CW: This episode is about a serious subject and we talk about violence, sexual assault, drug use, forced labour, racism, and use the p-word.
It’s time for a Jenna-sode! This week we are talking about the moral panic of human trafficking, and how the best of intentions can cause serious harm to sex workers and victims of trafficking alike. Our misconception for the week is that sex workers are women and clients are men. For Shit People Say we go on a surprise journey into the Star Wars universe, and we discuss receiving gifts from clients. Emergency Support Fund for Sex Workers in Australia
Travel Agency: A Critique of Anti-Trafficking Campaigns, Nandita Sharma, 2003
Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry, Dr Nick Mai, 2011
White Slave Traffic in International Law, Jean Allain, 2017
The Evolution of Human Trafficking Messaging in the United States and its Effect on Public Opinion, Tabitha Bonilla & Cecilia Hyunjong Mo, 2018
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
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 0:16
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 0:28
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 C. H. U. F. F. E. D)
Holly Harte 0:39
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 0:56
Welcome to Somebody You Love or the sale of two titties. I'm Jenna Love.
Holly Harte 1:04
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.
Jenna Love 1:15
Hey, everyone, before we get into it, we just want to make sure that we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we are recording today. So I'm on Darug in Gundungurra country, and Holly is on the land of the Ngunnawal people. The land across so-called Australia was stolen and sovereignty has never been ceded.
Holly Harte 1:34
We'd also like to acknowledge that the sex work community is extremely diverse. And as white cis women, we can't speak on behalf of any of our peers who face more discrimination and stigma than we do. We do hope on this episode to explore some of those things in a broader sense. We also have some trigger warnings this episode as we will be discussing some heavy topics, there will be discussion of sexual assault, violence, racism, forced labour, we also want to mention that we will be using the P word (prostitute) at times. We haven't gone into detail about problematic language towards sex workers on this podcast yet, but the P word is often used in legislation and by law enforcement to criminalise us and remove our agency. So we'll be using it where they do but do recognise that that is a stigmatised and discriminatory word. And we generally don't like you to use it. This week, we have a very Jenna centric episode, we're going to be discussing a really heavy topic: looking at human trafficking. Jenna has done a lot of research into this. And today we don't speak from any perspective as experts. But this is our understanding and what we'd like to share with you of that.
Jenna Love 2:41
So one of my favourite podcasts is You're Wrong About and their episode on human trafficking, which is linked in the show notes, everything that we reference will be linked. That was really the catalyst for me feeling comfortable speaking publicly about this. I think because our world is so obsessed with binaries and things being in opposition. The thing is, if you're seeing to be critical of anti-trafficking rhetoric and policy, then you often get framed as being pro-trafficking, which is obviously not the case. And in my opinion, one of the biggest issues that we face when it comes to things like appropriate legislation for the sex industry, is that very few politicians will stand up and say that they do not support an anti-trafficking strategy. Because you know, at face value to anyone who hasn't researched the subject, that kind of makes them look like a bad person. It looks like they don't want to help vulnerable women and children, when in fact, that's actually exactly what they are trying to do.
Holly Harte 3:45
Yeah, you do get a lot of people when you say you're a sex worker, and talk about the industry sort of go "well, what about trafficking? And what about sex slavery and things like that?"
Jenna Love 3:54
Yeah, it's a it's a bit of a strange thing. I think, a lot of the time online in particular, if I say I'm a sex worker, people go, "Oh, right. Okay, I respect you. But what about trafficking?" And I'm always like, "wow, okay". Right. And, you know, that's a lot to ask of somebody. And I think it's quite strange. Because if you say to somebody, "oh, yeah, I'm a farmer". Nobody says to you, "Oh, okay. Look, I respect your work. But what about trafficking?" The You're Wrong About episode does a really great job of covering the history of trafficking discourse. And it shows really well how we've landed where we are today. I don't have time to delve into all the history, because I've got a lot of things to say, but I do think it's important that we quickly take a look at the origins. So we know that the war on trafficking often manifests itself in incredibly racist ways. And the thing is, we can see that this racism very clearly sits at the core of trafficking discourse, because it's been there since day one. The first use of the term trafficking in legislation was in the 1904 International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic. I don't know how they named it, it's a bit wild. But in that, and in the subsequent treaties that were signed by quite a number of countries, a trafficking victim is referred to as, quote, a white woman, victim of the animal lusts of the dark races. And yes, I understand that in 1904, racism was real trendy and that things are a little bit different today. But I think the fact remains that the fight against trafficking is rooted in a fear of people with darker skin. Similarly, prostitution in the USA was first criminalised by using a series of public campaigns about the dangers of white slavery, a term which in itself, the existence of that term is racially problematic. And the criminal the criminalization of prostitution was tied up in the criminalization of interracial relationships. So long story short, then the panic kind of died down for a little while, maybe because everyone was too busy dying in wars. I don't know, I'm not a historian. But towards the end of the 20th century, which was around the time, I was grieving the loss of Geri Halliwell from the Spice Girls, something quite strange happened. Now, as sex workers, we are very accustomed to being attacked by the right, in particular, the the religious and the neoconservative right. And that's not a surprise to us, because the right generally is really terrified of sex, and kind of women. Now, obviously, not everyone who identifies as right wing fits into that category. But historically, sex workers have always been members of marginalised communities, and pretty lefty. And aside from those who pretend to be right wing in order to attract clientele from the social elite, which is a valid hustle, I'm sure there are also sex workers out there who do have right wing politics. Personally, I have to imagine that that's a bit tricky for them. It kind of makes me think of the biologist who believes in creationism, like it just seems incongruous to me. But as human beings, we are experts at cognitive dissonance. So you know, whatever, you do you, whatever works for you. But my point is that in very broad strokes, generally, the right doesn't support the rights of sex workers. And that's not really a surprise to anyone. But what does surprise my civilian friends, when I tell them is that there is also a faction within the left that does not support our rights. There is a group of people who consider themselves feminists who team up bizarrely with the religious right to strip sex workers as well as trans women of their agency.
