If you’ve been following the sex work-y blogs, you’ll no doubt already be well informed that any rise in global temperatures, sea levels, acid rain or general climate meltdown is wholly due to big bad whores selling sex to UN delegates in Scandanavia. What??
Well, really, it’s gotten so silly. Everyone is so desperate to tie together every hot button issue that excites them (The Olympics lead to trafficking! Trafficking leads to climate change! Climate change is due to Tiger Woods’ infidelity!) that you can’t blame the average person for not knowing what to think.
Laura Agustín writes on her blog, Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex:
“Sex workers in Denmark are protesting a campaign against prostitution during the UN Climate Change Conference. The city of Copenhagen wants to discourage delegates from buying sex, despite the fact that it is perfectly legal there and has nothing to do with climate change. The sex workers’ interest group, SIO (Sexarbejdernes Interesseorganisation), was not consulted and so, annoyed, they are offering free sex to any conference delegate who turns in his ridiculous postcard (see below), which also went to 160 hotels.”
They circulated these postcards to hotels to put out, saying, “Be sustainable: DON’T BUY SEX.” Now that doesn’t make any sense to me. Does that make any sense to you?
Møller does a great job linking the whole issue to labour rights and the hypocrisy of a government distributing pamphlets against a legal profession (…just imagine: “Be sustainable: DON’T BUY PHYSIOTHERAPY.” or “Be sustainable: DON’T BUY PROCTOLOGY.”).
But I kind of suspect that no one much is listening to those sorts of arguments anyway. These days it seems like trafficking is just too titillating and edgy for any of us to see it for what it really is: a serious issue worthy of real attention, but one which affects only a small minority of migrant labourers, some of whom work in the sex industries, many of whom do not.
Last month I met up with an old school friend I hadn’t seen for a decade or so. Catching up on our lives, including the work we do, the topic of sex work came up. Probably to keep the conversation going, my friend said, “Oh sex work, interesting. A friend of mine works at a support centre for trafficked women.” Unwittingly, she had succinctly spelled out an association I think many people carry around in their heads: “Sex work equals trafficking and trafficking equals sex work”.
Neither is true.
But rather than undoing this spurious association, we’re forging full steam ahead, tying in even stranger bedfellows – like climate change and the Olympics – as we go. Pausing to collect evidence, to verify our claims, to ask trafficked workers what they want or to ask non-trafficked workers how erroneous assumptions affect their working lives would only slow down the fascinating, freakshow fun.
Which, for many of us, is the least sustainable notion of all.
December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Nico Little updates his personal blog regularly. You can follow it at www.ickaprick.com