Since today seems to be post something that Twitter made me think about day: Sex work. I know nothing to very little about it. Seriously. But I do know something relevant.
Whenever an event is dealing with sex work and it excludes people who are current, working sex workers and who have something valid to say, as the Nottingham Women’s Conference did recently, that’s not on. They may have done this by accident, by intent, or by dint of some other circumstance, let me be generous and give them the benefit of every possible doubt, but the fact of the exclusion is a problem. By necessity that biases any dialogue. It is, by necessity imbalanced. Not “imbalanced” in the sense of what “faux-BBC balance” tries to correct, where the interviewer will turn away from a relevant, qualified expert in possession of these weird things called “facts”, and to a frothing nonsense-vomitter because the lobby group represented by said producer of intellectual ordure is loud and obnoxious, but properly imbalanced. I.e. where people with real experience, facts and data are excluded from a conversation for, potentially, the worst possible reasons.
This sort of situation has precedent and is dangerous:
Socially dominant ethnic groups discussing and debating the rights of ethnic minorities in the absence of those ethnic minorities.
Men discussing and debating the rights of women in the absence of women.
Straight people discussing and debating the rights of LGBTQ people in the absence of LGBTQ people.
Cis people discussing and debating the rights of trans* people in the absence of trans* people.
People without physical or mental disabilties discussing and debating the rights of people with physical or mental disabilities in the absence of those people with physical or mental disabilities.
People of one very economically privileged class, or set of classes, discussing and debating the rights of people from vastly less economically privileged classes in the absence of those people from vastly less economically privileged classes.
All of these things operate along differing gradients of social power (dependent on context and intersectional issues obviously). Thus they are potentially open to causing damage, either accidentally or deliberately. Of equal import, how the bloody hell are you going to find out about the issues, needs and experiences of a group of people (however defined) if you don’t talk to them? Or worse, if you only talk to a subset of them that already agree with you?
So whilst I know nothing about sex work, I do know that you don’t support an already socially marginalised group of people by marginalising them further. Whatever your opinions. So please, feminists of various stripes, men who, like me agree with and support various bits of feminism, do not sideline sex workers of any sex and sexuality, even though the bulk are heterosexual cis women. They need to be heard. Even if you disagree with them. Especially if you disagree with them.