Holly Harte 8:01
So we know these groups of feminists as SWERFs and TERFs, which stands for Sex Work Exclusionary Radical Feminists, and Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. A SWERF is someone who supports mainstream feminism but opposes sex work, believing that it's ultimately oppressive. They tend to see sex workers as unable to have agency and make their own decisions and believe that sex workers do their jobs because of the patriarchy because men make them do it or because they feel that they have to because of a male influence. A TERF believes that a trans woman's gender identity is not legitimate, and they are therefore hostile to the inclusion of trans people and gender diverse people in the feminist movement.
Jenna Love 8:40
SWERFs and TERFs tend to have a very cis heteronormative view of the sex industry and of the world, frankly, which makes sense because it's the only reality in which a lot of their arguments hold any ground. So in order to respond to their claims, we will also be speaking in those terms, even though we know that that is not actually reflective of the industry and of the world. In 2019, a spokesperson for the National Organisation for Women in the USA, said the following at a hearing which was to consider the decriminalisation of sex work in Washington DC, quote, "prostitution is the only form of employment that intersects with forms of violence and other illegal activities, such as drug abuse, coercion, rape, physical abuse, and trafficking", end quote. So, all right, Challenge accepted, let's do some fact checking. Drug abuse. A common argument that we come across is that many sex workers are only in the industry to fund their drug habit. And, you know, as I said in our last episode, if somebody's spending their income on drugs, that is their prerogative, regardless of what industry they are in. But if you think that prostitution is the only form of employment that intersects with drug abuse, I mean, I guess you never watched Wolf of Wall Street? Or is that okay with you because it's rich white people? And, you know, the thing is if there is somebody earning an income for the sole purpose of buying drugs, why could that be? In my opinion, a big part of it is because of the war on trafficking's creepy and ineffective uncle the War on Drugs, which criminalised victims, left them without any support and achieved absolutely nothing but inflicting harm on marginalised communities, just like the war on trafficking is doing now. Moving along to rape. If you think that prostitution is the only form of employment that intersects with sexual abuse, let me tell you about this little place called Hollywood, not sure if you were taking a big nap during 2017... but the point is, there are other industries that have serious problems with sexual assault, like, I don't know, the military, the Australian Government, anywhere that employs women, anywhere that employs people, basically, our society has a problem with sexual assault. And so let's move on to the claim that prostitution is the only industry which intersects with coercion and trafficking because that's what we're all here for today. It wouldn't be a moral panic if we weren't worried about the children. So according to the International Labour Office's 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery publication, one in four victims of modern slavery are children, but only one in five of those is a victim of sexual slavery. And that's not okay. To be very, very clear. All of those numbers should be zero, of course. But the fact is that children are at a higher risk of being trafficked into non-sexual labour than sexual labour. The Labour office estimates that there are 3.8 million adults who are victims of forced sexual exploitation, which sounds really bad, right? It is bad. But what's worse, is that the amount of adults estimated to be in non sexual forced labour is 16 million. More than four times the amount. There are also more victims of government sanctioned state imposed forced labour, then there are sex trafficking. And that does not mean that we shouldn't be worried about sex trafficking-- we should be. But the thing is, if the way that you channel your concerns over trafficking is by fighting against the rights and safety of sex workers, and you don't spend at least as much of your time fighting against the rights and safety of those in the mining, agriculture, construction, domestic hospitality and manufacturing industries, then you're not worried about trafficking, you're worried about sex, and then it becomes a morality issue. The mere existence of exploitation and forced labour in any given industry is not a valid reason to criminalise the workers in that industry. I think it's, it would be amusing if it weren't so devastating to so many people, that hotel staff are given training in how to spot trafficking victims. As sex workers we're really aware of this because the instructions they're given on how to spot trafficking victims pretty much tell you how