CW: death of a SWer
On 13th August 2021, the state government of Victoria, Australia announced their commitment to repeal the Sex Work Act 1994. What is the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation? What does this news mean for Victoria? And what about the Nordic Model? Our misconception this week is “It’s all about the money”, Jenna learns that she is trafficking men, and we talk about whether decriminalisation will bring anti-discrimination.
1:35 - Main segment: Why we fight for decrim
36:04 - Misconception: It’s all about the money
39:23 - Shit People Say: “Men are your victims, You Trafficker”
48:06 - Question of the Week: Does decriminalisation = anti-discrimination?
Scarlet Alliance Emergency Relief Fund: https://chuffed.org/project/sex-worker-support
Decriminalisation: The Smart Sex Worker’s Guide, NSWP
Community Guide: Decriminalisation, NSWP
You’re Wrong About Human Trafficking: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5JyAdpdVVV8ZKQTRyrxqiu?si=SPEbKY8AR7qp4LPpe6UVYQ&dl_branch=1
The Real Impact of the Swedish Model on Sex Workers, NSWP 2015
Patreon (from $3AUD/month): http://www.patreon.com/somebodyyoupod
Somebody You Love is sponsored by Assembly Four, empowering sex workers through technology: https://assemblyfour.com/
For more info on sex work in Australia, please check out the following organisations:
ACT (SWOP ACT): https://meridianact.org.au/swop/
NSW (SWOP NSW): https://swop.org.au/
NT (SWOP NT): https://www.ntahc.org.au/swopnt
Qld (Respect Inc): https://respectqld.org.au/
SA (SIN): http://www.sin.org.au/sindex.html
Tas (Scarlet Alliance): https://scarletalliance.org.au/links/
Vic (Vixen Collective): https://www.vixencollective.org/vc
WA (Magenta): http://magenta.org.au
Jenna Love 0:01
Do you miss free and affordable ads and social networks without all of the anti-sex rhetoric?
Holly Harte 0:06
Assembly 4 is a team of sex workers and technologists from Melbourne, Australia, aiming to bring back free and fair advertising and social spaces to the sex working community,
Jenna Love 0:15
stepping away from the clunky design of traditional platforms, their two products Tryst.link and Switter.at are refreshing and well needed changes in both presentation and mission.
Holly Harte 0:27
And both are free to join and open to all.
Jenna Love 0:29
You can find both of our profiles on Tryst and I love how it is so clearly designed by sex workers.
Holly Harte 0:36
Yep. And I love how straightforward and easy it is to use and how much they clearly support the sex working community
Jenna Love 0:42
and also how responsive they are when it comes to feedback and customer service.
Holly Harte 0:46
Check out their website assemblyfour.com (four the word, not the number) for more info.
Jenna Love 0:56
Welcome to Somebody You Love or The Sale of Two Titties. I'm Jenna Love.
Holly Harte 1:03
And I'm Holly Harte
Jenna Love 1:06
and we're experts in disappointing our parents, breaching community guidelines, and banging the people who vote against our rights.
Holly Harte 1:14
We'd like to start by acknowledging the land on which we're recording today, Jenna is on Darug and Gundungurra land and I am on the land of the Ngunnawal people. We also would like to warn you that in this episode there will be mention of the death of a sex worker. This could be triggering and we would like you to keep that in mind.
Jenna Love 1:35
The state of Victoria in Australia has recently announced a commitment to decriminalise sex work over the next two years, making it the third state or territory in the country to do so. And only the fourth place in the world. Now I hesitated about whether I should explain it that way, because even saying that is a bit contentious. The thing is, there's a difference between decrim in name and decrim in reality sometimes. The sex worker rights movement is very focused on not leaving anyone behind. And that belief I think is really at the core of our push for decrim. So while New South Wales has decriminalisation, some street based sex work is criminalised. And while New Zealand has decriminalisation, migrant sex work is criminalised. So it feels somewhat disingenuous to describe them as decrim when it actually doesn't apply to everyone.
Holly Harte 2:29
But for the sake of simplicity, generally, it's accepted that New South Wales, New Zealand and the Northern Territory are the only places in the world that have decriminalised sex work. We had planned to do an episode on decrim in the future, but with this recent announcement, we thought it was best to bring it forward. sex work at the moment in Victoria is legal and governed by the Sex Work Act 1994. The commitment made by the state government is to repeal this Act.
Jenna Love 2:54
So I've participated in a lot of comments sections over this past week, both to do with this announcement by the Victorian Government, and to do with the recent news about OnlyFans. And as with anything on the internet, there are a lot of people commenting who don't have a clue what they're talking about, which is kind of understandable. To be fair, the laws on sex work, and the societies and economies in which sex work exist, vary so greatly around the world. And even within our country, the laws are wildly disparate. So I don't expect anyone to be an expert on this stuff. All I do expect is that if you're going to engage in discourse around something that you're unfamiliar with, that you do a quick Google to check if you're even in the right ballpark, if for no other reason than self preservation, like I always do that even if I'm like, "I'm pretty sure this is the case. I'm gonna do a quick Google because I don't want to--because it's embarrassing". But as we know, the people of the internet have no shame and do not desire to uphold such standards, apparently. So, you know, when we hear announcements like this, we expect to see plenty of people that don't understand what the announcement means, because it is kind of complicated. And so that's fair. But what I didn't expect was to see so many people really emphatically stating their ill informed opinions as fact, and saying that those of us who told them that they were wrong, that we were uneducated illiterate idiots, when a quick Google would have told them that they in fact, were wrong. But anyway, as I said, that's the internet for you. I've found it a bit of a painful week as a result. So we wanted to try and explain it in terms that are digestible and that make sense to as many people as possible. There is a difference between legalising something and decriminalising it, they sound like they would effectively achieve the same thing, and perhaps in other situations, they do mean the same thing and achieve the same thing. I'm not any kind of legal expert at all. All I know is about how they relate to the sex industry. And in that case, they are very different things. At least once a week there is a post on reddit asking if people think that sex work should be legal or if sex work should be respected like any other job, because for some reason, civilians love sitting around postulating about our lives as a fun hypothetical activity, even though it's got absolutely nothing to do with them, and it's actually our livelihoods and our lives. In these threads, you will always see a lot of comments that say things like, "yes, it should be legal, and it should be regulated". And now I believe the people making those comments have the best of intentions, and I applaud them for that. I appreciate that they are not just throwing bibles around and telling us that we're all going to go to hell. But the suggestion of "sex work should be legal and regulated" is actually quite harmful to sex workers. And it's not supported by Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation, Human Rights Watch, The American Civil Liberties Union, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or any international peer sex work organisations. Every single one of those groups calls for decriminalisation of sex work, and specifically condemns legalisation.
