Re: Influencers

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Victoria Marinelli (vmarinelli@hotmail.com)
Sun, 11 Oct 1998 06:20:10 PDT


Dear All,

Re: "Influencers", aside from the comments I've posted recently under
the subject heading "Pimps, Pride, and Politics", I am hoping that these
are the last comments I will need to post for awhile on this subject.

I've been puzzling over whether to dignify the following words from
Lacey Sloan with a response:

"...to say that prostitution is sexual abuse (ie, that prostitutes are
all inherently victims of sexual abuse) minimizes the experience of
women who are actually sexually abused. Just like some women
voluntarily have free sex, some women voluntarily have paid sex...to say
that all women who have sex are being sexually abused is just plain
offensive to me.."

My actual words, "...labor laws satisfactorily address the harms
inflicted by systematized sexual abuse, aka prostitution" do not leap to
the fantastic conclusions which Sloan attributes to me. "A. K. A." of
course, stands for "also known as". I have known systematized sexual
abuse as prostitution; so have many women and men. Just as not all of
prostitution is not systematized sexual abuse, so too, systematized
sexual abuse is not always prostitution. Gang rapes, mass rape by
Serbian soldiers in Bosnia, ritual abuse, and other scenarios transpire
in which neither the person so assaulted, nor his or her captor,
receives money or other goods in return. So, Sloan has incorrectly
inferred an unambiguous definition of prostitution. I haven't offered
up any conclusive definition of prostitution. It happens in a number of
scenarios, and I agree that there are situtations in which women may
consent to it. What I find vexing about the "sex-worker" ideology of
prostitution, is that it is used to make the underlying issues of
organized rape and trafficking invisible. Women and youth, who have not
consented in any way to being prostituted are told that they, in fact,
did; that they do not require any advocacy or other assistance as
victims of violence, because some bright person in a battered women's
shelter or similar agency has a copy of "Sex Work: Writings by Women in
the Sex Industry" on her shelf, which she is glad to pull down and show
you all the underlined reasons why your situtation of forced
prostitution simply does not exist. PLEASE NOTE: I am not holding the
individual authors of pieces in "Sex Work" liable for the conclusions
that have been drawn, on a massive scale, by the readers. I am just
pointing out that the conclusions have been drawn, with palpable
consequences for many prostituted women, including myself. When I refer
to ideology, I am speaking of a cultural phenomenon. Marx, for example,
may be the author of Marxism, but his adherents are the authors of their
own theories. Ideology is a flexible thing, constantly morphing this
way and that, with varying consequences.

So first, Sloan has attributed a belief to me which I actually do not
hold. Then she leaps to the conclusion, based on this idea, that I ALSO
believe that "all women who have sex are being sexually abused..." Wow.
To think that, according to "my own" ideology, I was being sexually
abused last night, and didn't even know it! (And the night before that,
and the night before that...) The pernicious idea that certain women
working against trafficking are somehow "anti-sex" is, as Sloan might
say, "just plain offensive."

I may not agree with certain beliefs held by John Davies, Carol Leigh,
or other list members, but then, those list members may also have
legitimate points that I wish to consider, and am considering, as anyone
who is actually READING my posts would immediately conclude. I do not
have a problem with people disagreeing with me. Erato, for example,
posted a message indicating her disagreement with what she understood to
be my position. Although that message did contain the
statement: "Just because one says "I was a Prostitute" this does not
inevitably give one the ability to assess all aspects of the industry in
a rational way", and, in fact, I never claimed to be able to assess all
aspects of the industry in a rational way -- otherwise why would I
participate on a list? If I saw all opinions aside from mine as
inherently false or redundant? -- nevertheless, her message was still
civil, and it was not slanderous.

