delve a little deeper....
Following on from my blog yesterday about Melissa Douglas's blog/Huff Post article complaining about how men kept thinking she was a prostitute there was a bit of a twitter storm over it. I'm not taking full responsibility/credit for it because plenty of other sex workers were calling her out on her attitude and words. She dealt with it by blocking them and not engaging with anyone about it. Her only tweets on the subject was to complain she was being harassed and threatened.
Eventually Douglas issued a statement in response to the Huff Post article, which luckily I screen shot because this morning she has locked her account.
Douglas massively misses the point I and many others were making about her article and really doesn't help matters by starting it Dear Prostitutes and their patrons.
I have no idea whether she read my blog or not but I'm going to assume she had seeing as so much of her traffic came from a result of the blog and my tweets. One of the first things I said and with a link to a helpful article was about how the word prostitute carries negative connotations and why sex workers largely prefer the term sex workers. Of course saying 'patrons' implies that the only people (men) who could possibly support us are clients...
I decided to write her an open letter in response.
Dear Travel Writer and your patrons,
Since the start of time sex workers have been harassed, stigmatised, demonised, sent to prison, abused and murdered. We have lost our jobs, homes and access to our children.
My blog was written from my personal experiences of being a sex worker and how I felt about the insulting insinuations you made in your blog. I didn't intend to offend but I did mean to criticise. I believe if travel writers choose to live their lives in a certain way or engage in a particular profession and use their platform (allegedly of millions) to make incorrect assumptions about my profession I have a right to make comment. I felt you made derogatory comments about my profession and so did many, many others. I wanted to put you straight, to offer advice.
While I support that you are entitled to do and write what you please, you must acknowledge that sex workers are not a separate breed of creature and indeed we are aware that this profession is not for everyone and maybe surprisingly to you, as women we also do not actually like men assuming sex is on offer and that we too have a discomfort in being approached by men for sex in most situations. We are not out there looking for sex all the time, we have social and private lives. For me, sex is part of my business but also on my own terms and when I choose to do so and who with.
This blog and indeed sex work Twitter is a forum for sex workers to speak out about their concerns and experiences and that is exactly what we did yesterday. It was a perfect opportunity for you to learn and to correct your horrible assumptions. You could have made it right. Instead you chose to block, ignore and play the victim.
I don't know what it is like to be a travel writer and I don't understand the struggle you face. I am not a travel writer. I am a sex worker. It must be terrible being paid to travel around the world and get paid for staying in luxury hotels and have to write about it. Many sex workers only have to have sex to do this and don't have the bane of writing about it afterwards.
No one is denying that you wrote from a personal perspective and whilst you can not encapsulate every possible perspective you did offend. You may not have meant to but you chose not to acknowledge that you did offend and did not choose to right your wrongs. You can't please everyone, but you could have made millions of sex workers feel better about your article. You could have learned from our feedback.
By not engaging in any further discussion I have to assume that your opinions have not changed, you are not sorry you have offended at all. You haven't edited the blog or asked The Huffington Post to remove it. Your unwillingness to comprehend what we are trying to achieve or prove is disappointing. You are demeaning all women who are actually threatened and harassed both online and in the real world.
Your blog and access to the Huff Post has great potential to talk about the experiences of women traveling alone and call out the men who pester. You could have talked about cultural differences in how men behave or how women are expected to behave across the world. As a guide for female travellers you could have advised how to stay safe, how to deal with harassment and been grateful that hotel concierges are checking that random people aren't walking into hotels unquestioned. Instead you chose to blame and mock sex workers and then close your ears from their voices.
You are indeed a random travel writer who has represented your demographic badly. Wouldn't you prefer to be a significant one whose voice can make a difference?