Some “Sex Workers” Aren’t Just That…

So, someone got to my blog recently by searching for “terri bradford” + prostitute.  If I see a search term where I don’t understand how the hell someone could get to my blog by googling something, I google it myself to see what’s up.  (Unless they’re looking for porn-then I’m happy and sad at the same time.)

I had no idea why that search combination would lead someone here.  So, as per my usual habit explained above, I copy and pasted what they searched and put it in google.  And oh my, I think I found a slight conflict of interest regarding at least two of the plaintiffs on this case.

I would like to warn everyone reading this that this post is super long, so much so that I’m getting lost in it myself, trying to edit and everything.  I’m not sure if that’s because of all the citations I’m making, how long this post is, or if it’s simply poor writing on my part.   Apologies if it’s the latter.

According to the article I posted, “Ms Bedford said she hoped to work as a dominatrix.” According to a few BDSM sites and the official court document, however, she already was a dominatrix, as far back as 1993.   The court documents confirm this, as well as that she’s been charged on various prostitution-related offenses (more on that later).  The articles make it sound as if she is currently a street prostitute-which is not true, and it hasn’t been true since the early eighties.  She hasn’t even been in “sex work” since 2000, and maintains that this is due to illness.  [52]

Interestingly, the BBC article (or any other I could find) makes no mention that the exact portions of the anti-prostitution laws challenged by the plaintiffs are those same ones for which she stood trial for breaking.  More than once.  There was no mention that she had been convicted of operating a “bawdy house” in 1998 had been mentioned in any of the news articles covering the ruling that I found.  [30] This is the arrest and prosecution for which she claims was the “financial and emotional toll” was “devastating.”  Interestingly, she doesn’t mentioned being similarly devastated by her several arrests for being an inmate at a bawdy house.  This is one of many things that suggest to me she doesn’t wish to merely return to working indoors as a dominatrix, but to run an brothel or an agency herself.

On the “bawdy house” Bedford operated, she contested that the acts performed were not sexual, despite the testimony of “Princess” in that trial which suggested that they were.  In the case of where acts were sexual, her defense argued that the men were “guests,” not clients, and thus did not constitute prostitution.

When it was suggested that the activities were limited to personal guests (rather than clients) Princess was clear: They were clients.  It was a business.  Whatever they wanted , if they wanted something like that, it was done.

I found it interesting that one who claims to stand for “sex workers” went against the testimony of her own “employee” to try and save her skin in court-but that’s a bit irrelevant to the present.  Princess’ testimony, as well as the presence of a “training video,” provide evidence  that she trained the dominatrices there on how to perform in this bawdy-house.  Which obviously to me that she was more than simply a protector of “sex workers,” and was the person who ran the joint.  Most importantly, she never did contest that the “bawdy house” existed for profit and under her ownership:

It is obvious from the testimony of Princess, which the trial judge accepted, that the pain and humiliation resulted, and was intended to result, in sexual arousal culminating in orgasm.  That the operation was commercial and the keeper of the house was the appellant was uncontested.

Speaking of commercial operations-reporters have also failed to mention she ran an escort agency in the mid-80s, and had even served time in jail for doing so.  Although, it is important to note that in this case she only served the time upon returning to face the charges-she had fled and avoided prosecution for two years.  [28]

There’s something else I find especially odd, considering she claims to want to protect “sex workers” and people who make a living off of the industry.  If as she contests, the “work environment [at her agency] provided the escorts with a sense of security, dignity, and self-respect”, then she would likely know of other women in the industry who support her effort and be close to those she met.  Yet, none of her former “employees” who worked as escorts, or in the bawdy-house she ran, appear to give any testimony for her case or even as evidence that the house she ran was safe.

Ms Scott also wishes to “reenter the sex industry,” as the court phrases it.  However, her wishes are:

If this challenge is successful, Ms. Scott would like to operate an indoor prostitution business. While she recognizes that clients may be dangerous in both outdoor and indoor locations, she would institute safety precautions such as checking identification of clients, making sure other people are close by during appointments to intervene if needed, and hiring a bodyguard.

Oh goodie, how kind of you to implement some precautions!  Does anyone ask why the hell so many precautions are required in order to reduce the vulnerability of prostitutes to violence?  Maybe that kinda shows that the men who do the buying are violent?  Or that the trade itself is violent, if these precautions are that necessary to people ont being murdered?  You don’t see mailpersons or hot dog vendors having to hire bouncers to protect them on the streets, do ya?

Both Bedford and Scott claim to have quit “sex work” due to illness, and express an interest in returning to the trade only if it is allowed indoors and the provisions against pimping removed.  Because it seems that both of them have a chronic illness (from 2000 for Bedford, the 1990s for Scott)-an illness that’s lasted this long likely will not recover.  Because of this, Bedford’s history of pimping, and the stated intentions of the women, I feel that they aren’t likely to return to the prostitute-level of the sex industry.   Instead, they are most likely to establish (or return to owning, in Bedford’s case) a brothel or escort agency.

