You say it saddens you to "see such discord among survivors and allies".
Okay. So what are you doing about it?
I started the first hotline for this community in 1987 in the country, the world for that matter. I did so after five years of exhaustive research for someone else to be doing it other than me before realizing "well if someone else isn't going to do anything then I guess I'm someone else".
Let me ask you this:
When have I been invited to attend any events on this subject as a guest?
When have I even been notified of events on this subject?
When have I been asked to speak at any of these events?
We're not talking "discord" here Rachel. What's happening here is historical and history has a way of repeating itself.
Bill Wilson started Alcoholics Anonymous at a time when the world didn't believe alcoholism was a disease. At a time when the condition was 100 percent fatal. The way the world treated it was to ignore it, hide it, and shame and criminalize those who suffered from it. Prohibition was created partly to try and stop these men who would get paid on Friday afternoon, and before they'd make it home that night the checks for rent and food for their families had been drunk away. Then there'd be the drunken fight, and domestic violence with women and children cast into the streets homeless.
Society didn't understand it as a disease so they tried to make it illegal in the hopes it would stop this behavior.
After Bill started onto not only the program which was the first one to produce long term sobriety, but further led to the recognition some had a disease - a whole field of study sprouted up to address this new disease of alcoholism.
At about 20 years of age - AA "blacklisted" Bill Wilson. He was cast out of writing the Grapevine. Further, banned from speaking at conventions, even meetings. The character assassinations started in order to take the program from being "Bill's" to being "ours" as the medical, scientific, and legal communities started wanting in on the action. Sober living homes, alcohol treatment centers, alcoholism counselors, schools teaching about alcoholism, medical research into alcoholism - all started to sprout up - including a complete transformation of our whole legal and political system.
Politicians who had built their whole platform on Prohibition had to recreate themselves. Small town jails who paid the light bill by putting drunks in over the weekend had to find new sources to fill up those beds. Courts for drunk and disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace had to find new defendants. Teams of police who used to look for speakeasy's and bootleggers to arrest had to find new criminals to pursue. Churches who used to get most of their donations from coming into town and getting the drunks to sign "pledges" had to find a new cause to create.
The addict replaced the system. Delete the word "alcohol" and insert the word "drugs" and the system goes right on functioning only now the new "cause" is drugs. As more and more addicts started getting clean in AA however, the awareness they shared a disease also soon led to Jimmy Kinnon founding Narcotics Anonymous.
Only Prohibition had been lifted the year AA was formed. Yet drugs were still illegal when Jimmy started NA. So police were actually arresting addicts for coming to meetings to get clean. The National Council on Drug Addiction was formed to create the same reforms for their disease that had been given the alcoholic.
Then about 20 years into creating clean addicts - the same people who "monetized" the treatment of alcoholism came knocking on Jimmy's door. Only he'd seen what this had done to the alcoholic. So he fought back and refused to help them create the same changes. Didn't matter though as the Board of Directors and Trustees in NA had an illegal meeting and illegally locked Jimmy out of his own office.
But like Bill Wilson, Jimmy had his supporters. To fully cast him out of the house he created the same thing had to be done to him which was done to Bill - he had to not only be smeared and ostracized from his own creation but further his supporters had to be chased out of any positions of power. In AA, this split created the "Ohio Group" who broke away from the NY General Office. In NA, it led to what's been dubbed "The Tradition Wars". Anyone in Jimmy's sponsorship family, or who supported his views against professional treatment or drug courts for the addict - was literally pushed out of service, the rooms, and some were even physically driven out of meetings with violence. To be replaced with people who wanted to support the creation of treatment programs who charged $10,000 a week for treatment - some even promising to "cure" addiction now.
Before I created our 12 step program, out of which came Brenda Myers-Powell, we had become the replacement fodder for this "machine". As now both addicts and alcoholics were now being given special courts which recognized these were not criminals, but instead "sick" people needing "help" and "treatment", jails were being cleared out. Church donations were going down. Politicians weren't able to "crack down on drugs" in the same way.
