While the debates around prostitution and sex work have been dividing the feminist community for years, conversations recently became heated after the Women’s Worlds 2011 conference, which took place in Ottawa from July 3-7. While many abolitionists felt both relieved and inspired at the camaraderie and unified atmosphere among feminists at the conference and at the visible existence of an allied feminist movement to end prostitution, some decriminalization and sex worker advocates felt differently. In an article published by Xtra West, entitled: “Hostile clashes dominate women’s conference,” a few attendees were said to have been “beaten down” and “silenced.” While the media has a strong hand in misrepresenting feminist arguments around prostitution, particularly the abolitionist view, could it also be that feminists are simply not listening to one another? Your hosts, Nicole Deagan and Meghan Murphy explore both ends of the debates.
The first half of the show features an interview with Women’s Worlds attendee, Chris Bruckert, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa who has done extensive research in the area of sex work. This interview is followed by a round table discussion between Lee Lakeman, a pioneer of women’s anti-violence services in Canada who has been a part of the collective at Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter since 1978, Erin Graham, a PhD candidate in the department of Educational Studies at UBC whose work interrogates and critiques the emergence of the concept and practices of “harm reduction” as social services approaches to women in prostitution, and Cherry Smiley, who works at a rape crisis centre and transition house, and is a former member of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network and is a radical feminist and prostitution abolitionist.
For more information about The F Word, please visit: www.feminisms.org