Violence Against Women and #NotAllMen

Yesterday, I was asked whether I would be writing a blog post about the recent Doncaster murder of the 17 year old young woman, and the reaction surrounding what was a very haphazard comment made by an Inspector of the Victorian Police (I’ll go into more detail about it in a minute). My first reaction was “Oh no, no, if I commented on every legal matter that came my way I would be forever blogging.” The truth however was that I was afraid. I was afraid to dive into such an overwhelming topic like violence against women and the inability of the male population to see what a problem we have on our hands.

Me Quickly On Feminism

You see, I was never the “bra burning” feminist type. I have never actually considered myself (a) as a spokeperson at all; and (b) a spokeperson for my gender. I have always considered myself an “equalist”. That is, if you consider yourself to be equal to the other gender, then you will not have to fight for the right to be equal because you are automatically equal. In all of my years in the top echelon of corporate law, I never felt that I was treated (at least to my face) as being anything other than a corporate lawyer, rather than a female corporate lawyer. Perhaps I didn’t get high enough to hit the glass ceiling. But in all honesty, my logic about “equalism” is incredibly flawed and frankly, I really haven’t put much thought into it. I’ve always been too afraid to call myself a feminist. Why? Because I simply do not know what it means. I have a lot to learn in that area.

Violence Against Women

The one thing, however, that I am happy to remain unapologetic for is my stance about violence against women. I am more than happy to put myself into the category of the “bra burning, raging rad-fem” if it means we get the message out that we are seeing a pretty dire situation unfold in Australia where two women a week are dying of violence perpetuated against them by someone close to them. As we have seen this week, however, that our dire problem with domestic violence is just one piece of the problem when it comes to violence against women.

I was going to stay well out of it. I was going to just say my piece on Twitter and let it rest, UNTIL, this morning when I woke up to a series of tweets in my mentions from men claiming that they had been discriminated against, targeted by sexism, and hated on for being lumped into the category of men who ARE violent. Hashtag #NotAllMen.

The Jane Gilmore Post

It came about because I retweeted the incredibly marvelous Jane Gilmore (at @JaneTribune) and her powerful Facebook post that was later turned into a Hoopla article —> http://thehoopla.com.au/dont-dont-dont-get-killed/. It stated:

“Women, if you want to be safe, stay at home. Except you are likely to be killed at home by someone who claims they love you so don’t stay at home. Make sure you don’t have a boyfriend because he is the most likely person to kill you but don’t go out without your boyfriend because you need someone to protect you. Don’t show too much skin or laugh too loud or dance too much but come on love give us a smile. Carry your keys and your phoje at all time and make sure you run far enough to burn off all those calories but don’t do it in public and for gods sake dont run in shorts, that’s just asking for trouble. Public transport is dangerous, but so are taxis and walking and riving on your own and did I mention that staying at home is really risky so don’t do any of those things, ok?

Men, just carry on as you were, this is not your problem ok?

Jane’s post was in response to the death of 17 year-old Masa Vukotic, who was stabbed this week in suburban Doncaster, Melbourne, while taking a walk in a park in the early evening, less than a kilometre from her home.The following caused a stir:

“I suggest to people, particularly females, they shouldn’t be alone in parks,” Victorian Homicide Squad Inspector, Mick Hughes told Fairfax newspapers. “I’m sorry to say that is the case.”

#NotAllMen

Could it really be a male problem, asked the world of Twitter?

Hashtag #NotAllMen.

My notifications filled up with men angrily denying that they have ever been violent towards a woman.

Gentlemen, I will categorically state that YOU HAVE ALL MISSED THE POINT ENTIRELY.

You are not being violent. You have though, collectively, created an environment that ALLOWS men to be violent. Is this a really hard concept to grasp? Because apparently it is on Twitter. Hastag #NotAllMen.

While men are busily denying that they aren’t violent, they are busily pushing the narrative that needs to be had away from the male population in general, the missing narrative that is allowing violence against women to exist.

One Twit summed it up wonderfully by stating:

“@phantomdiorama: The thing about telling women to change their behaviour is it tells women who don’t are fair game.”

THIS IS IT IN A NUTSHELL.

This is the narrative that needs to be discussed. Instead of denying any responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in (where violence against women occurs on a daily basis in our homes, workplaces, social environements – and now public parks), why don’t we move the discussion towards the fact that women have been crippled by so much stigma, so many societal directives about how we SHOULD live our lives to avoid being harmed, that we have completely missed the part where we educate our men in society on how not to harm.

The more emphasis we place on curtailing the behaviour of the victim of crime, the more we are disempowering them. The more we tell women to not behave in certain ways, we are (like the above Twit stated) opening all of those women who fail to adhere to the Don’t Be A Victim Standards to being harmed because, well, they “asked for it” (welcome to the world of male entitlement, folk).

We cannot be a society where the emphasis is placed on “how to avoid crime”. The emphasis needs to be placed on how to “avoid being a criminal”. The reason for this is because is because it eradicates any personal accountability of a perpetrator of crime from actually committing the crime, thus increasing the likelihood of not only the perpetrator from committing further crime but also increases the likelihood of those around to the perpetrator to excuse the behaviour of the perpetrator and POSSIBLY, commit the behaviour themselves.

The frustrating thing about this is that it is not rocket science but human nature says that when the heat is placed upon us, the most instantaneous thing we can do is distance ourselves away from personal responsibility as quickly as possible. And Twitter, in its truest form, was a perfect example of this when I opened it up this morning.