Holly Harte 6:20
According to NSWP, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, decriminalisation refers to the removal or absence of laws that outlaw and oppress sex workers. This is what we have in New South Wales and in the Northern Territory. New Zealand also has this country wide, but of course without the inclusion of migrants. Legalisation on the other hand, is the introduction of laws that aim to impose state regulation and control sex work and sex workers. This is what they currently have in Victoria, and what they have in many countries in Europe, for instance,
Jenna Love 6:53
One of the biggest issues with legalisation is that it creates a two tier system where there are workers who can comply with the law and those who cannot. So it basically legalises sex work for the most privileged in the industry, and criminalises it for the most marginalised, who are the ones that are really more in need of support from the law and from society. Decriminalisation, on the other hand, makes it legal for everyone. It doesn't, however, mean the removal of all other criminal laws for sex workers, I wouldn't have thought that I needed to specify that, and I probably don't to our listeners, because I don't think that you guys are idiots, but based on a lot of the comments I've read lately, it appears that I do. So I live under decrim. And that doesn't mean that I'm allowed to go around murdering people because I'm a sex worker. It also doesn't mean that a child can be forced to have sex with an adult in exchange for money, obviously, because that is not sex work. That is child sex abuse, which is very much criminal, and not in any way affected by decriminalising sex work.
Holly Harte 8:02
But a lot of people ask "are industry specific laws and regulations necessary?". People talk about doctors having to get medical licences and teachers have to abide by a Code of Professional Conduct.
Jenna Love 8:13
Yeah, totally. But there's also plenty of industries, generally those that don't have tertiary qualifications as a barrier to entry, that don't have industry specific state or federal laws. At least in Australia, I can't speak to other countries. You know, I used to be a makeup artist, you can get a certificate or a diploma or whatever in makeup, if that's what you want to do, but you don't have to. There's no licencing body, you do not have to have any kind of registration or particular education in order to be able to practice as a makeup artist.
Holly Harte 8:44
Yeah, and I used to be a pet sitter. As a pet sitter, you're obviously subject to laws under the Animal Care Protection Act 2001. But so are all owners of pets, and anyone who comes into contact with an animal, basically. They're not industry specific. You have to have public liability insurance and follow Work, Health and Safety regulations and all of that. But so do sex workers, and so do most businesses. Those are things that all businesses have to do. And by criminalising an entire industry or part of an industry, you're only going to reduce the rates of compliance within that industry.
Jenna Love 9:16
Yeah, exactly. It's a disincentive if you make it criminal, so we're less likely to be complying to those things. There just seems to be this assumption that decrim creates this wild west where sex workers can just roam the land lawlessly. And it just absolutely, of course, doesn't mean that - we're still beholden to all of the other laws of any functional society. The reality is it just stops us from having to put our lives in danger in order to obey the law.
Holly Harte 9:45
So because it's topical at the moment, let's use Victoria as an example. We're going to talk through some of the things that are currently illegal in Victoria as per the Sex Work Act.
Jenna Love 9:55
So a really big one for private workers like you and I is incalls. Which are effectively prohibited by the Act.
Holly Harte 10:03
An incall is when the client comes to the provider, and outcall is when the provider goes to the client. So it is when the provider is the one hosting.
Jenna Love 10:11
An incall might be a hotel room that the provider has hired, it might be a room in their own private residence, a separate apartment or room that they lease solely for the purposes of work, or a shared space that is used cooperatively by a number of workers and they may use some kind of roster system for it.
Holly Harte 10:29
And an outcall is something provided by the client, it might be their house, or an apartment or hotel room that they have hired.
Jenna Love 10:36
Now when you have an incall I liken it to a home game, the advantage is on your side, and that is the first and last time you will ever hear me using a sports analogy. But it works. You set up your space how you want it, you know where everything is, you know where the exits are, and you have control over who and what comes into the space. Quite a common practice in incalls is to have a basket or a box for the client to put their belongings in after they've showered. That way you can ensure that they are not bringing recording devices or weapons or anything else into the session. With the rise of revenge porn this is a huge concern for many sex workers. Being able to host from an incall is one of the many safety mechanisms in the sex work safety toolbox from which we can draw. Now some sex workers choose not to use that particular mechanism. And that's absolutely valid and it doesn't mean that they are being unsafe. But we should all have the option to choose the things that make us feel the safest and keep us the safest. And we should not be criminals for doing that. Many sex workers in Victoria are understandably not comfortable visiting a first time client in their home. And that means that their only option is to have the client hire a space, which significantly increases the cost to the client of course, making them less likely to go ahead with the booking. And so the sex worker is then put in a position of having to choose between working legally and working safely, which is a paradox that you will see repeated again and again in sex work specific legislation. These laws which are sold to the voting public and to members of parliament as being for the protection of women and children, which in reality, don't protect anyone, and actually cause serious harm to sex workers. And this all ties in with anti trafficking efforts, which we discussed in a lot more detail in Episode Five. A lot of these laws get passed and are upheld under the guise of preventing trafficking, and they just don't do that they do no such thing.
