Home | About | Donate

No One Wants to Listen to the Sex Workers


No One Wants to Listen to the Sex Workers

Molly Roberts

Advocates left and right have applauded federal authorities’ seizure of classified ads website Backpage.com as a victory for women in the sex trade


I wish not to sound like a male chauvinistic pig, but the United States could learn volumes from the government in Holland about how respectful sex-workers can be treated.


The multiple sources and manifestations of repression hate this woman.
The thought that some women might enjoy sex must be stamped out!

Sex must be used only for the procreation of cheap labor, officers, guards, and supervisors.


For all the harm it does to sex workers, there’s a bigger problem with FOSTA - making the site liable for the activities of its users.


Great article. And, Big Mother or Grandmother, in the case of Sen. Harris and Gillibrand, is just base political pandering. Shocking, ain’t it?
C. Hedges had the guts, at least, to actually speak to sex workers in Vancouver, B. C. Though he got his stocking cap handed to him, he had more guts than any current sitting Democratic Senator. Of course, they’re pretty much a cowardly, sold out bunch, especially Harris. She had no trouble hopping into financial bed with Mnuchin’s bunch of criminal actors. Go figure!


Hadn’t heard about that. I’d only seen him talk to an extremely tiny sample of former sex-workers who have found it advantageous to denounce what they used to do–mostly Rachel Moran, who now makes her living as a campaigner. My impression was that he was cherry-picking only those women who would be useful to his position.

“he got his stocking cap handed to him”

I would be surprised if that’s how Hedges characterized it. Do you know if any of that exchange got preserved somehow?


That’s not at Truthdig, archived somewhere?
Gosh, it was in early winter of 2016, maybe? I can’t read Canadian but I’m sure a Vancouver flopdown ( alt weekly ) covered it.


This is the old time religion telling people how to live their lives. What drives most of these people to do what they do–economic insecurity. HOW MANY KIDS ARE LIVING ON THE STREET RIGHT NOW! No senator should hold their heads up when so many are homeless and hungry. These senators don’t want to address the real fundamental issues. At the core people need to demand INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM-social, political,–and ECONOMIC FREEDOM. This is a campaign by the elite to destroy free speech-----How did these young kids mobilize after the shootings in Florida??? And how did these teachers mobilize in anti-union states???SUPPORT THE COMMONS!


When Roberts spoke of avatars of female empowerment who have have failed to do the one thing that would actually empower the women they claim to defend–pay attention to what those women think, I immediately thought of Truthdig. Their usuals on the topic are Julie Bindel–a writer with no apparent experience in sex work flogging her book against it, Rachel Moran–a former sex worker who now makes her money campaigning against what she used to do, and flogging her book against it, and Emily Wells, the house blogger who also appears to have no experience with sex work. And yes, early winter of 2016, Truthdig did host a video of a conversation between Hedges and Moran, which was basically two opponents of sex work talking about how sex work is bad and ought be abolished.

If that’s the conversation you were thinking of, I suspect you either read somebody’s mistaken characterization of it, or maybe your memory of it got cross-wired with someone else who really did talk to sex workers to find out what they think. But if that’s the conversation, you gave Hedges way too much credit.


(And by the way, kudos to CommonDreams for not being another Truthdig on this topic.)


No, the sex workers in Vancouver were working within the local political structure to gain rights and legal protections, et al. ( I’ve said here at CD on several occasions that I disagree with Hedges on this issue ). He travelled to Vancouver to pitch his take on this and, low and behold, the real live sex workers there said; ah, not so much there Chris. Same arguments they reiterated here in this article.
East is east, West is west and, never the twain shall met.


Okay, I think you may have munged several dissociated events together.

Hedges had an article on Truthdig in which he said: “On a rainy night recently I walked past the desperate street prostitutes in the 15 square blocks that make up the Downtown Eastside ghetto in Vancouver — most of them impoverished aboriginal women. I saw on the desolate street corners where women wait for customers the cruelty and despair that will characterize most of our lives if the architects of neoliberalism remain in power.”

And walking past those sex workers was as close as he came to having any interaction with them. In response, some who actually have some experience with sex workers wrote articles like “Speak with sex workers, not for them”

And he had a chance to do just that when he gave the keynote address at Simon Fraser University’s State of Extraction conference in downtown Vancouver, because sex workers and their organizations were among the protesters outside his talk, handing out flyers with titles like “Chris Hedges knows nothing about sex workers”. But I can’t find any report that Hedges actually met with any of the protesters.

So he did go to Vancouver, he did go to the part of town where sex workers were (and walked right past them) and he did talk about sex workers while in Vancouver, and the sex workers there vocally disagreed near where he was speaking, but apparently not in his presence.

So all the elements you describe are there, just not in one encounter. But if it isn’t that, I’m hard put to imagine how you could even have heard about a direct conversation between Hedges and sex workers where they put him in his place. Who would have reported it? Not Truthdig. Not Hedges. And he’s still waging the same campaign as of the end of last year, so if any sex workers ever did manage to give him a dressing-down to his face, he clearly had no problem dismissing their views.


“Trusting women (or men) to do what they want with their bodies” sounds nice, but is hardly justifiable in light of humanity’s inclination to fall (or be pushed) into self- and other-destructive patterns. We need, rather, a two-pronged effort to improve the lives of current sex-workers while working to eliminate this and other essentially inhuman (and rapaciously capitalistic) activities.


Modern liberals in the US are essentially neo-puritans. So why are you so surprised they are screwing over the prostitutes?


Plus, prostitution helps men deal with their biological urges, and all Feminists agree that men must be harassed and hated in every possible way.

Lesbians, spinsters, and manhaters now control the world. Men are viewed as slaves, money pigs, and targets of hatred and lynch mobs. That’s our world today.


It is at least as justifiable as letting people work in punishing or dangerous jobs.

“We need, rather, a two-pronged effort to improve the lives of current sex-workers while working to eliminate this and other essentially inhuman (and rapaciously capitalistic) activities.”

Sex work for money is indeed inherently capitalistic, but I see no prospects for eliminating capitalism. But what is it that you see as being inhuman (or rapacious) by its very essence? If, for example, we had a system where a basic income and all healthcare, education, child-care, housing, water and nutrition essentials were guaranteed to everyone, and if, in that system, someone were to choose to provide sex services in exchange for money for non-essentials, what is it about that exchange which would be necessarily, inherently and unavoidably inhuman or rapacious?


If that’s how you view the world we live in today, then I feel sorry for you.


Some things simply ought not to be for sale. That is a notion foreign to capitalism.


I could, with equal justification, declare that sex-services provided by consenting adults ought not be on the list of things that ought not be for sale. All that such declarations amount to is expressions of opinion, and opinions aren’t binding on anyone. To be convincing, such opinions need to have some sort of justification.

The case for sex work is an extension of basic rights of commerce, free association, and bodily autonomy. So a rational case against sex work needs to show why those basic rights cannot be extended to sex work, or it needs to show why individuals should not have one or more of those basic rights in the first place, or it needs to be shown why sex work is inherently inimical to some other basic rights.


I wouldn’t deny persons the right to sell their sexual labor, any more than I would deny them their right to commit suicide, especially if these were not activities typically forced upon otherwise dispossessed, neglected, or desperate individuals.