K, San Francisco, November 2008:
ENFORCEMENT OF LAWS RELATED TO
PROSTITUTION AND SEX WORKERS
to Prop K Information Page
Progressive, Christian Right, Feminism and Alliances
quote was from a longer article by Paul Hogarth which
referred to all the San Francisco ballot measures
in BeyondChron, a San Francisco online news source
"The prostitution measure has created strange
alliances on both sides. Paid arguments for Proposition
K come from sex workers, health professionals, progressives
like the National Lawyers Guild and Harvey Milk Club
– and Libertarian candidates. But the “no”
side doesn’t just have conservatives like Supervisor
Michela Alioto-Pier or the Republican Party. Progressives
like the Rev. Norman Fong and Barry Hermanson paid
to oppose Prop K because it cuts funds for certain
non-profits. Even feminist leader Gloria Steinem paid
to oppose Prop K, because it’s a “trafficker’s
dream” – and “would declare open
season on women and children.”
In response to "Paid Ballot Arguments Make Voter
Guide Look Like Phonebook," I want to point out
that feminists have been divided on the issue of prostitution
since the advent of the modern feminist movement.
Although the old feminist mainstream clings to an
anti-prostitution analysis, young feminists more often
understand that sex work is work and support decriminalization.
Feminists around the globe are also divided, with
strong feminist pro-sex worker rights movements in
Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Cambodia to name a few.
There are also two camps in the anti-trafficking movement,
the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, with whom
Steinem is aligned. CATW emphasizes a global anti-prostitution
campaign and aligned is with the Bush administration
on anti-trafficking policies. The Global Alliance
Against Traffic in Women is informed by the sex worker
and immigrant rights movements. Their latest book,
"Collateral Damage," examines the negative
human rights impact of anti-trafficking policies and
makes it clear that that repressive laws and strategies
targeting sex workers and migrants are counter productive
in the fight against trafficking.
The alliance between feminists and the fundamentalist
Christian right on this issue has been well documented.
Feminist leader, Gloria Steinem has been taking a
severe position against sex worker rights for decades.
Steinem was one of the original advocates that the
definitions in federal trafficking laws should stipulate
that there is no voluntary prostitution, that individuals
cannot legally consent to this work.
Trafficking Policy Research Project
Note: For more on these alliances see also:
Prostitution Measure ...
Aug. 21, 2008
To the Editor:
This is in response to "Paid Arguments Make Voter
guide Look Like Phone Book." Paul Hogarth is
surprised that "The prostitution measure has
created strange alliances on both sides."
Well, I think it is not so surprising at all. A glance
at any world history book will reveal a long history
of the "unholy alliance," beginning with
the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. We are seeing
this again, as the right wing has coopted the language
of feminism to further its agenda. Have you noticed
how the right wing talks about how we invaded Afghanistan
in order to free the women from the sexist Taliban
Well, a few years ago, the Bush Administration also
made an unholy alliance with the SAGE Project here
in San Francisco. This is the non-profit that runs
the First Offender Prostitution Program. This program
is based on the arrest of clients and sex workers,
so it cannot continue if prostitution is decriminalized.
The SAGE project signed on to an amicus brief in support
of the Bush Administration's worldwide policy on prostitution.
for more info. This policy states that no organization
can receive USAID if they talk about sex workers as
Barry Hermanson is on the Board of Safe House, another
non-profit that has a connection with SAGE. Because
the city will save money to the tune of around $11.4
million per year if the police stop enforcing the
prostitution laws, there is nothing stopping SAGE
from petitioning the city for that money to expand
their voluntary programs for sex workers. I have personally
tried to explain this to Barry Hermanson, who spoke
out against this measure despite the fact that his
Party did endorse Prop K.
In any case, I see Proposition K above all as a workers'
rights issue. This measure will give sex workers the
right to form a union to improve their working conditions.
This measure will also improve the health and safety
conditions for workers because it allows them to go
to the authorities when they are a victim of violence,
or if they see evidence of abuse or trafficking.
Of course, workers' rights and democracy for sex workers
is not to easy to stomach for those who have made
a cottage industry out of arresting prostitutes and
clients, nor for those feminists who have the paternalistic
attitude that we must arrest sex workers in order
to rescue them. Isn't this the same attitude of the
Bush administration when they said we needed to invade
Iraq in order to bring them freedom?
Industrial Workers of the World
to Prop K Information Page