butterfly (Migrant and Asian Sex Workers), Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, No More Silence, PACE Society, PIECE Edmonton, Sex Professionals of Canada, Shameless magazine, Southwest Ontario Sex Workers, Stella, L’Amie de Maimie, STRUT, Toronto Migrant Sex Worker Project, TransPride Toronto, Winnipeg Working Group for Sex Workers’ Rights

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I need to frame this post by saying that I'm a supporter of the decriminlization/harm reduction approach to sex work. While I would prefer women to not engage in sex work, and I want all women to have options besides sex work, I also realize that sex work will continue to exist at least as long as the capitalist economic model runs our society. We therefore have to focus on finding ways for women to safely practise sex work.

Now the left often spends far too much time attacking other segments of the left, and not enough time going after those who hold political, economic and social power in our society. In most cases, the differences over which left groups and individuals attack one another pale in comparison to our shared values, and our shared differences with those who wield political, economic and social power in our society.

Although Shamelessmag has a different view than Meghan Murphy on the prostitution issue (among other issues), their campaign to have Meghan Murphy removed from her position as a contributing editor at rabble appears to be an example of segments of the left spenfding too much time attacking other segments of the left. Shamelessmag's energy would be better spent going after those in power who support the criminalization of sex work.

Which is not to say that I'm entirely sympathetic to Meghan Murphy's situation in being on the receiving end of Shamelessmag's petition. Meghan Murphy is no stranger to conflict with other left organizations on the prostitution issue. As an example, in june 2014, Ricochet published the following article by Clay Nikiforuk:

[url=https://ricochet.media/en/9/listen-to-sex-workers-kill-bill-c-36]Listen to sex workers, kill Bill C-36[/url]

Quote:
To the despair, but not surprise, of many academics, activists, allies and sex workers, Bill C-36 proposes a criminalization of sex work that is as wide-ranging as it is vaguely worded. It seeks to criminalize sex workers’ clients at the expense of sex worker safety, to criminalize communication in public (where a minor could reasonably be expected to be present) rather than institute reasonable reforms and to criminalize online advertisements instead of creating a safe workplace for sex workers.

The bill includes these measures not because it will make sex work disappear, improve working conditions, reduce harm or encourage exiting; sex workers know first-hand that criminalization of any kind cannot make good on those claims.

In response, Meghan Murphy published the following attack on Ricochet:

[url=http://feministcurrent.com/9172/why-i-wont-be-supporting-canadas-next-to... I won’t be supporting Canada’s Next Top Progressive Startup, Ricochet[/url]

Quote:
When I asked myself, with regard to Ricochet, “what about the women,” I found the answer just a few days later. They had brought on women as contributors and editors. But the founders and the editorial board appeared to have chosen feminists who were overtly biased in terms of the prostitution debate. I could tell where this was going and my heart sunk. Our brand spanking new lefty media platform that promised to change the landscape of Canadian media with all it’s radicalism and progressive values had already taken a position on women and the sex industry and, disappointingly, it was a neoliberal one. It appeared as though they would be taking a position in favour of legalizing or fully decriminalizing prostitution — a position that leaves women in the hands of the market, their equality, dignity, and survival to be dictated by supply and demand, and is rooted in individualistic notions of “free choice” and personal empowerment instead of social, political, and economic equality.

Meghan Murphy has every right to disagree with Clay Nikiforuk's position on sex work, and to decide not to support Ricochet as a result of threir support for Clay's position; but to claim that Ricochet is a "neoliberal" publication because it supports the harm reduction/decriminalization model of sex work is ultraleftism.

onlinediscountanvils

Left Turn wrote:

Although Shamelessmag has a different view than Meghan Murphy on the prostitution issue (among other issues), their campaign to have Meghan Murphy removed from her position as a contributing editor at rabble appears to be an example of segments of the left spenfding too much time attacking other segments of the left. Shamelessmag's energy would be better spent going after those in power who support the criminalization of sex work.

 

Again, it's not Shameless' campaign. This call is coming from a bunch of organizations. And it's reductive to position it as just a disagreement over sex work. I'll let their letter speak for itself, but clearly there is more to their critique of Murphy than just her position on sex work.

lagatta

I don't support C-36, but I think denying the harm the prostitution industry does to vulnerable women, transpeople and others who are poor, desperate, often racialized or from violent or incestuous housholds is neoliberal in the extreme. I've seen this up close, and people close to me have been caught up in it.

Yes, of course there are some sex workers who seem to be happy in their choice. There have always been courtesans.

I don't agree with everything Meghan says, but I do agree with the core of her critique of the prostitution industry as something that harms women. It has been the mainstream feminist view for a very long time. And I think attempts to silence her are despicable.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

lagatta wrote:
I don't support C-36, but I think denying the harm the prostitution industry does to vulnerable women, transpeople and others who are poor, desperate, often racialized or from violent or incestuous housholds is neoliberal in the extreme. I've seen this up close, and people close to me have been caught up in it.

