I’m writing this note in a personal capacity. The views I express here are not representative of Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society, and the committee have nothing to do with this note.
If you want to read YFN’s response to Edinburgh Uni Feminist Society, you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/rachel-hewson-thornton/response-to-edinburgh-university-feminist-society-york-feminist-network-we-rejec/10151700333121813
At the heart of YFN’s response is the power and gender imbalances in sex work. I’m not going to challenge that here. What I do wish to challenge, however, is that this makes sex work different from any other field of work. Most bosses are men, most millionaires are men, most highly-paid workers are men. Most public sector workers who are *hugely* taken advantage of despite their necessary contribution to society, are women. Bosses (read: men) buy our bodies every day- as students and workers we spend our short and valuable lives slaving away for the benefit of men. Precarious, under-valued, low-paid work is women’s work. Yet I don’t see York Feminist Network campaigning for the closure of any other workplace. Why? Whorephobia.
You say sex-work defines women in terms of men’s desires. I say you would do well to not define the sexuality expressions of other women.
Even if you believe that sex-work is inherently bad (which I think is bullshit, I feel I should clarify), it’s still anti-feminist to endanger those workers and their dependents. Like any other work dispute, we should take the lead from the workers, and fight with them on the terms that they wish to organise on. WE DO NOT CONTROL THEIR STRUGGLE.
The closure of a sauna or lap-dancing bar or strip club won’t *stop* these places from existing, you will just drive them underground. You will put the workers in an even riskier position. Feminists acknowledge the validity of this argument when we’re talking about abortion, so why not sex work?
Even an abolitionist should want the safest, healthiest workplace for other women.
Feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Sex workers are disproportionately LGBTQ (particularly Trans*) because cisheteronormative standards keep them out of conventional workplaces. Sex workers are working class. We fight with them, not against them. Sex workers’ rights are workers’ rights. Workers’ rights are human rights.
If you care about women you will ask the workers of Upstairs what they want to happen. You will ask them what could make their job more fulfilling, what would make them happier, and what would make them safer. You would then offer them any support that they needed in agitating toward those goals. You would not make them jobless. You would not put them in danger.
Enough fucking said.