On 17 April 2022, (sacrosanct ‘man on stick’ day), sex workers protesting Marxism Conference 2022 were met with violence from Socialist Alternative. Meanwhile, fascist Proud Boys were allowed to heckle attendees outside the venue just a day before.
In addition to protesting a session featuring Louise O’Shea, ‘Why the normalisation of the sex industry should be opposed’, sex workers carrying anti-work and pro-whore signs called out the whorephobic dog-whistling and sexist hypocrisy of Socialist Alternative, supporters of sexist and drug-userphobic scumbag political opportunist Stephen Jolly.
Sex workers handed out the flyers pictured below. Sex workers arriving at the ostentatious ‘Seaworks’ venue in Williamstown (aka Toorak of the West), were met by a line of Socialist Alternative members blocking our entry. These so-called anti-capitalists cried “This is a private event and you will have to buy a ticket! All the other workers here have bought a ticket. What makes you so special?!”. Sex workers handed out the flyer pictured below, as SAlt demanded sex workers “engage in debate” (while also changing the session times to avoid sex workers actually taking them up on the offer). Unsurprisingly, sex workers did not take kindly to the demand that we debate our basic human rights with strangers who have no skin in the game. Sex workers made it clear: there will be Nothing About Us Without Us!
The situation escalated quickly as SAlt members aggressively pushed sex workers attempting to enter the venue, even stooping to violently attack Black and disabled sex workers. Shamefully SALt kicked a mobility aid out from beneath one sex worker, broke a microphone we were using to broadcast our collective rage, snatched placards and personal items, and attempted to destroy the phone of a sex worker who was filming their aggro tactics.
Sex workers found it telling that the ‘vanguard’ cowered inside their very comfortable venue as actual fascist Proud Boys taunted attendees. “Militant Marxists” turned the other cheek on fascists at their door, but felt empowered to use violence against sex workers. Do not be fooled by their concern trolling, Socialist Alternative believe that sex workers are disposable murder-worthy victims who can be beaten into submission by a more respectable class. So much for “rebuilding the left”.
The hypocrisy of these clowns doesn’t end there. Sex workers were enraged by Louise O’Shea’s claim that there is a push to “legitimise the sex industry” and that the “welfare of sex workers is being used as an excuse to expand the market for and reduce the operating costs of a predatory and sexist industry”. O’Shea calls on socialists to “oppose this industry, not be cheering it on”.
Sex workers were amused and disgusted by socialists who told one protester that she “lacks the intellectual integrity to understand the concepts being discussed”. One socialist even pondered aloud whether sex worker protesters were high on drugs. Maybe we were! Yet we still have a better grasp on sexual politics and labour rights than these bourgeois feminists, lost in a sea of hyperbole and hypothesis.
These bourgeois socialists LARPing as revolutionary workers are obsessed with the sacred institution of work, and the attainment of one’s ‘dream job’. Sex workers do not dream of work. We dream of revolution. We will do the least work possible for the most money so that we may further dedicate ourselves to the destruction of oppression in all its forms, and to the building of stronger communities, outside the kyriarchy. What the white middle-class self-appointed SAlt vanguardists fail to realize is that none of us are ‘just’ whores. We are multidimensional politically engaged people, whose political praxis extends well beyond the sex industry.
SAlt’s SWERF dog-whistling must end. Abolitionism is incompatible with sex worker rights. Opposition to the sex industry limits the ability of sex workers to organise our workplaces, to uphold our workplace health and safety strategies, and perpetuates stigma against us.
You call us the ‘foot soldiers of patriarchy’ and claim that fucking for money gives men a green light to use violence against “nice” women. The violence that is used against sex workers is not hypothetical or theoretical. It is real and we live it every day. How dare you blame us for the actions of men who do far worse to us than they ever would to you. You contribute to the normalisation of victim narratives that result in the systemic state violence and capitalist oppression of sex workers. You claim to be anti-capitalist but you directly oppose workers’ self-organising to take control of our own industry, working conditions and safety.
We are grateful to attendees who joined protesting sex workers in calling out SAlt’s violence and bigotry. Unfortunately, there were too few willing to stand with us, and the few who voiced their solidarity were subject to intimidation tactics by veteran Trot cadres. Sex workers have had enough of the SWERF apologism from so-called ‘allies’ in the left who continue to defend reactionary feminism in their movement. We call on you to stand in solidarity with sex workers and stamp out whorephobia and anti-worker ideology in all its forms.
As sex workers, we are not new to violence. We gleefully defend ourselves against those who try to silence and marginalise us. We will not lend legitimacy to dehumanising demands to debate our lives. Systemic violence and our struggles against it are not mere abstractions, they are a part of our everyday lived reality. When you speak over us and attempt to stifle our righteous rage, it is you who becomes the foot soldier of patriarchy. We will fight back against all who stand in the way of our liberation, even those who masquerade as comrades.
As sex workers made our proud departure from the shameful event, we at least had the ‘intellectual fortitude’ to leave an upcycled calling card for our SAlty hosts. Let this be a warning to all SWERF scum, wherever you gather, we will CUM and stop you!