By Annie TempleSWERF stands for Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist. You know her. She calls herself a feminist and her life work revolves around eliminating sex work jobs.
She thinks men should all be ashamed for being men (naturally visual beings).
The name explains itself, but it is interesting to note that the SWERF mentality IS slowly dying like causes steeped in hatred usually do.
How To Identify If You Are a SWERF
Perhaps you are wondering if YOU are a
SWERF. Perhaps you hang around with people in the rescue industry, or
you have a good friend who has been saying a lot of things about
“prostituted women” lately.
Perhaps you have been CALLED a SWERF
and you’re wondering if it is true, and you really are a SWERF. Well,
I’m here to tell you how to identify if you are, indeed, a SWERF.
You are a SWERF if you call yourself a “feminist” AND you:
Say that all sex workers are victims.
Insist on calling sex workers “prostituted women” even though sex workers have asked you not to
Refuse to call sex workers “sex workers.”
Ignore the fact that men and transgender people are sex workers too.
Consider men to be oppressing women when they pay for adult consensual sex.
Blame female sex workers who serve male clients for “perpetuating
rape.” In other words, “slut shaming.” In other words, misrepresenting
consensual sex between heterosexual adults as rape.
Hate women who show their bodies to men (especially for money).
Hate women who were born with male genitalia (You are also known as TERF – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist).
Think that women who work in sex work have no agency, cannot think for themselves, nor speak for themselves.
Think that women who work in sex work are weak and oppressed despite
that many sex workers cite feeling empowered and having control in
their work as top reasons for choosing sex work.
Have a job in which your income depends upon fundraising dollars and
grant applications based on fudged figures and junk science that you
use to paint sex workers as trafficking victims in need of rescue. (You
work in the *Rescue Industry.*)
Oppress (silence / ignore / demean / deny agency to) women in the name of feminism.
Think that you do not do any of the things above, but you still
consider sex work to be paid rape and you champion the cause to
eliminate sex work, even if it means sex workers are eliminated in the
process. (My apologies to non-SWERFs for being so blunt, but I get a bit
angry on this subject.)
After reading the above list, if you realize that you are indeed a SWERF, here is what I suggest.
Go to a mirror. Look at yourself. Take a good, long look. Point into the mirror so that you are pointing straight at yourself and sing (to this tune): “STOP in the name of love. Before you stay a SWERF. Think it o-o-over. Think it o-o-over.”(Full lyrics at the bottom of this post.)
The above exercise will: a) bring joy and love into your life; b) help you to lighten up a little (you don’t have to be a militant man-destroyer all the time); and c) allow you to use that brilliant mind of yours to recognize that there is a very good reason for the phrase “Nothing about us without us.
“You are ethically obliged to let sex workers determine what they need and get it for themselves. Once you realize this, you will begin your transformation from SWERF to ally.
We can teach you what you need to know. But first you gotta resign from the SWERF camp.
Your SWERF friends might suddenly reject you and everything you stand for. If that happens, you will know from experience how their hate oppresses people. Fortunately, your conscience will be clear because you will no longer be one of the oppressors.
“Stop! In The Name Of Love” (Before you stay a SWERF)
Lady, Lady I’m aware of where you go Holding protest signs outside my door I watch you walk down the street Chanting that I am a piece of meat But this time before you plug your ears Leaving me silenced and hurt (Think it over) Haven’t you now learned the truth? (Think it over) I don’t need to speak through you.
Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Think it over Think it over
You say you stand For human rights So why do you Ignore my voice? I’m not trying to steal your boyfriend I just want to pay my mortgage But this time before you spout the lies And use your governmental ties (Think it over) I know what is best for me. (Think it over) Why don’t you go save the bees?
Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Think it over Think it over
I’ve tried so hard, hard to be patient Hoping you’d stop this exploitation Religious right and you are together Don’t be an oppressive fool forever
Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF Stop! In the name of love Before you stay a SWERF
Lady, think it over Think it over, lady Ooh, think it over lady…
What do you think? Did I cover all things SWERF? What am I missing? Please share your comments below.
