We Need More Stories Like It
by Megan Burbank
“This is one of the most vulgar ironies I could possibly even conceive of,” says Kristine, a caustic, funny welder by trade, toward the end of Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller’s new documentary Sweetheart Deal. She’s responding to the news that Laughn Elliott Doescher, who fashioned himself mayor of Seattle’s Aurora Avenue North and friend to sex workers including Kristine, had been drugging and sexually assaulting the same people he claimed to support, including a young woman Doescher had previously assisted in tracking down an abusive client. He was one predator hidden behind another.
Continue reading OPINION: ‘Sweetheart Deal’ Documents the Experiences of Sex Workers With Empathy →
by Laura LeMoon
There’s a change coming to New York City — a change in prostitution criminalization policy that has already been in place in Seattle for many years. NYC is going to stop all pending and future prosecutions of prostitutes. It will continue to prosecute prostitution-related offenses and sex buyers. What this means is that New York City is moving to a system of prostitution criminalization that has been around in the rest of the major U.S. cities for years. It may initially sound like a smart, even progressive and empowering move to only prosecute sex buyers instead of sex workers — but think again.
Continue reading OPINION: Prostitution and the City — Seattle’s ‘End Demand’ Problem →
by Savannah Sly and Lisa Taylor
Washingtonians are deeply concerned about sex trafficking but struggle with acknowledging the existence, let alone the needs, of sex workers. Legislators are reluctant to differentiate between sexual labor and commercial sexual exploitation, because many incorrectly view all prostitution as inherently violent. Phrases such as “prostituted people’’ are frequently used to describe all providers of sexual services, suggesting a lack of agency across the board. If sex workers are acknowledged at all in discussions about sex trafficking, they are typically presumed to be exceedingly rare or to be “not representative” of people who sell sex.
The sex trafficking narrative dominating Washington State policymaking is overly simplistic, and it creates an artificial divide between sex workers and survivors. All people in the sex trade are vulnerable to violence because of criminalization and the extreme stigma associated with the work. In addition, many face overlapping issues of discrimination related to race, gender, class, nationality, and disability. Left alone by society to fend for ourselves, many of us have encountered commercial abuse or violence at some point in our lives.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Continue reading OPINION: Washingtonians Struggle to Acknowledge Sex Worker Agency and Labor Issues →