My suggestions are as follows:

1. Stop blaming women for their actions.

2. Start adjusting male behaviour.

3. Start the conversation early with men.

4. Hey women, you’re not innocent either – stop excusing male behaviour.

KVA

@KVALEGAL

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Lateline vs Twitter – Part Four of Four

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Note 1

So we have come to the near end of my series of blogs relating to the Lateline episode that was shown last week on the ABC network in Australia. Throughout the last week, you will see that I have dissected the Lateline episode, piece by piece, to show what a harmful episode it was for not only Australian viewers but those who can tune into Lateline via the web around the world. We first saw the ill-informed discussion of the Swedish Model, we saw the judgemental perspective of Project Respect and we all collectively sighed in front of our television screens as it happened.

Well it didn’t stop there. And I must say, this last blog is probably the most difficult blog I have had to write because of the personal feelings that I felt as I watched it. I try to keep a very objective sense about myself. I tend to allow myself to be presented with the views of others and if they offend me, I try to keep them in perspective. Sometimes I manage it well. On other occasions, I do not manage it so well.

On this occasion, I did not manage it well – and neither did many others.

It was the interview with Jules Kim, the migration project manager of the Scarlet Alliance which Lateline rightfully stated was the peak body for sex workers.

Before the beginning of the show, Lateline tweeted to me that they would be asking Scarlet Alliance for their position on the matter. As my first blog showed, I called bullshit right from the start. There was no possible way that they could run what was essentially an anti-sex worker program and then call in Scarlet Alliance in some form of tokenism in order to avoid it being exactly what it was – an anti-sex worker program.

Firstly, before I dive into the segment, I want to personally thank Jules Kim – if she is out there listening – for going on the program. She was effectively diving into the lions den. Before someone goes on to a program, they are generally briefed about the contents of the program and the type of questions that a guest would be expected to answer. Now if Jules Kim was aware of the questions she was about to be asked, then I personally thank her for not turning her back on the program at the time of the brief and going ahead to withstand the onslaught. If she was not briefed appropriately, then we should all praise Jules Kim, as a representative of Scarlet Alliance, for staying very calm in what were extraordinary circumstances.

When Jules was introduced, straight after Kate from Project Respect, I expected that because Kate had spoken about Asian migrant workers to some degree, that by pulling in Jules Kim, our migration project manager, we would have some form of good discussion about the level of migration of sex workers into Australia. Alberici reaffirmed this idea by beginning the segment with a statistic that 2/3rds of sex workers are migrant workers.

I was wrong about how the segment would transpire and I knew it from the minute it started.

Jules is immediately asked to explain the difference between legalisation and decriminalisation which was fair. I understood that and I believed that this was important. But in comes Alberici….

Sex Work As Harmful

“Do you accept that sex work can be harmful to women?”

Now that was a straight out biased question from Alberici. To rephrase that question, Alberici was essentially saying “I think sex work is harmful to women, do you agree?” Right from the outset, Alberici perceived bias from the earlier segment now becomes a little less perceived and a little more real. Jules Kim collects herself by explaining the problematic system of Victoria and the problem with licensing. Jules had no time to collect herself, nor did she have the power balance in the interview arrangement to come out and say “do you know what? No, it’s not harmful in most cases.”

Next up.

Complete Abolition of Sex Work

“Do you believe we should be getting rid of sex work altogether?”

Unbelievable. Now, Alberici is sitting across from a sex work advocate who works for the recognised peak body of sex workers in Australia, Scarlet Alliance. Did Alberici really expect Jules Kim to turn around and say “well, actually, Emma, I really do think we need to get rid of sex work because its awful, harmful, dangerous and morally offensive to not only you but the rest of the viewers of Lateline.” No, Jules was not going to say this. And Jules quite rightfully responds with a short, bemused laugh at the question and answers no. It is a legitimate form of work.

Enjoyment of Work

Now if that wasn’t quite enough for Alberici, she dives in with words to the effect of:

“Surely the women in this work who enjoy it are in the minority.”

Bias. Straight out biased. And at this point in time, the rational person that I am (mostly) is flicking through the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance Journalists Code of Ethics (to which I am not sure Alberici is subject to but it is a good guideline on the expectations of journalists in Australia) —>  http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html – I’ll get back to this a little later.

Jules Kim begins to explain that people have to work in this line of work but Alberici actually interrupts Jules Kim by saying that she was painting this situation as a “no alternative situation”. Jules begins to speak but Alberici cuts her off with her next question. But before the question comes through, Lucie Bee speaks out on Twitter and states:

@LucieBeexxx: You don’t support women. You judge their choices and insinuate that those who do enjoy their work don’t know their own mind. #lateline.”

Aspirations of Sex Workers

Jules begins to speak but Alberici interrupts one more time and she states the one very point that many sex workers despise hearing….

“I find it very hard that any woman aspires to be a sex worker.”

Right.

My point to Emma Alberici is as follows: Firstly, Emma Alberici, you as a journalist are not expected to give YOUR views on the topics that you are investigating. So if, Emma Alberici, YOU find it hard to think that any woman would aspire to be a sex worker, then YOU need to go and have a think about that in YOUR own time and NOT on live television where there are possibly 200,000 people watching your program from all walks of life, all education levels, all socioeconomic situations, and all cultural backgrounds. Emma Alberici, it was not YOUR job to tell Jules Kim, or the audience what YOU think.

Alliance members engaged in journalism are supposed to commit themselves to

Honesty
Fairness
Independence
Respect for the rights of others

Alberici failed at this very moment in all aspects of the above other than honesty – and that honesty was shown by the fact that her view was simply that sex work shouldn’t exist and that Alberici was morally offended by the fact that sex work exists.

