Sex workers and their allies promote hashtag #NotYourRescueProject

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      A researcher and writer known as the Naked Anthropologist, Laura Agustin, is a long-time critic of what she calls the "rescue industry".

      In an interview with the Georgia Straight in 2011, she maintained that nongovernmental organizations trying to "save" women in the sex trade don't spend nearly enough attention on what these rescued souls will do after their income has been cut off.

      Agustin pointed out at the time that prior to the rise of the European bourgeoisie, sex workers were not considered "victims".

      And she has criticized those like New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who've called for greater restrictions on the sale of sex.

      Agustin's provocative argument hasn't attracted much attention in the mainstream media.

      Today, sex workers and their allies decided to amplify this message over Twitter by using the hashtag #NotYourRescueProject.

      It appears to have started here:


      That came after self-described intersectional feminist and sex worker Pasta tweeted: "I feel like SWs are always being put into boxes by no-SWs in a way that flattens complexity."

      Below, you can see how quickly it caught on.

      A well-known dominatrix, Mistress Matisse, tweeted: "#notyourrescueproject because my career has taught me self-reliance, creativity, compassion, and how to have excellent personal boundaries."

      Molli Desi Devadasi, who was one of the originators, sent out several messages, including this one: "NotYourRescueProject today I had sex with three men for 1 hr each and with that money I paid for one school for one month in my country."

      Another of the originators, N'jaila Rhee, declared: "I reject your attempts to use my body as a woman of color for your tragedy porn. #notyourrescueproject"

      Another named Kitty stated: "#notyourrescueproject Because, despite all my options, I choose to do what makes me the most happy, not what will make society happy."

      El Feministo tweeted: "#NotYourRescueProject Because 'Rescue' too-often = 'Repatriation Without Consent' followed by 'Please Donate!' – in other words: #WhosAPimp?"

      KatrinaElisseCaudle urged "Canadian babes" to tweet #notyourrescueproject to federal party leaders Elizabeth May, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair.

      Sabrina Morgan's message was more personal: "When you treat the profession as degrading, you degrade those in it. I take pride in my work & the services I provide. #notyourrescueproject"

      Melissa Gira Grant's tweet addressed broader issues: "#notyourrescueproject because sex workers need to direct their own lives, not prop up your gritty documentary/TED talk/thesis/grant proposal"

      Darby Hickey, a policy analyst who studies the sex trade, had this to say: "Because the laws in Sweden are not a model, they are a disaster. #NotYourRescueProject"

      You can see a couple more tweets below.




      Jan 3, 2014 at 1:11am

      Stuff a sock in it. The only ones trying to save the industry are those profiting from it, which is an extreme minority, and only in privileged nations. Nothing to say of those who suffer by their complicit crimes. They can throw the rest of us under the bus so long as they're a celebrity? At least one had the honesty to admit that she cares more about herself than society.

      BTW not all abolitionists are non-SW, but nearly all ex-SW are abolitionists. Shocking?

      Find something better to report about than hashtags and trolls. At least get a quote from someone with a PhD or Master's in this subject. Sheesh. Laziness.

      As if we needed another sex-pozzer dude's (redundant?!) opinion, anyway. Thanks for furthering the debate.

      Molli Desi Devadasi

      Jan 3, 2014 at 4:26am

      In response to Tao I would say that this is the typical response to Sex Workers trying to speak out.... our voices are deemed trivial.

      In the developing world thousands of women rely on paid sex to be independent.

      Also you would rather listen to someone who would spend a year researching me and writing a paper than listening to me speak for myself ?

      B Magnanti

      Jan 3, 2014 at 6:29am

      "Stuff a sock in it"? Yes, that's exactly the response expected from someone who opposes sex workers. Hence the hashtag - we refuse to be silenced.

      By and large the ex-sex workers involved in activism are NOT outright abolitionists. Some are, but actually look at who is speaking up for sex workers' rights and it is the workers themselves, not some imaginary "pimp overlord".

      "Get a quote from someone with a Master's or a PhD"... what, because you think the workers themselves aren't qualified enough to report on their actual lives? (Though for what it's worth I have both; there's your quote, love).


      Jan 3, 2014 at 6:42am

      >>BTW not all abolitionists are non-SW, but nearly all ex-SW are abolitionists

      What are you basing that on?