(Trigger Warning: stigma, discrimination, slut shaming, bullying, sexual harassment.)
In the sex industry, there is no such thing as a taboo subject. In the square world, political correctness rules the day.
In the sex industry, oddity and originality are special talents. In the square world, uniqueness is vilified.
In the sex industry, sexuality is fluid and celebrated. In the square world, sexuality is shamed and criminalized.
In the sex industry, women make just as much money as men, if not more. In the square world, women fight to be part of the old boy’s club.
The Cultural Divide
I became an adult entertainer at the age of 23 – almost half my life ago.
Since then, I have left and returned to the industry many times.
left for pregnancy, university, a boyfriend. I left so I could put my
kids to bed at night. I left to be a Support Worker; a Marketing
Manager; a Project Coordinator.
But I always returned…because the adult entertainment industry is good to me. Whenever
I’ve been in trouble, it was adult industry people who helped me –
usually by giving me jobs. And thanks to those jobs, I have never been
I have never been desperate, but I have been terrified.
Terrified to square up in the “real world.” Terrified to say or do the wrong thing. Terrified for good reason!
Because once you’ve worked in adult entertainment, the real world is a scary place. It is a place of walls and shame.
Coming from a world of candidness and exposure, culture shock is inevitable.
We may live in the same neighbourhoods and shop in the same grocery stores.
Our kids go to the same schools and play in the same leagues.
But adult entertainers and “civilians” (square folks) live in two completely different worlds.
Squaring up is no easy feat, for many reasons.
The following are ten culture shock challenges I’ve experienced while attempting to leave the sex industry.
Ten “Culture Shock” Challenges I’ve Faced Squaring Up
1. Terrifying anxiety
When my oldest daughter was a baby, I found that exotic dancing wasn’t ideal for me.
I wanted to be home every night to put my baby to bed, but strip clubs are busiest at night. Some are only open in the evenings.
So, I made a goal to get a square 9-5 job.
I did a bunch of assessments and signed up to get my Public Relations diploma.
It was a two year program and I was approved for funding that covered all my expenses except during summer break between the second and third semesters.
Instructors gave us leads on jobs in the Public Relations industry for rookies…er, I mean students…over the summer.
I applied for these square jobs and hoped for a 9-5 position that would pay enough for me to make ends meet over the summer.
In the meantime, I booked a few weeks of stripping. The rent wouldn’t pay itself, after all.
My first week back dancing, I got called for an interview. The office address they gave me was in Richmond.
This was perfect, as I was working nearby at the Fraser Arms in Marpole.
The DJ and other dancers cooperated with me enthusiastically to change the schedule, so I could go to the interview between shows.
But as my day progressed, I developed more and more anxiety.
Every face in the audience was the face of the man who might interview me.
Was he sitting right here in the club? Had he seen me on stage? Would that help or hinder my chances of getting a job?
Would I even want a job from a man who’d seen me dance? How might he use it against me?
I worried I had too much makeup on.
The interviewee before me, a girl from my class, had been late. So my interview was pushed back. I worried I wouldn’t make it back in time for my next show. (They fine us for that.)
By the time I got into the interview, I was a hot mess.
Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. They hired the girl who was late for her interview instead.
The worst part is that I’d worried for nothing.
The interviewer was not a customer from the audience. It was a woman who probably thought I was wearing too much makeup.
Oh well. Her loss.
2. Holes in my resume
I’m lucky because I worked in square jobs for years before I became a stripper.
I’d been a waitress, sandwich artist, newspaper folder, drive thru cashier, fast food counter person, leather jacket saleswoman, laser tag manager, among other things.
Many dancers I’ve known didn’t work in any other jobs before dancing. That definitely adds to culture shock when trying to square up.
Still, there were long gaps in my resume every time I decided to go straight.
