, 121 tweets, 26 min read Read on Twitter
I try very hard these days to take the time & expend the emotional labour explaining to people who have lots of "opinions" on sex work why their "opinions" might not be a) accurate and b) in fact harmful to the workers they claim to really want to 'help.'

It gets exhausting.
This is a lot of what filled my feed today. Initially, I thought this was someone just a little misguided, with good intentions. But after reading & re-reading their blog, I heard many of the same insults & misdirection that gets thrown in my direction on a daily basis.
I was going to put my thoughts in an email or a blog, go point by point, explain what my concerns were, explain why - I was going to try & be a grown up. But after hearing the opinions of workers who I respect, who are way smarter than me denegraded AGAIN as just 'ranting' -
- I'd had about enough.

So, point by point, here, on Twitter - at the risk of shadowbanning for tweeting too much - I'm going to explain why this particular piece of writing bothered me so much.

Seatbelts on tweeters.
*sips coffee*

Also, as the author of this piece has just apologised to their followers for their being 'flooded' by a 'volatile thread of tweets' - I will link to their piece, but avoid tagging them until I'm done.

Lest their followers be exposed to me post caffeination.
Are you sitting comfortably?
I might just do this page by page.
Because I have notes.
Seriously.

I like doing things by hand.

(Eyyyyyyyyy 😏)
So this piece was written by Lynne Martin for her blog: thefiftycandlesclub.com

Lynne also writes fiction. amazon.com/Lynne-Martin/e…

It's these books that led Lynne to talk to "100+ sex workers" as 'research.'

I'll let you go through the amazon page & form your own opinions.
The blog I'm referring to today is this one:

"SEX WORK: A CHOICE, OR A LACK OF OPTIONS?"

(I'd recommend you have it open as you follow this thread because I'm kind of just going through it in order)

thefiftycandlesclub.com/sex-work-a-cho…
I'd like to make clear that so far as we can tell, Lynne is not or has never been a sex worker. Lynne is white. Cisgender. And has a particular interested in the Hawaiian Islands. That being said, all her book listings on amazon have different author bios so I could be wrong.
The image that accompanies this blog and some of Lynne's mentions of the sex industry on twitter are usually a red light, with the silhouette of a curvaceous naked body - I'm assuming a cis woman, given that they take centre stage in most of her writing.
You might think this is nitpicking, but if I had a dollar for every time sensationlist media about the sex industry uses an image like this, harkening to 'Roxanne' or some sort of dark seediness - I could have retired a very long time ago.

We're more than that.
"...replies quickly escalate into rants that sound more like bullying than debating.."

"...hard to have a rational discussion with those kinds of posters..."

Often, in an effort to disempower or silence, #SexWorkers anger at being misrepresented is described as 'irrational.'
SWERFs, abolitionists & even those with 'good intentions' seem to find it difficult to understand or appreciate why #SexWorkers get frustrated & yes - angry - when people take it upon themselves to write opinion pieces based on their lives.
Gross generalisations, such as many we can see in Lynne's piece, as opposed to just being inconvenient, also misinform the public and reinforce stigma which #sexworkers are constantly struggling against.

However, when this point is made to these writers - it's rarely heard.
One thing that #sexworkers are painfully aware of is the power of language.

We see daily how language can impact lives. Such as the conflation of trafficking with consensual sex work, resulting in legislation such as FOSTA/SESTA, that can have a devastating impact.
You may think that it's 'just a blog' but these pieces are often shared, reproduced and sensationalised. Many of the things Lynne says aren't new - but there are some points which have the capacity to be quite damaging for the SW they discuss.
"Sex workers across the world can be divided into 7 categories."

…..There are way more than 7 types of sex work/workers.

This should give an indication that, despite Lynne's references to & defence of the number of sources she has - her sample is quite limited.
Also worth noting that no-where does Lynne provide citation for the statistics she quotes or sources she claims to have.