Victoria Marinelli

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Jyothi, et al:

Due to delays we have both experienced in getting messages posted, John
Davies and I have begun corresponding off-list, while also posting to
the group. I see that one of his replies to me (a message I sent to him
and then the list four days ago) HAS been posted, while my initial
message has NOT been posted, which will certainly be confusing for list
members. I am sending, again, my message of 10/8 to which John has
recently replied, as well as other messages.

I think when the dialogue is this volatile, having messages appear out
of sequence or not at all can be quite disconcerting. I also understand
and sympathize with the enormity of your task. The list is providing a
very vital forum, and I don't want to see its power inadvertently
sabotaged by electronic snafus (even though the snafoos are not
deliberate). I want to proceed with reading, for example, the newly
posted material from Carol Leigh and others -- but in the meantime I am
wondering what other parts of the conversation -- mine and others --
have been lost? If a list member responds to others' critiques, but his
or her responses are not posted, then civility wanes: critique can
degenerate to criticism, which can then degenerates to personal attack.

It's important that we discuss trafficking in as collective a manner as
we can, but with the list situation being what it is, that may be, for
now, an unattainable goal. I'm going to re-send my recent posts, read
what is there, and continue corresponding off-list with other members
who are so inclined. I'm sending this message now so that my ceasing to
participate in the collective conversation, if it comes to that, is not
misconstrued. I DO want to continue this wonderfully uncensored
conversation, and I DO want to respond to certain criticisms I have
received. I am continuing in my own work against trafficking. So while
I may, for efficiency's sake, disengage from the list, you have not
heard the last of me, and I have not heard the last of you either.

Victoria Marinelli

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From: "John Davies" <Tanya@tesco.net>
To: <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Subject: Re: Influencers
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 00:00:56 +0100
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Dear all,

I am concerned that misunderstandings are now seriously distracting and
distorting this exchange.

Like Lacey I had understood that "inflicted by systematized sexual abuse,
aka prostitution" meant that Victoria meant that prostitution should also be
known as systematised sexual abuse in every instance. I had assumed that aka
carried an inherent element of complete identification between the linked
articles.

Regarding Lacey's comment that read "to say
>that all women who have sex are being sexually abused is just plain
>offensive to me.." I believe that the sentence was intended to read "that
all women who have PAID sex are ..." so I mentally read the word "paid" into
the text. I am not certain and Lacey should correct me if I am wrong, but I
made that correction believing that the context of the message required it.

Regarding organised rape or trafficking I can not perceive how any work or
text that seeks to establish rights for sex workers or anyone else could be
legitimately used or applied to the detriment of those who have been coerced
and compelled into any form of sexual abuse. That some mean spirited service
provider could refuse assistance to anyone in legitimate need of their help
because of their mis-reading and misapplication of any text is demonstrative
of the need to ensure that projects are managed by and run by sex workers,
or by those who have suffered the abuses that the agency is meant to
address.

I have stood with trafficked women who have been refused entry into projects
intended to supply services to rape victims, and in those instances they
were refused because they were foreign and because the agencies involved
prejudicially believed that women from their nationality were predominately
consenting sex workers and so did not deserve proper consideration. Any
agency that would refuse services to anyone in the beneficiary group because
of prejudicial consideration or inequitable assessment is the problem and
not the "philosophy" that they twist and pervert to rationalise their
conceit.

I have found this exchange has represented at certain times, a need to
secure certain positions as almost canonical and therefore as articles of
faith rather than reason.

We so often need a world where pain and suffering has exact meaning, so
that the pain can be crystallised into a defining code that then can justify
a
crusade. The crusade will often take a form of retribution that can not
accommodate the complexities and enigmas, and it must have real external
enemies that can be defeated and punished.

If the abusive pimp did not exist we would invent him.

I have found this exchange incredibly useful and I am especially grateful to
Victoria for her compelling messages. I now really feel a need to take a
little time to consider the ideas shared so please forgive me if I don't
post on this subject for a while.

