History Lesson: what happened when Canada enacted a feminist anti-porn law?

In 1992, Canada enacted (via the Butler decision) the world’s first feminist anti-porn law. The judge in the decision wrote, “Among other things, degrading or dehumanizing materials place women (and sometimes men) in positions of subordination, servile submission or humiliation … they run against the principles of equality and dignity of all human beings” (p4). Sounds fairly feminist, huh?

Andrea Dworkin described the Butler ruling as “probably the best articulation of how pornography, and what kinds of pornography, hurt the civil status and civil rights of women”, and Catherine MacKinnon said “[the Butler decision] is a stunning victory for women … this makes Canada the first place in the world that says that what is obscene is what harms women, not what offends our values” (p229; all subsequent page references, unless stated otherwise, from this book).

What with how there’s so much chat in UK feminist circles about “banning” “rape” “porn” (scare-quoted because all the words in this phrase are, um, hazily defined by the advocates of this plan, as if that stuff is just minor detail), along with prominent feminist campaigns to limit other kinds of sexualised images from view or sale (“No More Page Three” and “Lose The Lads Mags”), you’d think everyone would be superkeen to point to the massive success of the Canadian law, right? There’s no patriarchy now in Canada!!!!11!1

Here’s what that looked like, while the law was in effect.

  • ‘The spring 1993 issue of Feminist Bookstore News, a Canadian publication, contained the following description of Canada’s first year of experience with the anti-pornography definition …: “the Butler decision has been used … only to seize lesbian, gay, and feminist material“‘(p231).
  • ‘Within the first two and a half years after the Butler decision, well over half of all Canadian feminist bookstores had had materials confiscated or detained by customs’ (p231).
  • Even feminists who supported the law were horrified by the way it was used. Karen Busby, a lawyer who worked at a feminist organisation cofounded by Catherine MacKinnon, wrote, “before the ink was dry on Butler … the Toronto police raided Glad Day Bookshop, a lesbian and gay bookstore, and confiscated Bad Attitude, a lesbian magazine” (p232).
  • … And the judge who ruled in the Glad Day Bookstore case found that this lesbian feminist magazine did indeed “harm women”. The material that was the premise for the raid was a written (no images) lesbian fantasy of consensual non-consent, on which the judge in the case commented that: “the consent … far from redeeming the material, makes it degrading and dehumanising” (p234). In other words, ‘rape porn’ was the premise for the raid, and the homophobia that held queer sexualities to be intrinsically “degrading”, was the reason for the conviction. Cool.
  • “A second lower court decision enforcing Butler also resulted in seizures of homosexual erotica from Glad Day Bookshop and also held homosexual expression to be ‘degrading’. … As Karen Busby acknowledged, “[this decision] is clearly homophobic … he said that sex between men in and of itself was intrinsically degrading and dehumanising” (p233).
  • Project P, the anti-obscenity squad of the Ontario Provincial Police, interpreted Butler to permit explicit sexual expression only if the material includes “romance and a storyline” (p234).  This prompted the curator of the National Gallery of Canada to express concern (she was like, “hello, video installations often do not include a storyline YOU UTTER TWERPS“), and, y’know, general lol at this.
  • Inland Books, a New York-based small-press book distribution company and the largest exporter of lesbian and gay literature to Canada, had 73% of its Canadian shipments detained during 1993 (p234).
  • The Toronto-based Globe and Mail estimated that 75% of of shipments to Glad Day and similar stores are “opened, delayed, lost, forgotten, and occasionally sent back without more than a handful of Canadian citizens knowing about it”. According to the Toronto Star, ‘books dealing with homosexual activities are seized regularly, and often held for months, quite literally in an attempt to close down the offending stores’ (p235).
  • Two books written by Andrea Dworkin were seized at the US-Canadian border. Pornography and Woman Hating were both detained on the grounds that they “illegally eroticised pain and bondage”. ‘Neither the Butler decision, nor any other version of the Dworkin/Mackinnon law contains any exception for subordinating sexually explicit depictions that are part of a feminist presentation. Nor could any exception possibly be added without compounding the law’s already overwhelming subjectivity’ (p237.)
  • Canadian customs seized “thirty copies of Marguerite Duras’s novella The Man Sitting in the Corridor that had been order by Trent University. This novella by the respected writer was detained because it contained several scenes in which a woman is beaten after passionate sex; in the last such scene, she dies”. Other works seized included books by Oscar Wilde, Audre Lorde, and Langston Hughes. (p238.)
  • The final item that I’m going to list that was barred: an illustrated collection of essays published by the Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce, entitled Caught Looking (p239).