Sex Workers are often seen as 'nameless & faceless' - dehumanisation in this manner perpetuates stigma. This is something people often don't consider.
"1. Independent Call Girl/Escort
2. Escort Agency Employee
3. Brothel Employee (where legal)
4. Window Worker (most commonly seen in Amsterdam)
5. Sex Worker based out of Bar/Hotel/Casino
6. Street Walker
7. Captive/Illegally Held Prisoner"

The 7 types of SW according to Lynne.
The conflation of sex work with trafficking is nothing new.

It's often done as a pretty insidious way to attack Sex Workers without outwardly making moves against them i.e. FOSTA/SESTA.

This kind of wilful misdirection makes activism even more difficult.
It's also part of a UN protocol codified in 2000 and doubled down on in 2014:

"...consent is always irrelevant to determining whether the crime of human trafficking has occurred."

Yay. Human Rights.
"As easily discernable from above, the violence and level of exploitation grow exponentially as you near the bottom of the list."

As with any industry, there are some jobs that may have heightened risk or different risks than others. But there's no ranking system.
"Implying that anyone is 'the bottom of the barrel' can have very severe connotations.' - @BridgetteBBW

Stigma is bad. Combine that with whorearchy and it only gets worse.
"...majority of sex workers are not independent call girls at the top of the trade, or captive prisoners at the very bottom."

SOMETHING WE AGREE ON! (Except for the conflation bit)

Admittedly, I don't have accurate data regarding types of SW on hand - but we're a diverse lot.
"...The majority of all sex workers operate from a base agency.." Citation Needed.
"...Only 10% to 20% actually walk the streets.." Citation needed.

These give off the vibe of being broad statements about sex workers, not just those she claims to have interviewed.
"...it’s been reported that roughly 90% of all prostitution arrests can be attributed to street walkers, an easily targeted subset of society."

Citation Needed, but yes, it's universally acknowledged that street based sex workers are unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
(Taking 5 to make coffee, stretch my legs, eat a bagel, bang for money, suffer from false conciousness....that kind of thing)

(Page 2 coming shortly)
"Lately I’ve seen a few unreliable threads reporting that a well known hotel chain is about to ban women from drinking alone in their bars to help curb prostitution. Of course that's not true."

It is true. But you're definitely misrepresenting/simplifying the issue here.
Check out this thread for more details:

Within their training programs to 'identify trafficking', hotel chains are instructing staff to pay particular attention to women traveling alone.

That's a fact.

The impacts of this seem to vary by hotel.
Hyperbolising the issue to make it seem like an overreaction or less believable is a really sloppy way to make a point. Much of the talk doesn't mention bans, though there are reports that this added scrutiny could result in such - I'd need to verify those to comment further.
What follows is a very confusing & frankly irrelevant discussion of the fact that women have, in fact, been banned from bars. Irrelevant to Lynne's points, but relevant indeed to the fact that what the Marriott & other chains have the potential to do to women is hugely fucked up.
+1 for using the words 'respectable woman' though.
"...appears that a large number of sex workers are using this opportunity to entice johns to pay for sexual services."

Not saying this doesn't happen - but you make it sound SO MUCH EASIER than it actually is. Like we have some sort of flagging system that screams 'HOOKER.'
Also, contrary to popular belief - some #sexworkers actually go to bars....to drink.

Just drink.
Meet friends.
Eat some peanuts.
Grab dinner.

Scandalous, I know.
And as this new training scheme for hotels comes to light, it could get even more difficult for us enjoy the simple social interactions that Lynne or anyone else can access on a regular basis.

This happens when we travel too. God forbid a sex worker is a tourist, right?
"...never found a reliable source differentiating between female/male/transgender sex workers...'

You're a source Lynne! You could have included the ratios of different #sexworkers you claim to have interviewed.

From Twitter we can gather you spoke to at least one male SW.
So, here's where it gets really kind of shitty. Not that it's been swell already, but this really bugs me and I'm going to ask everyone to bear with me if I lose a bit of my polish.
"I believe that being a sex worker is not a career path that anyone chooses for themselves."

