Thursday, September 06, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Or at least when it comes to prostitution, Vancouver Rape Relief shows itself really out-of-sync with progressive forces who actually desire to assist sex trade workers with humane and thoughtful options which address their life, liberty and security needs. Rape Relief though for some strange reason continues to spew abolitionist rhetoric which isn't at all helpful to those who are harmed by society's indifference and neglect of this important social issue.

Actually, Rape Relief goes further in their rhetoric by attacking those providers of sex trade services by claiming women in the sex trade are 'prostituted women'. The term 'prostituted women' implies that women do not have the knowledge, strength or ability to make clear choices around their economic survivalist needs. Or even worse that they are under the control of pimps. This stance of Rape Relief isn't actually surprising since they also equate the sex trade to slavery which, if you ask any African American, distorts and diminishes the seriousness of the reality of actually slavery.

Rape Relief tends to go way out there in their ideology. The local Rape Relief organization follows the doctrine of 70's-style extreme-feminists and leaders, such as Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffries. Both of these women are lesbian and one cannot help but wonder if their dislike of men has, to some degree distorted their thinking of men, who by and large are the purchasers of sex trade services. In fact, Rape Relief, adheres to the philosophy of Ms Raymond and Ms Jeffries who says that prostitution creates gender inequality in society since it allows men to continue to have power over women. They then call this aspect of prostitution, violence against women and this is where the Rape Relief ideology is seriously flawed.

When individuals engage in sexual activity together and I don't care if this is heterosexual or homosexual relations, this is usually for enjoyment and pleasure. Just because money or gifts are brought into a sexual act, as it is with prostitution, this shouldn't as Rape Relief states, produce violence.

Ah, I can hear Rape Relief'rs now saying oh Jamie Lee, you don't get it. What we are saying is that there is a power imbalance in the sex trade because men have more power than women in society. Yes, you girls are right that traditionally men have had more power because that is the way society evolved. Men were the bread winners and women remained at home, caring after the children and performing duties related to the successful running of the home. Whether in society's view, this is right or wrong, is an issue best left to those individuals who should be free to make personal, liberated choices which suit their needs. I do have to say that this work, which was considered women's work should not be diminished because of an extreme ideology which claims it harms women. Moreover, this traditional work done by women is extremely valuable and worthy. Rape Relief ideology would say this also creates gender inequality in society.

Rape Relief wants to abolish prostitution because they believe its a derogatory , vile act which contributes to gender inequality. Sorry ladies but you are wrong. What maintains inequality in society are laws which are created that maintain divisions. These divisions hurt people and this is especially true in prostitution where certain women are kept safe and others are deemed as throw-aways.

Abolishing prostitution, which you at Rape Relief promote, will only further marginalize women and set in stone the conditions which will create even more untold hardship and harm. Even criminalizing prostitution as the Rape Relief orthodoxy promotes, will not eradicate prostitution. We know this from history which has always subscribed to a moral-criminal philosophy around prostitution which we know has harmed countless women. Just ask the victims of the Pickton farm carnage. Oh wait, you can't, I forgot, they have all been murdered.

Rape Relief goes way further in its approach of addressing prostitution. They want lawmakers to criminally charge men who purchase sex trade services but this approach if implemented, again, creates inequality in the laws. You can't promote laws based on dividing people into certain camps or groups and only charging them based on their status of belonging to an identifiable group. There must be some demonstrable harm to society to do this and even then this is up for serious debate, considering the anti-terrorism laws we now have. Rape Relief and their leaders have not proven that the sex trade harms society. For sure, our indifference and ability to properly regulate it has. This is a proven fact.

It seems, those at Rape Relief have a deep distrust of men. They actually believe all men capable of violence and this is truly sad. The majority of men do not commit crimes of violence. We also know that women are capable of violence and it seems to me that how we eliminate violence is not by playing blame games but by education, awareness and support.

To target men as Rape Relief does, for punishment which criminalizing them for purchasing sex trade services will do, is so way out there, there doesn't appear any rationale explanation for this except to get back at men, for some really distorted reason. This comes across as cult-like and it needs to be stated clearly that other women anti-violence groups like Women against Violence against Women, Battered Women's Support Services and other Women's equality seeking groups do not buy into the Rape Relief/Janice Raymond/Sheila Jeffries line about Men being the scourge of all evil.

Troubling was that a young, sensitive male, Steve Smysnuik just wrote an excellent piece on the world's oldest profession for the Straight newspaper last week. Mr. Smysnuik was very unbiased in his reporting of facts, yet in the letters section of this week's Straight,, Rape Relief supporters chastised him for being biased based purely on being a male. This in itself is really sickening and demonstrates the depths Rape Relief ideologues will go to in order to get their message out.

Disclaimer--I am a transformed female (transsexual) and Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffries and their followers like Rape Relief are opposed to transsexual rights to medically and emotionally necessary gender change. They view Transformed females as males, no matter if we have changed gender and of course, because I happen to have worked in the sex trade on-again-off-again for 35 years, the Rape Relief ideology will claim I have a distorted perception on prostitution because not of my sex trade involvement but because I was born with a penis. This is sad since my reality of prostitution is way different than theirs. I have the battle scars and lived life experience which allow me to base my opinions on my community expertise and reality as opposed to some far fetched, extreme-feminist model which only ensures cult-like groups and their followers are able to maintain their distorted rationale, which create unnecessary harm to those who are arguably one of the most disadvantaged groups in Canadian Society today.

Jamie Lee Hamilton