 

The Paisley Amnesty submission, and everything that’s wrong with everything.

CN: this post quotes stigma against people who have visible evidence of self-harm. 

I’m just writing this super quickly, because I am tired.

Yesterday, Rhoda Grant published the responses to her consultation on the issue of whether to criminalise the clients of sex workers. The response from the Paisley branch of Amnesty international was a real stunner. (Thanks to Nine for drawing my – and everyone elses’, I think – attention to it. Jem blogged about this here. Jewel wrote about this – super-hilariously – here.)

Here’s what they’ve written on the first page:

“SCOT PEP have handed out a leaflet to women involved in prostitution to encourage them to write to Rhoda Grant against the Bill. One of the things they say is; ’If you enjoy your job, do not feel exploited or that it is dehumanising, harmful or degrading, SAY SO.’”

The clear implication is that SCOT-PEP are some kind of shady cabal of maybe-pimps, looking to push “women involved in prostitution” into parroting some line. Calling the sex workers – literally, the people who wrote this leaflet, and who went round the saunas with it, were current and former sex workers – who fight the criminalisation agenda that harms us, “pimps”, or at least making that insinuation very heavily, is hardly new, and in itself therefore would probably not have vexed me quite so much. (As I was writing this sentence, a person who really cares about sex workers was writing, “SCOT-PEP only speak for pimps“. Cool.)

But here’s the thing.

SCOT-PEP went round the saunas to talk and to give out information, because the sex workers who work there deserve to be allowed to participate in the democratic process – in a consultation that is literally about them. Participation in the democratic process is pretty fucking low in the UK (how many people vote in local elections?), because the whole process is shit for variety of structural reasons.

Participating in a consultation is not as easy as voting, and most people don’t vote. You might not be aware that the consultation was happening, or of the full implications of the rather dense parliamentary language. You might not be aware that you can participate anonymously, or you might think responding to a consultation isn’t for people like you.

All of those things are potentially amplified in the context of sex work: many of the women who work in the saunas are migrants, so English isn’t their first language and they’re not super-familiar with the intricacies of our specific so-called democracy. Many of them are working class women, who have been repeatedly ignored and failed by the ‘democratic process’, and who thus have ceased to engage with this kind of formal bullshit politics at Holyrood. Many of them are lone parents, who don’t have much time or energy for writing in to consultations.

SCOT-PEP went round the saunas for a chat and with leaflets because SCOT-PEP believes that the voices of sex workers should be the first to be listened to in debates that are about sex work, and thus we wanted to try to overcome some of those accessibility issues in terms of responding to Rhoda. Some people – for instance, the authors of the Paisley response, or indeed, myself – were raised by society with the belief that our voices should have a certain weight; that we’re perfectly empowered to read up on an issue and then write to a politician about it, because our views matter. For women who are working class, and migrant, and tired all the time from looking after kids on their own, they might not have the same fucking belief that they can just write in to a politician and expect to be heard. SCOT-PEP wrote that leaflet – and that line – “if you enjoy your job, do not feel exploited or that it is dehumanising, harmful or degrading, SAY SO” – precisely to highlight to women who might think they’ve not got anything “important enough” to say to Rhoda, that their personal life experiences are really fucking important and deserve to be heard.

(As an aside: lol that, if you’re like me, and you’re like “oh la-di-dah, I actually find that whole discourse of whether or not we enjoy our work to be a problematic paradigm, la”, then obviously you’re not representative and … don’t need to be listened to, and if you’re just like “actually, I find my job kind of enjoyable. That’s all” then you’re just parroting a line from a shady cabal, and … don’t need to be listened to. Surprise!)

So yeah. Fucking SCOT-PEP, and their belief that sex working women who are marginalised along a variety of different axis should get to participate in the democratic process of a debate that pertains directly to the lives of those sex working women, eh? Where do SCOT-PEP get off which that kind of unreasonable chat?

No but it gets worse. The Paisley submission goes on to say:

One of our members works in a prison with women offenders and she relates to a conversation she had with a young woman who had experienced prostitution of her own volition. The young woman was adamant that she was not a victim and that it had been her choice. Without wishing to patronise her in any way, her forearms were covered in so many scars it was impossible to see any unmarked flesh.”

