We acknowledge that everybody has a different experience of the sex industry, and that no one person can speak for all sex workers; however, Prostitution Narratives tries to take the experience of a small number of women, and assign that experience to all women in the industry. While we respect the experience of the former sex workers who were involved in Prostitution Narratives, as current sex workers, we are the people who a change in the law would affect – not people who used to be engaged in the industry.
The word trafficking conjures up images of women tied to beds, and this is not the reality. Sex work is the exchange of sex for money, goods, or services, between two consenting adults. It is a far more banal reality than the lurid images those who’ve never done it frequently imagine up. The editors of Prostitution Narratives frequently make an outlandish comparison to chattel slavery; as prominent United States anti-racist organisation INCITE! Women of Colour stated, “in borrowing this narrative, these ‘abolitionists’ exploit Black suffering to provide emotional weight to their own cause”. As sex workers, we are in the rare industry where workers having a negative experience of the industry sometimes inspires those outsiders who have never done it – such as the editors of Prostitution Narratives – to campaign for legislation that has made the experiences of current workers much, much worse. Their views treat our lives as collateral damage in a moral political agenda.
We are especially outraged at the appalling attempt by the editors of Prostitution Narratives to use the 2015 death of prominent Australian sex worker advocate Pippa O’Sullivan, also known as Grace Bellavue, for their own political gain. Pippa was an incredibly strong voice for sex worker rights, who ferociously opposed Melinda Tankard Reist and Caroline Norma’s views and fought tooth-and-nail against the Nordic model and for the decriminalisation of her work for many years. That the editors would use a woman’s suicide to advance a cause that that woman vehemently opposed – without the consent of Pippa’s grieving family – is absolutely disgusting. Pippa’s appalled mother will never have their platform, and has launched a website for people who actually knew and respected Pippa to post their memories to counter the disgusting depiction in Prostitution Narratives.