There's a machine in this country that depends on someone to target to function. First it was the alcoholic, then the addict. For a short time, this system tried to turn onto sex offenders. Only it hit a big snag in that most sexual predators, child molesters, rapists, etc. ARE the system. They ARE the church, the politicians, professors, doctors, lawyers, judges, etc. I know because I was there when this blip started to get off the ground - and then was quickly shut under because it was the same people running this system who didn't want to subject themselves, nor their associates who also covered for them, to this system their jobs and paychecks depended upon.
No - we needed to find a new victim to throw into this machine. So the "prostitute" was targeted. Soon buses were going out weekly doing "sweeps" to drag 100's of prostitutes into the jails for booking. Courtrooms were churning out women handing over fines weekly. Defense lawyers were getting huge retainers from women afraid of losing their kids because of the prostitution charge. Jails had beds to fill and all the addicts and alcoholics were now being replaced with prostitutes. When I did a survey in 1987 of a jail in Los Angeles, and Allentown, PA - out of 2000 inmates 1800 of them were prostitutes. All of them were repeat offenders.
Churches used to organize campaigns to "clean up their town" identical to the ones that used to go out shutting down speakeasy's and crack houses. Neighborhood Watch along with parents groups and church groups would go out and drive prostitutes "out of their backyard" like they were cockroaches.
Alcoholics had Betty Ford. She proved that "anyone", even someone "decent" could be an alcoholic. George W. Bush used cocaine and even Clinton joked about smoking weed. So the addict had their "respectable" poster child. Anyone knows the Catholic Church is chock full of priests who are child molesters - but they're also "respectable decent" people.
Who is left to push around, throw into jail, put on probation, force onto a counselors, couch, slap on medications, and treat like a "scourge that needs to be stamped out of our neighborhoods" but the "prostitute"? Then throw into the mix that those same judges, attorney's, politicians, etc., who are seeking for a way to have power over these women so they can force them into sex can further gain that power by making sure prostitution is illegal - and you've found the new "criminal" this country is going to focus on "cracking down on".
Only God had a different idea and HIV/AIDS started raging. Suddenly, those jails, courtrooms, hospitals, counselors, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, drug treatment centers, and churches didn't want these anywhere within 100 miles of their doorstep.
Along comes this 12 step program who says "give them to us". By the year 2000 - we not only saw the Trafficking Act of 2000 pass giving us federal recognition that not all of us were "criminals" but some were actually "victims", which is about the same as giving us a "disease" like the alcoholic/addict, but we were being used as an "alternative to incarceration" in every major city of the USA, and three cities in Canada. Our hotline was the only one where you'd call if you wanted help to leave any part of the sex industry, as well as the one any reporter would call if working on a story, or film maker working on a project on the subject.
"For profit" prisons started sprouting up like wildfire. They had beds which needed to be filled. All that money spent on HIV/AIDS drugs needed to be paid for. Anti-depressants were created selling for sometimes $1000 a month. Drug treatment programs had empty beds which needed patients. The religious right and the church was losing money. People were getting bored donating to starving children in Africa.
A new "victim" was needed. Especially one where most of the men running these systems needed their "fix". Not about sex. They could well buy a prostitute. But about "power". You can see what I mean with the prosecutor in Michigan who was exposed not long ago of coercing 100's of women literally into sex with him by threatening to throw them in jail. Now that guy certainly didn't want those women knowing that all they had to do was ask the judge to court order them into a Sex Workers Anonymous meeting. Jails needed someone in their cells which didn't require months of investigation and a huge budget to create stings or to properly investigate a case. They needed something quick, cheap and easy they could throw into a jail cell.
The TVRA of 2003 was passed giving the money for these newly recognized victims to solely "faith based groups" who further signed a pledge they would not even "associate" with any group who claimed that the sex industry was in fact an "industry". Unless the group stated that "prostitution" was a "human rights violation" - no money for you today.
Meaning we also have to abstain from all "legal" forms of the sex industry. Which include such things as legal brothels, webcam performing, pornography, even strip club work. Only guess what the politicians, jails, lawyers, and the church want to focus on? ILLEGAL STREET prostitution. For example, Polaris has gone after Rhode Island prostitution which was decriminalized but hasn't TOUCHED the issue of the legal brothels and sex clubs in Nevada. In fact, you haven't seen one organized raid for "sex trafficking victims" in a legal brothel or sex club of Nevada. Let alone a porn set or webcam studio.
