A blog for those walking away from a life of sex work and for
the families of those not fortunate enough to walk away.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Support Group for Loved Ones of Sex Workers Begins Soon!

We are just a few weeks away from hosting our first support group meeting for the loved ones of sex workers here in Phoenix. The model at this point will be like typical health-support group model where we start with introductions, then listen to a brief speaker who shares his or her experience (it may be an "expert" on sex work or a parent whose child is/was in the industry or someone who left the industry). Then we'll open the room for sharing.

We have permission to use the 12 Steps and model the AA concept (like Alanon and Naranon do) but I am waiting until we begin to see how the model should work. Keep checking back for our first meeting. I am still contacting churches and other places for meeting space but hope to have a date set by next week. Until then, keep the faith.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

There are many schools of thought about prostitution. Programs like Veronica’s Voice (see links) in Kansas City helps to enable women to leave the life of prostitution. There are also many first-world and lesser-developed world organizations that struggle for prostitution rights. Organizations like International Sex Worker Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education (ISWFACE), COYOTE (Call off Your Old Tired Ethics) in San Francisco (www.bayswan.org/COYOTE.html) and the International Union of Sex Workers work to decriminalize prostitution and improve sex workers’ lives worldwide.

Feminists, no matter their personal political bents, differ widely in their beliefs regarding the correct approach to prostitution. There is a clear distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution, according to author Jo Doezema, in her article "Global Sex Workers." She asserts that the current focus on eliminating trafficking, with a “woman as victim mentality,” works against the interests of all women. There are many women, she points out, who choose prostitution as a livelihood, or are forced into prostitution by poverty. International efforts to end prostitution make no effort to protect women who must by poverty or who voluntarily choose to remain in prostitution, she maintains. She refers to the “whore/Madonna,” “good/bad” dichotomy that characterizes much of Western civilization.

Laurie Shrage in her keynote address to the “Prostitution in a Global Context — Intertwined Histories, Present Realities,” Conference held at Aalborg University in Denmark in 1999, said this about the current feminist “victim” view of prostitution most widely disseminated. “These oppositions [whore/Madonna] configure the voluntary prostitute (the active, experienced, guilty Western whore) as someone responsible for her own fate and who deserves what she gets.” This, some feminists believe, leaves women who choose to or must prostitute due to poverty sadly at risk for battery, harassment by police and murders that are not only little investigated, but little noted by society at large.

Most feminist sex worker advocates are in agreement that involuntary prostitution and sexual slavery should be abolished; however, Shrage goes further, calling for abandoning the “forced / voluntary prostitution distinction” to allow a more focused view that encompasses the legal, health and financial needs of all peoples. “Those of us not part of these organizations [grassroots organizations of sex workers] would do better to stop wondering why the sex industry exists and to focus instead on the social forces that shape it . . . .”

Prostitution takes a terrible toll on those engaged in it. However, to ignore the often tense controversies surrounding the current climate focused on sexual slavery and its very meaty funding appears to leave unexamined the real causes of sex work ― poverty and women’s worldwide oppression.

There are few studies that analyze people’s attitudes toward prostitution, probably because the typical attitude is so negative. One need only view popular culture’s attitudes toward prostitutes, where each week Jay Leno’s Tonight Show used its bully pulpit to refer to these disenfranchised women as “whores” and “hookers” to realize that prostitutes are a target of derision and hence have translated into a safe dumping ground for violence which is perpetrated against them at staggering rates.

This blog will try to avoid the polemics surrounding the prostitution debate and simply offer solutions, mainly for families of sex workers, who can be instrumental in helping workers leave the industry. We hope that we can rationally discuss varying theories as events arise; however, we take no position on the correct way to limit the systemic abuses in the sex industry. We only know what has worked for us to exit the industry and recover.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Inquiries

We have been so busy that this blog and my emails have gone unanswered and for those of you who have written, we apologize. We are just now catching up on correspondence.

The question we keep hearing, from the United Kingdom to the Florida panhandle, is "Where are support groups for us, the parents and friends of those caught in the sex industry?" The answer--there are none right now.

Ours starts in Phoenix April 5, 2012, at 6060 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix, at 7:30 p.m. We will meet once a month and hopefully build a presence. Often, because drugs are involved for sex workers, you may find Alanon or Naranon helpful to you. You can have a life of balance despite the bad choices others make in their lives.

Stay tuned for more frequent updates as we ramp up. We can be contacted at becauseshematters(at)gmail.com.