Yes, of course there are some sex workers who seem to be happy in their choice. There have always been courtesans.

I don't agree with everything Meghan says, but I do agree with the core of her critique of the prostitution industry as something that harms women. It has been the mainstream feminist view for a very long time. And I think attempts to silence her are despicable.

The energy being spent trying to silence Meghan Murphy could better be spent elsewhere. That's part of my point.

What I find despicable is Meghan Murphy's attacks on those who support decriminalization from a harm reduction standpoint. Namely because I disagree with the idea peddled by Meghan Murphy and others of her ilk that all prostitution = rape.

The financial transaction that makes sex prostitution does not preclude the presence of consent, and it's the absence of consent that turns sex into rape.

Of course the harm that prostitution does to vulnerable women, trans women, and other poor and oppressed groups does needs to be addressed. There are solutions to that, not that I have all the answers as to what those solutions are.  Though what Meghan Murphy argues is that prostitution harms all women who engage in it, which prevents an honest discussion of harm reduction since criminalization then gets presented as the only solution.

Sineed

Whatever your stance on Murphy's positions, the real problem that I see here is the growing belief that no-platforming people with whom you disagree is acceptable because mere dissent constitutes an "attack." In modern identity politics/neoliberal activism, everybody's identity is sacrosanct, and disagreeing with somebody is now regarded as a failure to validate their identity or an attempt to "erase" them.

I agree that the abolitionist stance frequently fails to take into account the safety of sex workers. But I also have a problem with the lack of critical thinking that appears to go into modern "choice" feminism. When I was a young woman, "choice" was about women having agency over our own bodies and not get thrown in jail for exercising our reproductive rights. These days, "choice" has been untethered from any sort of critical analysis and degraded to be a synonym for personal freedom. So becoming a sex worker is just another "choice" a woman might make without any critical analysis of what factors (ie, severe economic need) that went into that choice.

6079_Smith_W

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

If you read it, they address that question in the link.

I did read it. All of it. And I have read Meghan's articles.

I don't care who is saying it; they have their own voices is my point. I think both sides have a valid position in some things, but as for a question of who is right, it really comes down to your own perspective, because there IS a strong difference of opinion on this. It seems to me that a productive step would be to recognize that. They want to criticize her? Fine. I agree with some of that criticism. But putting the focus on her rather than her ideas, and telling others they should fire her is none of their business.

I don't believe the old maxim that if your ideas requre imposition by force they are worthless, but a stunt like this sure is an embarrassment to any worth they might have. You don't build consensus or bridge differences by assuming people can't handle challenging opinions and are too sensitive to make up their minds for themselves.

6079_Smith_W

I hear you, but if there is only one choice then it is no choice at all

And it is not as simple as "becoming a sex worker". One might not agree with all those positions, but for some people they are just as well thought-out, and have just as much of a foundation as abolition. It is not true that it is just throwing the doors open.

I'd say the best we can do - as in all political issues - is to urge people to THINK about their choices. As for what they decide (and I don't mean forced choices), that is up to them and we have to deal with it.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

If you read it, they address that question in the link.

I did read it. All of it.

Cool. Then you must have read their reasoning.

Pondering

Left Turn wrote:

In response, Meghan Murphy published the following attack on Ricochet:

[url=http://feministcurrent.com/9172/why-i-wont-be-supporting-canadas-next-to... I won’t be supporting Canada’s Next Top Progressive Startup, Ricochet[/url]

Quote:
When I asked myself, with regard to Ricochet, “what about the women,” I found the answer just a few days later. They had brought on women as contributors and editors. But the founders and the editorial board appeared to have chosen feminists who were overtly biased in terms of the prostitution debate. I could tell where this was going and my heart sunk. Our brand spanking new lefty media platform that promised to change the landscape of Canadian media with all it’s radicalism and progressive values had already taken a position on women and the sex industry and, disappointingly, it was a neoliberal one. It appeared as though they would be taking a position in favour of legalizing or fully decriminalizing prostitution — a position that leaves women in the hands of the market, their equality, dignity, and survival to be dictated by supply and demand, and is rooted in individualistic notions of “free choice” and personal empowerment instead of social, political, and economic equality.

Meghan Murphy has every right to disagree with Clay Nikiforuk's position on sex work, and to decide not to support Ricochet as a result of threir support for Clay's position; but to claim that Ricochet is a "neoliberal" publication because it supports the harm reduction/decriminalization model of sex work is ultraleftism.

How can you quote and misrepresent Meghan Murphy at the same time?  Reread what she said. She did not claim that Ricochet is a neoliberal publication.  She said their position on women and the sex industry is neoliberal.

The pro-prostitution lobby ignores is the expotential expansion of the industry under legalization which means many more women are exposed to its harms.

