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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

OPEN LETTER TO NEW ZEALAND SWOP

I had sent a copy of Emily's interview about "post-prostitution syndrome" to SWOP New Zealand.  I asked for their response on what these men and women who have exited the sex industry are reporting to us they're suffering from.  Their response was to come back at us saying they didn't agree with the term as they felt it was "blaming" the sex industry.  That is not our intent.  So I wrote this letter back to them:

Dear New Zealand SWOP:

See this is what I'm trying to clear up.  We DO NOT "blame" sex work in SWA.  Not at all.  Neither our first step nor 3rd tradition blame sex work at all.  We rest all of our issues in our program with OUR CHOICES.

Nor do I feel that the sex industry itself is to blame for "post prostitution syndrome".  You clearly haven't read our Recovery Guide where we explain these things.  The interview was to outline what we were hearing one after the other after the other from men and women we interviewed who were out of the business.  That was the symptom.

However upon going deeper and further into interviews with case histories - we found these issues where actually present before they entered sex work.  In fact, we felt those issues were why many fell into sex work in the first place - I mean if you're unable to hold down a regular 9 to 5 job because you're messed up emotionally - then what are your options?

I had this argument 30 years ago with the court system in Los Angeles.  They kept saying the same thing also when arresting prostitutes.  I came at them saying that these were people who were being failed by the mental health system who were resorting to sex work and now were being treated like criminals.

They didn't believe me and put together a program in 1987 that strictly was designed to remove these women in their group from prostitution.  I came back saying "if you're not addressing the issues leading them into sex work in the first place - then getting them out of prostitution and off drugs and into 9 to 5 jobs is not going to solve their problem nor yours".

What did they do? They got them off drugs and out of prostitution into 9 to 5 jobs and guess what? They started coming back into the criminal justice system for charges like theft and violence instead.  They came back to me and said "okay we're listening".

Now we have members of SWA who are in your country also and working within legal prostitution.  Does that mean the problem went away?  No.  But that doesn't alter the fact that when these women are leaving the industry because of getting older, pregnant, married, or whatever the reason - they aren't suffering from this.

You can't ignore 4000 interviews with ex-sex workers having these same issues.  Do they speak about it with SWOP or groups like yours.

No.

You know why?

For what you're doing now.  I"m now out of sex work and suddenly you don't want to talk to me.  That's why.

So guess what happens when someone quits sex work?  The "normies" won't speak to us because we're "whores" and then you guys won't speak to us either.

Where does that leave us?

Now you know one of the reasons I formed SWA.  The minute I quit because the police put me on probation and I DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE but to quit - suddenly everyone I knew within the sex industry turned on me and shut me out.

That's not a career.  I've been a secretary and a paralegal and the minute I left those fields - every other secretary and paralegal didn't turn on me like I was an outsider suddenly.

If I'm wrong - then why do you keep fronting me off on this instead of what I'm asking you for?  I'd like to open up a dialogue about this.

Now we are calling it post prostitution syndrome because we don't know what else to call what we see in 4000 plus ex-sex workers.  Now you clearly don't like that word and you're heaping all these assumptions in there about us without proper investigation.

Which isn't that what you're claiming others are doing about sex workers?  Judging them without getting to understand the people and issues first?  Then using that judgment to shun and push away?

Now you have an idea why many ex-sex workers are suffering - they're being shut out by EVERYONE.  If I"m wrong - then you tell me how many EX sex workers you're in regular communication with?  Please - I'd love to hear how many of your close friends and associates are men and women who have exited the industry with no desire to return.  NOT BECAUSE THEY DON'T LIKE THE INDUSTRY - but simply because they've made the choice not to.

Look - I'm 54 years old now.  I've had a stroke.  I'm overweight and I have horrible arthritis as a direct result of my sex work.  I've given an estimated 20,000 blow jobs over the years.  Do you have any idea what my neck x-rays look like?  What my knees are like after years of stripping in heels?  I'm an old fat crippled woman on disability and I couldn't return to the industry now if I wanted to.  Doesn't mean I'm against it.   It means I don't want to.