Holly Harte 12:41
So one way around that would be to work in a brothel. Currently, brothels are regulated by local councils in Victoria and are subject to a number of planning restrictions. Many councils only allow brothels to be in isolated industrial areas, places where there is insufficient lighting at night, no public transport, and no other people around or amenities. I have worked in a brothel in an isolated area. In fact, I've worked in a few. And there were a variety of issues. Sometimes there would be taxi drivers that were predatory that would hang around the brothel and would follow workers. For privacy reasons I used to park--I had quite a distinctive car at the time--I used to park far away from the brothel. And therefore I had to have other workers walk me down the street and drop them back. Things like that are all really unsafe feelings and potentially can be quite dangerous for sex workers.
Jenna Love 13:31
And when you're leaving a shift, it's quite often early hours of the morning/quite late at night, isn't it?
Holly Harte 13:36
Absolutely. It's dark, it's nighttime, an isolated area. It sounds awful, but no one's gonna hear you scream. So it's a horrible feeling to be in that position where there's no one around, it's late at night, it's dark, and you're a, you know, defenceless woman, that at times people can develop fixations on, or have these unhealthy interest in--some people see sex workers as a target. And so to put us in a position where we're in a an isolated suburb, and we need to leave work in the early hours, that really does make us quite vulnerable.
Jenna Love 14:08
It's also illegal to advertise your services. Being able to clearly state what services you offer is essential not only so that a mutually beneficial consensual exchange can be negotiated, but also just because it's good business practice. I've personally had a number of situations in Victoria where a client has assumed that something is available, and it isn't. Thankfully for me, those clients have all been understanding and the only issue that has arisen has been from a business perspective, not a safety one in my case, but obviously it can very easily become that for someone else. I've also regretfully found myself in a position where I didn't provide the opportunity for informed consent as a result of these laws. So as I've mentioned on the podcast before, I'm a squirter, and when I have sex, there's generally a lot of squiting that happens and I'm suddenly very conscious of the fact that my mum listens to this podcast, which is wonderful and very supportive, but my face is very red right now. From a business perspective, it's a really useful tool, you know, when the economy is not going well it's great to have a niche. And the reality is that for a lot of my career, less so now, but for a very long time, a lot of the clients that I was seeing, were coming to me specifically for that purpose, because it was something that they loved and wanted to have in their lives, or it was something that they'd never seen before. And they just wanted to experience it. It was a big focus on a lot of my bookings early on. And it's a big part of my marketing my kind of moniker is 'Jenna Love: the busty Ginger Squirter'. And I talk about it everywhere. And it's sort of--I feel like anybody that's become acquainted with my branding, automatically connects me with squirting. But when I travel to Victoria, I can't use words like squirt, like ejaculate, like wet, like orgasm, I can't use any of those words in my advertising, because squirting is considered a service. And it's illegal to advertise your services. Now, the fact that something that my body does, and that I have little to no control over, is considered a service is a whole other argument that I have an issue with. So when I put up advertisements that are specifically for Victoria, I can't talk about any of that. But of course, all of my social media is still up there. And most people I think who see independent sex workers will have a quick look at their social media to check that they are a real person who has put up the ad. And that they, you know, maybe have some things in common with them, or they like their personality, whatever. Like, it's a very big part of that industry to be active on social media. So most of the clients that I see in Victoria are the same as clients anywhere, they're expecting lots of squirting, and a lot of them are really there for that. And that's the other thing, when clients go down on me, it normally means that they would like to get squirt in their face. Like that is a big thing that I know, a lot of dudes in particular, are really, really into. They just fucking love it. They just want it all over their faces. And I'm really, really used to that experience. So I had a client who started going down on me. And I was like, "okay, cool, great". And then I had an orgasm, and I squirted all over his face. And he was shocked. He was absolutely not expecting it. And I was mortified, because I had just cum on this guy's face without his consent. And that's not okay. Like, that's not cool. And I take blame for that. And now I'm a bit more, you know, conscious that I need to make sure people are aware. And now in bookings, I have to be like, "Oh, you know that I squirt, right?" and they're like, "yeah" I'm like. "Cool. I just got to check, you know?". But yeah, and like, that's a really minor example. But I am never going to stop feeling a little bit bad about that. The client was fine. And he was like, "Oh, it was cool". But he wasn't expecting it. And he didn't have any opportunity to say whether that might be something that he wanted to do or not, or to even think about whether it's something he might want or not. So, you know, I think that that is an example of how the laws can actually be damaging not just to workers, but also to our clients.
Holly Harte 18:18
Yeah, I think it's really important that our clients do have an opportunity to know what our services are, and what that will involve. And I think, you know, that should be available from the outset. It doesn't need to be vulgar. But it can be clear. And that's a shame. We're not going into every single problem with the Victorian Sex Work Act today. But we will touch on one final issue: mandatory testing.