And each time I was faced with a decision – to include my exotic dance background on my resume or fudge my timeline a little.
When I graduated with my Public Relations diploma, I became a “Consultant” in all my resume gaps.
I included many of my assignments from school in my portfolio which enabled me to list The Kidney Foundation and other reputable organizations as clients.
Instructors from my courses hired me for small contracts to write press releases, articles, and pitch media outlets on stories.
I began using my training to advocate for sex industry workers rights.
My website, The Naked Truth, was already well established.
But now the media was contacting me regularly for interviews.
Once again, the adult entertainment industry saved me.
It gave me skills and experience beyond what I could have gotten as a rookie in a square job.
when I applied for a job at a non-profit organization that serves
foster children, I decided to keep my sex industry experience on the
With a little bit of imagination, I was able to make my work history look very impressive.
All the gaps were filled with “Media Consultant” work. I was good to go.
If only the Executive Director who interviewed me wasn’t so cunning.
She asked very good questions testing my knowledge and abilities.
But she didn’t want general answers. She wanted true life examples.
Well, my heart started racing as I realized I was cornered.
I had to come up with a lie fast or admit my sex work experience. I took a deep breath and spilled the beans…
“I used to be an exotic dancer which led to doing advocacy for sex industry workers…”
All my best examples came from my advocacy work for which I had never been paid a cent.
At the end of the interview, she told me she’d call in a few days and let me know if I was hired. I walked out having no idea what she thought of me.
But a few days later…she hired me.
Peeler power for the win!
3. Getting caught
I wasn’t trying to hide my sex industry work experience.
I’d appeared on a talk show using my stage name, but my face was clear as day. I was me.
Everything was going great at my internship at a local university.
After getting my diploma, I was hired for a six month contract.
All of my new co-workers assured me that I’d get hired on permanently.
“They always hire the people they like,” I was told.
But everything changed when a woman from administration saw a re-run of the talk show I appeared on.
She spread the news to all the university staff.
Then she waited two days before she approached me, which I can only imagine was on the advice of a compassionate coworker.
I barely knew her. We said hi as we passed each other’s desks, but that’s about it.
“Did you used to be a stripper?” she asked innocently.
My heart jumped but I had no shame. “Yes,” I replied, wondering how this would play out.
“I saw you last night on the Fanny Kiefer Show,” she said.
didn’t know how to respond, so I smiled and nodded while she exclaimed
how she thought it was me but my stage name had confused her.
When she left my desk, I went outside for air. Tears prickled my eyes. I knew this was not good. My ho senses were tingling.
Sure enough, the temperature at work dropped considerably.
People who previously smiled and chatted with me became cold and wouldn’t look me in the eye.
They walked right past me, pretending not to see me. No more lunch invitations. I was an outcast.
There were no more assurances that I would be hired on permanently.
Now people said things like, “Well, I know they’re scaling back due to budget concerns.”
boss, who knew I was a former stripper and that I’d appeared on the
talk show because I’d had to book time off work to do it, had no idea
that I’d become the butt of everyone’s joke until one day the joke
I’d worked from home for a few days due to sickness and had just returned that morning.
was working on an article at my cubicle when my boss approached my
desk. He was about to tell me something when he noticed my name plate.
was a plastic, re-usable name plate. My boss had simply printed my name
and position onto a piece of paper and slid it into the slot.
while I was away, someone had tampered with it. It no longer said
“Media and Public Relations.” It now said: Media and Pubic Relations.
boss was flustered. He said someone must have changed it as a joke. But
no one ever came forward laughing about the name plate joke.
No one said sorry. No one ever mentioned it to me.
I was caught, my past exposed. Someone decided that my experience as a stripper made me deserving of ridicule.
I don’t know why it hurt so much. Why should I care?
I know I’m a kind and caring person with a lot to offer any company I work for.
And yet, I was broken up about it.
In retrospect, I’m glad they didn’t hire me after my contract ended.
