Thursday, August 21, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Kevin Potvin, publisher of the Republic of East Vancouver, seems to have really lost it. This time, instead of proclaiming the 9/11 attacks beautiful, he has gone after sex-trade workers and the world's oldest profession. Further, he has claimed that sex workers engage in rape. Please see for his article.

Pardon me, dear Kevin, but three years ago, during your run for municipal council, you stood up at All-Candidates' meetings, and you stated that you supported the decriminalization and legalization of the sex trade. You were right.

Now, three years later, after Granny Betty publicly announced that you are running for the Workless Party in the 2008 municipal election, you appear to have had a conversion, so to speak. Your apparent about-face on the sex trade, while not totally surprising since you are running with a party who has as its mayoral nominee an avowed Abolitionist. However, what shocked me Kevin, is your projected hatred toward the sex trade and the many women and men who are involved in it. That stance seems obscene.

For example, you now claim that prostitution is rape. You state and I use your quote: "What some men found is that the victims of their habit for raping acquiesce a lot more quietly and less dangerously when a little money is put on the table."

By spouting this line, you are suggesting that sex workers are engaging in rape and silenced because of the money. I find this statement repulsive. I wonder how women and men who are actually raped feel about this.

Rape is, by definition, an assault which occurs without consent. It is quite a stretch to claim that women and men who knowingly go in search of finding customers in order to meet their economic needs are offering themselves up as rape victims. This is really awful and distorted thinking on your part Kevin. It's really awful.

You use marriage in your Republic rant in order to draw a parallel between the oldest profession and marriage. I'll go there with you, if you like.

Let's talk about marriage for a moment. Historically, most women had no options: children could only be reared within the economic bounds of marriage. Women became wives and they stayed home, rearing children, taking care of the home, cleaning the house and, dare I say, engaging in sexual activity with their husbands which hopefully involved sexual pleasures.

So, by your stretch of reality, Kevin, if these women came from poor, impoverished backgrounds and accepted marriage as their only way out, they were acquiescing to rape. If these women enjoyed and found comfort in being a housewife, you sully and smear them and tag them with acquiescing to rape for receiving compensation such as a household budget. Since when is having sex with hubby an act of rape that they are engaging in? Is that any way to treat your mother and mine?

Sex workers are engaging in work Kevin. It's their job. However, you don't seem to want to see this work as work. Isn't this an extreme ideology which you have espoused?

You actually now call this work exploitation which granted is quite interesting. Are you now calling sex workers exploiters? Interesting.

Most sex workers that I know consider their work as crappy work. It is not necessarily the interchanges sex workers engage in as crappy but the imposed harsh conditions under which prostitutes are forced to work.

For example, dark and deserted streets in the cold of winter with no one around to look after your safety is really creepy, not to mention crappy. Not being able to conduct one's work in a safe, clean and healthy environment is crappy. These are imposed workplace conditions, actually very similar to jobs that many people find at their workplace.

Like many harsh workplaces, you don't throw away the jobs but you fight to improve the working conditions in which people must earn an income. You want workers to have a workplace which is respectful and dignifying.

It is imperative that workers, ALL workers, not be exploited. That is why you and I must strive to ensure workers are not degraded or harmed in any work they carry out.

Your stance Kevin, like that of Rape Relief and other organizations, is a stance built on the premise that the sex trade is dehumanizing. I reject this. It doesn't need to be dehumanizing. The main reason it remains so is due to our indifferent political systems who pander to the most ignorant in our society.

Recently, we have the phenomenon of the modern-day Abolitionists. They cloak themselves in supposedly progressive thinking but, like the righteous moralists and religious zealots who view prostitution as an evil-to-be-stamped-out, we now must contend with their distorted thinking. They are actually scarier, from my point of view, than the usual fundamentalist bible-thumpers.

Speaking though for a moment on the humanitarian front regarding prostitution, it is really laughable Kevin when you and Rape Relief suggest that if the sex trade is regulated, ordinary women on welfare will be forced into prostitution.
You state that the welfare workers will force these women into prostitution by denying them "benefits" if they refuse to accept sex work.