Jenna Love 18:40
This is a big one for the make it legal and regulated crowd. They just love the idea of tagging, testing and tracking us like we're a swarm of pests that needs to be controlled and monitored. It's pretty dehumanising. Another thing with mandatory testing--my big issue with it is that it puts the idea in people's heads that we must be free of disease. It makes our clients feel more comfortable and emboldened to ask for services without protection. And that puts our safety at risk in more ways than one. I've experienced the damaging results of this thinking personally, and I've actually seen it discussed in forums quite a lot. There's this idea believed by some clients, not the majority, I don't think hopefully, that someone who offers erotic massage for instance, rather than full service, is more likely to be free from STIs simply because they're having sex with fewer people. The same logic gets applied to escorts whose rates are at the higher end of the scale, the assumption being that they see far fewer clients. And in the comments sections over the last week of the announcements of decrim I've had many, many people tell me that the fact is that the more different people you have sex with the higher the likelihood that you have an STI, which doesn't entirely sound illogical when you first hear it, and they say to me, "you can't argue with maths, those are the facts". But the thing is, if the formula you're using is flawed, actually, you absolutely can argue with maths because you're doing maths wrong. So there are things that you can do which increase your risk of transmitting an STI. Sure, having sex with a wide range of different people is one of those. There are also things that you can do which decrease your risk. And that formula isn't taking that into consideration. In theory, somebody who has only ever had sex once in their life, who didn't use any barrier protection at that point, who doesn't know anything about sexual health and has never been tested could have the same risk level as somebody who has slept with 100 people, always uses barrier protection, has very strong knowledge of sexual health, and is tested regularly. So listening to that, you might say, "well, Jenna, it sounds like you agree with testing", and I do. Testing is a very, very good thing. I'm not suggesting that we do away with testing. What I'm suggesting is that mandatory testing does more harm than good.
Holly Harte 21:13
It does perpetuate the false idea that sex workers are vectors of disease, which puts us at risk of abuse from family, friends and the wider public and also prevents us from equitable access to health care. It is a violation of human rights. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. It places an unnecessary burden on sexual health clinics, which are chronically overcapacity, and it is a waste of resources. Mandatory HIV tests of sex workers every three months in Victoria cost $4 million for every one HIV infection found. And there is nothing to suggest that that infection would not have been found if the testing wasn't mandatory.
Jenna Love 21:59
And the irony of that, for me, is that where I live, I'm unable to be tested that frequently for HIV. My local sexual health clinic won't test me more often than twice annually every six months for--they won't take bloods more often than that, because I'm considered low risk in in their view.
Holly Harte 22:19
Yes, when I've been to the clinics they've told me I don't need it. Bloods taken more than once a year, they've discussed with me my client ratio, and they've said I'm very low risk. And so I don't need to have the blood test. Obviously, I still go and get tested. I go and get all the swabs and, you know, we check for all the other things. But yeah, it is interesting, that disparity in testing schedules, so it's not a universally understood routine, or there's not some map that tells us exactly what the testing parameters should be. It's just sort of everywhere. It's just winging it really. And, you know, we are the experts, as you said.
Jenna Love 22:57
Yes, sex workers are the experts in sexual health, and in our own health. It's in our best interest to be tested regularly for the sake of our health, the health of our loved ones, and also our ability to earn an income. Like we don't want to get sick. It's completely illogical to think that we do. I don't know why people would think that we'd be like, "whoo, spreading the diseases everywhere!" That has no benefit to us. That's a terrible business plan. And if you are concerned about sex workers continuing to work while infected with an STI, or any other kind of illness for that matter, the solution to that is to give us labour rights like any other worker, so that we can have time off when we need to take time off. And to do that you give us decriminalisation.
Holly Harte 23:43
There are a whole range of other issues with the current laws in Victoria. And we haven't even started on some of the discriminatory and dangerous laws in other states and territories, let alone the rest of the world. But hopefully, we've started to demonstrate to you the issues with the legalisation of sex work as opposed to decriminalisation.
Jenna Love 24:00
And now we're going to try and tackle the Nordic Model, also known as the Swedish Model, partial decriminalisation, End Demand, Equality Model and Neo-abolitionism. Or what I call it, partial criminalisation. So I loved this when I heard it: one of the co-hosts of You're Wrong About, Sarah Marshall, upon hearing the term Nordic Model for the first time, responded, "I think anytime we call something the Nordic Model, it might be because it needs more credibility than it actually has". And I just thought that was hilarious. And I believe, I genuinely believe that that's one of the reasons why it's so popular. It's got a great name. You know, when I think about Nordic countries, when I think about Denmark and Norway and Sweden, I think of this almost utopia where there's a delicate balancing act between having economic strength and also a commitment to upholding human rights. Even the model itself - like the headline sounds good, it's a catchy, it's a catchy concept. But it's the fine print that you've really got to watch out for.
Holly Harte 25:08
The Nordic model criminalises the purchase of sexual services, but not the sale of sexual services, hence the use of the phrase End Demand. It was first put into place in Sweden in 1999, as part of the Violence Against Women Act. Since then, it has been introduced into Norway, Iceland, Canada, Northern Ireland, France, Ireland and Israel. In reality, the law surrounding sex work in all of these countries are not the same at all. But they are all sold under the premise of punishing buyers of sex and protecting sellers of sex. In Sweden, the relevant legislation is the Sex Purchase Act, and that is what we are referring to in this discussion. So this model relies on a lot of the misconceptions that we have discussed on this show before, things like that clients are men and providers are women, that clients are creepy predators trying to take advantage of us, and we are helpless, that nobody chooses to be a sex worker, that we don't have agency and can't make decisions for ourselves, or don't enjoy the employment that we do. These are all really unhealthy misconceptions, and build up even more stigma.
Jenna Love 26:17
Yeah, I think the fact that it came about as a part of the Violence Against Women Act alone is a huge red flag, because that assumes that all sex workers are women. And as we've discussed, that's not the reality.
