This tweet has inspired me to write a short thread on attitudes to prostitution in the 1950s. The 1950s was a time marked by conservative attitudes toward prostitution: the Wolfenden Committee sat, pathologized women who sold sex, and recommended increasing criminalization. BUT
There were dozens of prominent women's orgs, legal orgs, & even prominent police spokespersons who vehemently opposed this criminalization. They campaigned tirelessly in the name of prostitute's rights, and to prevent the harmful effects of pushing prostitution underground.
The Josephine Butler Society, after the 1959 Street Offences Act was passed, declared it to be a 'pimp's charter', because of the way that criminalization increased third party interest in prostitution.
The Left-wing press was crucial to the campaign for the rights and safety of women who sold sex. They routinely published pieces that criticized misguided criminalization and pointed out that prostitution was caused by women's poverty.
Where is that press today? They are promoting the further criminalization of sexual work in the name of supposed 'protection', just like the conservatives did in the 1950s. So I say: @guardian, the 1950s called & they want to remind you of the kind of thing you used to stand for.

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More from @JuliaLaite

14 Jun
Anti-sex work feminism, a history thread: For about 2 centuries, middle-class etc women have been involved in campaigns about prostitution. Many had heart-felt reasons, & there were even campaigns to decriminalize prostitution & ensure better rights for women who sold sex. BUT...
For the most part, these campaigns were about public morality, social control, and the maintenance of a system of cheap, feminised labour that served the interests of the wealthy. They denigrated and criminalized women’s attempts to make a living wage by selling sex...
while celebrating their own ‘rescue efforts’: that is, retraining women to work in domestic service. It was a lucrative business in an age of domestic labour shortage: getting young women, in the words of historian April Haynes, ‘out of brothels and into kitchens’.
Read 4 tweets
17 Mar
The UK’s proposed #EndDemand bill; a #DecrimNow history thread:

‘Prostitution is a grievous vice’, wrote feminist Alison Neilans in 1919. To her, prostitution was morally wrong & harmful to women. Then, she continued: ‘but it cannot be made a crime without grave injustice.’
Yesterday, an amendment criminalizing the purchase of sex was added to the already controversial Policing and Crimes Bill. As much as Alison Neilans, the leading anti-prostitution campaigner of her day, hated prostitution, I know she would have opposed this. Why?
Because she knew that such laws were impossible to prosecute fairly. Laws directed against women who sold sex or men who bought it rested on stigma & too much police power. She understood that criminalizing one side would inevitably infringe on the rights of the other.
Read 6 tweets

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