We are using the policeman’s eye when we can’t see a sex worker as anything but his or her work, as an object to control. It’s not just a carceral eye; it’s a sexual eye. If a sex worker is always working, always available, she (with this eye, almost always a she) is essentially sexual. It’s the eye of the hotel room surveillance video but applied to our neighborhoods, our community groups, and our policies. Even the most seemingly benign “rehabilitation” programs for sex workers are designed to isolate them from the rest of the population. They may be described as shelters, but the doors are locked, the phones are monitored, and guests are forbidden. When we construct help in this way we use the same eye with which we build and fill prisons. This isn’t compassion. This isn’t charity. This is control.
When we look at sex workers this way we produce conditions in which they are always being policed. “Criminalization” isn’t just a law on the books but a state of being and moving in the world, of forming relationships—of having them predetermined for you. This is why we demonize the customer’s perspective on the sex worker as one of absolute control, why we situate the real violence sex workers can face as the individual man’s responsibility, and why we imagine that all sex workers must be powerless to say no. We have no way of understanding how to relate to the prostitute we ’ve imagined but through control.
Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, Verso, 2014, p. 11-12
Wherever possible we shall strive to set up our committees, committees of the Social-Democratic Labour Party. They will consist of peasants, paupers, intellectuals, prostitutes (a worker recently asked us in a letter why not carry on agitation among the prostitutes), soldiers, teachers, workers – in short, all Social-Democrats, and none but Social-Democrats … The urban and industrial proletariat will inevitably be the nucleus of our Social-Democratic Labour Party, but we must attract to it, enlighten, and organise all who labour and are exploited, as stated in our programme – all without exception: handicraftsmen, paupers, beggars, servants, tramps, prostitutes.
Lénine, Collected Works, vol. 9, pp. 237-8., trouvé ici : http://stalinsmoustache.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/lenin-and-prostitutes/
Despite the acceptance of “sluts,” the “prostitute” remains a deeply embedded symbolic marker between decency and disrespect. The “ethical slut” engages in sex of her or his own “free” will, while the “dirty whore” insists on getting paid for sex. Sex-positive feminists and other “sluts” believe there is nothing morally wrong with consensual sex between two (or more) people in private, or for adults, in a semi-public setting such as a sex club, dungeon or swingers’ retreat. But money changes everything.
Whorephobia remains pervasive in the social psyche, showing its ugliness even in sex-positive communities. The positive emphasis on sex work confuses “straights” into thinking that sex work is about sex, not work. That cognitive dissonance — the deep chasm filled with stereotypes and prejudices — interferes with the capacity of civilians to hear sex workers speak about their experiences. Stories that don’t conform to the “superhappyfunsexysexwork!” narrative tend to flummox pro-sex feminists; they can identify with privileged exotic dancers, porn performers and professional dominants (even fantasize about being one), but think “junkie whores” need to be rescued and should be prevented from working in their gentrifying neighborhoods. Such disrespectful treatment leads to silencing, ignoring, or rewriting what sex workers have to say.
Writing in the blogosphere recently, sex workers say they’re frustrated with the uncritical acceptance of sex-positive feminism. Furry Girl, the Seattle-based founder of SWAAY, is also the blogger behind Feminisnt because she “got tired of trying to shoehorn my life into a useless ideology like a pair of ill-fitting high heels.” The habit of always trying to put a “good” face on sex work leaves little room for those who have had not-so-good experiences. They fear talking about the bad stuff because “straight” audiences, whether pro-sex feminists, prohibitionists or the media, tend to stuff those stories into established morality tales about sex, violence and bodily integrity. But the truth is that by telling stories with all the gory details and delicious specifics, we can get to the revolution that sex workers are creating right now.
Melinda CHATEAUVERT : Ethical Sluts and “Dirty Whores” : Straight Talk About Sex Work
Tout comme le travail domestique et les autres formes de care, le travail du sexe a connu une restructuration majeure depuis les années 1970, que les mouvements féministes et de travailleurs du sexe commencent seulement à analyser et à intégrer à leur mobilisation. Toutefois, nous pouvons dire avec certitude qu’un aspect de cette restructuration a été la multiplication des travailleurs du sexe et la diversification des types de services commerciaux disponibles, ainsi que l’internationalisation de la main-d’œuvre du sexe. Ces développements s’expliquent par plusieurs facteurs, notamment la réorgani- sation du travail, des rapports de genre et de la sexualité produite par les politiques néolibérales. Il est clair que davantage de recherches doivent être menées sur ces développements. Mais il est certain qu’aujourd’hui la majorité des travailleurs du sexe sont des femmes migrantes ainsi que des hommes et des transsexuels originaires d’Afrique, d’Amérique du Sud et d’Europe de l’Est.