Holly Harte 26:32
Jenna Love 26:34
And the whole concept is framed from the perspective of sex workers being victims, which you know, works really well for them. Because then our voices don't get to be heard in the discussions around policymaking for our work, because they don't view us as workers, it completely contradicts the idea of sex work being work. And because I mean, if it were, what kind of a business model is that!? Okay, bakeries are welcome to make and sell bread, but it's illegal for anyone to buy bread, there is no planet on which that would help bakers. And it certainly wouldn't make their job safer. It means their entire customer base just became people who are willing to commit crimes and risk jail time. And because everyone loves carbs, an underground market will develop, the bakers will participate in this underground market, thereby giving away any of the protections that they were supposed to have under these laws. It's absolutely absurd.
Holly Harte 27:29
So a really important part of how I do my job and how a lot of sex workers I know do their job is screening. And often that involves requesting real world information from my clients, such as ID or proof of employment, or whatever that may be, you know, differs for a lot of people. But under this model, obviously, clients are going to be very cautious, they're going to be frightened that they're being stung by police, or that their real world information isn't safe, and that they'll get in trouble. So they're going to be less likely to provide it. Therefore putting sex workers in a more vulnerable position. They may then take bookings from people who they don't know and don't have any safety assurances from. This puts them at higher risk of all sorts of crimes. So without that real world information, if something does occur with a client, they have no recourse. It's very hard to find out who that person was, and then go and get justice served.
Jenna Love 28:23
And the clients know that. So this idea that it criminalises clients and protect sex workers, I mean, it's really--it puts the power in the hands of the clients. So you may hear it claimed that the sex industry declined in Sweden after the introduction of these laws in 1999. That claim came about because of a 2010 report, which showed a decline in the amount of women that social workers and police came into contact with on the street over the previous decade in a number of cities. So that means the figure did not take into consideration male sex workers, indoor sex workers or those that weren't in larger cities. Proponents of the Nordic Model will tell you that this drop in figures was because the Sex Purchase Act somehow magically ended the demand for sex services. But you could also determine that this was because mobile phones and the Internet became incredibly accessible in the first decade of the 21st century. And as such, the need for street based sex work where initial contact with clients is made face to face was greatly reduced. So of course, the number of sex workers coming into contact with social workers and police on the streets was lower, obviously. Total side note, not really, it's related. But you know, the internet has been an absolute game changer for the safety of sex workers. And it's now under threat with the increasing gentrification of online spaces and legislation like FOSTA/SESTA in the US and the Online Safety Bill here in Australia. That's a story for another episode. But it's quite timely with the new announcements about OnlyFans as well
Holly Harte 30:04
With people who buy sex criminalised, fear of being arrested and jailed also means that clients who witness abuse of sex workers, or who witness suspected trafficking don't report these situations to the police. And these are the very situations that the Nordic Model claims to be helping with.
Jenna Love 30:20
Yeah and with clients criminalised, in-person sex workers, particularly street-based workers are forced to make snap decisions in terms of screening. A client doesn't want to be lingering around on the street or at someone's door where they can be reported or picked up by the police. So there's a real rush from them to get inside or for the worker to get into the client's car or house I think a lot of people have this assumption that sex workers who freelance or who work on the street don't screen, but they absolutely do. Not in the same ways that some of us are able to screen of course, but things like gut instincts, reading body language, doing an assessment of a situation, negotiating your services provided and your payment. They're all really incredibly valuable screening tools. And in Sweden, sex workers have to give them up if they want to make money.
Holly Harte 31:13
In countries that have adopted a version of the Nordic Model everything but selling sex is usually criminalised. This means that a sex worker cannot hire a secretary, a security guard or a driver. They cannot work in cooperative spaces and share essential information with their peers. They can't have a check-in person who knows where they are at all times. These are very similar to the laws that we have right here in Queensland at the moment. The logic is that anyone who undertakes any of these roles is facilitating prostitution, and encouraging violence against women to occur. In countries with laws like this, it's not unusual for sex workers to be thrown in jail under trafficking charges for simply helping their peers. So they're still putting sex workers in jail, just for different crimes.
Jenna Love 31:58
I wanted to round out our discussion about the Nordic Model with a quote from Petite Jasmine, who was an advocate for sex workers' rights. Quote, "it is offensive for you to force your morals upon me. Earlier the view was that women couldn't make wise independent decisions, as they were seen as being too impulsive, incapable and were incapacitated persons like children. Today it is the same, but they say the patriarchy is to blame. So the feminists become my custodians instead of my family or my husband. Like with children under the age of 15, the view is that adult women cannot consent to be paid for sex". Now Jasmine was a 27 year old Swedish woman who had participated in sex work for two weeks in order to support herself and her two children after having escaped from an abusive boyfriend. She was not committing any crimes under the law. But her activities were reported to authorities and she was seen as a victim of crime. Jasmine's children were taken away from her because, quote, "she lacked insight and didn't realise sex work was a form of self harm". She spent years fighting just to be able to see her children. And when a visit with her son was finally granted, she went to the meeting where there were two social workers present. At this visitation, her ex boyfriend became violent and murdered her ending the life of a passionate 27 year old activist, and orphaning, her two young children. All of this happened under the Nordic Model, the model that is supposedly there to protect women and children. Now, I'm not saying that violent crime can't take place under decrim, of course. What I'm saying is that it won't be the laws themselves that facilitate it. And a world where the law isn't actively hurting people is the kind of world that I think is worth fighting for. Please know that I'm not attempting to leverage Jasmine's death to find a cause that she herself was not very much aligned to. I'm using her words and her story because this is what she fought for. Proponents of the Nordic Model do use the stories and images of our peers who have lost their lives to push their agenda without any regard to how the victims aligned themselves politically, and without any concern shown for the harm that they do to our community every time they politicise the deaths of our peers, co-workers, and friends. To wrap things up on a slightly more positive note, a huge congratulations is in order for everyone who has been involved in the fight for decrim in Victoria. Now is when the work really begins. We need to hold the Victorian Government accountable and ensure that what is put in place is full decriminalisation not just in name, but in practice, and we need to fight to remove the laws that harm sex workers in every jurisdiction on this planet.