The "progressive" embrace of the commodification of female sexuality and objectification, in my opinion, is a major reason that the "progressive" community is dominated by men. That some progressive women agree with the legitimization of prostitution as a profession doesn't make it progressive. 

6079_Smith_W

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

Cool. Then you must have read their reasoning.

Yup. I read that too.

quizzical

lagatta wrote:
I don't support C-36, but I think denying the harm the prostitution industry does to vulnerable women, transpeople and others who are poor, desperate, often racialized or from violent or incestuous housholds is neoliberal in the extreme. I've seen this up close, and people close to me have been caught up in it.

Yes, of course there are some sex workers who seem to be happy in their choice. There have always been courtesans.

I don't agree with everything Meghan says, but I do agree with the core of her critique of the prostitution industry as something that harms women. It has been the mainstream feminist view for a very long time. And I think attempts to silence her are despicable.

it is beyond dispicable and moving right into trying to destroy someone's life and a breach of human rights all because they don't agree with you,

jas

On ‘corporate feminism’ and the appropriation of the women’s movement

Berlatsky and Playboy believe that equality will be achieved through fuckability. Yet a quick look through history shows that the sexualization and commodification of women’s bodies has never resulted in liberation from patriarchy — not for marginalized women, not for privileged women, not for anyone. As a number of Indigenous activists have pointed out, European men were the first to prostitute Indigenous women, here in Canada, as part of their colonization efforts. They also married and impregnated many of those women and girls. Certainly, the willingness of those men to sexualize the bodies of Indigenous women did not result in their liberation.

Sineed

Thanks Jas :)

From the article by Murphy, linked to by Jas in post # 14:

Meghan Murphy wrote:
She insists...that there is a history of “transphobia” and “racism” in my work, but is unable to point to a single example.

The attacks on Murphy are typically like that, with many ad hominem slurs but no actual quotes or attempts to rebut her points. It's the tactics of bullies who lack the intellect to engage her rhetorically, so they instead smear her with their lies.

Unionist

Just out of my ignorance - can someone tell me where Meghan Murphy stands on decriminalization? Preferably something in between direct quotes and with a link.

 

susan davis

Sineed wrote:

Thanks Jas :)

From the article by Murphy, linked to by Jas in post # 14:

Meghan Murphy wrote:
She insists...that there is a history of “transphobia” and “racism” in my work, but is unable to point to a single example.

The attacks on Murphy are typically like that, with many ad hominem slurs but no actual quotes or attempts to rebut her points. It's the tactics of bullies who lack the intellect to engage her rhetorically, so they instead smear her with their lies.

 

there were plenty of quotes and links to examples....its one thing to have an opinion but entirely another to mis represent those in opposition to your ideology and to ignore the facts and true research on this issue....never mind ignoring the voices of those one pretenses to "save".....

i have long tried to point out the harm caused by people wrting about this issue and who ignore the real issues....this kind of writing lead to the passing of C-36 - and unfolding disaster for our community - yes the harms are visible and real already - 

we have every right to challenge those who would undermine our lives and safety and who diminish our voices by lableing us the 
pro- prostitution lobby or pro- pimp lobby - or unregulated ejaculation responses profiteer -

we have every right to try to no platform her as well...she is actively trying to do it to us - yes, we shouldn't stoop to her level - but at what point do we say enough is enough? at what point are journalistic ethics a priority? why should we stand by while she strips of our voice and crediblilty?

i think the shear number of sex workers represented by the signing organizations should speak for itself.

murphy does not represent sex workers nor does she represent their voice. she is not some saviour who writes for the betterment of women, she is writing for her own personal goal of abolition of prostitution no matter what actual sex working people say.

why are people surprised this attempt is being made? why do people feel sex workers shouldn't try to hold her accountable?

it is not a "trend" to attempt to no platform those who would spread myths about our lives.

it is our last resort. we have to try to hold those who misrepresent us accountable for the damage they cause to our lives.

susan davis

Unionist wrote:

Just out of my ignorance - can someone tell me where Meghan Murphy stands on decriminalization? Preferably something in between direct quotes and with a link.

 

she is an abolitionist, she is against decriminalization.

6079_Smith_W

Without getting into who offended whom, or  who is right, my guess is that abolition is actually the more fringe position.

Correct me if I am wrong, but harm reduction has far more broad support both politically and legally, no? So while none of this is an excuse to ask for people to be fired for their opinions, it is worth considering when we want to look at whose opinion is most likely to be heard, and who is at risk of being silenced.

susan davis

no i would disagree. while they maybe the minority or fringe position, their ranks are made up of many who have real political sway and who have the ability to directly impact how the fight for sex worker safety proceeds...a la C-36.

even though the facts and legitimate research is on our side, even though prohibition has never worked for anyone, even though denying the voices of those directly impacted has never resulted in anything but harm ....

it seems the government hears only from the fringe groups who promote this idea as a solution.