to spot a sex worker, and also just how to spot a woman travelling because apparently that's the sign of somebody being trafficked if a woman is travelling on her own, because how dare she? But I mean, the absolute irony of that, when it is standard practice at many hotels to outsource their kitchen and cleaning staff and to use subcontractors upon subcontractors, like you're looking in the wrong direction, babe. Now on the subject of trafficking statistics, oh, there are some issues. For starters, when somebody is arrested for prostitution in a country where it is criminalised, often the best chance of staying out of jail is to say that they've been coerced. Police officers will often give them that option. They will say, alrighty, you can be locked up tonight. Or you can say you're a victim of trafficking. And I mean, given the option, surely most would go with the latter, I think I probably would. And thus the number of trafficking victims rises. There are so many problematic stats that I think I could do a whole episode just on these inflated and frankly, made up stats, but I've just pulled a couple out that really grind my gears. One of the most common statistics that we see used in this space is that the average sex worker entered the trade at 13. Now, this statistic was taken from a study of sexually active underage girls regarding the first time that they had sexual contact and sexual contact was defined as a broad range of things which included things like kissing, and touching with clothes still on. So no sex work at all, literally just normal teenage exploration. And the study was of people who were under age who were already sexually active. So obviously, if you had included people who were 18/19/20, the age would have been higher than 13. But they didn't because it was just about teenagers. The Dallas Daily News reported in 2013, quote, "in Houston alone, about 300,000 sex trafficking cases are prosecuted each year". Holly, do you want to guess how many sex trafficking cases were prosecuted in Houston that year?
Holly Harte 15:46
Gosh, you've put me on the spot. Yeah, I think 300,000 each year, let me guess. Zero?
Jenna Love 15:59
Aw, two. Pretty close,
Holly Harte 16:01
Close! Yeah interesting
Jenna Love 16:03
But I mean, two, to 300. Now
Holly Harte 16:07
Massive, yeah, that's a real--
Jenna Love 16:09
bsolute insanity. Another stat that I've heard a lot is that 80% of prostitutes are coerced. Every time we say "please listen to sex workers. We are the ones with lived experience. And we are the ones who are actually affected by this". We are told some variation on "your experience is the exception to the rule. Most sex workers were forced into the job". And you know, of course, they're going to try and discredit our voices. And while it is true that Holly and I do have a lot of privilege, and a lot of the people that speak up about sex work do have a lot of privilege, and that allows them to be able to speak up in the first place. We don't face the same risks of violence and of social exclusion that a lot of our peers do, who perhaps are not white, or who are cisgendered or who are migrants. But it's absolutely infantilizing to suggest that those peers of ours have less agency than we do. To say the only reason that we, you know, aren't coerced is because we're white and cisgendered. Now the sex worker rights movement is far from perfect in terms of representation. And there is not a single person involved who isn't aware of that. But our views on this are the views that are held by sex worker peer organisations all around the world. And their views are informed by community consultation and outreach. And I know for a fact that they work really hard to reach the most marginalised members of the community. They are not always perfect, of course, but I can guarantee you that they are more in touch with the broad experience of sex workers, then somebody whose immediate reaction is to dismiss and to discredit our voices. Now, I went on a little rant, back to this 80% figure. Was this one from a flawed study as well? No, no such study exists. There's no record of it. British politician, Fiona MacTaggart is somebody who has been the real force behind this statistic, having repeatedly told it to the media, as well as in Parliament. And when asked where she got it from, she referred to the Home Office's 2004 report on prostitution, Paying The Price. It's not in there, there's literally no sign of that figure in the report, it doesn't exist. So the best theory that I've come across is that that figure was pulled from a study that was conducted by an anti-sex work group, in 2004 of sex workers working out of London flats, and it found that 80% of them were quote, unquote, foreign. So the leap there has gone to 80% of sex workers in this small area, in a very cosmopolitan city are foreign and we've jumped from there into 80% of sex workers are coerced, which is a great segue into racism. Now, a lot of the discourse around trafficking focuses on migrant workers.