Jenna Love 35:07
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the sex industry. And snap lock downs and travel restrictions mean that there are times when sex workers require emergency financial relief in order for them and their dependents to stay safe housed and fed.
Holly Harte 35:21
sex workers don't get sick or holiday pay, and many have no savings to fall back on. The stigma and discrimination that we face means that some have no proof of earnings to access government support. And of course, migrant workers are often forgotten
Jenna Love 35:34
Scarlet Alliance and their state and territory member organisations joined together to create an ongoing fund that is hosted on the website chuffed (that's CHUFFED)
Holly Harte 35:44
Donations are tax deductible, 100% of funds raised go directly to sex workers in need, and most weeks the amount of people apply outweigh the amount of funds raised. And sadly, people have to be turned away. The link to this fund is in our show notes.
Jenna Love 36:04
A little while ago, I put up a question box on Instagram, asking people to submit misconceptions. Because yeah, I'm crowdsourcing our content, don't hate. And I said, like, you know, submit misconceptions that you yourself may have previously held or one you're sick of hearing or ones you're not really sure about. And there was some great responses, and I responded to some of them on Instagram. So I've published some of them. But one that came through I thought was really interesting. And it was, "it's all about the money". The reason I found this interesting was because I don't know if it is a misconception, because it kind of is all about the money, just like every other job.
Holly Harte 36:48
I mean, that's hard, because obviously, the overarching goal is that I need an income, right? But I've said before, if I won the lottery or something, I would still do this work. Like I would still meet guys and random guys, because I enjoy it. So I'm definitely like a hyper sexual person, I get a lot of my feelings of comfort in life from physical touch, like I'm super tactile, I need to be held. And you know, I really enjoy that human contact, especially without it being like a full relationship, like proper relationships stress me out, like it's a lot. Whereas I have like, I call them like my little group of boyfriends and, you know, non identified genders that come around and treat me really nicely for a little while, and then they go away, and I get my time by myself again. So there's a lot that I do get out of it. But I mean, from a capitalist perspective, sure. It's a job. It's like for money like any job, like you said, that's what the end goal is. But yeah, I do fucking enjoy it. And I'm sure if I was a million zillionaire I would still be just rooting everyone, because that's what I do. That's what I've always done.
Jenna Love 37:54
Yeah, look, I absolutely agree with you. As you well know I absolutely adore my job. And I work a job because it brings me income, but I've chosen the way in which I'm going to get that income. And that's this particular job, because I love it. So to say it's all about the money, you know, I don't feel like it is all about the money. I get a lot else out of my job other than just income. But I think what irks me about this is that I don't think you would apply this concept to other professions. When somebody's making your meal at McDonald's, you don't say to them, "oh, it's just all about the money, isn't it?" Yeah, they're doing it--like what? What else? Do you do expect them to have a passion for cheeseburgers? Like what? You know, and I think that's where I get a bit.... no, it's not all about the money, but for some people it is, and that's totally fine. There are people who are working in the industry, for whom it is literally just an income, and they may not enjoy working in the industry. All sorts of things.
Holly Harte 38:58
Jenna Love 38:59
That's okay, too, because they're just working a job.
Holly Harte 39:02
Yeah, like, I I love my clients so much. And I adore every moment I spend with most of them. But you're also not gonna find me turning around and saying "Don't worry about the fee today". I got bills to pay, as we said capitalist society. Sorry, I love you, but I need my bills paid as well. Thanks.
Jenna Love 39:23
Shit People Say this week is gonna be full of a lot of shit. There's--it's just--it's a real, there's just so much shit. It's outrageous. And while this conversation was happening, I was like "Holly Holly, Holly, I've got Shit People Say for this week. Don't worry, I got it covered". Now, the thread I'm referring to has 44 comments on it. So there's a lot going on here. I'm probably not gonna read all of it out, obviously, but it is wild. It's very entertaining. I think. Well, hopefully you agree. So this person, let's--I don't know what to call him. We'll call him Jimothy. But I mean, I don't believe that this person is a client of sex workers--probably, maybe they are--Who knows? They said, "All sex workers are sex traffickers when they do it out of their own free will. These individuals should be prosecuted and brought to justice. They should have to register as sex offenders and charged under prostitution and human trafficking crimes". It's important at this point for me to mention that he was talking about Australian sex workers. I don't know where this person is from but he was talking about people who are working either under legalisation or decriminalisation. So someone said, "Hey, do you understand what consent is? You know, they're just making their money, they're not harming anyone, blah, blah". And he came back, "you obviously lack insight into this topic, because it does, in fact, hurt others. How do you not know that sex workers are sex traffickers when they do it out of their own free will so don't advocate impunity for their lawlessness that is dishonourable. Even in the cases where they are supposedly forced? They're scapegoating. Sex workers are con artists, and they will lie in an attempt to lessen their shame and avoid prosecution. So don't trust anything they say. Educate yourself with the essentials and walk the path of integrity so that you can actually be of help in society". The original commenter said, "oh my god. Do you understand that by saying sex workers or sex traffickers, you are desensitising the word trafficking? Sex trafficking is the illicit trafficking of humans for sexual exploitation. That's a horrible thing to say. Please, educate yourself before you speak about these sorts of things", which is what I'm always saying. He said, "I am talking about the ones doing it out of their own freewill. And I think the majority do it out of their own freewill", which is what this is, like very different to the shit that I'm normally getting thrown at me. I was like, "oh, okay, that's good... I guess". Wait for this though. "Male rights are being openly violated by these sex traffickers. It is human trafficking and they need to be brought to justice. Don't be a sex trafficking supporter. One sided media reporting and the entertainment industry slander man's image"
Holly Harte 42:07
Jenna Love 42:07
It paves the way to robbing us of our rights. It is horrible for men to go through this and it's also illicit exploitation. The gender exploitation is brutal. So you would do well advocating for men's rights.