… I’ve just sat here for the last ten minutes with my head in my hands, wondering where to start. Bear in mind that on the same page, this organisation were criticising SCOT-PEP for working to supersede some of the issues that stop marginalised women from having their voices heard. I guess we should have just skipped that whole deal, right, because it turns out: marginalised women don’t need to have their voices heard! Some twerp at Paisley Amnesty can “interpret” their experiences for them, admittedly directly contrary to their stated wishes about the meaning of their own experiences, yes, but look at her! She’s got self-harm scars! That means we don’t need to listen, right? Using a woman’s appearance to discredit what she’s telling you about her own life is totally a feminist act, because reasons. The Paisley submission obviously – obviously – goes on to talk about gender inequality, and how sex work turns women into objects.

Without wishing to patronise her in any way …” 

My god, feminism. My god.

International Sex Workers’ Rights Day, and Confide.

We’re holding a film night at the Centre For Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street to celebrate/mark International Sex Workers’ Rights Day. Which is on the 2nd of June, and yes, our event is on the 7th because reasons. ANYWAY.

Suggested donation for a ticket is £5; doors at 7pm; films start at 7.30pm. We’re showing ‘We Are Foot Soliders’, about the children of sex workers in Sonagachi, and their self-organising; ‘A Kiss For Gabriela’, about the election campaign of Gabriela Leite, a former sex worker and sex worker rights activist, as she tries to get into the Brazilian parliament, and ‘live eXXXpressions’, a short and inspiring documentary about the 2005 ‘Forum Triple X’ gathering of sex workers in Montreal, Canada.

We’re also unveiling CONFIDE, a new sex worker-led community support project. You can read more about Confide on our website, which is HERE, but suffice to say this is very very exciting to be part of. We’d love your support, whether that’s telling us we’re doing okay (or suggestions as to how to do better), spreading the word about us, offering to help in some concrete way, or turning up at the fundraiser on the 7th of June at the CCA and having a lovely time with us. Or ALL OF THE ABOVE.

The venue is accessible.

Gender inequality and sex work.

I very much liked this piece by Sarah Woolley (killer aside: “I find that garden-variety ‘objectification’ is a herd word used by women who can rarely recall the name of their last waitress”) on objectification and Cambridge jelly wrestling.

She makes a point – “If a person sees a woman arse-deep in jelly and regards her as subhuman because of it, then that shit is on them” – which is similar to something that I’ve been chewing over for a while, and I’m going to expand on what she’s said, because I think we need to hammer this point fully fucking home.

Something I hear ridiculously often is that sex work is problematic because it entrenches gender inequality, specifically because if men live in a society where women sell sex, that means they can’t possibly respect women.

If a lady is wearing a translucent maxi-skirt that’s split to the thigh (always think the ‘short skirt’ shorthand here is so unconvincing and outdated, like one of those crappy line-drawing illustrations in French GCSE textbooks. Who just wears a “short skirt”? Surely you have more to say about it than that?), and some man looks at her, and in his head is like, oh yeah, stupid woman, stupid visible body giving me weird feelings, bleurgh I am a raging inadequate and I hate this stupid woman-shape in front of me for making have those weird feelings and I hate all the stupid woman-shapes, ugh, then, um, the problem here is maybe not the lady, who is just wearing whatever the fuck she wanted because it was a sunny day and there was an ASOS sale last week.

If you’ve ever made the mistake of googling “abortion, objectification” (what I can I say, I’m here to lead you to mistakes. Mistake better, if you will), you’ll find a large number of raging inadequates arguing that “abortion culture leads to a culture of expediency that urges an objectification of women” (not all people who have or need abortions are women, of course. But that is the frame of this whole bullshit discourse), and asking “how do pro-abortion women not see that abortion objectifies them?” (how indeed?). Oh noes! How can the men possibly respect a woman who has had an abortion, or, in fact, women in general, since women can have abortionz!!! Also objectification!! Is a thing!11!

All of these people should be thrown in a river. Let’s move on.

I think we’ve discovered that men who hate women or female-bodied female-assigned at at birth (edited, see comments) people will tend to use any premise to engage in their hating-of-women activities. This may not be news to you. And that if some guy looks at a girl in a mega translucent maxi-dress, or at a person who has had an abortion, and either a) does not respect that specific female-bodied human, because he thinks that that behaviour is not respectable, or, b) does not respect women in general, because women in general might engage in those un-respectable activities, then the answer to this is not that women (or anyone) should stop wearing fashion-forward summer styles, nor that they should stop availing themselves of the necessary medical care appropriate to their needs. The answer is that this guy should stop being a fucking misogynist. Duh.