Those people were assholes and the job itself was extremely boring.
But my boss was awesome. He couldn’t hire me permanently so he sent me contract work whenever possible.
That was the beginning of my paid consulting career. And he was a great work reference for my future endeavors.
I still have that name plate to remind me that no matter how “normal” adult entertainment culture is to me, I’m still an outcast in the real world.
4. I don’t take any shit
How do people get on in life without telling assholes off?!
I really struggle with this.
In the adult entertainment industry, I can tell anyone off that I want anytime.
My co-workers, my agents, even my customers.
If they cross the line, I can stand up for myself without being fired.
my agents off might result in a few weeks without work, but generally
it’s a good thing because it shows them I’m not their bitch.
Fast forward to civilian life and here I must bite my tongue.
unprofessional to tell a colleague off no matter how ignorant she is
and I’ll lose my job for standing up to a boss or customer.
In the real world, it takes so much effort for me to NOT stand up for myself, that I will usually end up in tears. It’s gotta come out one way or another.
became so used to having the freedom to defend myself in the workplace
that swallowing my retort in the square world is painful.
I’ve taken to studying how my civilian coworkers do it.
Some of them cry, like me. Some of them say they just let it bounce off them.
But when I try that, it bounces off me and wants to punch the rude prick in the face.
doing my best and I think I’m getting the swing of it, but I have to
say this is one of those culture shock issues that I struggle with
It’s also the reason I’ve changed jobs a lot.
someone is treating me in a way that I am barely stifling a reaction,
it’s time for a new job. I don’t want to burn any bridges, after all.
And I know it’s just a matter of time before I say what I really think. *shrugs*
5. Ostracizing my children
What happens when you cross a stripper and a mother? You get an ostracized child!
There were a few last minute cancellations, then no more playdates.
We moved and were given another chance at a new school.
So, I taught my children about stigma and stereotyping.
I told them they could talk about the stripper pole in the house or about my experience in the adult entertainment industry if they wanted – but there might be consequences if they do.
“Your friends might tell their parents; and then their parents might say you can’t be friends.”
My kids have thus far been very mature about the whole thing.
They, like me, think the close-mindedness of most civilians is laughable and ignorant.
For the most part, my children don’t mention the sex industry to their friends.
But there have been instances where someone is trash-talking strippers that my kids felt obliged to defend the industry.
My kids know I am a loving, responsible mother.
I am present. I am health conscious. I listen to them and I teach them life skills. I am the most important person in the world to them.
Other people’s misguided beliefs don’t change how my children see me.
There will always be a few who cannot get beyond the idea that I am a pervert and low-life.
But most people accept me and my children.
The ones that don’t…well, they aren’t the kind of people we want in our lives anyhow.
6. Potty Mouth
Whoops, I dropped the F bomb. Whoops, I did it again.
Uh oh, I said cock instead of penis. Doh, I shouldn’t be talking about penises.
Shit, I shouldn’t have joked about that guy’s bulge. That bum sex joke was probably not appropriate either.
Shit, I need to stop saying shit!
Surprisingly, I find that most of the civilians I meet feel just as suffocated by real world expectations and the unspoken rules of the moral majority as I do.
Most civilians would love to be able to talk freely without censure. They’d like to be their true selves without apology.
They’d be thrilled to tell people off when it is deserved and hold nothing back when discussing a topic they are passionate about.
But they do hold back because being frank and forthright is not socially acceptable in the real world.
Certain topics are an absolute no-no.
No sex talk. No bodily fluids talk. No talking about your wage. No religion, politics, or activism talk. Sex jokes can land you in deep trouble.
Tip-toe around all that shit if you want to be safe.
As a person coming from an open, honest culture like the sex industry – I have a very hard time behaving in a socially acceptable manner.
It is a constant effort to stop myself before I speak.
Adult entertainment is one of those mind-blowing cultures that has the power to erase all previously held beliefs.
That’s why sex industry workers are usually critical thinkers. We’ve learned that not everything we’re told is true.
