Received on 18.12.17:
As our contribution to a global campaign marking International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, activist whores in so-called Melbourne, Australia, undertook an action to raise awareness of the discrimination, marginalisation and criminalisation we experience.
Among other issues, our communities are susceptible to intersecting systemic marginalisation manifesting as:
– assault and extortion by State institutions (police/ military/ judiciary);
– stigma and discrimination from ‘upright citizens’ (e.g. neighborhood vigilante groups);
– ostracism which impacts upon those close to us (including our children and intimate partners).
Similarly, we are misrepresented in the mainstream media by stale narratives depicting us as hapless victims, softhearted and misguided Pretty Woman-esq naifs, gold diggers, or drug addled vectors of disease. With the exception of our own media, whores are never depicted as the loud, proud, strong, savvy, independent, and engaged people so many of us really are.
On whore instigated days of action such as 17 December, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, our communities create their own spaces to celebrate and reflect upon the shared histories of activism and political engagement we have experienced, challenging dominant stereotypes in the process.
Many sex workers choose 17 December to hold vigils and remembrance ceremonies for our friends who have passed as a direct result of government policies that continue to alienate and criminalise us. However, this year a group of whores in so-called Melbourne focused our energies on the radical feminist milieu who actively perpetuate stereotypes of sex workers as, at best, victims, and most offensively, as ‘foot soldiers of patriarchy’. Local adherents to outdated rad-fem ideological tendencies directly contribute to legislation and policy which fetishises migrant sex workers, condemns trans sex workers, and infantilises street based workers. Under the guise of ‘supporting’ sex workers, Project Respect, the rad-fem front-group, serves only to silence and dis-empower sex workers.
Project Respect, whose aims and objectives closely reflect those of right-wing, abolitionist Christians, explicitly misrepresents itself as a space and voice for sex workers, a claim we vehemently refute. In targeting Project Respect we wished to convey strongly that, as whores, we are actively engaged politically and are highly capable of organising our own safer spaces. We have a ferocious ability to speak for ourselves – we don’t want or need saviors! We recognise rad-fem attitudes towards sex work as ideological violence, which, reflected in State policy, attributes to actual manifestations of various forms of violence against our communities.
Our action, which we dedicated to whores who have lost their lives and freedom in challenging State oppression, involved re-painting and sabotaging the Project Respect office. It’s locks were super-glued, and the message, “Respect Sex Workers as Doctors and Teachers- we heal, we educate”, was spray-painted in close proximity to the office entrance, on the walls of Fitzroy Council building (whose Councillors include Project Respect co-founder and prominent Greens Party rad-fem careerist viper, Kathleen Maltzhan).
Sex workers in so-called Melbourne will continue to engage in activism which challenges patriarchal and kyriarchic systems that perpetuate our own oppression, and those experienced by other marginalised and minority communities. Sex workers are part of the anti-capitalist struggle against racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, speciesism, colonialism, and militarism. We extend our solidarity to those across the globe also working toward a future of autonomy, liberty, and freedom.