it is because of this kind of writing that these laws and new policies have been implemented. it is because they have provided the government ways to ignore the voices of actually sex working people ( we're all victims or the "priviledged" few or working for the rights of pimps so we don't matter) that they are able to ignore the facts and evidence.

they have the only voice being heard and instead of working together to find ways to fight violence and aginst sex workers and end human trafficking, they have thrown us under the bus.

we have every right to fight them and to try to find ways to ensure people understand that as you said, "they" are the fringes and an ideolistic few, who do not care about sex working people or our safety.

its hard to sit back and hear the same rhetoric spewed over and over with no reprecussions for those who promote nyth as fact. instead they are defended and held up as fighting the good fight.

how should that make us feel about ....rabble for example? where is the accountability?

onlinediscountanvils

Unionist wrote:

Just out of my ignorance - can someone tell me where Meghan Murphy stands on decriminalization? Preferably something in between direct quotes and with a link.

 

They're not hard to find, but here are a couple of examples.

Meghan Murphy wrote:
Under the decriminalization model, those women who are engaged in survival sex work are left to fend for themselves. These aren‟t the women who will be in your supposedly “safe” brothels and these women are not the high-class escorts beloved by Hollywood movies. These women are not the women you talk about when you talk about women making an “empowered choice” to do sex work.

[...]Decriminalization is the dream of those who have given up.

http://feministcurrent.com/4346/who-does-decriminalization-leave-out/

 

Meghan Murphy wrote:
“VSAC unanimously agreed to support the decriminalization of sex work. We therefore oppose Bill C-36, as it further criminalizes the sex work industry.”

This position is defended on the basis that, according to the statement, “criminalization of any aspect of the adult sex industry will have a negative impact on the safety of sex workers.”

There is nothing attached to this claim to support it, so I’m not sure how, exactly, the organization came to such a conclusion. It seems to me, rather, that the legalization of the industry has been extremely harmful to women and girls, in general, and we have yet to see any real evidence that criminalizing johns has had “a negative impact on the safety of sex workers.”

[...]So I am a little baffled and disappointed to see VSAC taking a position that strikes me as both misguided and misrepresentative

http://feministcurrent.com/9502/the-victoria-sexual-assault-centre-takes...

Unionist

Susan - I try to be an ally, and I am unconditionally opposed to criminalization of sex work, as I hope I've demonstrated over the years. But if the left, and more particularly feminism, has no room for those voices who sincerely believe that "prostitution" equals subjugation and commodification of women, while still sincerely supporting harm reduction, and so on - to the point where such voices must be banned from rabble.ca? I don't think I can follow you that far.

ETA: Thanks, oda. Without pretending to know the statistics and experience of various other countries, I still could never support Meghan Murphy's advocacy of Harper's anti-women legislation under the guise of protecting vulnerable women.

But banning Meghan Murphy from a progressive publication on that ground? Or because of something she said about a trans woman of colour? I don't think I'll ever be there. That's not a way to conduct discourse among progressive people looking for solutions to problems that the movement hasn't yet come to a conclusion about.

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Unionist wrote:
Susan - I try to be an ally, and I am unconditionally opposed to criminalization of sex work, as I hope I've demonstrated over the years. But if the left, and more particularly feminism, has no room for those voices who sincerely believe that "prostitution" equals subjugation and commodification of women, while still sincerely supporting harm reduction, and so on - to the point where such voices must be banned from rabble.ca? I don't think I can follow you that far.

ETA: Thanks, oda. Without pretending to know the statistics and experience of various other countries, I still could never support Meghan Murphy's advocacy of Harper's anti-women legislation under the guise of protecting vulnerable women.

But banning Meghan Murphy from a progressive publication on that ground? Or because of something she said about a trans woman of colour? I don't think I'll ever be there. That's not a way to conduct discourse among progressive people looking for solutions to problems that the movement hasn't yet come to a conclusion about.

+1

susan davis

i also do not support silencing people but i do expect people to act and write ethically especially when a well known writer.

perhaps if rabble had edited her articles and held her to account for posting the sort of subtle and sometimes overt lies about decrim supporters, out motivations, or the actual outcomes i new zealand or the actual age of entry inprostitution or the true numbers for any number of mis quotes or mis interpretations she has promoted through the years....

we wouldn't feel we have no other alternative but to draw attention to and try to stop her behaviour and the lack of responsibility taken by those who give her a platform.

and i am unclear about which movement you speak...

the sex workers rights movement most certainly have come to a conclusion, we know what we need and the ways in which we can best work to stbilize our lives and safety. the opinions of outsiders are mute. 

the conclusion has been made, its been made for awhile.

the only reason feminists are divided is because there continues to be confusions about the truth of our lives as a result of the spreading of mis information by people like meghan.

we have reached out to abolitionists over and over, we have asked for middle ground to work together....what do we get for our efforts?as you can see....dismissal, exclusion, misrepresentation and liable.

i understand that people who are unaffaected maybe still trying to decide what's best for us....but perpetuating myths about us does nothing to further us coming to some understanding and respect for aLL sides. 

what meghan is doing has nothing to do with that nor has she evcer come across to try to understand our position or ever considered making space for sex workers voices in her work. the rules for posting on rabble are explicit about using bullying or oppressive language in the comments section....well....why does that not apply to blog posts? why is she allowed to do it? unchecked and without any accountability?

its one thing to hold an opinion and voice it, its another thing to work against a distincct group of people in their fight for rights and to be dishonest in doing it.