      Rick in Richmond

      Jan 3, 2014 at 10:30am

      When these people tell us how happy they would be to have their own daughters become prostitutes -- and why -- society might start listening.

      Until then, nothing has changed. All the #s in the world cannot change the fact that prostitution commodifies women, exploits their desperation, vectors disease, is riddled with pimps and violence, and turns women into ashtrays for men.

      What sort of person would want her own daughter to become a prostitute?


      Jan 3, 2014 at 11:03am

      Rick in Richmond is convinced that if you wouldn't support your own daughter doing it, then you must oppose prostitution.

      It is true that many women who enter prostitution are poor, on drugs, or believe they have no alternative. But clearly that's not true of all women in the business. I wouldn't want my daughter to be a prostitute, but isn't the relevant question whether SHE would want to be a prostitute?

      I would be terribly sad if she chose to become a prostitute. I would try to steer her from it, and I would feel I had failed as a father. But (as hard as this may for me to say) I wouldn't have a right to force her NOT to be prostitute.

      By the way--I wouldn't be a whole lot happier if she became a hedge-fund manager either.


      Jan 3, 2014 at 11:16am

      Tao, do you often enjoy being dismissive of others and ignoring what they have to say based on your own assumptions?

      I mean, sure, revel your belief that your sterotype is all that exists, and even that it's somehow the majority, when of course anyone with any knowledge of the topic that isn't an abolitionist knows that the majority of sex workers are invisible in any stats that you types listen to, because

      a) the ones who choose to do sex work don't typically seek out attention (ie they are less visible than those who seek out victim services where they are counted as existing on paper)


      b) the stats that show this fact whatsoever are ignored because they don't tell you what you want to hear

      I mean, enjoy your "90% of sex workers would quit tomorrow" lie if you choose, ignoring the fact that about 90% of ANY job wouldn't do the work they do either if they didn't have to (duh, that's why one is paid...after all would you do your job if you could live without working?)

      As for the whole "priviliged nations", people in your country cannot have rights so long as someone else in another country also does not?

      Good luck applying those ethics to nearly any other aspect of your existence. I am sure you are destroying your computer as we speak, and will go explain to all the women you meet why they have to give up the right to have an abortion or vote or drive or have any say in their lives and have to wear a full body covering in solidarity with all women globally because until EVERYTHING is fixed EVERYWHERE they have no right to any of those things. LOL

      Norma Jean Almodovar

      Jan 3, 2014 at 12:01pm

      I would say that 100% of women who are forced into domestic servitude would support leaving the industry. No one volunteers to scrape up dried feces, urine or vomit of strangers for minimum wage. They are economically coerced into such labor because they have no other options.

      Go to a battered women's shelter and ask the victims of domestic violence if they think marriage is wonderful. I am fairly certain that you will find the majority of them think marriage is a horrible institution. Given the percentage of women and children who are victims of abusive boyfriends, husbands and fathers, perhaps we ought to consider banning marriage to protect those poor women and children from THAT violence!

      Oh, would you want your daughter to be married to a violent man? No? then support the abolition of marriage. How are you going to ensure that she marries someone who won't hurt her?

      Would you want your daughter to have to scrub toilets for minimum wage or less? I don't think many women grow up wanting to become domestic servants, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't find employment there if that is all they can do... so obviously, we need to rescue those poor victims and find them some other menial labor which pays diddly squat.

      Some Dude

      Jan 3, 2014 at 1:32pm

      What we should be doing is making sure sex workers are safe and healthy - for their own sake and NOT subject to conditions that, they feel, compromise their dignity as human beings. Once we have achieved that, then we can talk about which path we, as a society, should go down.


      Jan 3, 2014 at 1:46pm

      Dawn Schiller is a prostitution survivor who wrote "The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes" and her story was made into the 2003 Val Kilmer movie Wonderland.

      After being raped and prostituted teenager by violent porn industry insider John Holmes since age 15, Dawn was 19 and living with him in a motel when he beat her up in front of others staying at the motel. They waited until John went out and then went to her and insisted she leave him and come with them. She refused, he had tortured and brainwashed her for years and she was terrified. They refused to let her stay, refused to let the 19 year old "choose" to stay with notorious and dangerous pimp John Holmes, and that was how Dawn escaped.

      This hashtag says those people were wrong to interfere. It says those people should have left Dawn where she was. I'm grateful good people don't listen to free market capitalists who view young women's reproductive organs as rentable public properties.