Holly Harte 19:13
Yeah, when I worked in a brothel, you'd get a lot of guys who would come in and they'd say, you know, do you know where the other brothels are in the area, or, you know, I've visited this place before, but I don't go to Asian brothels because you just don't know whether they've been trafficked, or you don't know why they're here. And, I mean, I was sort of young and naive and didn't know how to argue with that, but struck me as very wrong and very, I mean, how do you know why anyone's anywhere and what a racist assumption to make? In Australia, Asian brothels are extremely over policed. They're over publicised and, you know, like I said, you always have clients sort of dropping mentioned about why they don't see Asian workers or you know, when they did but they thought that maybe something was happening. There's a lot of storytelling and often you'll see in the newspapers that apartments in the city have been raided, and, you know, migrant workers have been found and assets have been seized. But, you know, don't hear it happening to white workers. So,
Jenna Love 20:12
yeah, like you, particularly when I was newer to the industry, it was quite common for clients to say things like that. And, and almost, I think, in a sense, sometimes people would think that they were being really honourable by perhaps avoiding an Asian brothel. And, and they would sort of say things about how, you know, I know it's cheaper. But, you know, I don't think it's the right thing to do or something sort of talk about how, yeah, how noble they were to be able to spend more money and avoid that situation. And when I was newer to the industry, I had no idea what to say to that. And I usually wouldn't say anything to it, which I kind of regret now, but I'm trying to make up for lost time. And these days, I will say something. And it's not unusual for somebody to I guess, assume that I'm that I'm quite naive, and sort of say, "Oh, no, no, no, you don't understand because I, you know, I heard this story and or I have a friend who did this. And, you know, it's actually it's really bad, Jenna, like, there's really bad people out there". I was like, babe, I'm a fucking sex worker. I know.
Jenna Love 21:15
So it's, yeah, it's a tough conversation. And obviously, we're just speaking as white people, the difficulty that it presents us, which is nothing compared to the difficulty that actually, that is actually faced by migrant workers. And one day soon, we will have some of them on to speak to you about that. But the thing is, like there's an entire underground economy that is based around essentially facilitating migration. And the more difficult that first world countries make migration coming from countries that have been deemed the quote, unquote, source of trafficking, the more the industry around facilitating migration booms. So you've got this situation where people who live in developing countries are wanting to move somewhere where they can earn a better income. In order to do that, without any government support, it's going to cost 1000s of dollars. And these people don't have 1000s of dollars, that's the situat-- like that, obviously. So this is where things like debt contracts come in. So their migration will be paid for by somebody else. And then when they arrive, they will, of course, have to pay that back. And this, this happens a lot, you know, and those people go on to work in a variety of industries in the country they've migrated to including the sex industry. Does this scenario seem like one that could be easily exploited? Yes. And sometimes it is exploited. But this scenario hasn't been created by the sex industry. You know, it's been created by anti trafficking, and anti migration laws. In fact, the Obama administration and like I don't, you know, I don't like to say bad things about old man Obama, but no one's perfect. And they added debt contracts, or I think they call it bonded labour there, to the definition of human trafficking. So now, every single person in the United States who fully consented to come to the country under those conditions, which as I've mentioned that they're quite common, they're not an unusual way of doing things. Every single one of those people is listed as a victim of human trafficking. So we come back around to inflated statistics, there was a research project that was done on migrants in the sex industry in London. Now, it was qualitative research. So there were only 100 participants, and it, you know, doesn't have the same statistical significance of what a broader quantitative study would have. But both approaches to research have a place. I'm not a researcher myself. So, you know, this is only my understanding of it. But in this approach, the researchers actually spoke to and listened to sex workers, which, frankly, is more than I can say, for the scare campaigns that are put out there by anti trafficking organisations. The majority of participants in this study voluntarily went into sex work, even though not all of them had intended to do so before arriving in London. Of those, when they did arrive, if they were able to find employment, they found the work to be, quote, "under rewarding and exploitative". And so they decided instead to do sex work. And that's something that I know many sex workers can relate to.
Holly Harte 24:36
Definitely, I worked for several employers who I would say were exploitative, in positions where I was deeply unhappy. And I find much more liberation and much more joy in sex work, and just the freedom not having to have somebody who can exploit you. I get to make the decision on who I see. And that's wonderful for me as a white person. It's obviously very different than the situation a lot of other people face, but the exploitation that I faced as an employee was far greater than the exploitation that I face as a sex worker.