…...

Fuck right off Lynne.
(Ok. A lot of my polish.)
Do you understand why that's so offensive Lynne?
No. Because if you did, you wouldn't have written it.

You don't get to make that call. You don't. And how freaking dare you think you can?

When you take choice away from us, you paint a target on our backs. Congratulations.
That's got nothing to do with research. That's DEFINITELY your opinion. Earlier today you made it very clear that this was full of your opinions - so it definitely doesn't surprise me. But you paint it with an academic quality it DOES NOT deserve.
#SexWorkers come from diverse backgrounds, they have diverse stories, their reasons for being in the industry vary and the choices they've made to get her or to stay deserve your respect - not the application of a 'victim status' that they didn't ask for.

How. Dare. You.
You claim to have heard from 100+ voices and you come away with this?

I didn't believe you before. I sure as hell don't believe you now.

And if you HAVE in fact done so, then you purposely chose to speak only to workers that would support the narrative YOU wanted to perpetuate.
I chose sex work.
I have peers who chose sex work.
I have peers who didn't chose it to start with, but chose to continue.
I have peers who are here because it's the best option available to them - but they don't lack in skill or ability. They don't lack in intelligence.
They're not all using drugs (and so what if they are?)
They're not all alcoholics (but they're allowed to have a fucking drink Lynne.)
They support families, dreams, friends - not just 'habits' as you've tried very bloody hard to imply.
They come from a variety of educational backgrounds (and an education is not the fucking sum of a person Lynne).
Some are here because of their health.
Some need the flexibility.
Some as a side hustle.
Some full time.
Some for a good time - some for a long time.
But you didn't get that from 100+ interview subjects?

No Lynne. I don't think you're being very honest.
" I believe that a lack of viable options make sex work the only feasible choice for many."

That's not their fault Lynne.

Minimum wage is a joke.
Benefits only benefit some & not much at all.
Anyone who isn't in PERFECT health has the work force made inaccessible to them.
"Now, when I talk about viable options for sex workers, I’m not talking about back breaking labor paying minimum wage..."

On this Lynne & I agree! It ties in to one of my biggest criticisms of the 'rescue' industry too!
Too often people want to 'save' sex workers, period. But way too often in doing this they don't offer them resources of support after their initial 'saving.' They'll ignore any skills that a worker might have, or the idea of helping them learn skills they could use.
Instead, pushing them towards opportunities that aren't really opportunities at all. Far too often, post 'rescue' former workers find themselves back in the industry because they were unable to support themselves.

CAN I GET A STIGMA?
Any worker that wants to exit the industry should have the support to do so. But more often than not, that comes from the organisations that support sex workers.

If these 'rescue' orgs wanted to actually help - they'd want to reduce the stigma surrounding sex work.
Enabling workers to enter other industries, rather than face discrimination or rejection based on their history.

Unfortunately Lynne and my opinions take a sharp turn here.
"These alternate jobs are not available to many citizens without high school diplomas, immigration issues, or no credited type of job training."

.....sigh.

This? This right here? This is to do with shitty laws, classism and education that few can access or afford.
"Drug addictions and alcohol abuse further hamper many people as they can’t feed their addictions and successfully function in a 9 to 5 job."

........I.......I......I just.........I........WHAT.
Ok, so according to Lynne's sample of 100+ #sexworker voices:

- Sex Workers aren't educated.
- We all make the same lifestyle choices.

Ok, next.
"...no other employment will pay what they must have to survive with their limited or even undocumented educations. "

When the expenses that come along with your job go down, the amount you need to earn to survive also goes down, funnily enough.

AGAIN WITH THE EDUCATION!?
"Of the 100+ sex workers I’ve personally interviewed and spent time with, not a single one planned to be in the sex trade for the remainder of their lives."