Holly rightfully states:

“@HollyInAlbury: I think its disgusting to allow an anti-sex work person to host a fair show… this is not fair & her opinion is reeking thru..@lateline.”

Jules handles herself absolutely outstandingly at this moment, where she states that the reason why Alberici is struggling with this is because we only hear the negative narrative when it comes to sex work and that “sex work is work”.

But let’s not leave this issue sitting because it feeds directly back into the Alberici question in an earlier segment that “surely no girl dreams of being a sex worker.”

Jackie McMillan states:

“Also @Lateline didnt we shoot down @MiaFreedman for the “no little girl dreams of being a sex worker”? Did we need to repeat the line?”

Christian Vega, sex worker from Tasmania wrote an excellent blog about the comments made by Mia Freedman (an Australian social commentator) a while ago here —> http://christianbvega.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/a-comment-mamamia-wouldnt-publish.html. Christian, in his outstanding blog states:

“This is the experience of sex workers everyday.  People wonder why many of us hide- it’s the judgments Mia made- judgements she gives other mothers and people permission to make (and if you’d like to read this judgement one doesn’t have to look beyond the comments some of her readers have made on her post)- that keep many of us silent. It is this silence that isolates family members from each other is the same silence that prevents sex workers seeking recourse if they have been assaulted, discriminated against or otherwise need help.”

Alberici is not finished with Jules Kim.

The Kirby Institute Survey

She pulls out what is called the Kirby Institute Study from the UNSW which finds that 46% of those surveyed rate their English as “fair or poor”. Alberici questions whether these sex workers have any ability to negotiate conditions with clients.

Jules Kim rightfully points out that English level, studies show, have no correlation to a woman’s education background. Now while Jules Kim does really well to battle this out with Emma Alberici, I think we missed a REALLY important issue about Emma Alberici’s question and the Kirby Institute Study.

Alberici states that the Kirby Institute Study says 46% of surveyors ticked YES to “FAIR” OR “POOR”. Not “fair to poor”, not “poor”, not “little to none”, not “somewhat poor”. I guarantee you that if we were to source that Kirby Institute Study (I have not yet sourced it), we would find that there is more to those statistics. We are given no indication as to how many people ticked “FAIR”. Now if a majority of those who ticked “FAIR”, then by the definition of fair (being “reasonable”) then absolutely those who were surveyed would be entirely able to negotiate the conditions of the transactions with clients. Being reasonably able to speak English is not fatal to a sex worker’s ability to transact. Yes, if the majority had ticked “POOR”, the Alberici may have had a point but by the way that the survey was presented on Lateline, Emma Alberici forgot to ignore the issue that I have raised about about the definition of “fair” and “poor” and the lack of any indication as to who ticked what, and went along with a negative narrative that suited her agenda. As I was watching this interview, my head was literally in my hands because I could see this massive problem with the question that was asked. Jules Kim, through the negative narration of a survey result was effectively trapped into a very difficult academic discussion with Emma Alberici about women’s language versus women’s education. Emma Alberici hammers Jules Kim on this issue based on poor negative narrative and it draws the viewers into that negative narrative.

Emma Alberici evens states in the crossfire that “fair and poor is pretty indicative of a woman’s ability to speak English.” Well no, my above paragraph completely and utterly refutes that statement.

As Lucie Bee at this point rightfully states:

@LucieBeexxx: An unbiased report would have represented something other than the doom and gloom narrative of old. #lateline.”

Another interesting comment was made by Chris Johnson, who stated:

“@Dream_Brother: Surely @Lateline knows that there are trans* and male sex workers to go along with female sex workers, right?” #sexwork”

Knowing that this was hard on Jules Kim, Fiona Patten MLC, leader of the Australian Sex Party states:

“@FionaPattenMLC Respect to Jules Kim from @scarletalliance appearing on @Lateline tonight to discuss decriminalisation of #sexwork.”

Emma Alberici was not yet done with Jules KIm.

The RMIT Report On Mental Health

“All participants [state that there are effects] to their self esteem.”

Jules Kim wins this one hands down by immediately responding that it is because of the stigma and discrimination that exists in society. At this point, you would have expected that Jules Kim would have given up on the aggression that was being exerted by Alberici but she stood strong and tall notwithstanding the pressure.

That said, Jackie McMillan states:

What a shame @Lateline didn’t present the excellent #health outcomes experienced by NSW #sexworkers under #decriminalisation. #fail.”

Human Trafficking

“What about the link between sex work and human trafficking?”

Jules Kim stands tall again, stating she does not know what she means. And Jules Kim rightfully states this because once again we have that misconception that sex work and human trafficking are directly linked. I will do a blog on it some time soon but we are always fighting to remind people that human trafficking means a GREAT deal more than just bringing in people to work in brothels under horrible conditions. Human trafficking is a large large issue around the world when it comes to the transfer of labour across borders to provide ALL sorts of services, not just sex work, but yet again we have a media outlet running the negative narrative that sex work = human trafficking. As Jules Kim states, sex work is NOT inherently violent, and the migration of people for sex work is NOT trafficking.

Alberici finally leaves it there and its all over.

Done.

I am not going to say anything further on the matter on this blog. However, I will leave this here —>http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ABCCodeOfPractice20143.pdf.

Its the ABC’s Code of Practice and urge you to express your concern about Lateline through ABC’s Media Watch.

KVA

@KVALEGAL

Note 1: Image: http://www.mediacoop.ca/story/rights-not-rescue/13595

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Lateline vs Twitter – Part Three of Four

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Note 1.