Jenna Love 25:10
Now, don't worry, we're not going to pretend that the minority in that study doesn't exist. Yes, the majority of workers interviewed said that they willingly went into sex work. But 6% of the female participants felt that they had been, quote, "deceived and forced into selling sex in circumstances within which they felt they had no share of control or consent". And again, that's absolutely awful. But using the sex industry and sex workers as scapegoats isn't helping that 6% it's certainly not solving the problem, and if anything, it's exacerbating it. And the thing, I think that that's a big factor here is that the answer isn't simple. There is no magical quick solution is the issue of human trafficking is so complex and nuanced. And there's so much grey area, and there are so many intersections, and that's really hard for people to sit with. Because, you know, we're all heroes in our own narrative, right? And how can you be a hero in a world that isn't black and white? How can you overcome a villain that is intertwined into the very fabric of the society in which we live, you can't, you cannot just fix human trafficking, there is a lot that we can do to help, of course, one of those things is the full decriminalisation of sex work. I won't go into that now, we can save that rant for the next Jenna-sode. But we can create actual proper support systems for the victims of trafficking rather than sending them straight back to whatever situation they needed to escape from in the first place. We can put time and money into migrant communities, ensuring that they have comprehensive translated resources and equitable access to justice, we can work to fight the disgusting economic inequality in our society, perhaps. But, you know, none of that is very catchy, is it? It doesn't quite give you that same evocative response that you get from hearing the creepy Tales of the Boogey Man who lingers outside the local high school waiting to force a girl into his car and whisk her off to be sold to a global crime syndicate. Or that, you know, that sick feeling you get when you look at the billboard campaign featuring a young white girl with a bruised face being held down by these big evil black hands, or the YouTuber who tells you about the time that she was almost a sex slave because a man at the mall looked at her funny. Those sorts of narratives really go straight to the heart of our suburban fears. So it's really difficult to combat that with logic and reason. In 1999, Nandita, Sharma conducted a study of 24 Chinese women who were smuggled into Canada, every single one of these women stated that their wishes were to be able to legally stay in Canada to legally work and save money and to be reunited with their families. Not one of them expressed a desire for an end to trafficking. In fact, many of these women saw the smugglers as the people who had done that the most to help them. They weren't afraid of the smugglers, their biggest fear was the Canadian immigration officials who were going to rescue them by sending them back home into the desperate situation that had led them to undergo the high risk and the high cost of smuggling in the first place. And that doesn't mean that there aren't evil, bad people who are involved in the in the trade of smuggling. But I think it just provides a little bit of a different perspective than what we're normally sold by the media. The problem is not only that so many anti sex trafficking strategies harm sex workers, but also that they achieve nothing in terms of saving victims. We have to be really clear in saying that this is not a case of us thinking that the rights and the safety of sex workers should be prioritised over the rights and safety of trafficking victims. What we're saying is that this narrative hurts all of us. Nobody wants anyone to be forced into sex work less than sex workers. It's really difficult to talk about the harm done by the anti trafficking efforts of the last couple of decades without mentioning FOSTA/SESTA. When I was putting together this episode, I realised very quickly that it was gonna have to be split into two parts, at least. I suspect that part two will probably be on legislation. I spent all week texting Holly and being like, I've just got too much to say I have too many words and I and then I kept reading another article and then finding something else. And then I was like, I've got a whole nother paragraph and that's a whole paragraph. But all you need to know for now, unless you're a sex worker, in which case you definitely already know this, is that FOSTA SESTA are American anti trafficking bills that passed in 2018 (with overwhelming bipartisan support, I should say) that not only have caused incredible harm, incredible harm to sex workers globally, but have also pushed trafficking further underground and made trafficking victims much more difficult to find. The Reply All podcast did an episode on this soon after the laws had passed, it was only like a month or so afterwards, I think. And they interviewed at Carol Smolenski, who was one of the people who was really instrumental in getting them through. When the host PJ said that the result was actually pushing trafficking further underground. Her response was quote, "I mean, you know, from my perspective, it should be underground". And I nearly had a car accident what I heard her say that I was like, babe, what? But I took a bit of time, and I realised that what she's trying to say with that is that it shouldn't be something that is normalised and that is endorsed. But I think the problem is the opposite of endorsing something isn't hiding or hiding it away, and just pretending that doesn't exist, because that's not doing anything to help. When PJ asked her what she would say to a sex worker who felt that she had just supported a law that could kill them. She said, quote, "yeah, I don't know what to say. I know, it's, you know, I don't know, anything I say will sound wrong. So I'm not going to say anything to that". He responded, quote, "you sound like a thoughtful person who's trying to solve the part of the misery that you can see". And, you know, I agree with him. I've really selectively pulled out a couple of frankly, haunting quotes from her. But you know, she's not this evil being who wants all sex workers to be murdered, she genuinely seems to truly believe that she is making the best choices to help people that she can. And I mean, the thing is, I truly believe that she's doing the exact opposite of that. So how to sum up this diatribe that I've just given you. Sex work is work. Sex work and trafficking are two different things. Forced labour is an unacceptable issue in our society, regardless of the industry in which it occurs. silencing and criminalising sex workers doesn't help this issue, if anything it exacerbates it. Sex workers want and need rights, not rescue. And that will also help the victims of sex trafficking, which is what we all want.
Holly Harte 32:43
Our misconception this week is that sex workers are women and clients are men.