Sineed

Susan Davis wrote:
It is because of this kind of writing that these laws and new policies have been implemented.

Susan, I believe that both you and Meghan have the safety of girls and women paramount, though you vehemently disagree over how to get there. But saying that the Harper government makes its policies on the basis of the writings of radical feminists strains credibility. I think you can agree that the Conservatives are more likely to be motivated by a socially conservative ethos.

I am personally on the fence on the issue of criminalization of sex work. As an addictions worker, I see women forced into prostitution by the need to pay for their drugs. And on the other hand, I have read many of Susan's posts here on babble over the years, and her perspective is thoughtful and knowlegeable. I don't know what the answer is, and if decriminalization would really prevent tragedies such as the disappearance of aboriginal women or the events on the pig farm. Sex workers in all jurisdictions worldwide for time immemorial have always attracted psychopathic predator males. I don't know if any legal framework can solve that problem.

On a progressive board, surely we can all agree that totally free choice can only occur when people are totally free from oppression. Supporting women's choices without any sort of class analysis isn't why I am a feminist.

Male violence is the problem. Attacking and attempting to silence radical feminist voices isn't the solution.

Gloria Steinem famously said that women grow more radical with age. After thirty-odd years of being a rather wishy-washy feminist, I find this recent trend of no-platforming radical feminists is making me into a radical.

susan davis

who do you think fed joy smith the champion of this bill her information on sex work? people like meghan, benjamin perrin, raymond and farely....if you don't think this kind of writing is why they passed the bill perhaps you should think again....

and please, leave my credibility out of it.

its not a trend....i am 47 years old and by no means a wishy washy feminist. i stand up to those who play outside the rules and who constantly act as if somehow their cause justifies their means for attaining it. 

if people were promoting the idea that to be tough on crime we should card all young black males who look like gangsters and there was a blog supporting that....what would you say...especially if they kept trotting out statistics about the black community labeling them victims and criminals...

would we defend that writers right to hold that opinion of the black community? would we challenge them ? would we defend them saying people are undecided so we should allow that opiion to stand...

i think its terribly dismissive to label this action taken by the sex working community as some "trend"....we are not a pair of shoes or a tweet...we are a community...fighting the tolerance of discrimination against our community and what many of us view as hate speech against sex workers....

 

what would you do...?

 

susan davis

she is not a radical feminist...nothing she says is new or revolutionary...instead it smacks of victorian values and the  same old exclusion by some women of other women as has been seen throughout the history of feminism in north america...

 

you want radical?

how about sex workers speaking for themselves and how about thinking beyond the era of exclusion....

why not embrace the fact that we have rights and are people who deserve to self determine like everyone else...

lagatta

susan, you are really being a bully. You even have your own forum here. 

susan davis

yeah, where people are posting the same things......i am not being a bully....give me a break...i am a feminist and a woman so why can i not post here? you do not get to decide what is feminist lagatta

lagatta

Neither do you. And I'm not trying to take away someone's rabble gig, or your sex workers' board.

Nobody was saying you couldn't post here, certainly not me. But in this thread you are bullying.

hookstrapped

If bedfellows count for anything -- and in the real world where policies are formulated and legislation is advanced, it counts for a lot -- it's much more accurate to consider Meghan Murphy akin to Conservative and Christian fundamentalist views than it is to consider sex worker rights advocates' neoliberal.

Pondering

Sex workers do speak for themselves. Their perspective has been expressed in every major newspaper across the country and then some.

What sex workers don't get to do is silence everyone else.

When people consider an industry damaging it is valid for them to speak against it.

No one has a right to work in a particular industry or to develop a particular industry. It is not a human right.

 

Sineed

hookstrapped wrote:

If bedfellows count for anything -- and in the real world where policies are formulated and legislation is advanced, it counts for a lot -- it's much more accurate to consider Meghan Murphy akin to Conservative and Christian fundamentalist views than it is to consider sex worker rights advocates' neoliberal.

I don't think so. Conservatives oppose sex work because they uphold a Christian conservative ethos that believes prostitution undermines the family. Radical feminists oppose sex work as a part of their critique of the rights of men to access female bodies.

I support whatever keeps women safer. I don't know what that is.

Pondering

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/theres-nothing-safe-about-si...

Sineed wrote:
I don't know what the answer is, and if decriminalization would really prevent tragedies such as the disappearance of aboriginal women or the events on the pig farm. Sex workers in all jurisdictions worldwide for time immemorial have always attracted psychopathic predator males. I don't know if any legal framework can solve that problem.

http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Does_Legalizing_Prostitut...

