A Rant Against the Defense of Johns…

You Call that a Defense?
If Jim Norton thought he was going to be an advocate for the legalization – or even decriminalization – of prostitution or sex work in literally any country with his article in Time magazine, he has not only fallen short of the mark…he has made a strong case for why we should encourage law enforcement to focus even more efforts to arrest the buyers of sexual services and insist that they attend one of the many John Schools that are popping up throughout the country.

Before you dismiss my comments as that of a sex-work-hating-rhetoric-spewing member of the anti-trafficking movement that has become drunk on the fear mongering liquor they liberally dispense throughout the country, understand first that I speak from both the experiences of the sex industry worker and the advocates for the women who want out of the sex trade. I supported the concept of John Schools long before they regained popularity and mutated from efforts to educate and inform to an agenda to shame and penalize. I also understand – as Mr. Norton clearly does not – that the reasons for a woman to engage in Sex Work range from those that truly enjoy the work and the financial remuneration the receive, to those who are forced into the trade by circumstance, perceived cultural norms and a lack of opportunity to support themselves in any other way.

Additionally – the National Day of Johns was indeed a parade of sorts – for law enforcement to crack down on juveniles who were being prostituted, multiple cases of physical and psychological abuse and the ever present abuse of power – including a border patrol agent trying to buy sex in full uniform as well as a mother who was selling her 15 year old daughter for sex. The issues of sex addiction, and ritualistic compulsions – as Mr. Norton proudly claims to be paying a therapist to address – are also paraded in this 15 state sweep where they arrested a “daddy” soliciting the services of a prostitute with his new baby in his back seat. Wow. Who is exactly is your therapist Mr. Norton? If tallying the dollar amount is the only recommendation this therapist has to make to have you account for your behavior, you might want to check the validity of their license.

Mr. Norton also claims to be “extraordinarily loving and comfortable” towards the prostitutes he charms through the passenger window of his car. And he worries about violent behavior like rapes and homicides but did nothing when – during one of his “gentle and intimate” sexual service shopping expeditions he witnessed a woman bounced across the hood of his car and tossed into a van filled with more women. How exactly would he recommend this – or any other – pimp get thrown down an elevator shaft” if Mr. Norton didn’t take a single action to alert authorities that he personally witnessed a violent kidnapping and did nothing?!? Way to take a stand Mr. Norton! I’m sure sex workers everywhere are taking up the mantle of legalization based on your action in hopes that they will be protected from violence in this manner. Perhaps you should volunteer to attend a local John School curriculum so that you could gain some understanding of how far off the mark your defense of johns actually is. It is not the legalization of prostitution that needs to be addressed here – it is the attitude created by those such as yourself that the woman who was bounced across the hood of your car didn’t deserve an anonymous call to the police with the license plate of the van in question. You display – by your lack of action – that this woman was of No Worth. Disposable. An antidote for a comedy bit.

Mr. Norton goes on to self-righteously claim that it is the society who is at fault for the prostitute being put in dangerous situations and quote studies that suggest that Rapes and STD’S would be reduced across the board if legalization of prostitution were to be signed into law when in fact this action would only legitimize the pimp and do nothing to protect the prostitute. Legalizing prostitution would not provide health insurance and a retirement package for the prostitute nor would it encourage her to report a violent crime against her person. Just exactly how do you see the “security” being “adequate” in places of legalized prostitution when the majority of violence would occur by the very providers of the security? It is the short-sighted, self-centered point of view of the john that continues to trip up the criminal and social justice system where sex work is concerned. You are not entitled to buy sex out of the passenger window of your car as if it were a Happy Meal of sorts and “giving johns a break” has never really been the central issue when the subject comes up.

Prostitution and Sex Work are complicated issues that demand sensitive and prolonged thought when considering solutions. Prostitution and Sex Work is not the same as Sex Trafficking but there is no clear delineation that both sides of the issue can agree on to make a law – or series of laws – that provide for the variety of needs that arise from the men and women – and indeed children – who work within the sex trade whether by free and fully informed choice or force, fraud and coercion.
Johns like Mr. Norton, who troll for paid sex indiscriminately in neighborhoods where poverty, hunger and homelessness are the primary economic factors that drive this facet of the sex trade can and should expect to be demonized and arrested posthaste. They are a danger to the community and they have no dog in this fight. There is a gap the size of the Grand Canyon when it comes to the difference between a john who discreetly seeks out the company of an independent responsible sex worker who is informed and over 21 and is willing to undergo a certain amount of screening and what Mr. Norton describes as his ritualistic addictive behavior to entice whomever might be working a corner under a streetlight.

Mr. Norton’s call to “give johns a break” is enough to confirm the need for education and information about sex work, prostitution and sex trafficking through a john school format. And if they have to be arrested in order to receive this information and behave in a socially responsible manner, then so be it.

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I am NOT a Victim of Sex Trafficking – An Open Letter to Human Sex Trafficking

Dear Human Trafficking:

So you thought you could get the best of me, didn’t you?  You thought you could not only take my hope for a better future – but my stories of the past and use it for your own gain.  You thought you could dismiss me and marginalize me.  You thought that you finished me off when I stumbled out of the sex industry – cold and alone and afraid that I would never be able to live a normal life.   You thought I would believe that no one could ever love me and that I didn’t deserve anything better than the cesspool of shame you left me in.  You thought that I was one more notch on your belt and that the label of prostitution and sex trafficking would be enough to make me hide for the rest of my life.  You thought you had damaged me enough that I would be useless.  And you turned your back on me.

But while you weren’t looking – while you were busy trapping and demoralizing the younger men and women you find so attractive – I got better.  And I got stronger.  And I became fearless.  What you didn’t count on was the fact that while you tried to convince people that I wasn’t a “real” victim, you were also making me believe I wasn’t a victim.  And instead of making me feel worse – it made me feel better.  Suddenly I realized that if I was still standing…I was a SURVIVOR of sex trafficking…not a victim!  And now that I was standing…I thought I could help someone else.

And you laughed and turned your back on me  to feed on the souls of others.  You preyed on the weak and the poor.  You didn’t discriminate against race, religion or political affiliation.  Your wanton lust for flesh took you to the far corners of the earth and you convinced some that prostitution should be legal and it was a victimless crime and that the people that provided such services truly loved it…you took “free will” and turned it against the human race.  You became powerful and blurred the lines so that many couldn’t see that this was nothing more than a new version of slave trading.  And you became complacent that what you had created was beyond our ability to “fix” and that you could continue to gobble up lives with abandon.

And I got stronger and so did the others that had come before me.  We are finding our voice and you can’t shut us up and you can’t shut us out.    You may have taken on the mantle of “help” to try and deceive us into thinking that someone else could tell our stories and would let us in their club and have a seat at their table.  Because you know the insidious nature of the this disease you created and the fear that is never far beneath the surface of any survivor of sex trafficking, you thought we would let them hide our pain and our grief with their bluster.  You made them complicit with your defiance of all that is right by asking us to wait in the corner and trot us out when they needed a show.  It was like they became the new pimp.  The new well-meaning kinder gentler pimp.  But still a pimp.

Look out Human Sex Trafficking.  You have become fat and bloated and are wallowing in a sea of ignorance.  And I am here to take you out.

You should know I’m not alone.  All those souls you turned your back on over the years?  They stand with me.  And what you never counted on is that I am NOT a victim of your game of torture and dehumanization.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I am a FIGHTER.  I am a THRIVER.  I am an OVERCOMER.

And I am done with you.