Like the stereotype of the weak, degraded sex worker, for instance…say what?!
Every sex worker I know is a strong, empowered, determined entrepreneur.
Or the stereotype that all sex workers are drug addicts…WRONG AGAIN.
But if someone were to tell me a stereotype that all sex workers have potty mouths…
…well, I can’t really argue with that. In our culture, the F word is a most common adjective.
7. Sexual Harassment
There are two scenarios for this particular culture shock challenge.
The one where I am sexually harassed and the one where I am accused of sexual harassment.
Both occasions occurred during my time in college studying for my Public Relations Diploma.
Many of the courses I took were combined classes of PR students and Journalism students. I made friends with some of the budding journalists, including one woman who asked if she could write an article about my PR efforts for sex worker rights for the college paper.
Around this time, I was still hiding my real name in the media.
I went by my stage name, Annie Temple, for this and many other interviews I participated in.
few weeks before the interview came out in the college paper, I met the
head of Marketing for the college at an event I attended through my
My boss introduced me as a student in the PR program.
The Marketing dude from my college was very polite but dismissive. I shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life.
The schmuck didn’t remember my real name, but he remembered my face.
When he picked up the college newspaper a couple weeks later to see my smiling face inside the front page, he recognized me.
He emailed me.
I got excited. I didn’t want my diploma to lead nowhere – or straight back to dancing, for that matter.
The point of going to school was to find a 9-5 job so I could put my kids to bed at night.
I painstakingly fixed up my resume. The jerkass kept the ruse up a little longer with some emails going back and forth.
Finally, I suspected he was yanking my chain.
Sure enough, when I confronted him there was no position available.
I guess he thought he could get off on some email exchanges by using his position and power to lure me in.
I guess he thought I was an easy target because I was a stripper.
I guess he was right.
My complaint to the college wasn’t taken seriously at all.
They told me the emails seemed harmless and innocent. They didn’t consider his behaviour inappropriate.
didn’t pursue it, even though I wasn’t the first or only woman he’d
sexually harassed at the school. I learned of at least two others.
The guy was a douchebag but I didn’t have the energy to be skewered as a sexual deviant in a hopeless fight with the college.
The sexual harassment challenge also works in the opposite direction. Only, in my case, it really was harmless and innocent.
In my culture it’s okay to tell a women that her boobs look fabulous in her low-cut shirt.
In the real world, at college, I found out the hard way that’s a no-no.
I can’t describe the shame and humiliation I felt when I was pulled into an instructor’s office and told my comment was sexually inappropriate.
I considered myself a feminist.
How could I be a sexual harasser of women too?
I feel the need here to say that this particular instructor was guilty of some pretty serious inappropriate behaviour herself.
She was having a relationship with one of the students in our class. A student who didn’t like me. The same student who overheard my comment and reported me to the self-same instructor.
The woman whose boobs I complimented said she wasn’t offended at all.
But whether I deserved a sexual harassment warning or not, this experience is an extreme example of the culture shock I have experienced leaving the adult entertainment industry.
Boobs are a favourite topic in my culture. In the real world, boobs are totally off limits.
8. Low Pay
The biggest reason we find it difficult to leave the adult entertainment industry and also the biggest reason we often go back is because of the money.
It’s not just better pay than most square jobs. It’s also more money in less hours.
More flexibility. We can take time off when we want. We can take working vacations almost anywhere in the world. If I need money today, I can pick up work tonight. If I need money this week, I can pick up work tomorrow.
remember that summer between semesters when I got turned down for the
square job in Public Relations, I decided to try waitressing for the
That lasted less than a week. The hourly pay was minimum wage. The tips were negligible.
I had to pour ketchup from one bottle into another every shift.
That job sucked the life out of me. I felt like I had sold my soul.
I was the Slop Slut. At least, that’s how I felt. It was degrading.