There is zero evidence that it would prevent tragedies such as those you mentioned as these are not women who would be working in brothels which are not necessarily safe either.

hookstrapped

Pondering wrote:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/theres-nothing-safe-about-si...

Sineed wrote:
I don't know what the answer is, and if decriminalization would really prevent tragedies such as the disappearance of aboriginal women or the events on the pig farm. Sex workers in all jurisdictions worldwide for time immemorial have always attracted psychopathic predator males. I don't know if any legal framework can solve that problem.

http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Does_Legalizing_Prostitut...

There is zero evidence that it would prevent tragedies such as those you mentioned as these are not women who would be working in brothels which are not necessarily safe either.

Pushing sex work transactions into the literal and figurative shadows certainly does not aid safety.  An example from drug harm reduction is worth mentioning: good samaritan laws allow people who are with an overdosed drug user, likely also drug users and in possession of illegal drugs themselves, call for emergency assistance without fear of prosecution. Why have these laws been passed? Because people feared the repercussions of exposing their illegal activity to authorities to the extent it created a hindrance to calling for assistance that could save a life. Where are the protections for sex workers and clients who witness someone in danger from a position that could implicate them in illegal activities?

Regarding brothels, a sex worker friend is now working in a (legal) brothel in Curacao on a 3-month contract and she talks about how this place stands apart from other places she has worked -- all clients have to present their passport to be photocopied; there is an alarm button in all rooms to call security; and there is a driver to take and pick up workers from outcalls, which has its supervision purposes but also helps ensure worker safety. This is what full decriminalization can look like. I think the photocopying of the passport is a pretty key deterrent for abusive behavior, and that is something impossible under john criminalization schemes like the Swedish model. Not to mention removing police, the primary perpetrators of abuse and assault against sex workers, from the picture.

 

Pondering

Pondering wrote:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/theres-nothing-safe-about-si...

Sineed wrote:
I don't know what the answer is, and if decriminalization would really prevent tragedies such as the disappearance of aboriginal women or the events on the pig farm. Sex workers in all jurisdictions worldwide for time immemorial have always attracted psychopathic predator males. I don't know if any legal framework can solve that problem.

http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Does_Legalizing_Prostitut...

There is zero evidence that it would prevent tragedies such as those you mentioned as these are not women who would be working in brothels which are not necessarily safe either.

hookstrapped wrote:
Pushing sex work transactions into the literal and figurative shadows certainly does not aid safety.  An example from drug harm reduction is worth mentioning: good samaritan laws allow people who are with an overdosed drug user, likely also drug users and in possession of illegal drugs themselves, call for emergency assistance without fear of prosecution. Why have these laws been passed? Because people feared the repercussions of exposing their illegal activity to authorities to the extent it created a hindrance to calling for assistance that could save a life. Where are the protections for sex workers and clients who witness someone in danger from a position that could implicate them in illegal activities?

I have no objection to good samaritan laws for sex workers but they don't need them under Bill C 36. I doubt clients do either because there would still have to be some sort of proof of illicit activity on their part. Laws are intended to be a deterrent from activity so to some extent breaking laws does put people in a difficult position. What if someone is smuggling cigarettes and comes across a potentially fatal car accident? Should they stop and risk arrest or keep going and live with the consequences of their actions?

hookstrapped wrote:
Regarding brothels, a sex worker friend is now working in a (legal) brothel in Curacao on a 3-month contract and she talks about how this place stands apart from other places she has worked -- all clients have to present their passport to be photocopied; there is an alarm button in all rooms to call security; and there is a driver to take and pick up workers from outcalls, which has its supervision purposes but also helps ensure worker safety. This is what full decriminalization can look like. I think the photocopying of the passport is a pretty key deterrent for abusive behavior, and that is something impossible under john criminalization schemes like the Swedish model.

So are ALL brothels in Curacao like that? That isn't the model being promoted by any decriminalization advocates I have come across. They never seem to promote 100% non-profits either. I have no doubt that there are many examples of well-run establishments. That doesn't negate the trauma many women experience in the trade. Multiple security buttons didn't prevent a woman from being murdered in a window in Amsterdam. There has been no measureable reduction in violence against women in New Zealand and no reduction in underage prostitution either.

hookstrapped wrote:
Not to mention removing police, the primary perpetrators of abuse and assault against sex workers, from the picture.

Got any numbers to back that up because from what I have heard the grand majority of murdered prostitutes were not killed by police and under C-36 prostitutes are not arrestable unless they are working near a school or daycare which I think most don't do anyway or can certainly refrain from.