So after the past 2 segments of Lateline, which was shown on ABC the other night, I would have been guessing that the sex worker community on Twitter either would have (1) switched off their televisions, (2) been unable to watch their televisions because they’d have damaged them, or the most likely (3) become so angry at Lateline that they needed to stay on to watch the next segment. ….the Project Respect segment….. People on Twitter were already talking about Project Respect. There were personal stories of Project Respect entering into brothels on numerous occasions to attempt to rescue them, and there was also talk of more disturbing activities which I cannot write as I do not wish to get sued for defamation. Nevertheless, the sex worker community (on Twitter at least) were well and truly prepared for this particular segment to be negative.

By way of background, Project Respect —> http://projectrespect.org.au/about is: “is a non-profit, feminist, community-based organisation, that aims to empower and support women in the sex industry, including women trafficked to Australia.  Established in 1998, we began as a direct service to women in the sex industry across Victoria. We have no religious affiliation, and work with all women in an inclusive and woman-centered manner.  Project Respect does not rescue or save women, but works with them by providing specialist. non-judgemental outreach and individual support.”

Now I want you to keep that VERY statement in your head while you read how the next segment goes down.

Lateline’s Interview With Project Respect

Firstly, the segment starts of with Emma Alberici claiming that there are 20,000 sex workers working in Australia. As one tweeter notes:

“@madvillain_melb: 20,000 sex workers in Australia, yet you only represent them with media footage of street walkers.”

That was correct. After some brief discussion of the myriad of laws in Australia, cue the seedy background music, accompanied with footage of darkly lit streets and blacked out figures of women in high heels (I actually had written notes that I noticed this as well – the tone of the segment was automatically set with an undercurrent of seediness).

The representative claims that “all of the women she has worked with in the sex industry has done it for money. They are not there for the sex.”

This was hotly debated on Twitter as this was the statement that Lateline used as its promotional quote. I cannot count the number of tweets that came through from sex workers on Twitter who rightfully claimed that (a) they…well, like their job; (b) as a result of their job (given sex work is work) should rightfully be paid for the work; (c) there are many many jobs out there that people, well, don’t really like that much but still do it because money makes the world go around. It does not make them any less of a person, it does not make them desperate, it does not make them greedy, it does not make them victimised – its make them….employed.

Like millions of everyday Australians.

Jackie McMillan states:

“@MissDissentEats: Can all jobs be “dream jobs”? Does anyone dream about being a garbage person? Why do we need to use this tired trope every time? @lateline.”

They then choose to head to Seaford. To a brothel. An Asian one. Where a woman was found hidden in the walls. They apparently tend not to let her in but miraculously on this occasion, they let her in because “the boss wasn’t there”. The program fails to explain in any way what that woman does in that brothel, what kind of conversation she has with that ONE English speaking woman that she claims to be the one ruling the brothel (because, she says, that’s what tends to happen in these brothels). This program does not in any way go into the kind of work that Project Respect does in there. All we know is that she goes in there and comes out. Hardly what I call investigative journalism.

Lateline tells us the story of the representative of Project Respect, Kate, who started sex work when she was seventeen to support a drug habit. Cue more seedy pictures of streetworkers. She speaks of being drugged and raped. Now while this is a story that is often heard, as she states, but as one tweeter rightfully points out:

“@MissLucy552: Why does the media spotlight only focus on the most maginalised and the most privileged sex workers.”

Miss Lucy hits the nail on the head right there. This program, with its negative narrative to this point has focused solely on the marginalised population of the profession. And it suits their agenda to do so. It was not in Lateline’s interests to reach out to that “everyday” sex worker who works without issue, does proper screening and likes her job. Lateline does not go out and seek a brothel worker who goes to the brothel, who works with good management, who works in a place with good security systems set up, who works in a clean and safe environment. The least Lateline could have said is that they attempted to seek out these people and they do not exist. The thing is, Lateline could not have said this because they DO exist – they just did not want them to exist for the purposes of this particular segment. Kate defends criminalisation. But miserably fails to give us any kind of theoretical or practical reasons to suggest that this is in any way helpful for the industry. All she states that she knows at the very least “it will stop the violence.” Studies have shown, unbeknown to Lateline, that violence actually increases in a criminalised environment.

And then the final comment is made…. “What girl grows up wanting to be a prostitute? What mother wants their daughter to be a prostitute?” This made a lot of people mad.

“@Estelle_Lucas: OMG ITS STARTING. Like why do we need to talk about the aspirations of little girls, do we listen to them when they talk about unicorns as well?”

We will talk about this particular issue in the final blog because Emma Alberici puts this same question to Scarlet Alliance.

But lets go back to earlier in this blog where I outlined the premise of Project Respect: We have no religious affiliation, and work with all women in an inclusive and woman-centered manner.  Project Respect does not rescue or save women, but works with them by providing specialist. non-judgemental outreach and individual support.”

In what way, did we see Kate from Project Respect discuss: (1) how Project Respect works with sex workers where they do not rescue or save them? (2) how Project Respect provides non judgemental outreach?

What we saw in that program segment was exactly the opposite to their goals as stated on their website. In the Lateline segment, Kate specifically talked about trying to get women to exit the industry. Is this not “rescue or saving”? I would say it is. Especially when they provide us with an example of a poor woman who earns $200 a day who is working with Project Respect to one day become a teacher (do the math on that one by the way – if you worked 9-5 for five days a week on the award wage of Australia, she’s actually earning ABOVE the award wage). We saw specific behaviour by Kate from Project Respect of judgemental attitudes towards sex workers and their lifestyles. We saw her make judgemental statements about Asians, we saw her make judgemental statements about brothels, we saw her make judgemental statements about purchasers of sex.

