With the recent release of the ‘Swedish Abolitionism as Violence Against Women’, we are again confronted with the realities of who is orchestrating structural repression of sex workers.
I think it is time that we open up the discourse around what is motivating and driving these increasing attacks on sex workers.
Attacks on sex workers rights and safety are usually presented as ensuring the safety and dignity of women by protecting them from immoral practices and criminal exploitation. However I believe that there is another agenda that is often left undeclared that is really driving much of the hostility towards sex workers. I can only hope to scrape the surface of this hidden agenda but I will try my best.
The histrionics of the moralists seeking to control and subjugate the sexual behavior of women is directly linked to the needs of patrimony and the demand of men to be sure of the paternity of “their” children. This in turn is the foundation of nepotistic hierarchies that allow these elites to ignore merit and privilege their own progeny. This privilege and entitlement can only be sustained for men when they are able to be sure of which children belongs to them. Women who can live outside such patronymic norms and who can sustain a life without marriage are a direct threat to privilege that is consequential to proven a particular bloodline such a particular racial, religious or national identity. When Fathers are unknown, privilege based on notions of paternity will fail.
So it is easy to understand why many actors consider sex workers immoral and dangerous to their social order. However I have been increasingly intrigued by why many “feminist” women should be so aggressive towards sex working women.
The presented reason for why this aggression is necessary is that sex work is consider exploitative sexual slavery or prostitution and that women are compelled by criminal men or poverty to prostitute themselves. I have seen first hand women being exploited and abused in sex work by violent and cruel men. However this exploitation was the direct consequences of the sex workers being excluded from labor rights and protection and the policies that compelled them to work in social spaces given over to criminals.
I have worked as an independent sex workers at various times in my life, but I am also a qualified nurse and mid-wife so I have considerable choices that allow me to access different skilled paid work. My status as a highly skilled person has also given me mobility rights that have allowed me to locate myself in places where I could work safely as a sex worker. Sex work/Prostitution like any other occupation where the labor is marginalized and is without forcible rights. Such a lacuna invites ruthless people to exploit the vulnerable, often in collaboration with law enforcement.