 

susan davis

no measurable decrease in violence in new zealand...wow...we must have read different government reports....

hookstrapped

@ Pondering re assault by police on sex workers:

Instead, the women Burns surveyed and interviewed see the police as a threat. When the sex workers Burns surveyed tried to report a crime against themselves or others to police, they were threatened with arrest a third of the time, and police only actually took reports from them 44 percent of the time. More than a quarter of the women surveyed said they had been sexually assaulted by police; 9 percent said they had been robbed or beaten by officers. One woman provided a harrowing account of officers tearing her underwear off to see if she was trans and slamming her down on a car. She was left with "broken fingertips, broken toes, fractured cheekbone. And they felt perfectly okay with this," she said, "because there was no law to protect me."

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/12/alaskas-prostitution-l...

 

If we look at Cape Town specifically, most research shows that sex workers are commonly abused and harassed by police. One of the latest and most comprehensive reports on sex work in Cape Town – “Selling Sex in Cape Town”, a report by Chandre Gould in collaboration with Nicole Fick – recorded the experiences of about 1200 sex workers in Cape Town.

According to their findings, 12% of street-based sex workers in Cape Town have been raped by police officers while 28% have been asked for sex in return for being released from police custody – a form of sexual coercion. They also found that 47% of street-based sex workers have been threatened with physical violence by a police officer. Many sex workers also recall their clients being blackmailed by police officers.

In another study, “Relying on Sex to Survive: The Fight for Decriminalization in South Africa” by Melissa Turley, 70% of South African sex workers were found to have been abused by police officers, with many reporting being raped and illegally detained.

Gould and Fick reported that 20% of brothel-based sex workers said they would not report to the police if they were victims of a crime, whether the crime was related to sex work or not. And given the above-mentioned statistics on how the police treat sex workers, it’s no wonder why.

https://sianfergs.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/why-dont-sex-workers-report-t...

 

According to U-T San Diego, many of the alleged victims of San Diego police officers were sex workers, homeless, intoxicated, mentally ill or had criminal records. On a national scale, the lack of data makes it hard to track the demographics of victims of sexual misconduct by police. Stinson’s research suggests that about half are under the age of eighteen. According to a 2007 report prepared for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “rape and sexual abuse by police [in the United States] are primarily reported by women of color.”

“What we’ve seen in sexual assaults committed by law enforcement is that they’re targeting victims seen as vulnerable or ‘less credible,’ whether they’re engaged in sex work or are committing a crime. A police officer uses that as a way to control the victim,” said Marsh.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181365/police-violence-we-arent-talking-about

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I don't think it's helpful for rabble to endorse one feminist position over another (as has been referenced by mark alfred in the other thread).  Babble itself has given a dedicated forum for sex worker's rights, and that is a space for discussion from that particular point of view.  It is not, however, the only feminist point of view on the topic and we shouldn't be muzzling one branch of purportedly progressive thinking over another (although both sides would argue that the other isn't actually progressive).  It's not even a binary for or against question - there are a multitude of positions along the sliding scale.

That said, Murphy has been villified well beyond the extent of her approach to the question of sex work.  The campaign to get her fired from rabble is just the most recent attack. 

Some things that Murphy writes I agree with.  Others I have mixed feelings about.  Many would lump her position and mine together.  If rabble decides that Murphy's position is not welcome here, though, it will be a message to some long-time babblers that we aren't welcome here, either, and that would be a sad thing, I think, for us.

Pondering

hookstrapped wrote:

@ Pondering re assault by police on sex workers:

I never claimed that police are innocent of violence towards prostitutes. They are also guilty of violence towards protesters and bigotry leading to the abuse of minorities. On balance, in my opinion, we still need a police force and it isn't a reason to make an activity legal.

Under bill C 36 sex workers will not be arrested whereas in the situations you cited sex workers were subject to arrest.

 

Pondering

susan davis wrote:

no measurable decrease in violence in new zealand...wow...we must have read different government reports....

I believe we did read the same report. All "evidence" is anecdotal, inconclusive, and cites continued violence and underage prostitution and continued high risk street work and out calls, and this is in a country of only 4.5 million people that is next to multiple countries where prostitution is legal or common. NZ barred migrant workers but they are common anyway.

Police are worried by a spike in underage prostitution in Auckland's CBD, with girls as young as 12 selling themselves for sex.

Senior Constable Mark Riddell of the Auckland central police Youth Action Team said in the last six weeks, a police operation code-named City Door had identified at least 13 girls aged under 16 who were "active prostitutes".

Many of them work from City Road, which runs between Queen Street and Symonds Street. Senior Constable Riddell calls the street a "young red light area".

In the last two weeks, Senior Constable Riddell and his team have taken five underage girls off the streets and put them in to the custody of Child, Youth and Family. But Riddell said many of these girls escape CYF and go straight back on the street.

"Kids will run away on the same night we pick them up," he said. "On some occasions, they've got back to the city before we've got back out on the road."

One of the girls, who started working as a prostitute when she was 12 and had never been to high school, said she had been picked up by a car full of men and raped only days earlier.