Jenna Love 32:48
So there's, there's kind of two parts to this, right? Well, there's, there's a lot to it. So there's the idea of sex workers being women and clients being men. The sex industry, as we say all the time is so diverse, and there's so many different facets to it. But I think one of the things that a lot of people from the outside might not realise is that a lot of people who present as a woman and as very feminine, as their work persona, may not actually be like that in their personal lives. Because, you know, this industry, like femininity is kind of a commodity to an extent, to an extent and things like, you know, it's a really simple example, but I don't think I would have the hair extensions I have, if I wasn't a sex worker, they make me feel very feminine. And I think that they are kind of-- my long hair is something that I'm able to market in to an extent. For me, personally, I don't really need to have that. But I have it for for my Jenna persona, I guess. And I personally know a lot of sex workers who present very female in their advertising. But when I see them outside of work, you know, they are non binary, or even identify as a man. And they look very, very different. And they present very, very differently. But people from the outside don't see that because they only see their work persona, which can be quite feminine. That being said, there are also people who market as men, there are people who market as non binary there are people who market as very masculine, whether they you know, present as women or men or whatever. And that's, you know, one of the things we always say so great about the sex industry is that there there really is a sort of a place for everyone. And there are cis men that there are cis women, there are trans women, there are trans men, and there are people at every point in the gender spectrum. But I think one of the reasons why this misconception happens is because you're only seeing our advertising.
Holly Harte 34:54
The other side of this is the assumption that clients are all men, which obviously is not true at all. It would be wrong of Jenna and I to pretend that our clients are not primarily men. But women can also be clients as well as can non binary people, anyone on any part of the spectrum, the gender spectrum can be a client. And they are a client of someone somewhere.
Jenna Love 35:15
I mean, yeah, we've both seen women. As clients. We've both seen non binary people as, as clients I've seen, I see a lot of couples who generally tend to be heterosexual. So one man and one woman, they're some of my favourite bookings. So I do get a lot of them, because I'm always putting that energy out there trying to attract them. And I don't know about you, I've seen a couple of trans people as well.
Holly Harte 35:40
I have seen people mostly identifying as non binary. Yeah, I don't think I've seen any people who identify, you know, who are actually trans.
Jenna Love 35:47
Yeah. But yeah, I mean, they're all out there. And we, as we say, all the time, we don't have the full breadth of experience. And, you know, a cis, male hetero sex worker, presumably sees a lot more women than we do. I think that this misconception also really serves the narrative of sex workers being victims, and the patriarchy, you know, oppressing us. And I think that's, it's quite, I think it's a convenient misconception a lot of the time.
Holly Harte 36:22
This week for Shit People Say we have a unique client contact I received last week. Now people open their client contact to us in different ways. So sometimes it's the initial message of "Hi, how are you? I'd like to make a booking", sometimes people make a bit of a playful joke first. And I'm cool with that. I'm, I'm open to a little bit of you know, friendliness first. But pretty soon I want you to get into the point, you know, start telling me when we're having our booking. This individual contacted me with a Star Wars themed roleplay I guess, I don't know
Jenna Love 36:54
But a roleplay that you had not discussed beforehand.
Holly Harte 36:57
We had never had a word to say to each other before this moment. But I thought, you know, okay, he's, he's, you know, a little bit nerdy, and I'm a little bit nerdy, and I like Star Wars. So I'll play along a little bit. So he started off with. "So Chancellor, you're telling me you've heard the tale of Darth Plagueis the wise Hmm. Now Ain't that something? My nephew, he's a Jedi a Jedi? Padawan. And he tells me, that's a tale the Jedi wouldn't tell you. So Gee, how do you hear it then?" And this is referring to a really common Star Wars meme. And it's not a direct quote from Star Wars. It's just like a, like a joke at the meme. And so I sort of came up with a dumb reply, and I said, "I was his apprentice". And he sent me another four texts saying "Thank you, Chancellor, I appreciate your honesty. One more thing, Jedi Master Sifo Dyas. Now I don't mean to pry but he died about 10 years ago. So how did he commissioned this clone army?
Jenna Love 37:55
Just for the record I have no idea what you're talking about. If somebody sent me these messages, I would I would be like what is--what's happening?
Holly Harte 38:05
What also want to clarify that I love Star Wars, I'm a big Star Wars fan but I haven't seen the Clone Wars which is what a lot of this is referencing.
Jenna Love 38:11
And you also don't know this person you've got no context to this
Holly Harte 38:14
I have never met him. So this is eight messages he sent me so far in the in the vein of this roleplay and I'm like starting to get okay buddy like let's you know I said "oh shit that is way out of my Star Wars knowledge. haha I'm tapping out Let me guess probably by luck in cryptocurrency" that's how he commissioned the clone army. That's just a guess. Trying to lighten Okay, like let's move on. Another four messages arrive. "Alright, chance to like keep your secrets but know that I will find out the truth eventually". So anyways, and I'm like oh good. Here we go. He's finally making a booking.