I've been offered jobs working in BBW strip clubs only I can't put on a pair of heels anymore to save my ass.  With my back and knees I can barely walk let alone dance.  I have chronic fatigue syndrome and a form of HPV.  Things I got exposed to while I was in the sex industry.  They are viruses.  Both of those viruses are not only contagious to others through sexual transmission - but they increase my risk of contracting HIV if exposed four times higher because my immune system is already compromised.  I am caring for a daughter who has a brain tumor and fibromyalgia.  This requires me to be home with her 24/7 to care for her or she'd be in a nursing home.  We spend our days in doctor's offices and our nights I do my volunteer work and writing because I can barely walk by the evening physically.

So I can't work as a prostitute, nor in porn, nor in stripping.  Madaming is a felony in the USA and frankly with the internet not even a job description anymore.  So please I ask you - how on earth is my being out of the sex industry some statement that I'm AGAINST the industry?  I'm not "against" the industry simply by saying it is an industry that no longer is something that serves my needs.  I frankly am also in no condition to risk being arrested because of the lack of medical care I'd receive in jail.  Nor can I risk being arrested and not being home to care for my daughter.  So I'm not going to do one single thing that would break the laws right now where I live either . So I've made a choice to leave the industry.  Doesn't mean I'm "against" it or I think it's bad in and of itself.  It means I'm now out of it and that's all it means.

And SOMEONE needs to be here for the others who also have left the industry who find their friends within the industry are shunning them once they left also just as was done to me when I left and is still happening to me today.

Something I didn't experience in COYOTE.  Margo St. James and I had a very good friendship and an understanding that our program was one that also served sex workers needs in many ways - including support for those who had retired like myself.  Including providing an "alternative to incarceration" until the laws in the USA can be changed to stop treating us like criminals.  Because jail for a sex worker means more than jail in most cases . It means losing their home, their children, possibly their college, their scholarships, their marriage, etc.  So being able to have a group like SWA that can offer them the option of attending our meetings vs. going to jail and losing all these things SERVES the sex workers needs.

Which is why up until 2013 we had a wonderful relationship with groups like COYOTE before they folded, and also with SWOP.  I don't know who took over SWOP after Robin died - but I know this.  Their current leadership is only about 2 real sex workers with the remaining majority of their board being researchers and professors who are not sex workers.

I know that the old people in SWOP left suddenly and these new people who came into leadership about 2013 - are attacking us like we're the same people as these "abolitionists".  Why?  Well it doesn't help that the abolitionists created fake interviews that I supposedly gave calling to "outlaw the sex industry" which I never ever agreed to and even after going to the FCC am finding I can't get pulled down.  They lied.  Name me any celebrity who doesn't suffer with fake media.  It's a fact of life.  But those who know me and know those aren't my views have either died or left the field in disgust because of the way people have stopped TALKING to each other.

So I can't get anyone in SWOP to speak to me.  You know why?  Because there are two women who I know for a fact are paid informants for the police over here who have been running around threatening members of SWOP if they so much as even speak to me.  One woman who runs a chapter in San Antonio who I've been friends with and with who we were organizing a mutual outreach project with - threatened to have her removed from her position in SWOP if she even continued speaking to me.  When she's gone to the heads of SWOP about it - they do nothing.

So I don't know why everyone has gone crazy over here but they have.  Which is why I'm trying to reach outside of the USA where all this federal grant money seeking isn't going on right now in the hopes of opening up a dialogue again with our sisters and brothers.

People don't stay in the sex industry their whole lives.  Most do quit one day.  Just as dancers and athletes and actors and 100 other professions.  So let's be reasonable here.

Now - I don't mean to offend anyone by the title of what we're seeing in these coming to our program for help.  Nor in the ones we interviewed who were out of the business.  It's something.  Now I'm coming to you and asking you "do you have a better idea what to call this?" and can we open up a dialogue about it?

Hm?

Jody Williams
www.sexworkersanonymous.com
(702) 468-4529



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