The other staff weren’t very friendly. I didn’t like taking orders. I certainly didn’t like slopping ketchup into bottles.
After adding up numbers for the few shifts I’d worked, I realized I wouldn’t be able to afford rent and groceries.
Needless to say, I quit and went back to dancing. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was home.
9. Expert “Flirt”
I make eye contact when I talk to people. I know exactly when to break out my secret weapon: a big, broad, twinkling smile.
I laugh at the right moments. Talk conspiratorially. I make people feel like they are interesting and funny – and they usually are.
People shine most when they are focused on in a caring and interested way. I am an expert at making people shine.
In the sex industry, all customers are equal. It doesn’t matter who is better looking or what kind of job they do.
If they are respectful and financially attentive, they get our respect and attention.
Habits are hard to break. In the real world, we (adult entertainers) don’t cease being masterful conversationalists.
We don’t cease treating people equally regardless of their quirks and eccentricities.
But I’ve come to learn that in the square world, my behaviour is considered flirting.
I am indiscriminate with my “flirting.” It does not matter your gender. I am “flirting” with you.
I’m not trying to pick you up. I have no ulterior motives.
In fact, in my culture (of adult entertainment), we are much more up front if we are trying to pick someone up.
We come right out and say “You’re sexy. What are you doing later?”
Not so in the real world. Here, I am considered to be flirting if I feign interest in any way.
Being nice can even be considered flirting.
You can see how this becomes a problem for those of us coming from the sex industry.
In the square world, being forthright and confident makes me an expert flirt. And there is a lot of silent pressure to “tone it down.”
But why should I? This is me. I am an outgoing person who enjoys seeing people’s true selves shine through. What is so wrong with that?
As Marianne Williamson famously said:
is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not
feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We
were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not
just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The moral of this story is: Be like sex workers. Go ahead, you have my permission. 😉
am a confident, happy woman who likes to dress nice and look good. I
guess that makes me a slut because, in the square world, women often
Maybe it’s something about the way I carry myself. I do have good posture.
It could also be my candidness. I don’t generally volunteer the information unless it is relevant to the discussion at hand.
But I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t allow stigma to shame me into a double life.
For that reason, I make a point of not hiding my experience in the adult entertainment industry.
And for the most part, this works for me. People accept me and treat me the same as if they did not know.
But sometimes…and when it happens, it’s a woman 99% of the time…sometimes, my sex industry work experience makes me the enemy.
They call themselves victims of the patriarchy but they blame me for their victimization.
They trash-talk me. They accuse me of diminishing women’s rights and perpetuating rape culture.
They do all of this because they are insecure about their own bodies and they want to make me as ashamed as they are.
They are miserable and they want confident, happy, self-secure women to be miserable too.
I feel sorry for them because they can’t see their own beauty. They don’t own and wield their power for good.
Their lovers suffer for their insecurities. They think we should all hide our bodies like good little girls.
This is the dichotomy of “bad girls” vs “good girls.” Guess which one I am.
It happened to me at a square job a few years back.
A woman I was in regular communication with because of our respective roles slut-shamed me behind my back.
I didn’t find out about it until a couple weeks later.
All that time I had been my usual outgoing and friendly self with her. She had been sweet as pie to my face.
This woman’s trash-talking about me didn’t threaten my job. But it hurt none-the-less.
It reminded me that I was an outcast trying to fit into a rigid, judgmental world.
It reminded me that #cultureshock isn’t just something you experience when you immerse yourself in a new culture.
It continues to surprise you even when you think you’ve got it all figured out.
People wonder why we usually go back to adult entertainment many times throughout our lives.
It is for the money, but it’s also because no one else understands us.
We can be ourselves with each other – no worries about our potty mouths or whether our colleagues think we’re hitting on their lovers.
Adult entertainers are also great conversationalists.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve really connected with someone, only to find out later that they are a current or former sex worker.
I’ve learned to trust my ho-dar. It hasn’t been wrong yet.