So when you’re like, “in a society where sex work happens, men can’t respect women, and sex work thus entrenches gender inequality, and therefore we should strive for a society with no sex work” (ha ha I’ve just noticed how this line of thought perfectly encapsulates the adage ‘be the change you want to see in the world’: *wants no more sex work* *ignores all the sex workers*), you are saying that this one form of misogyny (not respecting sex workers because we sell sex; not respecting women in general because some women are sex workers), is inevitable, understandable, and unavoidable, and thus the way we should tackle this form of misogyny is by changing womens’ behaviour (both individually, and as a society), in order to ‘avoid‘ it.

That’s super fucked up.

Women shouldn’t have to “avoid” misogyny, because that is impossible; the way to eradicate misogyny is to kill educate kill misogynists. Don’t come at me with “pragmatism” unless you’re also willing to argue that “ideally, yes, men should respect women who have had abortions. But pragmatically, we don’t live in an ideal world, so maybe we should tackle misogyny right now, as it is, by heavily restricting abortion access”. Maybe you’ve never seen a man know that a woman is a sex worker and nonetheless respect both her, and women in general, in which case you need to consider getting different friends. I’m pretty sure that this can be done (the respecting thing I mean. Got no opinion on your capacity to find new pals), because generally my male friends say things to me like, “hey, I’m making a fucktonne of dhal, would you like to come over and help me eat it?” or “can I borrow that book when you’ve finished it?” or “Christ, ‘the left’ has such a problem with misogyny. How d’you think we can fight that? Maybe by setting fire to the whole idea of ‘the left’?”.

They do not say to me, “hey girl, I thought I was alright at feminism, but now I’ve fully grasped that you sell everything that truly defines your value, and what makes you who you are, I guess I’ve returned to the idea that women are rubbish”.

I agree that sex work, and sex workers, provoke expressions of misogyny that might otherwise be hidden. Well done, people who make this argument! You’ve correctly identified a definitely-existing strand of visible misogyny. As we’ve established, many things ‘provoke’ (read: provide a premise for) misogyny, because we live in a misogynist culture, constantly swarming with dickheads. If you think sex work is unique in that we should “tackle misogyny” by getting rid of the behaviour that ‘provokes’ it, rather than say by getting rid of misogyny itself, you are endorsing and firming up the worldview of people who hate sex working women – and by extension, women in general. You’re saying that misogyny against sex workers is unavoidable, and by implication therefore a little bit understandable.

Once again: that’s super fucked up.

Guest post: a sauna-based sex working woman hits back.

This guest post discusses the politicking and media chat around Edinburgh’s sauna debate – I’ve provided context in the next paragraph, non-Scottish readers! – and I was so hyped that the author of this post contacted me, because she makes such a compelling and foundational point that the voices of women who work in the saunas are entirely absent from this debate, and that that’s not an accident or a coincidence. 

Context for my non-Scottish readers: Edinburgh currently has an informal policy of licensing saunas as ‘entertainment venues’, which self-evidently constitutes a licensed brothel system. This policy was originally put in place as part of the city’s HIV strategy, and has been so successful that sex workers were recently taken off the list of risk groups for HIV transmission. A legal case is due to be launched against the saunas next month, which is obviously putting them under threat of closure. This has led to a debate in the Scottish press.

Over to my guest … 

Yet another article was punished today about a proposed challenge to sauna licensing in Edinburgh. Yet again, there are no workers quoted in the article and no hint of recognition that their views might be under-represented in the debate. The same paper has run another article  today about the saunas, which despite the female journalist having tried to visit the sauna, still includes no direct quotes from sauna workers: only second-hand (better than nothing) information from escorts, who have managed to access the sauna workers through less devious means. I say female journalist, because I think female journalists tend more often to at least give lip service to the idea that major stake holders in news stories (in cases of labour and legislative oppression, the workers) should ideally be involved in reporting, at least as context, probably because women have more experience of not being listened to at all.

I have worked in a sauna, been an independent escort and worked at an escort agency. Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy working at the sauna, I absolutely oppose challenges to the existence of the saunas and I’d appreciate you listening to why.

