Dear friends and colleagues,
A sincere thank you to all of you who responded to The Naked Truth Sex Industry Survey. The results were incredibly interesting and have given me a whole new vision for the future of NakedTruth.ca.
- 76 people answered the survey
- 48% of them are activists
- 44% of them are currently working as sex industry workers
- 31% were formerly sex industry workers
- 31% consider themselves allies
Some respondents also identified as researchers, clients, business owners, community support workers, co-workers (like DJ's and drivers), two social workers, a journalist, and one decrim-supporting anti-trafficking activist.
What is the Biggest Problem You Face?
When asked what their biggest challenge is, I found that respondents' comments fit into six categories. I will summarize the results from each category in the order they were most touched on by survey participants.
- Bad Laws
- Health and Safety
- SWERFs and Moral Crusaders
- Funding / Financial
“Stigma. If I am assaulted I cannot call the police. If I am raped it's my own fault for "making poor choices". If I am a mother my parenting skills are automatically suspect. Am I sure I'm not on drugs? If I am abused by my partner, well, he can hardly be blamed considering... Et cetera.”
From rights as a renter to being accepted in society and among friends, sex industry workers and clients highlighted many forms of stigma as being problematic. Here are some of the challenges identified by participants:
- How to advocate without being outed.
- Difficulty dating.
- Whore stigma.
- Employment discrimination.
- Deciding whether to disclose job to others.
- Media misrepresentation.
- Lies and fabrications about the industry, created to prohibit sex work.
- Ignorance of the industry.
- Devaluation of our skills.
- Not being recognized as an expert.
- Cyber bullying.
- Fear of family finding out.
- Living a double life.
- Job not being viewed as legitimate.
“I can't work at home because my roommates are terrified of getting arrested. It's hard to find a good, safe out-call location (BDSM, medically equipped), so I'm going broke. My clients being criminals/the laws around my job are my biggest problem.”
A huge issue for sex workers in our criminalized climate is fear of being arrested. Many sex workers listed “cops,” “screening for cops,” “discretion on the internet,” “police abuse,” and reluctance to report cyber bullies or other crimes.
The criminalization of clients was emphasized; as well as fear for safety due to having to hide their profession and work underground. One activist also mentioned a fear of being targeted and set-up due to being an out-spoken activist, although I wasn't sure whether the fear was that police would do the setting up, or an aggressive prohibitionist.
Health & Safety
“Fear for myself and the many other sex workers who call and write with their concerns about the 'Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons' Act, and the harms it will do to my colleagues. Some sex workers have been crying when they call. Everyone is terrified.”
Health and safety is on everyone's mind, especially with the uncertainty that has come with the new laws. Criminalization is the most obvious and spoken about obstacle to health and safety.
Other challenges mentioned in relation to health and safety:
- Inadequate facilities
- Hygiene and health of client
- Labour rights
- Ability to self-organize
SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and Moral Crusaders
“Misleading and completely made up stats about the sex industry; bad laws & policies that lead to police abuse; stigma & ignorance; powerful jerks who profit from the misleading info about those engaged in the sex trades who want to shut me up.”
It goes without saying that SWERFs and Moral Crusaders, who have campaigned together to prohibit sex work all over the world, create many challenges for our industry. Not least of which is funding, but that is a category in itself.
Sex workers expressed frustration with these groups “framing our issues” and getting paid (through their jobs, misleading fundraising campaigns, discriminatory granting guidelines, etc) to target the sex industry.
Some call bottom feeders like these “poverty pimps.” I can't say I blame them. Two poverty pimps in particular were mentioned among the comments: Joy Smith and Megan Murphy (the latter of which is not a very good writer - I feel the need to point that out).
“When I was working as a stripper, inadequate facilities such as change rooms and lack of cleanliness, coupled with unfairly high fees for free labour expected from the club (esp. in Ottawa). Now, I face the problem of negotiating how I want to disclose or not disclose my experiences in the sex industry in various contexts, as an academic.”
It is the nature of the business to enter and exit – for some of us, it is a way of life to go in and out of the industry. Pregnancy is often a reason, at least in my case. I was in and out of stripping for over 13 years and still continued to do private shows for one of my most trusted customers.
Going to school, getting burnt out; whatever the reason, there comes a time when we leave the industry.
Sex industry workers identified gaps in resumes, adjusting to a new lifestyle and culture, and whether to disclose past sex industry work to new partners and others, as challenges to exiting.
“The problem is Steve Harper and his crew of hypocrites.”
Although it was the least talked about challenge, it was mentioned by several respondents. Funding is an issue. Whether it's negotiating upsells with clients or applying for grants to foundations, sex workers and activists are running into money problems.