Many workers do sex work as a side hustle or for a limited time. This isn't particularly shocking.
Like, my knees and my back are gonna nope out eventually. Until that day, I want to keep doing what I'm doing. Being a sex worker involves all sorts of jobs - beyond the 6 Lynne listed at the start of her blog. I'd love to get more involved with outreach & organising too!
You're gonna enjoy this next bit.

"....most had dreams, and continuing to sell their bodies to strangers for cash was not part of their long term dreams."

IF YOU HAD STIGMATISING LANGUAGE ON YOUR BINGO CARD - MARK IT OFF NOW!
Are there any #sexworkers with dreams in the house tonight?

Or do we hand them in with our right to be seen as human beings when we start?

Many sex workers are in the industry to build TOWARDS those dreams. Many are living them now.

Many. Not all.
"sell their bodies to strangers for cash"

Really Lynne?

I don't sell my body. I sell my services. Some of services require the use of my body to complete certain tasks. I have the privilige of being able to choose which of those services I provide, some workers don't. But they still don't 'sell their bodies.'
Dehumanising, stigmatising language.

I have little sympathy for the fact you're being called out Lynne, because if you've done the research you claim to have done, then you would absolutely know the impact of language like that on #sexworkers.
You'd have an understanding of stigma. Especially if you've spoken to workers with negative experiences, like those you're suggesting in your blog. But everything you've written makes it abundantly clear you don't.

We are not your next project. I'm sorry.
Your good intentions don't make up for the fact that you talk about us in the same way as those who would wish us harm. Your words have power. You have the power to take those words & research & do good. Many SW tried to explain to you how hurtful they were. You didn't listen.
"Childhood abuse, addiction, and homelessness were contributing factors for the majority."

If you had COMMON STEREOTYPES on your Bingo card - mark that off too.

These are contributing factors to many situations & many people.

Not just sex work/sex workers.
People have pasts. People have problems.

A huge barrier to my ability to get adequate mental health care was the fact that doctors & mental health professionals with their own bias refused to examine my issues in their own right, as separate from my career in the sex industry.
I could have died.

That's not melodrama. I experienced significant trauma in my life prior to entering the industry & following that - very little of it associated with my work.

I went to seek care in crisis & was belittled & typecast by a doctor. I was offered no help.
Now, I'm in a place where I have that help, thanks in a big way to a peer who helped me find it.

Imagine being too scared to seek medical care.
Imagine being refused care.
Imagine never being viewed just as a person, but as a job description, a problem, a victim - imagine that.
Stigma does that.

As does the notion that our issues push us toward the industry or occur because of it. And if some of them do? So what? We're no less deserving of care or respect than someone in any other job.

We are more than the sum of societies stereotypes.
(Ok - tapping out for now! Like....one and a small bit pages to go!)
As Lynne has continued - so must I.
We have about a page or so to go everyone, so settle yourselves in!
"Sex work is morphing into a family business."
"Generations are now starting to follow their parents onto the street."

I'm not going to say this isn't true because I don't know that. But this is the kind of thing that if not backed up by evidence - can be incredibly harmful.
Reporting on the sex industry and sex workers has historically been largely built of sensationlism and titilation. You haven't heard as many reports about #sexworkers just living & working - because bluntly, that wouldn't get as many clicks as something 'dark' or 'sordid.'
This is changing. More & more workers are given spaces to tell their stories & being respected as their own biographers as opposed to those who wish to speak for them.

If what Lynne says here IS true - then this would have been a good time to include words from those workers.
"Wouldn’t this possibly contribute to a level of eventual acceptance when the child was old enough to make money on their own?"

See also:
- If we give young people sex education, they'll have more sex.
- Violent video games = violence.
- Pills testing makes people take drugs.
What I find especially insidious here is this thinly veiled implication that #sexworkers can't make good parents. That they'd 'expose' their children to the 'dangers' of the industry.

And that's absolute garbage.
We're about to get to one of my favorite parts. It really emphasises how much respect Lynne has for sex workers and reporting her research without emotionally charged rhetoric that shows her extreme bias.