Jenna Love 38:45
Holly Harte 38:46
"All these clones running around. They're all the same. It's tough for me to tell them apart. My wife though. She loves that one. Captain Rex, isn't it?" And I wrote back and I said "Haha", which is not at all how I felt. I did not feel Haha, but I was starting to lose my patience. I received another two messages. "I'll have you know, this is no laughing matter. This is a very serious investigation. Now tell me what you know about the attempt made on Senator Amygdalas life". And I reacted with a sleeping emoji because I was fucking fed up at this point. Another three messages of roleplay continued and I I just ignored it. I was just done. The next morning I wrote back and I said "were you after a booking?" And he wrote back and said "probably not anymore. No offence, but I don't think we would have a lot of chemistry". So thanks for that buddy.
Jenna Love 39:41
Holly Harte 39:42
Jenna Love 39:44
There's just no chemistry coming from you!
Holly Harte 39:45
I know like-- if indulging you for your totally unprompted, no introduction Star Wars roleplay for even a few messages wasn't enough I don't know what was I can't imagine--
Jenna Love 39:58
I feel like you indulged so much more than most sex workers would, I certainly wouldn't have I mean, but I'm don't even allow like text messages. I'm like book using the online form or get the fuck out. So, I mean, you are so generous to to go along with that.
Holly Harte 40:14
Yeah, if this is his screening process for how he chooses a sex worker, I cannot imagine how many pass this process
Jenna Love 40:21
who does this man have chemistry with?
Holly Harte 40:23
Yeah. Yeah, no one. He just wanted to waste my time. Good luck.
Jenna Love 40:29
But it sucks because, like, as you said, you're you're a bit of a nerd. He loves Star Wars. I'm a big fan of a geek like love me a geek. Yeah, me too. And, and I would never want to make them feel shit about you know, loving and obsessing over, you know, a fandom or whatever, like, go off, everyone does these days. But if that's all we've got to work with, and then you say there's no chemistry. I think it's hilarious that you went to sleep and then in the morning, you're like, Alright, so you making a booking?
Holly Harte 41:03
Yeah, pretty much. I look in in much less gentle tones. I told him, you know, may the fourth be with him. And good luck, goodbye.
Holly Harte 41:19
Our question of the week this week is how do you feel about receiving gifts? is a gift at every booking too much? Jenna, what's your opinion?
Holly Harte 41:27
Ooh, okay. So, obviously, this question is going to vary for everyone. So, as is often the case, probably the best answer is to ask your provider what they like. But I will say you know, look, it's tricky. Receiving gifts is is really nice, particularly if they are thoughtful gifts. Like, I think one of my favourite gifts I ever received was, gosh, what are they called God, you can tell how girly I am. Like, called Pozi screwdriver. Which, so I'd been I just moved house, I bought all this new furniture. And I've been talking on Twitter about how, you know, I bought all this furniture from IKEA. And I didn't realise that to assemble IKEA furniture, you're supposed to use a Pozi screwdriver, not a Philips head. And they look kind of similar, but they're but they're actually different. And you can use a Phillips head, but it's not ideal. Anyway, very long story. But the client rocked up to my house, bought me some flowers, and a I think some chocolates maybe I can't remember because the best part about it was this bloody screwdriver. You know, I think it was a pretty inexpensive gift. But it was so thoughtful, because I don't know, he told me the story about the history of like the screwdriver thing, which I didn't know about, and then gave me a gift that was actually incredibly handy. Yeah, I just really loved it. That's probably my one of my favourite gifts of all time from a client, it really sticks out for me. But look, getting, you know, getting a bunch of flowers and stuff. Like I think it's really lovely. There are some logistical things like I've gotten flowers a few times while I've been on tour, and I've been like, well, I can't take this on the plane. So I was, you know, I feel a bit awkward about stuff like that. And it can be it, I think that sometimes it can be potentially a little bit overwhelming. I have had bookings where I have been showered in gifts, and there certainly would be some providers who really like that. But I've just sort of felt really overwhelmed by it. And that--this question is a gift to every booking too much? No, I don't think so like I I have some regulars who pretty much I don't think ever turn up empty handed, they'll usually either bring some treats for Eva or, you know, flowers or a book or just some something little. And I think that's really sweet. I don't think that they have to every time like once you've set that precedent, I don't want them to feel that they're locked into it now. But no, I think that that's really sweet. But I think that what can be tricky is that we often will get gifts that we can tell well, that we know are quite expensive, and may not be of much use to us. And that I think that it sounds really ungrateful. But I think particularly when you take it into the context of the last couple of years have been really, really difficult on the sex industry as well as so many freelance workers and workers in a variety of industries. But when we see something that's that might be valued at $100 or $200 that we don't have a use for it's hard to not sort of think, wow, that cash would have been really handy. And yeah, again, you know, it sounds ungrateful, but it's the reality.