It is safe to say that, in my view, Project Respect was NOT the appropriate outreach program to have been on Lateline. Perhaps what Lateline SHOULD have done was approach outreach programs such as Vixen Australia, or SWOPnsw, who genuinely work with the sex industry in a non-judgemental way to ensure that if sex workers DO choose to work in the industry, they do so in a safe and secure way and if they DON’T choose to work in the industry, they have support to “exit” in a safe manner.

But if that doesn’t convince you that Lateline had dropped to a deep low, I’ll leave you with a parting tweet that was made by the time this particular segment had been completed:

“@LovelyCorrine: Saddest part about lateline story is it reinforces that I’ll never be able to come out to family because they take ABC reporting as the truth.”

Let that sink in.

KVA @KVALEGAL

Note 1: Image: http://www.shouselaw.com/engaging_in_prostitution.html

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Lateline vs Twitter – Part Two of Four

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NOTE: 1

So yesterday, I started my commentary on the Lateline program that was shown on the ABC about sex work in Australia.

In summary, we had Lateline failing to understand the importance of moving away from the use of the word “prostitution”, we had claims sex work was equivalent to violence, sex work equivalent to domestic violence, sex workers are all victims, males who purchase sex are all criminals, and spooky policemen following sex workers in cars.

The program continues and many of us all say “HALLELUJAH!” Sanity seems to have prevailed with the introduction of Canadian decriminalisation expert and former sex worker Kerry Porth….

But Emma Alberici’s first question—-wait, comment—- to Kerry Porth was not “so, what is your proposition, Ms. Porth? What do you do? What is your basis for argument?”

No.

It was “I suspect that many, if not most people would find the man having the right to buy a woman’s body abhorrent.”

[insert curl of the upper lip and look of utter disdain byAlberici].

Twitter reacts immediately. Holly, as she does, dives in by stating what we all immediately think:

“@HollyInAlbury: ok so its quite obvious the host does not approve of sex work..@lateline.”

Porth, thank goodness, does not take the bait.

Porth outlines that there are a significant number of misconceptions when it comes to sex work. She highlights that much of sex work commentary focuses on street based sex work rather than the sex work that quietly occurs behind closed doors, without much disturbance to the greater society. She goes on to explain that the introduction of the new Canadian laws which criminalise the purchase of sex (using the Swedish Model as a basis) harms workers rather than assists workers. She talks about how the transactions are “rushed” in order to protect clients, placing them in danger. Furthermore, sex workers are unable to appropriately screen clients because clients are unwilling to give names, details, nor wish to outline the kind of services they seek for fear of prosecution prior to the transaction taking place. The negotiation has to take place in person, placing sex workers in danger. Porth continues her great commentary by stating that sex work laws were always in place – they just were not enforced.

Just when we think that the Lateline program is beginning to make some concessions for the sex work industry, Emma Alberici comes in with yet another stupid, ill informed comment by stating:

“Isn’t prostitution an inherently dangerous occupation because it involved being alone with a stranger who is more often than not stronger than you and it is not like you can screen a client who will harm you.”

Holly automatically reacts with:

“HollyInAlbury: NOOOOOO It is NOT [an] inherently dangerous occupation!!! FFS @lateline.”

Lets break this down a little. This statement assumes:

  1. All men are dangerous creatures;
  2. Sex workers are unable to efficiently screen a client beforehand.

We know all of these two statements to be untrue IN A DECRIMINALISED ENVIRONMENT. Not all men are dangerous. Most men are just wishing to purchase sex. We also know that, in parts of Australia where sex work is decriminalised or at least regulated, independent workers manage to screen their clients quite effectively through various means.

Estelle Lucas, one of Australia’s sex worker/sex advocates dives in and correctly states:

“@Estelle_Lucas: You cant screen clients? Yes, you are correct, you can’t screen appropriately when criminalisation is in place.”

Homohearthrob chimes in and states:

“@Lunarynth: Sex work isn’t inherently harmful – criminalisation, attitudes towards us make it dangerous @lateline.”

Porth echoes this by stating that we need to decriminalise sex work, that decriminalisation has been supported by various global organisations such as the UN.

Porth wins that round, which lasts ten seconds because Alberici then decides to suggest the following:

“If you want to help the welfare of sex workers, wouldn’t your efforts be much better placed by helping women exit the industry altogether?”

Wait, what? Sex workers need to stop? By assisting in their welfare, we must prevent sex workers from working? Can we talk about choice here?

Jackie McMillan chimes in approriately by tweeting:

“@MissDissentEats: Sex work is not a cult @Lateline it is a job, you do not need “exit” programs.”

Porth rightfully states that exiting is not that easy. Those resources are not available and in the meantime, sex workers’ work is too busy being stigmitised.

Alberici descends further into her biased commentary by stating:

“Wouldn’t criminalisation send a message to the community that it is not okay to commodify a woman’s body?”

Porth deserved an instant HOO-RAH by putting Alberici in her place by stating that, really, society should focus their efforts on the movie industry or the advertising industry that commodifies women’s bodies on a daily basis to sell products to the community.

Quite conveniently, Alberici “runs out of time” and does not have anything else to ask Kerry Porth so she thanks Kerry Porth for her time and we all sit staring at our television screens, frightened of what is yet to come….

Project (Dis)Respect.

Stay tuned for Blog Three.