(It doesn't)
"Do you think a reputable company is going to hire a new receptionist or floor manager who starred in an XXX video where every orifice of their body was plugged by either human flesh or a sex toy?"

This is fairly self explanatory.

I did a keynote speech at the ANU a few years ago and in response several SWERFs, including one well known voice in that community, hounded the event pages and social media of those involved, even going so far as to write some pretty nasty stuff describing porn I'd done.
This sure does take me back!
"Never mind those sex workers permanently saddled with criminal records for solicitation."

Another point Lynne & I agree on! This does suck & it absolutely can be a barrier to exiting the industry or pursuing further employment.

But bad laws - not SW are to blame here.
"The myth of the beautiful young woman paying her way through college by working as an escort is just that…a myth."

No, no it's not. I got interviewed about this subject on national radio Lynne. It's quite common.

I started in the industry whilst studying.
"....the reality of the situation is that very few legal or doctorial degrees are paid off on anybody’s knees."

Just a reminder of what Lynne was hoping to achieve here.

This next bit can probably best be summed up with my notes.
1. As long as people like to fuck and get naked in front of people or cameras - there will be sex work
2. Some #sexworkers like to pay for crazy shit. Like rent.
3. You probably don't want to know how many Doctors I've met who are drug users.
3. Sex Work isn't illegal globally.
And yeah, a doctor has a high paying job, so maybe not the best example - but the fact is MANY PEOPLE who happen to also use drugs work in MANY DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES.

Not just sex work.

Sorry to burst that stereotypical bubble for you.
Slightly off road here, but another two points that keep bugging me:

1. The implication that illegal drugs are the big issue, when there's a freaking opioid epidemic. So, mum, dad, grandma, grandma & the cousins could have lovely sedate employment & be dealing with addiction.
2. SEX WORK GOES BEYOND ESCORTING.

Someone may not fund their education that way! They may do camming, stripping, massage, peep shows, sell panties, make content - the list is literally massive.
"Numerous sex workers.." Citation needed.
"...admitted to me that if they hadn’t been feeding addictions and had even socked away only 50% of what they’d made as sex workers, they’d be ready for retirement."

+1 Doubling down on the addiction stereotype.

Saving is really important if you can do it - but it can be tough.
People often neglect to look at the costs that go in to being a sex worker. They look at the fact that so many of us (so many people in general FYI), often live paycheck to paycheck without considering our business expenses at all.

Advertising, safe sex supplies, hotels -
All these things add up. And the same can be said of any small business.

I find it difficult to believe that out of 100+ workers interviewed, this wouldn't have come up in some way.

Lynne is perpetuating the same stereotypes that mainstream media often clings to.
I'm not saying that there is zero merit to some of her claims - some workers do use drugs, drink, some have health issues as a result, some don't. And I don't want to dismiss their stories.

But I don't think Lynne represents them fairly. Nor do I think they need her to.
"I believe this simple idea is part of the massive denial process that many sex workers operate under."
False conciousness - BINGO.

A particularly toxic method that many SWERFs in particular use to undermine #sexworkers who speak for themselves.

The idea that we're such victims/puppets of the patriachy that we can't possibly understand what we're doing or know our own minds.
It's a really horrible thing to imply and Lynne, research, interviews whatever - has no right to say or suggest it. She is no expert and this reads less like a blog and more like an armchair psychoanalysis at this point.
"...the reality of the situation is that their pimps, brothels, and escort owners, all take massive percentages of their earnings."

People take advantage of #sexworkers - this is a fact. But the way Lynne talks about the business/admin side of sex work highlights her ignorance.
For many workers, working in an establishment, with an agency or otherwise is the safest & best option available to them. Especially now, post FOSTA people are doing what they have to in order to survive & support themselves.

They deserve respect, not judgement.
The cut you might pay to an agency for instance, could cover the advertising they do for you, the hours they spend attending to your phone or emails, handling your schedule etc. In a brothel it might go towards supplies, the space you work out of & the maintence of it.
In some cases - that cut goes towards keeping you safe.