The challenges to the licensing of the saunas oppose them on the basis that the saunas are brothels and that violence and exploitation are inherent in prostitution. The first point, I think is moot: they are brothels, and that is a good thing. Let’s not forget: Edinburgh saunas: 11, Edinburgh street workers: approximately 80. Glasgow saunas: 0, Glasgow street workers approximately 400. These numbers suggest that women prefer to work in saunas, when they have that option.

I have never worked on the street, but it is criminalised, so I would prefer not to. I didn’t say that Glasgow sex workers face more violence because they are street workers, but they face more police intervention into the way they work, which makes it more likely. Truth is, there is no good research comparing street work to sauna work anyway.

However, violence and exploitation are not inherent in prostitution. Do a wide scale survey of a wide range of styles of sex workers, in varying conditions and then compare it with nurses, bus drivers or any other service profession. The only thing perpetuating violence within the sex industry is state intervention in our rights.

Decriminalise pimping. First and foremost. If you are a model, singer, secretary temp or celebrity, you don’t call the people who get you gigs a pimp. Recruitment agents or headhunters are not pimps: they fulfill a need in the labour market and they are paid and recognised accordingly. Stop calling the people who organise safe places to work and find clients for sex workers pimps. The only reason that they are sometimes exploitative and engage in illegal stuff is because they are all by default criminals. Decriminalise, and the workers will be able to have the choice between good and bad management.

At the moment, independent escorting is not illegal, although your landlord can still ask you to leave if you are found escorting from the property. Firstly, some workers lack the business acumen or other organisational skills to make it as a self-employed entrepreneur. Some people don’t want the stress and hassle of finding their own clients or organising a place to work. Some people can’t work independently. Some people don’t want to, for safely. Some people want to turn up, work and go home. There is nothing wrong with that. Decriminalise brothel-keeping so that we can have good workplaces.

I would personally have liked to be able to set my own prices in the sauna. I have heard in Nevada in the brothels, there are negotiation rooms, where you go to discuss with your customer before you get to the bedroom.

I would have liked specified break times. I would have liked to choose what sex acts to offer and what safer sex precautions to use. I would have liked a rape alarm in the room. I would have liked holiday and sick pay, and other employee protections. I would have liked to be able to keep whatever I wanted in my room, and wear whatever I liked.

However, the fact that I didn’t enjoy the working conditions does not, under any circumstances negate the fact that I absolutely support the existence of the saunas. I am also not representative: WHY DO THESE DEBATES NEVER INCLUDE VIEWS OF THE WORKERS? No-one has seemingly ever asked the women about whether the saunas should continue to be licensed, or how they could be improved.

Maybe other women didn’t mind the working conditions I disliked: some women had been working there for over a decade. Probably some people don’t like the working conditions at McDonald’s or JPMorgan, they still choose to work there. Don’t even get me started on interning or workfare. I cannot believe that a single woman I met there would want the licenses revoked. Mostly because I chose to work in the sauna, and so did all the women I met there, even the ones who had paid men to help them cross borders.

The article that I read this morning mentions a misguided councillor considering regulation as a possible solution: this would be legalisation and not decriminalisation. To my mind, this would just create the same dichotomy: licensed and un-licensed, above board and under the radar. I have already said it a hundred times but please decriminalise, and bring the sex industry into plain view of human and labour rights like every other business and workplace.

Also, requiring workers to be health tested would be like making a law that workers in coffee shops have to pass a special coffee-making exam. There is no evidence to suggest that workers do not voluntarily test, or that the population are at any more risk from catching STIs from sex workers: in fact, the opposite is true. Ask any sexual health professional: sex workers rarely catch STIs at work. The other suggestion is that legalisation would help stop trafficking: the saunas are already regularly inspected to look for women who are working in the UK illegally, which forces those who aren’t to work in even less safe conditions. Trafficking, rape and coercion are all already illegal – therefore legalisation on those terms is pointless.

If you are a politician or policy-maker, please could you read about the issues and talk to people in the industry before you give your views?

Please decriminalise the entire sex industry, so that I and all my co-workers can choose our working conditions. By keeping the sex industry licensed and criminalised, you make it so that the sex industry is not just subject to normal labour and human rights. Here, the state is doing the exploitation.

Most of all, please go and speak to the women involved. It is desperately patronising when you are having debates about our livelihoods over our heads. Your complete lack of recognition of our agency or voice is complicit in keeping working conditions less good than they could be.