KVA

@kvalegal

@kvalegalNOTE 1: Image:http://www.desiredcraft.net/forum/m/2402458/viewthread/20320444-spamming-at-skywars/post/last

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LateLine vs Twitter – Part 1 of 4

Well, this is usually a legal blog and I tend to leave my advocacy work out of this blog but I promised many people last night that I would respond to the program, Lateline which is run by the ABC in Australia. Lateline is a current affairs program which tends to look at current controversial issues. Well, last night, they chose sex work.

There is so much to talk about that there is in fact FOUR blogs relating to this program, which I will be blogging about over the next 24-48 hours.

How It All Begun

It drew much of Twitter’s attention when Lateline started tweeting about the nature of the program and one of their tweets contained this picture:

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Twitter erupted. Now I follow a significant number of people who advocate for sex work. Most vocal was @luciebeexxx who immediately reacted by stating:

“@Luciebeexxx: Its shaming to those women who, regardless of their entry of background in the industry, have enjoyed their work…And pointing that is out is in no way attempting to silence those whose experiences were not positive….Just one quote like that…There’s no quote from Scarlet as part of promotion. This focus on the negative…is so damaging to women in the industry whether they are happy there or not. Some have no choice.”

Already, sex workers were disturbed with the way that Lateline was promoting their program for the night and Twitter was beginning to fire up. We saw many women (and men) debating the fact that many women actually enjoy their work. There was comment about the fact that sometimes jobs need to be done (one example was work in an abattoir) yet the choice of doing it it clear – people do jobs that they do not necessarily enjoy. It does not mean their job is any less worthy of being done.

I drew Lateline’s attention to the fact that their promotion lacked diversity of opinion and that we certainly would have preferred more consultation within the actual industry instead of using “Project Respect” – an organisation which, a number of tweeters claimed had a somewhat notorious reputation for questionable practices in sex work advocacy (something I cannot verify as I have not consulted with them). Lateline’s response was:

“@KateOnTheGo: Hi Kate, we will look at the issue from a number of angles and international perspectives and interview the @scarletalliance.”

I immediately called bullshit and as we saw later on, the interview with Jules from Scarlet Alliance was a diabolical mess but I will get to that later. My concern was that the program was going to deliver a certain dialogue to a specific target market (Lateline watchers) that was dangerous. I ended up being right on that one as well too. More on that later.

Fiona Patten MLC even joined in on the conversation. She was predominately concerned with the use of the word “prostitute” and “prostitution” in the advertising of the program. She raised this issue directly with @Lateline and @albericie by stating:

“@FionaPattenMLC: Hello @Lateline and @albericie. Your tweets vary between prostitution and sex work. Can you please use #sexwork as recommended by @UNAIDS?”

Lateline’s response to Fiona Patten MLC was startling. Emma Alberici responded by stating:

“@albericie @FionaPattenMLC @Lateline official definition of prostitution = engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.”

Right then. You knew things werent going to be good.

The Program’s Beginning

Well, @HollyInAlbury summed the start up quite well:

“@HollyInAlbury oooh @Lateline is starting….already the p word has been used booooooooooo 2 times in not even 20 secs.”

It was true. Lateline immediately adopted the language which many of us on Twitter has literally begged for them not the use.

Jackie McMillan of @MissDissentEats rightly states:

“@MissDissentEats: As an Australian program discussing #sexowrk @Lateline should be using the term #sexworkers as per the @_afao & @UNAIDS guidlines.”

Once it became clear we were dealing with what was already a problematic program, in came direct reference to the most favourite topic of all when it comes to sex – human trafficking. Apparently, the US Government states that there is a direct link between sex work and human trafficking. Alberici provides a quote on the screen by fails to, like any responsible media program should, provide adequate reference for that quote. Fail. Major fail.

The Swedish Model

She then dives into the Swedish Model. She gives us a little background about the Swedish Parliament enacting legislation. Then surprisingly, Alberici throws in a little comment that sex statistics are generally not trustworthy because sex work is the kind of thing people don’t necessarily tell the truth about. I found that statement to be driven by stigma that sex work is something to be shameful about and drives people to be dishonest about their interaction with it. Stigmatisation by Lateline – No. 1. Box ticked. But the good news from Sweden is that statistics show street work has halved since the introduction of the legislation.

Alberici then refers to Mary Honeybird MEP from the UK (LOL) who says that the legislation “punishes men who buy sex.” We can argue the ridiculousness of this statement until the cows come home. This assumption that all men need to be punished for wanting to seek out sexual transactions, that they are automatically offenders by wanting to engage with sex work, rather than only the marginal number of men that we should be concerned about as violent or harmful offenders.

Their correspondent goes to Sweden. They talk to a Swedish sex worker, Karina, who says she is happy to be a sex worker. But it is the buyer who should be punished. A series of women are then quoted as saying how wonderful the Swedish Model is. I found it not surprising that Lateline would have immediately gone straight into the promotion of the Swedish Model to set the scene for the rest of the program. It then turns to a policeman who (to many of us get the shivers when thinking about) talks about how he sits and spies on men who engage with sex workers through “stakeouts”. They speak of the paradox that really they are essentially hunting the sex workers themselves – the ones that should be protected. They seem to explain their way out of that quite well by….wait for it……

“Men buying sex is equivalent to men being violent against women.”

Lets pause for a moment before we all want to throw our remote controls at the screen in an act of violence against the television after the absolute stupidity of what was just said.

@HollyInAlbury expressed her immediate frustration by tweeting: “@HollyInAlbury: Buying sex is not equal to violence…who is writing this shit? I wana bang my head against a wall…@lateline.”

Then comes more startling statements.

“If a woman is in such a bad situation that she has to be used and sell herself then is it really fair to punish her?”