Holly Harte 44:54
Um, feel free to shower me in gifts. Just letting everyone know. That's it. I will never be overwhelmed by gifts. In my opinion for me, once again, you know, everyone's different. But for me, I think that the best gift is always cash. It's, you know, I think I know some people find cash naff, but it's, you know, we're living, it's--we're trying to get long. It just helps us just to help us, you know, pay bills and things like that it doesn't seem romantic, but it's the most effective gift. The other thing is, you know, a lot of sex workers will have wish lists or little things that really are valuable to them that they add that they've been thinking they really need or really want, but they haven't been able to, you know, justify buying at the moment. So it's good to look for those as well. Myself, I always love to receive a book. That's something you know, a book that you've enjoyed, I will always happily receive. But generally, no, I think gifts are wonderful things. I think it's just important to think about the logistics, you know, like, like Jenna said, flowers for people on tour are probably not the best thing. Some people express that they don't like certain kinds of food, or they don't like food gifts. That's, you know, another thing you want to take into consideration,
Jenna Love 46:04
I think food in general is, is a really tricky one.
Holly Harte 46:09
I love it.
Jenna Love 46:10
Oh do you?
Holly Harte 46:11
But I know a lot of people don't
Jenna Love 46:12
Yeah, my advice would be to avoid giving food in general as gifts unless you know, someone's dietary situation except to Holly apparently. Yeah. But I think, yeah, I think in general, there's just so much around food, and so many people have so many dietary issues, and mental issues around it. And I just think you're better off avoiding it. But, you know, that's my personal view on it.
Holly Harte 46:40
No, I think that's a very good point. So yeah, there's a gift in every session is definitely not too much. It's absolutely really sweet. And particularly when it's just something small and thoughtful. That's fine. But like Jenna said, I really don't want any of my clients to ever feel that, that that precedent has been set and go, Oh, God, you know, I have to bring something this week. Because I'm not taking notes. I'm not you know, writing a list of the good and the bad and who didn't bring me a gift. And you know, I do remember and I do treasure that the beautiful things that people bring, but I'm not thinking less of you if you don't so, yeah,
Jenna Love 47:13
I definitely agree, though, that the feeling when somebody gives you like a tip when somebody gives you extra cash, and probably to a lesser degree when somebody gives you like a gift card for something that you that you do have uses for its that feels amazing. Like that is it is just so fucking lovely that somebody would say, Hey, here's a bit of extra cash. Like, and I yeah, I don't know, people say it's not as like special or whatever, as as a gift. But to me, it feels Yeah, really lovely. So what's the end? The End message here is talk to your provider because they might not be comfortable with you spending 20 bucks on a box of chocolates and would prefer that in cash. But at the same time, if you don't want to just give cash to them. That's fine, too. Yeah,
Holly Harte 48:03
I'd say have a look at their wish list if they've got one and try to just use a common sense.
Jenna Love 48:13
We have some beautiful, lovely amazing patrons that we would like to thank. Our new Giving Somebodies are Veridian and David, and our new Generous Somebodies are MJ and Chris K.
Jenna Love 48:25
Our Very Generous Somebodies are Lachlan, Timmy, Steve, our footstool, Spaceman Dan, Pete, Adelle, Alice Grey, Big M, Scott C, Sammy Jane, Barliman Randy Wagner, Robbie Heart, Andrew, Andy, Leo, Narnie, Theodoric, Natalie, Adam Smith, Mel, Bruce McDermaid, Gricey, Pedro, Ben and Dale. Our Extremely Generous Somebodies are Aaron, Samuel and Andrew, thanks so much for joining us this week on the Jenna-sode. She put a lot of work into it this week. So thank you a lot for that, Jenna. We hope you've learned so much. This sort of stuff is really valuable to those of us in the sex work community. And we hope that you can take something from it. Thank you.
Jenna Love 49:17
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.
Jenna Love 49:48
Do you miss the free and affordable ads and social networks without all of the anti sex rhetoric?
Holly Harte 49:53
Assembly Four 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 50:02
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 50:14
And both are free to join and open to all.
Jenna Love 50:16
You can find both of our profiles on Tryst and I love how it is so clearly designed by sex workers.
Holly Harte 50:23
Yep. And I love how straightforward and easy it is to use and how much they clearly support the sex working community
Jenna Love 50:29
and also how responsive they are when it comes to feedback and customer service.
Holly Harte 50:33
Check out their website assemblyfour.com (four the word not the number) for more info