Les statistiques sur le nombre de travailleurs du sexe sont controversées dans tous les pays et régions, en raison de la nature clandestine du travail du sexe et de la stigmatisation dont il est l’objet. Cependant, si l’on considère que l’industrie du sexe inclut non seulement les personnes travaillant dans la prostitution, mais aussi les danseurs et danseuses, les modèles et acteurs ou actrices de films pornographiques, les employées de peep-shows et de bar de striptease, les opératrices de téléphone rose et les cyber-stripteaseuses, les réceptionnistes, les gardiens, les chauffeurs, le nombre de femmes, de trans- sexuels et d’hommes employés mondialement dans l’«industrie du divertissement pour adultes » est sidérant. […]
￼Dans l’ensemble, les conditions du travail du sexe se sont dégradées en comparaison avec celles des débuts du mouvement des travailleurs du sexe à la fin des années 1970. En raison de la détérioration du contexte économique et de l’intensification de la concurrence dans l’industrie du sexe, il est devenu plus difficile pour les travailleurs de ce secteur d’exercer le type de contrôle que les prostituées avaient établi auparavant sur leurs conditions de travail. De nombreux travailleurs du sexe migrants sont en situation irrégulière et, en raison du durcissement du contrôle des frontières et des politiques d’immigration en Europe, ont dû compter sur des intermédiaires criminels pour financer et organiser leur voyage à l’étranger; par conséquent, la violence et la coercition à l’encontre des travailleurs du sexe se sont aggravées. En fait, les travailleurs du sexe, en particulier celles et ceux qui travaillent dans la prostitution, sont aujourd’hui pénalisés à trois niveaux: en tant que travailleurs du sexe, en tant que travailleurs sans papiers et en tant que victimes de la servitude pour dette et de l’exploitation. Depuis les années 1980, la question du « trafic sexuel » divise l’analyse féministe de la prostitution en deux camps opposés et marque une ligne de fracture importante parmi les féministes. D’un côté, les personnes convaincues que la prostitution est une activité non volontaire qu’aucune femme ne peut choisir librement proposent de définir tous les cas de prostitution comme des violences à l’encontre des femmes. De l’autre, celles qui affirment qu’en considérant la prostitution, sous quelque forme qu’elle soit, comme intrinsèquement violente, on menace la sécurité des travailleurs du sexe, et qu’en outre cette position infantilisante et moraliste nie la violence inhérente aux autres perspectives d’emploi qui s’offrent aux travailleurs du sexe, et généralement aux femmes, notamment s’ils et elles sont originaires de pays qui ont subi des formes drastiques de libéralisation économique. […]
Il n’est pas possible de transformer la situation des travailleurs du sexe en se concentrant exclusivement sur la domination et l’esclavage sexuels, et en différenciant les travailleurs du sexe des autres travailleurs, de la même façon que nous ne pouvons pas aborder la question du travail reproductif en nous concentrant sur le travail du care. Précisément parce que le travail du sexe est souvent du travail non libre, le travailleur du sexe devient le paradigme du travailleur de l’économie mondiale, de la même façon que la main-d’œuvre féminine sous-payée, précaire et « informelle » devient le paradigme de toute forme d’exploitation. Comme dans les années 1970, la question est aujourd’hui de savoir si cette prise de conscience sera à la base d’une recomposition parmi les différents secteurs de la main-d’œuvre féminine. Car le travail du sexe, à l’instar du travail domestique et du care, pose l’un des défis les plus importants aux féminismes actuels.
Camille BARBAGALLO et Silvia FEDERICI, “Travail domestique, du care, du sexe et migrations dans le contexte de la restructuration néo-libérale : de la politisation du travail reproductif. In Genre, migrations et globa- lisation de la reproduction sociale. Cahiers genre et développement. N° 9. (Dir.) C. Verschuur et C. Catarino. 421-430. Paris : L’Harmattan.” p. 427-429
However raids on Entertainment Places are traditionally carried out in the night and our research shows that raids in response to instances of suspected human trafficking in the sex industry are regularly carried out around 11pm or later. According to tradition usually large numbers
of armed police arrive at the Entertainment Place, enter and apprehend all women on the premises and any other workers present e.g. doorman, cashier, manager. Any women who attempt to run away, often from fear and confusion, are chased and controlled by force. It is not unusual for women to be injured in police raids while trying to escape.
