In the following article, Sarah M, a sex worker in Canada who would like to “exit” the industry, replies to several articles written by the abolitionist Meghan Murphy. Sarah does not recognise herself in Murphy’s discourse, arguing that she constructs a false debate between feminists and the “sex work lobby”, prioritises ideology over the immediate demands of sex workers and proposes a patronising, ineffective and unrealistic alternative model in the “Nordic Model”.
Below is a passage from Sarah’s article. Please consider going to the rabble.ca website (where her article was originally published) and reading it in its entirety.
...When someone tells me she has feminist concerns with sex work, knowing that sex work is my only solution to the problem of poverty, I have a lot of trouble taking her feminism seriously because she is not taking the reality of my life seriously. Acknowledging that "there has to be a better way" isn't good enough. I need to not live in poverty. Not after the revolution. Right now. Knowing how I feel about some feminists' disregard for my experiences of intersecting oppression, if someone offers me a version of feminism that doesn't confront its own colonizing or transphobic practices, I'm not going to take that very seriously either.
In a nutshell: feminism isn't a strong, successful, or effective movement. If, as Murphy wrote in August and October, the enemy is neoliberalism, then feminists are losing spectacularly. Ask Status of Women Canada, the folks on Ontario Works whose Special Diet allowances were cut off, advocates for a national housing strategy, or Indigenous communities fighting for local housing. Or ask librarians, educators, CUPE, OPSEU, Air Canada employees, postal workers -- or better yet, ask Stephen Harper -- about "austerity." We are losing, not because the "sex work lobby" is preventing feminists from dismantling patriarchy, but because some feminists are still being cast as divisive while the forces that implement neoliberal policy, patriarchy, racism and colonization, are obscured and given a free pass (e.g., the anti-prostitution group REAL Women of Canada, who actually are anti-feminist lobbyists). If "real" feminists recognized sex worker advocates as feminists, even if we still disagreed about decriminalization, we would be a stronger movement...