To me, it seems as if the plaintiffs involved in this case used their pasts as street workers to gain credibility on the issue, simply because they wish to make money.  I believe I’ve heard of similar things happening in other countries, where prostitutes will sort of “rise in the ranks” and become madams themselves.  Although the press does not report this, let’s call it like it is: two of the three plaintiffs in the case are not currently prostitutes. They want to be pimps.

C’mon, journalism.  There’s more in depth coverage in an article from a 19 year old girl who’s never read a real newspaper or taken a journalism class in her life.  That’s just pathetic.  Hopefully this article doesn’t totally suck, despite my inexperience with this sort of thing-I’ve been working on it on and off since yesterday afternoon, and I’m fucking exhausted.   Phew.

——

A little aside for those interested in what other prostitutes were heard by the court:

The applicants submitted affidavits from eight witnesses who described their perceptions and experiences of working as prostitutes….to provide “corroborative voices” to demonstrate that the applicants’ experiences are shared with many other women…..The affiants recounted that they entered into prostitution without coercion (although financial constraints were a large factor) and most reported being addiction-free and working without a pimp.[7]

The respondent tendered nine affidavits from prostitutes and former prostitutes, whose stories painted a much different picture. The respondent’s witnesses gave detailed accounts of horrific violence in indoor locations and on the street, controlling and abusive pimps, and the rampant use of drugs and alcohol.

What a convenient sample for the sex industry, eh?

Court case: From the Canadian Legal Information Institute

Some details on Bedford’s bawdy-house: Same place

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10 responses to “Some “Sex Workers” Aren’t Just That…

  1. Womyn really are becoming the token torturers of other womyn aren’t they?

  2. Aileen, yes , x100

    Always have been. Token torturers selling the rest of us to men. There are a huge number of female pimps out there.

    This, more than anything, makes me despair of any hope for female freedom.

  3. I don’t understand how anyone could pimp out anyone, woman or not…especially if they know it can never be safe. I don’t get it.

    Does anyone know if any media or feminist sites have picked up the fact Bedford is/was a pimp and not just a sex worker? I can’t seem to find any and I’m wondering if I should try and write a letter or two to some Canadian papers (even tho I’m from the US).

  4. This is an excellent expose ms.c, and its a point that should be made again and again. Many who cheerlead for sex work are also pimps and madams (and johns) just like many who cheerlead for porn and porn actors are actually pornographers, or doing both. These are billion dollar industries, and those at the top stand to lose or gain millions from legislation that affects them. Talk about conflicts of interest. And yes, many of them lie about what their real interests and intentions are.

    • Thank you FCM! I guess I expect pimps to lie and say they’re “sex workers,” since it’s happened before… (there’s some Douglas Fox guy who is/was a pimp in charge of the “international union of sex workers.”) It’s just so frustrating the media is just letting it slide, even though it says she “ran an escort agency” in the fucking COURT DOCUMENT. Why the court even allowed them to testify is beyond me.
      Next up: Drug cartels sue for their right to operate as legit companies to improve the safety of the dealers.

  5. This is an excellent piece, Ms. C, I agree. thank you for doing this. and by all means, write to some Canadian newspapers! I plan to…there’s the Tyee on line, which is becoming a popular on-line newspaper in BC; there’s Rabble.ca, which is pretty pro-pimp, but nevertheless, they claim at least to be ‘open-minded’ (pfft). then there’s the globe and mail, and the national. I’d appreciate it. we’ve been trying to get the word out here, and express our outrage with this ridiculous and dangerous ruling. It’s kinda demoralizing, though, i have to say. I’ve been nauseous all week. it’s especially disheartening to see the vitriol that spews towards radical feminists an abolitionists from other women who call themselves feminist. we are right where The Man wants us to be–at each other’s throats. awful.

    trying to write an piece now about a similar case here in BC that is currently stalled on procedural grounds…
    anyhow. whatever you can do, please. thank you. and thanks again for this beautiful piece. I’d like to spread it around, if I may?

    • Oh yeah, feel free to spread it around as much as you wanted. I wrote it cause I want this information spread around. (and why I tagged it with “sex work” though I don’t believe in such a thing.) I’ll look into emailing those Canadian papers-not sure if I should do it with my non-anon email and just sum up this article or use my anon one and just link to this, though. I think the non-anon one might carry a bit more weight but idk.

  6. This is one thing I cannot FUCKING STAND. So many of the supposed sex worker advocates are in fact consumers and employers (ie pimps) of prostituted women, not the women themselves, or if they are the women themselves they are not involved in prostitution, they are phone sex operators or live cam girls.

    Pretty typical though, the powers that be are far more likely to listen to an exploitative small time capitalist than a marginalized person who has desperately “chosen” to sell their ass for money.

  7. Pingback: Some “Sex Workers” Aren’t Just That… (via Femanon) | Bolshevik Chick

  8. linking this on the HUB.

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