Holly Harte 42:21
So are we like some sort of sirens who are victimising men, like I don't know what--
Jenna Love 42:25
Holly Harte 42:26
what he's trying to say. We're luring men in with our sex. I just...I don't understand.
Jenna Love 42:33
And then he ended up with "also show reverence to your maker. Don't be taking his name in vain. You would do greatly well and keeping the commandments of the Lord" and like, you know, I mean, once religion comes into it, like what, okay, yeah, whatever. The original commenter said, "they make stocks from humps, as long as it's consensual shrug emoji". So cool. Whatever. He came back with, "that's not how law and order works. Educate yourself". Then there's some more dialogue. Somebody said, "I'm not supporting sex trafficking". Okay, so then at some point, he's explaining that "by supporting the sex industry, you are supporting the trafficking industry. Men are the victims of these sex predators, and of law enforcement's thick headedness to the matter. How would you like to be defrauded, conned and taken advantage of by sex workers? How would you like yourself worth stepped on?" I mean, so obviously, a sex worker hurt this guy. And that's not--
Holly Harte 43:26
Jenna Love 43:27
So don't do that. Don't hurt people. Anyone--doesn't matter what your fucking job is. Charlie Forde stepped in. Shout out to Charlie Forde. She said "the definition when you Google it is literally the opposite, literally". And he said "you are wrong. Sex workers are human traffickers and sex predators. They should be brought to justice. Stop being a human trafficking supporter and aggravator. And your profile photo is an absurdity which is a form of sexual harassment. You wide open perve. Repent of your perversities and your iniquities, turn to the Lord and be delivered from your sins". Now, Charlie's profile picture... She's very attractive, but it's a YouTube profile picture. So it's not like--she's not naked. I actually think she might be naked but completely cropped like it's just her head and shoulders. Like it's not - It's not an obscenity.
Holly Harte 44:18
It's too seductive for him. She's a predator.
Jenna Love 44:21
Oh, exactly. She's yeah, abusing his rights.
Holly Harte 44:25
Jenna Love 44:25
This is the point at which I joined in the conversation. That was all the backstory. I was like, "Hi. You keep talking about us breaking laws. We literally aren't doing anything illegal, keep smoking whatever you're smoking pal". He said, "Repent of your sex crimes and all your sins turn to the Lord. You people should be brought to justice". I said, "I literally haven't committed a single crime. The law is on my side". Not that I like to use laws as the determiner of my moral compass, because as we've literally just had a whole episode on they're not great at that. But this is what he was arguing. And I said, "No, I will not turn to worship a literal fairytale. That would be very stupid". Which I mean, that's just a low dig, but he was pissing me off. He said "the law is not on your side. Big mistake". So he's having like a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman moment, which is an interesting turn of the tables there. "You have greater things to worry about" is like, is that a threat? "Regardless, you are being a human trafficking supporter". And then again, some random--this was a couple of days later, I just got a notification that he wrote "sex workers are sex traffickers". So in response to him saying the law is not on your side. I was like, "Huh, it literally is. What I do is legal where I live. You're welcome to pretend that it isn't. But facts are facts. And who am I trafficking? Myself?" He said, "You are trafficking men.
Holly Harte 45:43
Oh my god.
Jenna Love 45:46
What does that mean? "It seems you don't understand the law or the seriousness of your crimes."
Holly Harte 45:52
What? You don't? You don't understand. Okay. Right.
Jenna Love 45:56
I said, "How am I trafficking men? What are you on about, mate? And are you aware that different countries have different laws?" He said, "You don't know the facts." So okay. I said, "Dude, Google sex work New South Wales, you will see very quickly that it is you who does not know the facts, stop embarrassing yourself, babe". He said, "Men are your victims, You Trafficker" and that was capitalised, which I thought was really funny. "Google does not have all the answers. Educate yourself. You have shamed yourself". I was like, Okay, all right. Cool. I'll play along. "How should I educate myself, then? What research will show me that my work is against the law?" He said, "You are so ignorant. Regardless of manmade laws, there is a right and a wrong. In this case, you and the majority have it shockingly wrong". I'm like, right, so you're not talking about laws, then?
Holly Harte 46:45
No. He's talking about the 10 commandments? That's...yeah.
Jenna Love 46:50
Yeah. I said, "Yes, I have read the law. I literally have a copy of it in my office, you clearly do not. As I said, if you google sex work Australia, you too can read the law". He said "sex work licences violate and contradict lewd and disorderly conduct laws, as well as obscenity laws. It is disturbing the peace and a public health violation. It is also indecent exposure, you should be prosecuted and registered as a sex offender". I wrote back, "surely you understand that different countries have different laws?" And he said, "Can one really expect a sex criminal who makes a living off weaknesses of the system to acknowledge contradictions in law selective enforcement and overdue intervention?" And at that point, I didn't respond anymore, because I had had my very limited fun. And I just like that, it really blew my mind because it's like the opposite take that I'm used to battling with. I was like, "Oh, I'm not a victim? Oh, you're--What? Okay, like I kind of appreciate--
Holly Harte 47:51
You're trafficking men.
