Slut Walk, Melbourne 2012 – on Victim Blaming…

Hi, I’m Jane Green speaking on behalf of:

– Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organization,

& Scarlet Alliance, Australia’s national peak sex worker organization.

I am, & have been for more than a decade, a sex worker, performer, sex worker activist, queer & general trouble-maker.

I am also a survivor of rape.

The problem with being a sex worker & survivor of rape is that blame & victim hood are inescapable.

Let me elaborate on that for you.

First in terms of “victim hood”…

The logic of much conservative & radical feminist theory dictates that if you are a sex worker some trauma – often assumed to be – your terrible childhood or past sexual assault – must have thrown you into a state where you are incapable of making rational decisions about your own needs, desires & life choices.

Most specifically your choice of occupation.

This gives other people (particularly a certain type of academic) the right to inform you of your lack of agency, that what you believe to be your chosen path in life is simply “false consciousness”.

Now I don’t like the idea of being a VICTIM, but I’ll tell you what I like even less – other people telling me I’m not allowed to be anything else, because I’m a sex worker…

So here are some contrasting facts from my life for you.

Because it is not okay to blame the survivor of a rape.

Regardless of the survivors occupation.

I was raped at the age of six by a family friend.

When I was a child I never told anyone because of fear.

I kept the secret of my rape for years.

This is the first time I have spoken publicly of it.

This is a fact of my life.

It is not a pleasant fact.

But it no more contributed to my being a sex worker than it contributed to the fact that I also used to work as an accountant.

Sex workers who have been raped suffer the same trauma & pain as other rape survivors, but do so in a society that repeatedly tells them:

their pain is an occupational hazard,

blame them for choosing that occupation,

– then tell them they lack the capacity to actually make that “choice”.

That is the definition of adding insult to injury.

And that is what I mean by BLAME.

& let me tell you something else…

I really hated being an accountant.

I really LOVE being a sex worker.

It’s not boring.

I don’t usually have to wear a suit

& if I do I have cooler suits than I had when I was an Accountant.

I get to enjoy sex & kink & people in way I never thought I would growing up.

But I do & sex work helped me with that.

But let’s get back to BLAME.

When a sex worker says they LOVE their job – they get blamed for that too.

Abolitionists & critics like to say “well you’re just a ‘happy hooker'”, expecting and implying that you’re coming from some sort of privilege or pro-sex platform & have nothing in common with “the majority” of sex workers.

Well here are some more facts from my life, for you –

I have spent more than 5 years of my life homeless,

I have worked in street sex work,

I have worked in criminalized environments,

I have been raped at work.

Rape is not a bad day at work.

Rape should not be acceptable in the sex industry.

Because rape should not be acceptable in ANY industry or workplace.

What enables enduring risk to the heath & safety of sex workers here in Australia is

– the willingness of the government to continue to refuse to extend to sex workers the same basic protections & dignities under law that average citizens take for granted.

What sustains that risk is the willingness of the public to do nothing when sex workers raise their voices relentlessly asking for change.

Here are some final facts for you…

I happen to love my job.

Not all sex workers do.

Just like not all accountants do.

& I don’t claim to speak for all sex workers – because no-one can.

Sex workers are a diverse community of individuals – with individual voices who can speak to the truth of their own experiences & who do not want to be silenced.

And that’s the problem:

– when sex workers are caricatured as victims & blamed,

– whether they remain within their sanctioned role as victim or express their agency – they are blamed & silenced, and the space & freedom they have as individuals & as a community is reduced.

When studies conclude that sex workers across Australia have better sexual health & practice safer sex than the general population, but are subject in Victoria to forced invasive monthly health examinations to be able to work – that is an invasion not only against sex workers rights but also our bodies.

When police are used as the enforcement arm of discriminatory laws against sex workers – as they are in Victoria – how can we trust & rely on them to protect us when we are the victims of crime?

Abolitionists & proponents of the Swedish or Nordic Model – would try to sell you the concept that sex work needs to be criminalized to ‘protect’ sex workers:

– how am I protected by laws that would deny me the ability to work safely?

– how am I protected by having less rights than you?

– how are sex workers protected by being told what we need, rather than asked what we want?

& what do I, as a sex worker want?

I want the same rights – labour rights, human rights – as everyone else…

Seem fair?

Seem reasonable?

It’s called DECRIMINALIZATION

It has nothing to do with being a victim.

It has nothing to do with blame.

& everything to do with progress.

One thought on “Slut Walk, Melbourne 2012 – on Victim Blaming…

  1. Pingback: Rape and the “un-chaste” victim in Victoria | sexliesducttape

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