Stigmatisation that all sex workers are victims. Wonderful.

Mr Henricks Policeman brags that the laws have actually strengthened the relationship between sex workers and police. Karina calls bullshit. She stated that she did not want the police to target her. She spoke of fear. She spoke of being used and stigmatised by the laws themselves.

Former sex worker, Jacobsen then comes hammering in wonderfully about the ridiculousness and reality of the Swedish laws – the renting of apartments (eviction), the owning of the apartment (losing ownership), and the driving of sex workers to do outcalls or work on the streets which places them in direct harm.

Then, probably the most ridiculous of all statements is made by Beatrice from Roks, Women’s Support Shelter….

“I see women in prostitution in the same way as I see women in domestic violence situations.”

Holly’s tweet that was immediately made after the statement was made summed it up:

“@HollyInAlbury: WTF???? sex work is equal to domestic violence ??????? Now I’ve heard everything. This is rubbish and insulting to victims of DV @lateline.”

(Holly goes on to do wondefully ragey YouTube video made after Lateline that she thought the whole entire program stank, but Holly speaks directly about what an absolutely absurd statement this is —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AddriGC0-E)

The program goes on to nicely admit that no one really knows whether the Swedish Model is actually successful but one commentator states that it is not “measured in numbers but measured by attitudes”. How accurate!

“I haven’t met a happy buyer or happy seller.”

So it appears from this attitude that has been “measured” shows us that every sex worker in Sweden is, well, miserable. Oh, and so are the men too.

Commentator then interjects with:

“Well you wouldn’t would you?

Oh, no, no.”

So, it appears moreso from this measured attitude that sex workers and sex buyers wouldn’t dare be happy to involve themselves in work because its…well, sex work. Stigmatisation of Sex Workers – Tick!

Join me a little later for Part 2.

KVA

@KVALEGAL

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Why Can’t We Have Uniform Sex Work Laws?

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Hi all,

This issue has come up recently, when I have been asked “WHY DO WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND SO MANY DIFFERENT LAWS?”

This may have been spurred on by me doing blogs which explain the different laws around the country. It could also be because many girls are touring right now and need to understand the laws of each of the states in order to work.

The reason why we cannot have uniform sex laws is quite a difficult thing to explain but I will do my best because it is really hot topic. I’m going to try and explain it in the simplest way possible but if you are a lawyer and you have knowledge of the laws, feel free to post comments which expand on what I am saying.

Our Constitution

Back in 1901, when we became a Federation, we had the States and Territories reluctant to become a Federation (ie. have a government which deals with the country as a whole). The reason why we became a Federation has been written about extensively and it really is quite convoluted. Basically, there was so much trade going on between the States and Territories that there had to be some form of uniform rules about the way States and Territories transacted (note: that is an extraordinarily basic explanation and I apologise to all of the Constitutional lawyers who I have offended by talking about it in such a simplistic way).

Here is our Constitution —> http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution

Now, if you go to and click on “Part V – Powers of the Government”, you will be directed to Section 51 of the Constitution. Section 51 is an important clause because it basically says “alright, Federal Government, if you want to exist then you are limited to be involved in only THESE issues and these issues only.” So, Section 51 lists I think 36 “heads of power” that the Federal Government can deal with. Whatever doesn’t come under those “heads of power”, its left for the States to deal with.

If you read the list of Section 51, you will see that “sex work” or “prostitution” is not a “head of power”.

So, the Federal Government cannot make laws with respect to “sex work” or “prostitution”.

The only power that they have is to deal with crimes relating to human trafficking because it is an international or cross-border issue. That’s where the Australian Federal Police get their powers to deal with that aspect of “sex work”.

The Many Aspects of Sex Work from a State Perspective

It is extraordinarily hard to piece together all of the State legislation that applies to “sex work”. I’ll list the many different state laws that come into play when we talk about sex work:

1) council regulations

2) public health and safety

3) crime

4) licensing

5) “prostitution”

6) advertising

7) employment

8) discrimination

This means that a sex worker has a whole raft of legislation that needs to be taken into account when working. There is simply no way that we can pull all of these laws and make some form of “sex work umbrella” – or at the very least, I have not worked out a way to do it. I have looked at all of the Scarlet Alliance submissions here —> http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/laws/ and I am afraid even Scarlet Alliance hasn’t yet taken on the battle to unify sex worker laws throughout the country.

What Do We Do?

1.We magically change the Constitution to include sex work as a head of power. Chances of that happening? Nil. We cannot even get our Indigenous people recognised in the Constitution let alone sex workers.

2. We continue to push State governments to move AWAY from criminalisation and move to decriminalisation. We NEED to fight for this, especially in South Australia.

3. If that doesn’t work, we need to oppose the legislation of sex work and ideally use (at the very least) New South Wales as an example of how sex work should be dealt with legislatively – which is basically “not at all” except for crime.

4. Failing that, we need to lobby State Governments to make consist laws throughout the country so that sex workers can transact across the borders without fear of breaking the law or breaching regulations. Currently, we have extraordinarily different laws (especially Victoria and Queensland which are both so completely different from one another). We should lobby these Governments to at least be consistent with the legislation so that sex workers do not spend the rest of their lives concerned about breaking laws. This is even more of a problem now that sex workers are advertising on global platforms like the internet and social media where there are not borders and people from different states read websites and do not understand the differences between services that can be offered in one state and not the other.

5. Failing that, sex workers need to become more educated when it comes to the different legislation. Scarlet Alliance very recently had a law conference to educate themselves about the law. This education I hope will widen and I will do my best to continue to inform sex workers about their legal obligations while lobbying the State Government for some kind of change to laws to make them more consistent.