Police placed the girl in the care of CYF, but Senior Constable Riddell said she ran away soon after.

He said CYF has only about 100 beds in secure custody across New Zealand. These are prioritised for those at risk of suicide, so the girls he dealt with often missed out.

Debbie Baker, the manager of Streetreach, a group supporting street sex workers, said she knew of at least 12 girls between 11 and 15 "out there selling themselves for sex" in the central city.

"Young meat earns a lot of money," said Ms Baker. "Underage prostitution has always been a problem, but there is an increase. We're seeing more and more young girls out there."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10651367

Legitimizing prostitution invariably leads young girls into the tempation of what they think will be easy money. There is no shortage of Johns willing to pay them. A clue that what is being sold is an object not a professional service is that girls with no experience command a premium.

hookstrapped

Pondering wrote:

 

I believe we did read the same report. All "evidence" is anecdotal, inconclusive, and cites continued violence and underage prostitution and continued high risk street work and out calls...

Umm, no.

http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/pro...

They data collected is both quantitative survey data and qualitative interview data.

http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/pro...

I work in public health policy and am very familiar with a wide array of research, particularly in maternal and child health and drug use.  This study stands out for its quality in many respects (community-based participatory research, mixed methods) and does not attempt to overreach in its conclusions.

Pondering

hookstrapped wrote:

Pondering wrote:

I believe we did read the same report. All "evidence" is anecdotal, inconclusive, and cites continued violence and underage prostitution and continued high risk street work and out calls...

Umm, no.

http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/pro...

They data collected is both quantitative survey data and qualitative interview data.

http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/pro...

There was no control study done when the law changed and relies entirely on questioning individuals who are biased. It is possible I missed it but I haven't seen any statistics from hospitals or police.

http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-law-review-committee/publications/plrc-report/documents/report.pdf

As stated earlier, one of the aims of the PRA is to prohibit the use of people under 18 years of age in commercial sexual services. However, in its current form, the PRA cannot in itself prevent or address the causes of underage prostitution.

From the same report:

Police notes that, ‘as a result of the legislative changes, Police...has less contact with the sex industry, and there is no systematic intelligence gathering and collation’ (NZ Police, 2007). The reports by CJRC and the study by CSOM provide some information regarding under age prostitution in New Zealand. However, given the different data collection methods, and the changed nature of the industry, comparisons would be meaningless.

The Key Informant Interviews undertaken by the CJRC (2007) included discussions about the number of people used in under age prostitution. The majority of informants reported that the PRA had not affected the number of under age people used in prostitution in Christchurch or Wellington.

But who knows, because there is no comparative information available. And:

The majority of sex workers interviewed felt that the PRA could do little about violence that occurred, though a significant minority thought that there had been an improvement since the enactment of the PRA. Of those feeling in a position to comment, the majority felt sex workers were now more likely to report incidents of violence to the Police, though willingness to carry  the process through to court is less common.

And:

They were surveyed as to their opinion and the majority did not think the PRA had any impact on the violence they face. 

What does “Of those feeling in a position to comment” mean?

I could go on, you could cherry pick positive quotes and I could cherry pick negative quotes and we would be no farther ahead.

New Zealand, due to location and total population of 4.5 million is not a likely model for what would happen in Canada.

It's just an opinion, but there is no doubt in my mind that if prostitution were legal in Canada more young girls and women would be tempted by money and damaged by their experience. 

That some women choose this life and don't want to leave it does not supercede the interests of society in not legitimizing prostitution as a valid industry.

 

 

susan davis

what a crazy world....only der spiegle know the truth!!!

mark_alfred

Pondering wrote:
It's just an opinion, but there is no doubt in my mind that if prostitution were legal in Canada more young girls and women would be tempted by money and damaged by their experience.

If having this work option stopped any of them from joining the military, then I'd guess they'd be better off.

Jacob Two-Two

Pondering wrote:

 

New Zealand, due to location and total population of 4.5 million is not a likely model for what would happen in Canada.

This may not be relevent, but I met lots of New Zealanders when I was travelling, and almost all of them compared it to Canada in terms of culture and lifestyle.

Quote:

That some women choose this life and don't want to leave it does not supercede the interests of society in not legitimizing prostitution as a valid industry.

Maybe not, but I gotta say, the interests of society better have some pretty strong evidence if they want to tell me what I can and can't do with consenting adults with my own body.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

You can do whatever you want with your body. It's the monetary exchange that is so problematic. Normalize access to women's sexuality as transactional and you perpetuate a system where women are not fully emancipated. As the song goes, money changes everything.

Pondering

Jacob Two-Two wrote:

This may not be relevent, but I met lots of New Zealanders when I was travelling, and almost all of them compared it to Canada in terms of culture and lifestyle.

I was referring to the size of the population and the geographic location. Culture and lifestyle are similar throughout the western world.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Moved to other thread.

lagatta

Der Spiegel. A serious journal of reference. 

 

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