Jenna Love 47:52
Yeah. At least for once I'm the perpetrator in this narrative, and not the victim. But also that's not what's happening!
Holly Harte 48:06
Question of the week is: With the recent announcement in Victoria, do you think that sex workers will get better access to services such as banking, ie EFTPOS and not be removed from a bank if they find out that you are a sex worker? Or do you think you will still be discriminated against because of your profession?
Holly Harte 48:24
Yes, and no. Don't quote me on this but I believe that there is some mention of there being some sort of anti-discrimination protection that could potentially come in place with the decriminalisation in Victoria. But the reality is that the two are not the same. You know, I mean, I live under decrim. And I'm not able to have EFTPOS facilities, for example. So it certainly hasn't got rid of it in that sense. There's a push at the moment in New South Wales, where I live, for sex workers to be included in anti-discrimination protections, which hopefully will go through, and that's a really good move. But even if there is a formal anti-discrimination protection, let's just--I don't think that's going to stop the stigma and discrimination from the general public - from society and from businesses as well. They can, you know, I mean even when there is that protection in place, people still get discriminated against based on the colour of their skin, their sexuality, etc. Like it still happens. Just because you say it's not allowed to happen, just like prostitution actually - still gonna happen, even if you say it's not allowed to. So, really, like we've got a lot further to go to get to that level, but I think it will help. I definitely think it will help. I don't think it's--it's not the solution.
Holly Harte 49:41
I've got the same perspective as you Jenna in that, you know, I don't think this will change the discrimination laws, but hopefully it will lead to that down the track. But unfortunately, I pin very little faith in anti-discrimination laws as they are. I think people still discriminate. I mean, recently in the ACT they made it that landlords can't discriminate against pet owners that, you know, you can't say people can't have pets? Well, that's written into the legislation. But I mean, when you apply for a house, you still have to put down whether you own a pet. And just because they don't say, "we're not giving you the house because you have a pet", they can just give you no reason at all. This is something that we currently currently see a lot of sex workers with Airbnb, they are really big on discriminating against sex workers, if they even remotely find out--not that you're using it for sex work--but that you are a sex worker who is just going on a holiday on your self--like by yourself without anyone else, your account will be removed. And they won't even tell you why. Because obviously, they don't want to go into that argument about sex work. So they just give you no reason at all. And I think that would be similar case with a lot of businesses are really vague excuse "you are breaching our terms and conditions", blah, blah, blah, what terms and conditions they'll never say. So I think that discrimination will continue to exist as it does, you know, as many businesses get away with, which is really disappointing. And, you know, that's the sad side effect of it.
Jenna Love 51:00
I mean, that's similar to PayPal, I think all of the sex workers I know, we live in fear of losing our PayPal accounts, which we don't use for sex work, because we know that they're very anti sex work. So we obviously don't use them for that. But you know, if you want to buy anything on the internet these days, you kind of need to have a PayPal account. And that's it--if they connect that, you know, my legal name is also Jenna Love, I can have my account taken away from me. And I live with that fear all the time. I mean, that sounds dramatic. But that is a genuine fear of mine. And yeah, they're not going to give me any reason. That's like the last time I lost my Instagram account. People said like, "oh, what was it? What did you do wrong?" or whatever. I have no idea. My account just disappeared. It just wasn't there anymore. A notice didn't come up saying that - it didn't even say you've breached community guidelines. It just was wiped from the internet. Like you don't--we don't--and people say "oh, can't you fight that?" there's nothing to fight when they don't give us--there's nothing to respond to.
Holly Harte 51:58
So that discrimination is almost certainly going to still occur no matter what laws change. But all we can hope for is changes that do reduce the stigma, and they give us more rights. Incrementally. We'll take it.
Jenna Love 52:11
Yeah, absolutely. Incrementally. Yes. I think that's, that's a fair way to put it. So just in the last week, we shuffled our Patreon a little bit, which was as a result of feedback that we had been receiving from our patrons. And we actually added in another tier, and it was difficult to come up with a name for it because it was in between, it just made things difficult. But we now have a $20 a month tier 20 Australian dollars a month and they are our even more generous somebodies. But our Patreon starts at just $3 a month. And for that you get our episodes always a day early and completely ad free.
Holly Harte 52:51
This week. Our new Generous Somebodies are Ivy Moore DT, Scott and James E. Our new Very Generous Somebodies are Martijn, Blue Wren, Michael, Irish Rover and Brian K.
Jenna Love 53:06
are Even More Generous Somebodies is our brand new Patreon category. Timmy Andrew, Adam Smith, Leo and Lachlan and our Extremely Generous Somebodies are Aaron, Samuel, Andrew and Pete.
Holly Harte 53:21
Thanks so much for joining us for this week's Jenna-sode. We hope you've learned a lot. And thanks for sticking with us for our 10th episode.
Jenna Love 53:29
Oh yeah, 10 episodes. Were a decade old that doesn't make--I don't---yep.
Jenna Love 53:38
Please look out for us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Patreon. Our name everywhere is somebodyyoupod (as in podcast). Our Patreon starts at just $3 a month, and you can get all of our episodes ad-free and a day early. Plus bonus episodes, behind-the-scenes action, bloopers and more. Thank you for taking the time to listen to the voices of sex workers. And remember, Somebody You Love might just be a sex worker.