Your thinking has become distorted, sad and laughable.

You talk as though welfare provides 'benefits' for those forced to collect it. This message is really pathetic besides being quite troubling. Why would you state collecting welfare is a better choice than engaging in prostitution?

You further claim in your article it's more ideal for women to be on welfare because this is less degrading than prostitution. Tell me this Kevin do you really think that those who are forced to collect welfare don't find this degrading?

Surely you can't think that being caught up in a system which doesn't provide adequate humanitarian support for clothing, food or shelter is somehow better than prostitution? Unless of course you call lining up at food banks to eat crappy food and feed your children this same crappy food or receiving a measly pittance which doesn't cover rent as somehow more ideal? Scary Kevin really scary.

Now to your argument of the terribly abused and frightened drug-addicted girls who are forced to exchange sexual services for drugs. I pose this. Was it entering the sex trade which created this harm or was it something else such as poverty, neglect and abuse which started the whole spiral toward prostitution? It seems to me by making a choice to live, these women should be respected for their choice. Instead we have people like you Kevin telling them how to live their lives.

The women I know chose to enter prostitution did so in order to survive and cope with the abuse and poverty they faced. And as rough and tumble as these mean streets are to their livelihood, it is their only option and one that I and others are not wanting to destroy.

I wish we didn't have drug use or prostitution in our society but we do. And the women and men in prostitution need our support, caring and intervention. They don't need extreme ideology Kevin.

Until we have better solutions, harm reduction is the best method to reduce harm for sex workers, including the many in the Downtown Eastside who are addicted to really awful drugs. I would like harm reduction to lead toward abstinence and treatment for those who have been tragically marginalized.

Maintaining the status quo has done nothing for women and men involved in the sex trade. Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable and for extreme zealots to suggest welfare as a solution is so uncaring.

The girls who were on the Pickton farm were all in the welfare system and the system didn't save them now did it Kevin?

Maintaining the current laws and charging johns does nothing to improve conditions for sex workers. John School has not reduced or eliminated the dangerous conditions which sex workers are placed. And it certainly hasn't improved their lot in life. Moreover, do you think charging Johns will advance sex workers human rights?

As sure as I know the Pickton victims, Highway of Tears victims, and the Edmonton, Alberta victims were not asking to be raped or killed and as long as women continue to be placed in harm's way, in dark deserted industrial areas, without the basic necessities of life, all we are doing is ensuring the killing fields remain ripe for the countless sadists out there.

Suggesting that better welfare rates will eliminate prostitution is a red herring. Welfare is not a solution to prostitution. Just like food banks are not the solution to healthy nutrition or hunger. Band-aids in fact, often, create further harm.

Oh and Kevin, flippantly telling men to go masturbate instead of engaging the services of a sex worker (as if they will listen to you) really shows your state of mind. Pathetic Kevin. Really pathetic.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I was shocked to see Ellen Woodsworth, former City Councillor in her public profile on Facebook, laying claim to serving on council from 1992-2002. Hm that is a bit of a stretch considering Ms Woodsworth only served three years on Council.

Note to Ellen. I hope that was simply a typo and not an attempt to mislead the voters.

Speaking of misleading, I had an interesting conversation with a former President of an NDP riding association who was completely shocked to learn that she has appeared on ythe Win with Woodsworth website as an endorser. Perhaps you may want to check-in with her Ms Woodsworth because she wasn't very happy about this.

Ellen, I also noticed you were not at Tim 'Che' Louis 50 birthday. Were you not invited dear?

Speaking of friends, I see you are Facebook friends with Hilary Ostrov.

Is this the same Hilary Ostrov who while serving as executive director at the Richmond Society for Special People now called Richmond Society for Community Living, who was vehemently opposed to the union certification vote at the society in 1988?

I organized that Union drive back then and it was a very difficult process due to the anti-union animus, however, the union certification was successful with only 3 votes against.

Anyway Ellen have a great campaign. I must say you are off to an interesting start dear!

Jamie Lee Hamilton