Empower Fundation, The impact of anti trafficking policy and practice on Sex Worker’s human rights in Thailand
In 2003 the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand recognized that police entrapment often leads to serious human rights violations, especially against women in the sex industry and recommended it should only be used under a clear and precise system that prevents such human rights abuses. However instead of stopping the practice of entrapment or developing adequate safe guards, under the Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2008, use of entrapment by police and NGOs has increased and appears to be a routine practice that continues unmonitored regardless of the negative consequences for sex workers and entertainment place workers.
In our research, the use of entrapment has resulted in at least two incidents of minors deciding to sell sex for the first time then being detained and later deported.
Both of the girls were entrapped by police and falsely identified as being victims of trafficking on the basis of their immigration status, age and the fact that they were working in an Entertainment Place, where sex workers were also employed. Neither of them were working as sex workers; and they did not want to be assisted by the government welfare department nor rescued from their working or living situation.
« I came to Chiang Mai about 4 months beforehand. I was staying with my aunty and working in the karaoke bar. When I applied for the job no one asked my age and I never thought to mention it. I didn’t know it was important. I wasn’t ready to go with customers. I felt too shy. There was no pressure from anyone, it was up to me. It just meant I didn’t earn as much as the others. Then this guy came in three nights in a row. He said I looked very young and he wanted me to go with him. Even though he offered to pay a lot I refused for the first two nights. Then I don’t know why but on the third night I thought well, he seems nice and it would be good to have some more money. So I agreed to go with him. Big mistake. He turned out to be a policeman and I was arrested and locked up for 8 months. »
Tip, research partner, Chiang Mai
Empower Fundation, The impact of anti trafficking policy and practice on Sex Worker’s human rights in Thailand
It was important for feminists to see, for example, that much housework and child rearing is work of policing our children, so that they will conform to a particular work discipline. We thus began to see that by refusing broad areas of work, we not only could liberate ourselves but could also liberate our children. We saw that our struggle was not at the expense of the people we cared for, though we may skip preparing some meals or cleaning the floor. Actually our refusal opened the way for their refusal and the process of their liberation.
Once we saw that rather than reproducing life we were expanding capitalist accumulation and began to define reproductive labor as work for capital, we also opened the possibility of a process of re-composition among women.
Think for example of the prostitute movement, which we now call the “sex workers” movement. In Europe the origins of this movement must be traced back to 1975 when a number of sex workers in Paris occupied a church, in protest against a new zoning regulation which they saw as an attack on their safety. There was a clear connection between that struggle, which soon spread throughout Europe and the United States, and the feminist movement’s re-thinking and challenging of housework. The ability to say that sexuality for women has been work has lead to a whole new way of thinking about sexual relationships, including gay relations. Because of the feminist movement and the gay movement we have begun to think about the ways in which capitalism has exploited our sexuality, and made it “productive.”
In conclusion, it was a major breakthrough that women would begin to understand unpaid labor and the production that goes on in the home as well as outside of the home as the reproduction of the work force. This has allowed a re-thinking of every aspect of everyday life — child-raising, relationships between men and women, homosexual relationships, sexuality in general– in relation to capitalist exploitation and accumulation.
Silvia FEDERICI, “Precarious Labor : a Feminist Viewpoint” à lire ici
It shouldn’t even need to be pointed out that legal efforts to destroy the sex industry inevitably affect the lives and work of sex workers. Sweden’s extensive set of laws and restrictions include the forfeiture of rental flats and rooms used for sex work, the forcible placement of sex workers under the age of 21 in state care, and the denial of entry to foreigners with residence permits if they are suspected of sex work. Police stake out sex workers’ homes and workplaces, clandestinely film them, and subject them to invasive searches. Sex workers are often forced to testify in court, but have the rights of neither victim nor accused.
Because the tax office will not accept sex work as a business, sex workers are compelled to lie, running the risk of missing out on social insurance benefits or of receiving arbitrarily inflated tax bills. And health services, counselling, and further education available to sex workers generally require a commitment to exiting the sex industry.