Best regards to all

John

-----Original Message-----
From: Victoria Marinelli <vmarinelli@hotmail.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Date: 12 October 1998 22:28
Subject: Re: Influencers

>Dear All,
>
>Re: "Influencers", aside from the comments I've posted recently under
>the subject heading "Pimps, Pride, and Politics", I am hoping that these
>are the last comments I will need to post for awhile on this subject.
>
>I've been puzzling over whether to dignify the following words from
>Lacey Sloan with a response:
>
>"...to say that prostitution is sexual abuse (ie, that prostitutes are
>all inherently victims of sexual abuse) minimizes the experience of
>women who are actually sexually abused. Just like some women
>voluntarily have free sex, some women voluntarily have paid sex...to say
>that all women who have sex are being sexually abused is just plain
>offensive to me.."
>
>My actual words, "...labor laws satisfactorily address the harms
>inflicted by systematized sexual abuse, aka prostitution" do not leap to
>the fantastic conclusions which Sloan attributes to me. "A. K. A." of
>course, stands for "also known as". I have known systematized sexual
>abuse as prostitution; so have many women and men. Just as not all of
>prostitution is not systematized sexual abuse, so too, systematized
>sexual abuse is not always prostitution. Gang rapes, mass rape by
>Serbian soldiers in Bosnia, ritual abuse, and other scenarios transpire
>in which neither the person so assaulted, nor his or her captor,
>receives money or other goods in return. So, Sloan has incorrectly
>inferred an unambiguous definition of prostitution. I haven't offered
>up any conclusive definition of prostitution. It happens in a number of
>scenarios, and I agree that there are situtations in which women may
>consent to it. What I find vexing about the "sex-worker" ideology of
>prostitution, is that it is used to make the underlying issues of
>organized rape and trafficking invisible. Women and youth, who have not
>consented in any way to being prostituted are told that they, in fact,
>did; that they do not require any advocacy or other assistance as
>victims of violence, because some bright person in a battered women's
>shelter or similar agency has a copy of "Sex Work: Writings by Women in
>the Sex Industry" on her shelf, which she is glad to pull down and show
>you all the underlined reasons why your situtation of forced
>prostitution simply does not exist. PLEASE NOTE: I am not holding the
>individual authors of pieces in "Sex Work" liable for the conclusions
>that have been drawn, on a massive scale, by the readers. I am just
>pointing out that the conclusions have been drawn, with palpable
>consequences for many prostituted women, including myself. When I refer
>to ideology, I am speaking of a cultural phenomenon. Marx, for example,
>may be the author of Marxism, but his adherents are the authors of their
>own theories. Ideology is a flexible thing, constantly morphing this
>way and that, with varying consequences.
>
>So first, Sloan has attributed a belief to me which I actually do not
>hold. Then she leaps to the conclusion, based on this idea, that I ALSO
>believe that "all women who have sex are being sexually abused..." Wow.
>To think that, according to "my own" ideology, I was being sexually
>abused last night, and didn't even know it! (And the night before that,
>and the night before that...) The pernicious idea that certain women
>working against trafficking are somehow "anti-sex" is, as Sloan might
>say, "just plain offensive."
>
>I may not agree with certain beliefs held by John Davies, Carol Leigh,
>or other list members, but then, those list members may also have
>legitimate points that I wish to consider, and am considering, as anyone
>who is actually READING my posts would immediately conclude. I do not
>have a problem with people disagreeing with me. Erato, for example,
>posted a message indicating her disagreement with what she understood to
>be my position. Although that message did contain the
>statement: "Just because one says "I was a Prostitute" this does not
>inevitably give one the ability to assess all aspects of the industry in
>a rational way", and, in fact, I never claimed to be able to assess all
>aspects of the industry in a rational way -- otherwise why would I
>participate on a list? If I saw all opinions aside from mine as
>inherently false or redundant? -- nevertheless, her message was still
>civil, and it was not slanderous.
>
>Victoria Marinelli
>
>
>
>______________________________________________________
>Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
>


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