That is the end of my rant.

Thank you for reading.

KVA

@KVALEGAL

* Note 1: Image: http://iserotope.com/sad-day-two-kindles-damaged-now-what/

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Sex Worker Lives – An Interview with Ms. Jadis

This is very exciting…..

As part of my advocacy through this blog, I have decided that I will do interviews with sex workers from various areas of the industry, to give them the opportunity to explain their role in the industry and raise awareness about the kind of work that they do. I have had the pleasure to begin this “Sex Worker Lives” series with Ms. Jadis, Sydney’s most eminent Professional Dominatrix. Ms. Jadis kindly agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions that gives some insight into her work and her role in the sex industry. I hope you enjoy what will be a long-lasting series of interviews with some very interesting and diverse people.

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An Interview With Ms. Jadis – Professional Dominatrix

1. How would you describe your role in the sex industry?

As a Dominatrix I deal with erotic expression that falls outside the standard vanilla “box”. Kink, BDSM & Fetish,.specifically experiences where people want to be topped in some way.. My job is more varied than most would imagine. Some of my sessions conform to the whip wielding, order barking, latex clad stereotype but not all my sessions are like that. So much of what I do is providing a safe, non judgemental space for erotic expression that happens to fall outside the mainstream.

As my job involves being compensated for my erotic labour I identify as a sex worker. I am proud to stand beside my peers in other parts of the adult industry. This can be a controversial position in the world of professional BDSM partially because many who are unfamiliar with sex worker activism believe that the term “sex worker” applies only to full service workers. Many Dommes identify as being entertainers, therapists or similar. Their reasons for this can include marketing (clients can have real trouble reconciling the pedestal they like to put their Domina on with their preconceptions of what sex work looks like) and attempts to create distance from other parts of the sex industry in order to personally avoid legal problems, stigma and whorephobia. I believe similar controversies also play out in the exotic dancing world.

2. When did you decide that this form of work was for you?

I was a rebellious goth teenager who attended a very strict religious school and I’ve had an interest in kink (specifically sadism and control)for as long as I can remember. So obviously the idea of being a Dominatrix was very appealing to baby me! I did try out professional domination for a few months in my very early 20’s but that was only a brief foray in a not very well managed house environment. I truly settled on Domination as a career when I met Mistress Servalan and began my apprenticeship, over eight years go now. In hindsight I’m glad things turned out as they did. I entered my domination career with more life experience, sound business skills from working corporate jobs and a better idea of my personal boundaries.

3. Did your experience in BDSM precede the sex work? Or did the sex work lead to the dominatrix persona?

I’ve answered this indirectly above. There are many excellent ProDommes who have come from other parts of the industry. I came straight to Domination due to my personal interest in kink. I’ve never had another sex working “persona”.

4. If I say the word “sexuality”, what does that word “sexuality” mean to you?

Sexuality is the realm of erotic feeling, response and expression and the form that realm takes for different people in terms of identity.

5. What are some tips that you may wish to give a person of any gender who is wishing to explore their sexuality?

We’re all bombarded with so many images of what sexuality should look like which makes it difficult sometimes for us to work out what our sexuality actually involves. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and think about what actually makes us feel good as opposed to what we know we’re supposed to perform. Consent, communication and a commitment to treat sexual exploration as an ongoing process are essential. We’re so fixated on orgasm as goal that we forget that so much of the fun is in the journey.

6. As a Professional Dominatrix, how do you assist people in understanding their sexuality?

I think the primary way that I assist people in understanding their sexuality is providing a safe yet boundaried space for them to explore. The boundaries are important – they mean that what happens in the dungeon does not impact the rest of that individuals life. I’m good at finding the themes that connect people’s interests together which tends to provide sound direction for further exploration. It’s actually quite rare that I’ll see someone for just one session which allows trust to develop over time and enables greater exploration.

7. If there was one message to the BDSM community you would like to give, what would it be?

Kink really does not need to be an arms race! The scene suffers because there’s too much ego fed posturing and one-upmanship. We’d all learn more and have more fun with kink if we had a bit more perspective. Share skills and information because you want others to enjoy too not to prove your superiority.

8. In reverse, as a member of the BDSM community, what one message would you like to give to those not in that specific community?

Despite what many will tell you there is no one true way! If you’re interested in exploring kink there’s a multitude of ways to do it, one of which is probably going to be right for you. It’s YOUR sexuality. Take responsibility by acting ethically, researching widely and exploring at a rate that you are comfortable with.

9. Being a Professional Dominatrix is a huge role to play. Who are you when you are not in this role? Or do you try and keep that part of you to yourself?

I’m a lifestyle perv as well as a professional one so there’s actually not a huge separation between work me and day to day me. Day to day me is just more comfortably dressed, rantier, geekier and lazier.

10. Are there any other areas of sex work that you would like to explore in the future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I’d like to be still working as a Professional Dominatrix in 10 years time, maybe on a grander scale! I’ve been curious about tantric massage for a while but domination really is my passion.

11. Finish this sentence. “In a perfect world,……”

Eeek! So difficult to answer given that I tend toward the wildly idealistic! I’ll take the easy out and say that In a perfect world I’d have ALL Of that current Wheels & Dollbaby collection.

Thank you so much to Mistress Jadis – you can follow Mistress Jadis on Twitter at @MsJadis or on http://www.msjadis.com.

If you would like to be interviewed, or have a request to have someone interviewed, do not hesitate to DM me and I will try and persuade that person to be interviewed!

KVA

@KVALEGAL

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