We decided to create this small zine to give a little space for survivors sex workers like ourselves to share their stories, analysis, and testimonies… Our lives are complex and often hard to put in to words due to the stigma, shame and guilt associated to both sex work and (sexual) abuse. And what sometimes makes it even harder are these un-nuanced discourses and debates on sex work and prostitution: Happy hooker or victim. Empowered or abused. Always one or the other. Never both, never neither.
Nothing is that simple.
We are the ones that abolitionists use as statistics to win debates for more criminalisation. We are the few from the unproven mantra that the “large majority of prostituted women suffered sexual abuse in their childhood”. Our experiences are transformed into arguments to manipulate and lie and push for criminalisation. And those flawed and tired arguments force us to keep silent, to keep quiet, to keep those stories in our heads and not look for answers.
“You grew up in an abusive family and turned to prostitution?” – You just become a useful cliché for abolitionists wanting to use your experience to further their agenda, reducing your life and agency to a story of victimhood and confusion.
“You were raped at work by someone posing as a client?” – Another proof that the sex industry is the root of all patriarchal evil and should be abolished.
“You want to speak out about abuse and work from a sex workers’ rights perspective?” “ Shhh… be quiet, you don’t want to give more arguments to abolitionists do you?”
But we will not keep quiet. Nothing should stay secret. We learned this truth the hard way.
Our lives and experiences are a journey between different states from victimhood to resistance, resilience to healing. Few words, few submissions in a zine from a sex worker collective will not be enough to explore the complexities and uniqueness of our lives. But maybe it will be a start to dismantle this oppressive narrative that survivors working in the sex industry need rescuing and are unable to speak for themselves.
Sex workers survivors today speak out.
Can you listen to us?
This zine contains people’s personal experiences around abuse. Some of this is explicit in detail.
DOWNLOAD THE ZINE HERE: http://www.sexworkeropenuniversity.com/zines.html