All of the above obstacles operate in tandem with the criminalisation of clients, which brings still more perils to sex workers. With some clients deterred by the legislation, the remaining ones are in a better position to haggle for cheaper prices, with the result that sex workers may actually have to do business with more clients in order to make ends meet. (To those commentators who view all sex work as compensated rape, this should surely be cause for concern.) Afraid of attracting police attention, it’s the clients who set the terms of where business will take place, leading sex workers to operate from more isolated and dangerous locations. And when there are fewer clients to choose from, the most desperate sex workers will be targeted by those seeking services which would ordinarily be turned down. Such conditions are ideal for predators, and with peer support networks disrupted by excessive police surveillance, sex workers are less able to organize with one another, missing out on opportunities to share crucial safety information.
The Swedish government’s official evaluation of the laws, published in 2010, declared that the negative effects reported by sex workers “must be viewed as positive from the perspective that the purpose of the law is indeed to combat prostitution.” By this logic, anything which makes sex workers’ lives harder is fine. The authorities’ commitment to tackling violence against women is seriously called into question by this callous statement. And given that one of the report’s overt aims was to present the Swedish model as successful, this evaluation is incompatible with ethical standards of research.
To be clear: I am not arguing that the newly emergent forms of sexual labor that COYOTE sex workers represent are unconnected to individuals’ material conditions or to their structural locations within a social world that is characterized by increasingly profound inequalities. I am suggesting, however, that contemporary sex workers are often situated in highly complex ways vis-à-vis axes of domination and subordination (both economically and sexually) and that the forms of oppression they experience within sex work may be less severe than those they experience elsewhere.
I am also suggesting that the forms and meanings with which they have endowed their labor are connected to a historically specific set of conditions of possibility. These conditions include a postindustrial economy that has rapidly driven up the cost of living in desirable urban centers, while at the same time creating a highly stratified occupational sector (one with a limited number of time-intensive, highly paid, and hard-to-acquire professional positions, but with ample quantities of poorly paid, temporary, and part-time “junk” jobs).52 These economic developments are intricately connected to some of the ways that increasing numbers of young, urban middle-class people are restructuring their intimate lives—either by delaying marriage and childbearing until these are more economically viable options, or by defying the expectations of heterosexual monogamy entirely.
Elizabeth Bernstein, Temporarily Yours, Intimacy, Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex, The University of Chicago, 2007, p. 108
In 1993, several members of COYOTE splintered off to found the Exotic Dancer’s Alliance (EDA), targeting their protests at unfair labor practices in the city’s erotic theaters. Partnering with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 790, the women sought to combat troubling health and safety issues in the clubs as well as the implementation of mandatory “stage fees” for club employees. According to EDA activists, the stage fees effectively transformed the theaters into clandestine, pimp-managed brothels, compromising their freedom and their safety. Indeed, some of the newest crop of performers or “independent contractors” in these refurbished commercial venues were the same women who had previously engaged in prostitution on Tenderloin streets. Though tacit, the reorganization of the clubs was ensured by the construction of “private rooms” as well as through the implementation of a system of steep stage fees. The creation of private rooms in the strip clubs—cubicles featuring a bench, sofa, or bed cordoned off from the rest of the club by opaque curtains or even a door—occurred simultaneously with the sudden imposition of the stage fees, whereby dancers were reclassified as “independent contractors” (rather than employees) and were required to pay fees of up to $200 per shift in order to be able to work. Since the stage fees were often more than women would earn from an entire evening’s worth of striptease performances and lap dances, club management explicitly encouraged dancers to take their clients into the private rooms where they could engage in more “lucrative” activities.4
Rather than regarding these exploitative conditions as intrinsic to sexualized labor and fighting for its elimination (as their abolitionist feminist peers might have done), the members of the EDA instead sought to reform the industry from within by arguing for exotic dancers’ rights as workers. Numerous EDA members filed wage and hour claims with the California Labor Commission, culminating in a successful class action lawsuit against one of the largest erotic theaters in the city, the Market Street Cinema. As described by former dancer-activist Heidi M. Kooy, “The courts ruled that … employers were required to pay at least minimum wage for hours worked; and that requiring dancers to pay stage fees was illegal. The California Labor Commission later reiterated the San Francisco court’s ruling, outlawing clubs throughout the state from charging dancers for the right to make a living.”5 The trend toward the normalization and legitimation of sexual labor as labor appeared to advance still further in 1996, when the city’s only “women- owned, women-managed” erotic theater, the Lusty Lady, became the first fully unionized exotic dancing venue in the nation.6
Elizabeth Bernstein, Temporarily Yours, Intimacy, Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex, The University of Chicago, 2007, p. 72-73