One problem is that we're competing for funds with SWERFs and moral crusaders. Much of the funding available is targeted towards prohibitionist projects. Fortunately, sex worker activists are creative at finding ways to apply for and get funds with pro-abolition strings attached.
Many of us like our activism to be our jobs. You find us in outreach organizations and attending community meetings; founding non-profit organizations and creating jobs for other sex industry workers. The entrepreneurial spirit that drew us to sex industry work also drives our activism.
The Future of NakedTruth.ca
This "topics that interest you" part of the survey was the most exciting part of all for me, because it allowed me to think creatively about a re-launch of NakedTruth.ca. What kind of platform will TNT become?
Survey respondents identified five main areas of interest, which the new NakedTruth.ca will focus on.
All of these areas will be geared to address the issues identified above; namely stigma, bad laws, health and safety, prohibitionists, exiting, and funding.
The five most chosen areas of interest among survey respondents are:
- Laws and how they impact communities. (93%)
- Research studies, films, and other resources created by and with sex industry workers. (82%)
- Sex Industry News. (75%) Events, rallies, and other ways to connect with others in the sex industry (63%) were also important to respondents. I have put them together with the news category for efficiency purposes.
- Education and training to support health and safety of sex workers. (63%) Health and safety tips for sex industry workers was also popular (52%), so I have combined it with this category.
- Opportunities to earn money (45%)
The Naked Truth has always been about health and safety; challenging stereotypes, educating square folks, and connecting people in the industry. Taking all this into consideration and analyzing the results of the survey, I've got a new dream for TNT.
I intend to re-launch NakedTruth.ca in June 2015; implementing the following new services and resources:
- An invitation to Guest Bloggers to cover the main topics listed above. (You are welcome to link back to your own website and you keep all rights to your articles; you are encouraged to promote your organization and campaigns too!) I will continue to add events and rallies as I am notified, as well.
- A comprehensive resource list of studies, films, downloadable training guides, and more. Please contribute to our wiki to help us build this list. NakedTruth.ca will organize the list by topic on the new website, adding new resources as we become aware of them.
- A speaker's list. We will compile a speaker's list and connect interested organizations with sex work experts. (We've been doing this informally for year anyway.) For our speakers, we will include a biography and photo to help promote them. NakedTruth.ca gets a lot of traffic and rates high in search engines. We ca help organizations find you and hire you. We will also continue to post sex industry and square work opportunities for all members. (Please send them to me with application deadlines.)
- An FAQ created and collaborated upon through The Naked Truth Facebook Group. I will initiate this campaign soon, so please join the group to participate. (It is a closed group, so your posts do not appear on your friends' and families' walls.)
- Free Ad Space for Non-profits. I am not very good at web design type stuff, but I am hoping to offer free ad space for non-profits too. This is a learning curve issue, so we'll see how soon that happens. (Please bear with me.)
As you can see, the future of NakedTruth.ca is bright. I can't tell you how excited I am. I am calling this project Metamorphosis. Goddess-willing, NakedTruth.ca will become a platform for connecting square community organizations and enforcement agencies with tools, resources, and experts in and from the sex industry.
Please join me on this journey.
The Naked Truth Facebook Group is a great space with many awesome people. We have close to 1000 members, and the atmosphere of the group is supportive and encouraging. Our regular participants are very cool. Come check us out.
You can also subscribe to NakedTruth.ca in its current form, to get updates on the changes as they occur and contribute your expertise and opinions.
To conclude this report, I'd like to share some...AWESOME CLIENT QUOTES from the survey – what problems do clients face...?
“Being perceived as a self-serving sex-buyer or pervert for supporting sex workers' rights.”
“Finding a trade woman in my community who provides a service that I am looking for whether it be full service, erotic massage, bdsm, etc. Some forums and local newspapers do have worker ads but they are hardly exhaustive. Even then, the ad is only two or three lines long so I have to go to the website of each worker to get the details of what services she provides, rates, or age. This becomes cumbersome. A yellow pages for all the workers in the city would be great. This works for plumbers, electricians, grocery store, even movie theatres.”
“As a client, I wish I had more youth, money and opportunity. As an ally, I think there is a need to move resources from evidence , reason and justice based arguments to simple persuasion directed at people who care little about the subject. The reason and justice based arguments have won support with those who care and are able to understand. More support is needed. You either need more passion from current supporters or more supporters.”
I hope I have inspired you to contribute to the future of NakedTruth.ca. Please upload resources to our wiki, become a guest blogger, join our speaker's list, and help us create an comprehensive FAQ for people interested in learning more about our issues and ways to support us.
I look forward to working with you. Contact me for any reason, especially if you'd like to become involved as a guest blogger, be listed as a speaker in your community, or to participate in any other way.
In love and solidarity,
View the complete survey results at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-V5GRZHZV/