I'm not saying these systems are always ideal. I'm not saying I understand all of them because I only have my experiences to go off.

But to dismiss these ways of working as 'less than' just perpetuates STIGMA.
In my perfect sex work utopia all workers could be their own boss and have perfect, complete control over their finances - but in saying all this I'm implying that workers who do operate in different ways have less agency and that's a shitty thing to do.
"Drug and alcohol use can eat up another large portion. What’s left is barely enough to subsist on or support their family."

AGAIN WITH THIS.
"Sex workers need a pimp for protection, an agency to funnel them clients, and drugs to deal with the emotional and physical pain."

Holy shit, I think I'm about to do it. Fuck. Ok -

#NOTALLSEXWORKERS

Stereotype, upon stereotype, upon stereotype.
AGAIN: I'm not saying there aren't workers with these experiences.

But what right does Lynne have to tell their stories? And what right does Lynne have to speak for workers at all?

Nothing reads like it's been researched. It reads like someone's done a cautionary google.
Taking the voices of, supposedly, 100+ workers and summing up their words by writing something that literally derides and denigrates them?

How could anyone who claims to want to be an ally, think that's ok?
"SO HERE IS THE PROBLEM."

Oh good.

"The sex worker loudly defends their job, calling it a choice."

Because for some it is. Because #sexworker experiences are diverse.

"They know what they can rake in financially.."

We can have goals, but nothing is certain.
"...so they believe that if they can just quit the drugs..."

$#^$%&%^#$%#%

"...get out on their own, not paying their profits to the house, they’d be alright.."

I don't think Lynne spoke to 100+ sex workers.

I definitely don't have trouble believing Lynne writes fiction.
"Sex work is not a career choice, it’s a lack of options."

Lynne you have no right to say this.

You claim to have done some research & at best you could say this was the case for some of those you spoke to.

You are simplifying #sexworkers & their experiences - that's wrong.
"Until we can cure addiction, stop johns from hiring people to satisfy their sexual needs, and properly educate those living below the poverty line..."

Just in case you needed a reminder that Lynne thinks we're all supporting addictions of some kind.
"Properly educate."

What denotes a 'proper' education exactly?

'People living below the poverty line definitely have less access to education - which is a problem. But implying that everyone below the poverty line is uneducated is also a problem.' @BridgetteBBW
"...stop johns from hiring people to satisfy their sexual needs..."

If you had 'END DEMAND' or 'THE NORDIC MODEL' on your bingo card, make it off now.
"For the record, although the sex workers I talked to all claimed to be of age, some were clearly minors under the law and carried fake identification."

Add 'identifying fake ID' to Lynne's list of skills.
If that IS the case Lynne - you were certainly still comfortably exploiting them for your research.

You're happy to use their knowledge & stories to 'enhance' your fiction - fiction that people pay you for - whilst belittling them publicly.
"Every single one of these sex workers used one substance or another to deal with either the depression, safety threats, emotional and physical pain, or even the social stigma attached to their sex work."

And you decided the best way to help was to double down on that stigma.
"Of the 100+ that I personally spoke with..." Citation needed.

"....roughly 50% admitted they had one or more incurable sexually transmitted diseases/infections."

Because it wouldn't be a SWERFy sort of article if they didn't bring up our myriad of health issues, right?
#SexWorkers are often at the forefront of safer sex practices - we have to be. It's not just our livelihood, but also our health at stake. We assess risk and perform the services we need to or are comfortable with, we perform health checks, we get tested.
Of course this isn't the case everywhere and there are significantly more barriers to health and safety in places where the industry is illegal.

Decriminalisation and the reduction of stigma & misinformation about #sexworkers would absolutely help with this.
And that's it.

All done.

@LynneMartin47 this wasn't always as polite as I would have liked. And I'm sorry for that. But I hope you can see and understand how hurtful and harmful some of what you've written is.

I don't have high hopes. But I'd love to be proven wrong.
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