Sex Workers Have Rights Too

Maggie mcneillGuest blog post by Maggie McNeill, sex work advocate.

Susan notes: Guest blogger McNeill (otherwise known as The Honest Courtesan), and I disagree on many subjects. However, we are united in the belief that there is no shame in freely choosing to express one’s sexuality in the manner one wishes, and that includes getting paid for it, if that is one’s choice....

It’s Friday the 13th again; that means today is the day I ask all of my readers who are not sex workers yourselves to speak out in favor of sex worker rights.  You don’t even need to spotlight it; if you’re afraid of the “anyone who would defend a witch must be a witch herself” syndrome, include it as part of a longer statement about sexual rights or civil rights in general.

With all the talk about birth control rights, abortion rights and marriage rights it’s a small matter to say something like “all people have the right to own and control their own bodies, and that includes birth control, abortion, homosexuality and even prostitution”.  The neofeminists have succeeded in confusing the discourse about sexual freedom so much that many people who support abortion rights don’t recognize that the same arguments can be made for sex worker rights; the “gay rights” lobby has focused so much attention on minutiae that its supporters never consider that the right to choose one’s sex partners also includes prostitutes; and though supporters of drug legalization are embroiled in their own bloody battle, I think a word now and again for the similarities of our causes isn’t too much to ask.  Our staunchest allies are libertarians, who consistently and regularly speak out for our rights…but they’re fighting so many battles on so many fronts against the government Kraken that they can hardly be expected to concentrate on ours.

Many of my readers are sex workers, retired sex workers or clients, but most are not.  I have readers who identify as libertarian, liberal, conservative, socialist, anarchist, minarchist, monarchist and apolitical, and who call themselves Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists.  Some consider themselves feminists, others men’s rights advocates, others anti-feminists or humanists or transhumanists or environmentalists or intellectuals or just “geeks”.  And every day this site is visited from nearly every country on the globe, from Canada to New Zealand, from Argentina to Russia, from Great Britain to South Africa and from Morocco to Nepal to Singapore; I’m told many of you even rely on friends or Google for translation from my often-baroque English.

But the one thing you all have in common is a recognition that it is wrong for government to use brute force to suppress the right of individuals to associate with whomever they choose, however they choose and for whatever reason they choose, even if money is involved.

And that’s why I ask all of you today, as I will ask you again on July 13th and on every Friday the 13th for as long as I continue writing this blog, to say, write, post, tweet, link or otherwise promote the cause of sex worker rights, even if it’s just with an anonymous link to this column on some message board somewhere.

The more skeptical or curmudgeonly among you may be saying to yourselves, “Just how many of these hooker-days does this uppity tart expect us to recognize?  We’ve got International Sex Worker Rights Day on March 3rd, International Whores’ Day on June 2nd and the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th, plus at least one Friday the 13th per year…isn’t that enough?”  It’s a fair question, but consider:  the prohibitionists libel us, insult us, attack us and agitate for our extermination every day.

Sex worker rights are human rights, and there can never be too many voices speaking up for them, nor too many occasions on which to speak.

Maggie McNeill has been a librarian, call girl, madam and housewife and now writes a daily blog called The Honest Courtesan in which she explores the many facets of the world of prostitution (from history to philosophy to news to sex worker rights) to demonstrate that hookers aren’t really different from other women and that efforts to restrict sex work are by their very nature anti-woman.  She lives on a small ranch with her husband and lots of animals.

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