Last night two sex workers bombarded me with block caps tweets for 2 hours about how I’m not a sex worker and am privileged, arrogant and too immature to be doing the Merseyside model petition. Apparently I’m a manipulative liar who made the petition because I want to “be a leader” in the activist movement, while also being the naïve poster child who has issues and is being used and “pwned” by Ruth Jacobs. They also seemed to think Ruth Jacobs is involved with the petition, when in fact we stopped working together well over a month ago and her name isn’t on it. I’m not going to name names or post screenshots, because this isn’t a reply to them and, (as far as I know without yet going on Twitter) they’ve stopped.
What this is, is a clarification: I’m not working with Ruth, she has no control over the petition. She can’t claim it as hers because her name isn’t on it. Jaynie’s name is on it but posts on this blog, as well as Jaynie’s public tweets, prove that she only created it for me because of the legal name requirement. (All Government e-petitions take a week for approval while names and addresses of the creators are verified).
Before I realised a legal name was needed, I asked for sex workers to put their names on it since I’m not a representative sex worker (or, according to the people from last night, I’m not a sex worker at all). One person wanted to but then we realised it had to be a legal name, while one who I DM’d refused (because they seemed to think Ruth was still involved in it).
The important thing is that whether or not you like me really shouldn’t affect you signing or publicising the petition. Politics isn’t about whether you like the person or not. What if a sex worker met Rhoda Grant in a pub and didn’t know who she was – they might get along! But we’re against Grant’s Bill – her politics, not what she’s like personally. Similarly, if she were to make a Bill to implement the Merseyside model, I would support that while simultaneously challenging her first Bill.
Stopping rapes and murders is much more important than whether you personally like me. And I doubt that sex workers who benefit from Merseyside (if the petition succeeds) would really think “Oh I wish Merseyside hadn’t succeeded because it was a non-representative sex worker who clicked ‘create a petition'”.
If you really care about who created a petition more than the good the model can bring, it just hurts sex workers’ goals. Infighting over who is and isn’t a sex worker is not going to help with Merseyside or labour rights or anything else. Sex workers’ safety is the most important thing about my petition, not who created it.
And if I’m not a sex worker, that means I’m volunteering my time in a cause that isn’t mine and won’t benefit me.
The worst thing about this is the vicious cycle: that sex workers see this petition as an anti’s idea (although the model was created and supported by sex workers and the NSWP, as well as politicians and ACPO) so some may not want to support it. Then, because sex workers don’t support it, other sex workers see it as an anti’s idea. And so it goes around and around. And the petition doesn’t get publicised, and if it fails, that doesn’t benefit sex workers.
So what I want to say is this: It’s not an anti’s idea, it’s a sex workers’ idea and as we all know, it always was from the beginning in Merseyside. Ruth Jacobs (who isn’t sure about the Nordic model because it doesn’t offer exit routes and makes poverty worse) just wanted to expand the model to all of the UK. She didn’t create it and so owes everything to sex workers. And I’m not being “used” by her because I heard of the model at university then later on Douglas Fox’s blog (I think) and I’ve read about it on other sites and a Telegraph column too before Ruth showed up.
But, if you do think it’s still an anti’s idea or that Ruth was co-opting it, then support it yourselves. Because that will turn it into a sex workers’ idea if most sex workers and sex worker orgs support it.
I asked the two people last night if they wanted their legal names on the petition or what they wanted me to change about it. They wouldn’t even answer me about what they wanted me to do, instead resorting to swearing and name-calling, as they did throughout the 2 hours.
And I’ve been thinking, that they obviously wish I’d never made the petition. But if I hadn’t, who would? Lots of sex workers and sex worker activists have known about Merseyside for much longer than I have, and while there’s always been lots of support for it, nobody has done a petition that (if it gets 100,000 signatures) will be debated by the Government. I’m not trying to disparage all the activism, media work and demos that sex worker activists are doing right now and have been doing decades before I was even born. I’m just saying that if someone had created the petition before me, I wouldn’t have needed to and we could’ve avoided what happened last night. So how can they attack me for, basically, not waiting for a ‘real’ sex worker to create the petition, when they themselves didn’t create it?
The fact that Jaynie’s name is on the petition was seen as an excuse by someone else, who was implying that I’m merely the puppet or poster child of a hidden group, but seeing as sex workers are usually anonymous, I can’t see any way past this. If anyone is willing to out themselves and put their name to it, tweet me.
This isn’t about who counts as a sex worker or me working with Ruth in the past (which is irrelevant as it’s got nothing to do with the petition as I’m not working with her now) or what anyone thinks about me. Whether I’m a sex worker in their eyes or not, we’re all people, and people doing sex work are being raped and attacked. It’s these people who matter. And if who created the petition matters more than these people, matters more than sex workers, that’s pretty shitty politics. However we’re all entitled to our politics, whether they’re shitty or not. So if you don’t like me, don’t sign the petition.
But I hope you do – not because I want to lead the sex worker activist movement (I mean, come on, I don’t even call myself a sex worker activist! And I suspect that lots of contacts, years of experience, tons of media work and influence in sex worker organisations would be required to successfully be The Leader of Sex Worker Activists.) I hope you do because I do want sex workers to be safe – and I do want the petition to be a sex workers’ initiative. If lots of sex workers support it, it WILL be a sex workers initiative and that’s how the media will see it (if it gets media attention or is debated).