Oh no - we can't talk about the "industry" of the "sex industry" but only about "prostitution" or we lose all that wonderful federal grant money, as well as the checks being written by the Catholic Bishops.
So Rachel there's no "discord" here. There are powerful, wealthy factions who are DELIBERATELY SILENCING AND OSTRACIZING US.
Why? Because if they do treat us as this being what it is - the "sex industry" then it becomes open for discussion that the REASON why it's workers are being so easily victimized isn't because of the "traffickers", but because it's (1) illegal, and (2) not unionized. Meaning our message as it is calls for decriminalization of prostitution so that witnesses and evidence can be easily obtained to prosecute traffickers. Decriminalizing prostitution does the same thing for the sex industry that ending Prohibition did to the power men like Al Capone had as well as the wealth generated by alcohol and drugs being illegal. In other words, the traffickers themselves don't want to see this industry decriminalized because then look at all the power and money they LOSE.
The reason why traffickers flourish in the sex industry is because it's not unionized. There's a Brothels Owners Assocation in Nevada - do you see the workers have a union, advocate, lobbyist etc.? Let me ask you something - when's the last time you saw a woman who works at one of the NV legal brothels giving an interview to the press WITHOUT Dennis Hof sitting right by her side?
APAC had James Deen as it's director. A man accused of now raping over 9 women in the industry. Who did the AVN back up when Stoya said she didn't want to stand next to him on stage to present an award the same year she'd been raped by him according to her? HIM. Who, what group, what advocate, what association, protested this on her behalf?
There's a Gentlemens' Club Association - but yet strippers aren't unionized. So take a good look around at what associations do exist in the USA - and they eacn and every one are on the side of the MEN, the owners, the corporations, etc. NOT ONE represents the "worker".
Now if you instead of calling these people "sex trafficking victims" and classifying them as "human rights violation victims", you instead DO call the sex industry and "industry" - then those who are being "pimped" and "trafficked" mean that protections need to be set up for them just like exist for farmers, manufacturers, diamond miners, coal miners, even football players and actors. Even actors have a union so that producers have to pay a set amount of pay and work them only so many hours so that they aren't exploited. So I ask you then - what's the difference?
You instead of calling those exploited within the industry the issue - you say there "is no industry" and that "all are victims" guess what discussions you now completely bypass?
All things brothel owners, porn producers, strip club owners, jails, treatment centers, and the church don't want to hear hear talked about.
Nah - they want us "criminals" and "victims".
I mean what a gig. I'm now talking to "victims" who were put into this new "system" to "rescue" them. They're all in section 8 housing next to crack dealers, in minimum wage horrible jobs they have to take or they lose their housing and benefits, they're saddled with $1,000's of dollars in student loans for jobs they can't get because of their past, especially if they have porn online, they're being researched as part of some grant some professor or doctor's getting a lot of money for while they get nothing but poked and prodded on, they're on multiple psychiatric medications that their doctors are getting paid kickbacks to put them on, while the pharmacies are averaging $3,000 a month for their medications, they're paying off fees for classes or diversion to the court, they're seeing some counselor who is getting paid weekly who isn't changing their lives - I mean the "system" is pimping these women in a way that would give Bishop Don Juan lessons in the game!
When we refused to support their agenda, they went to our top members such as Brenda Myers-Powell, and Kathleen Mitchell, just to name two women who had broken their "anonymity at the level of press, radio and films" in order to help us get that federal recognition in the first place when this was a subject NO ONE wanted to support, endorse, or help in any way because who on earth would want to be known as "helping some hookers" as we were known pre-Trafficking Act of 2000, and like Satan to Jesus in the desert - offered them "money, property and prestige" if they'd turn on the program who created them and espouse "other"views.
Why they've given Brenda and Kathleen awards, paintings of themselves, Brenda's even had THREE documentaries made about her which create a very vivid "impression like she's the founder of our program. Can't get the founder to say and do such things because it's a violation of our Traditions? Well hell let's get Brenda to do it for x amount of dollars and a film made about her. That way we can make it appear the program Jody created believes in this even if it's not the truth.
Why use them? Well don't you know the Nazi's knew well the Jews would cooperate more with walking "nicely" into the showers if another Jew led them that's why. Even farmers know well the use of a "scapegoat" to get the cow to walk down the chute to it's death.