Talking to The Women’s Support Project.

I see the Women’s Support Project/SCASE are currently re-circluating that “sex worker rights activists are secret pimps” text. What fun! (Old news, though surely, ladies? Get with the programme. I’m sure Stella Marr has written something fresher – maybe she’s tried to out another sex working blogger? Nice company you keep How exciting.)

As it happens, the Women’s Support Project recently turned up in my inbox, wanting to know my views on service provision in Glasgow. (“I understand that your political viewpoint differs substantially from that of the Women’s Support Project, however, I am hoping that you will still be willing to give me your input as this report  … [as] … we both hold the safety and wellbeing of women in prostitution paramount.” Hee, isn’t this just the cutest leverage you’ve seen in a while? ‘Plz send info to help us screw you over better, because WOMEN and their SAFETY!’)

So I wrote back, noting:

  • I have no indication of whether this information will be used purely to tailor service provision, or whether it’ll crop up in some press release or on SCASE with the headline, “survey says [high number]% of women in prostitution have experienced [whatever]”. I don’t necessarily want to ‘give’ my experiences to an organisation that might subsequently use them to silence me. ( … And, what, have a bunch of commenters on SCASE go “these results just show the bullshit of the pro-pimp lobby”, as if they might not simultaneously be talking about *my* experiences of rape, *and* calling me a pimp. Wow, thanks!)
  • If we were in a Rape Crisis Centre, talking about responses to survivors of rape, you’d recognise disbelief and name-calling as a form of violence, and yet again and again sex workers who have the temerity to disagree with the WSP are called the ‘pro-pimp lobby’ or similar – by the WSP, by SCASE. [ … ] Hmm! And now you want to talk to me about violence and service provision? Can we start with the structural violence that is perpetuated by feminist organisations?

Calling sex workers ‘pimps’ (oh god oh god could the casual use of this word by white people be any more problematic no it couldn’t) demonstrates an understanding of the sex industry that makes Lord of The Rings look morally complex. Guess what, geniuses: some of us work in criminalised conditions, for instance, because we live with other sex workers. This is called “hella fucking safer”; it’s also called “brothel-keeping”. You know who campaigns to keep us in criminalised conditions? ‘Feminist’ organisations such as the Women’s Support Project. The effects of these laws are that we get to choose between (i) keeping ourselves safer, and (ii) calling the police if we do get attacked. You may pick only one! If you see any problems with this state of affairs, allow me to refer you to the WSP. They wish to call you a pimp.

The final point I made in my email was that:

  • … the WSP strikes me as a wholly inappropriate vehicle for service provision to sex workers. [You] have seemingly no accountability to the sex working population you purports to serve, you have no room for nuance in your approach, and there’s a huge conflict between your campaigning work and your putative service provision. (Campaigning in the WSP context seems to mean, ‘educating’ non-sex workers about the ‘reality’ of the sex industry, which translates to sex working-ears as ‘shouting over you, if your reality is different’. That’s not a safer space for us, is it? Would you get STI testing in a place that shouted over you?)

So, just to clarify, I was totally right. I cannot think of a more inappropriate conflict of interest than on the one hand, posting articles all like, “oh well, I’m not saying all (so-called) ‘sex workers’ are definitely pimps, but here’s an article about how loads of sex workers are pimps, just fyi”, and on the other, being a service provider to Glasgow’s sex working population. Imagine trying to access those services! “Hello, I’m a sex worker and I was raped last night, could I speak to someone? … Uh, ideally someone who hasn’t joined in with insinuating that all sex workers are pimps? Thanks”.

(Just as a point of interest: lol forever at the idea that ‘pimps’ get into the sex worker rights movement … because, what, we’re rolling in cash? Its the most lucrative of all the mostly-invisible and stigmatised human rights campaigns? Mate, I can’t move for red umbrellas made out of rubies. For what it’s worth, when we spend money on activism – hiring rooms, paying each other’s childcare – that’s money that we’ve earnt ourselves – y’know, on our backs. The Women’s Support Project get over a quarter of a million pounds a year, to run ‘services’ that are genuinely … nebulous. (“We are not able to offer a drop-in service …. At the moment we are unable to advertise set opening hours for our telephone line“.) Er. If you were looking for someone making a fairly good living off being mean to sex workers, ladies, you might want to look a bit closer to home.)