Because controlling the language is what it's about you know. No politician, judge, psychiatrist, attorney, celebrity, Fortune 500 company like Microsoft or Amazon, or church leader would DARE help out "sex workers" or "hookers" because that would be just career suicide. But boy call it "sex trafficking" and you get award dinners, fund raisers, checks written, film projects, and all the "unity" you want.
You also get talks about unions, decriminalization, and labor laws to protect workers. You also clear out the shelters, the courts, the jails, and the treatment programs.
So you Rachel there's no "discord" among your group. The "discord" is between your group of people who were involved in that event in any fashion and MYSELF.
Only that's not "discord" Rachel - that's being CUT OUT.
Not at all unlike how the native Americans were sitting here in this country until the white man came along and then acted like they were the vermin who needed to be chased out of their home. They did it all while saying they were doing it to "civilize" them. In this movement however, it's called "saving us".
Only let me ask you this - you say you "had nothing to do" with any of that event. You didn't "pick the film" or have anything to do with organizing it. Well I certainly didn't either. Nor did any of the active members of our program who belong to the oldest, and largest, program of survivors in the world.
So who did? What ex-sex worker, who may, or may not, be a sex trafficking victim, DID have something to do with putting that event together about us? I mean it was about "us" right". See not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. Not every one who uses drugs is an addict. Not everyone who has had sex has been molested. Not everyone who eats has an eating disorder. Also true is the fact not every person in the sex industry has been pimped and/or trafficked. Some have been both. For some of us, our perception of whether we were, or not, changes over time as we grow in our recovery and the drugs clear out of our systems. As the trauma heals - we often look at things different and our perceptions of whether or not we were in fact "victims" changes just as it does for the alcoholic. Not every person in an AA meeting had made the admission their an "alcoholic". Sometimes it takes years for a person to accept they are in fact one. No different among our members.
But let's call it what it is Rachel. What's going on here with me is NOT DISCORD. Let's pick a word that more accurate describes what's going on here. How about "hijacking" or "ostracizing" or "shunning" or "marginalizing" or even "blacklisting"? I will call it "blacklisting" because I've asked to be allowed to even attend events like this as a guest and I've been either refused a ticket or straight up told by security at the door I've been "banned from the property".
I'm writing because I am curious though. For this event about this subject - since I've now asked as many of our local members as I could reach to see if they were involved in any way with the planning of this event and they've said no - I'd like to know how many survivors, ex-sex workers, or whatever word you feel comfortable in deciding to call us since no one is asking us what we want to be called - how many of "us" were actually involved in the planning of this event? I mean even Brenda - SHE didn't make that film. Nor was the film produced by Prostitutes Anonymous as she insists on calling us because the people who paid for the film insist upon it even though we changed our name legally in 1995 to Sex Workers Anonymous. So the producers are even using a name we stopped using because "they" don't agree with our reasons for changing our name so they're just deciding to keep calling us the name they want anyway whether we like it or not.
And whether you had anything to do with the "planning" of it in any way Rachel - you attended. You supported it. Now when I've come to you all about having an issue about this - I'm not hearing anyone coming back with any ideas or suggestions on repairing the problem.
Leaving me now in the absence of any offers to resolve this somehow with having to now move forward with legal steps since I don't exactly hear anyone coming to me with any "offers of unity" here.
In other words, I'm not the person causing the "discord" here because it's NOT "discord". We are being walked all over and exploited and robbed and cheated and one of the things we do in our program is to teach our members to stop letting people do just that - exploit them, cheat them, use them, and basically treat them like they don't mean anything as human beings.
So I came to you to let you know there was a problem here. I'm not hearing any offers to resolve this "nicely" and "cooperatively". I've given this plenty of time. So I will be moving forward with legal action. You were still a part of this. And enough is enough. We're not going to continue to just stand by and have people act like we don't exist.
I'm preparing a report for the new administration when we have a new president and cabinet coming into power about this whole thing. I need to get this report done before the election so I'm on a bit of a time frame. So everyone involved will probably start getting legal papers in a few weeks.
Have a nice day Rachel.
PS - oh do I write "long emails"? Maybe it's because NO ONE WILL TALK TO ME.