These are my people. We share a wickedly, awesome culture. And the square world better watch out…because we’re infiltrating.
But seriously, I know where I belong.
The culture that lives in my heart is the sex industry culture, because despite our fake names, it is here that I have found the most authentic people.
No matter how much time I spend pretending to be a civilian in the real world, I will always be a whore in my heart.
And proud of it.
I’ve been back in the biz doing massages now for almost year and it’s wonderful to be home again. xoxo
About the Author
Annie Temple has been a sex worker and activist since 1997, but she’s been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded The Naked Truth to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry.
New B.C. Centre for Disease Control policy names “sex workers” for risk of HIV transmission
At the same time that federal Justice Minister, David Lametti—at a national symposium on HIV criminalization in Toronto organized by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network—was announcing his Liberal Party platform for a new HIV law should they get re-elected this fall, David Bennett Hynd was being arrested and held in custody by police in Vancouver.
Hynd’s crime? Failing to comply with orders to take his HIV medications, conditions imposed by B.C. public health authorities to prevent the possibility of HIV transmission to others.
On June 14, a parliamentary report on the issue of HIV non-disclosure was released. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights recommended creating a new law to prosecute for “intent to transmit,” and “actual transmission of infectious diseases,” including but not limited to HIV. “Failure to disclose HIV status” where there is no risk of HIV transmission would no longer be prosecuted as aggravated sexual assault as it had been in the past.
On June 14, following a tip from the public, David Bennett Hynd was arrested and spent the weekend in police custody awaiting his court appearance on June 17.
Policy procedure: “People with HIV/AIDS who may pose a risk of harm to others”
In June 2017, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) released guidelines for Medical Health Officers that outline procedures to follow, within the legal powers vested in them by the B.C. Public Health Act.
It was as if those procedures were tailored to address the specific
challenges presented by someone like David Bennett Hynd: what to do if
someone deemed to pose a risk of HIV transmission to the public refuses
to take HIV treatment medications?
step-by-step policy became the basis of Hynd’s 24 court-imposed
probation conditions. The Probation Order creates an escalating scale of
HIV treatment surveillance and viral load testing, with the penultimate
result of the patient being compelled to attend the designated clinic
at a designated time on a daily basis to be observed by clinic staff
taking his daily medication.
most significant to the HIV community, we also have no idea why Hynd is
refusing medical treatment for HIV. First and foremost, HIV treatment
should be about maintaining good health and well-being.
HIV-positive folks are not undetectable, and some of our discourse runs
the risk of demonizing them for the same virus we all have. There’s
nothing sinister or predatory about going off meds,” Alex Cheves writes
in The Body.
Under the B.C. Public Health Act and
similar acts in other provinces and territories, medical health
officers possess the power to detain, test, treat and quarantine any
person who is deemed to threaten the public health, within carefully
defined rules. Nevertheless, some have said that this case is an
“anomaly” that is “unprecedented.”
The ultimate public health penalty: arrest and forced treatment
to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
report: “The committee strongly believes that the use of criminal law
to deal with HIV non-disclosure must be circumscribed immediately and
that HIV must be treated as a public health issue.”
end the epidemic, the committee is of the view that barriers
undermining the public health objectives of HIV prevention, testing and
treatment need to be removed.”
question is, could a punitive approach, such as using the courts to
enforce Medical Health Officer orders to maintain HIV treatment, be a
barrier that undermines public health HIV prevention, testing and
When Hynd pleaded guilty to charges under the B.C. Public Health Act for failing to comply with Medical Health Officer orders,
he was given a suspended sentence, with probation orders to maintain
HIV treatment and get viral load tests. When Hynd continually failed to
show up for his clinical appointments, his name and his photo, along
with his HIV-positive status, were released to the media. A week later,
Hynd was arrested, charged with probation violation under the B.C. Offences Act, and held in custody. As a result, Hynd has two charges on a criminal record. If he is found guilty under the B.C. Offences Act, Hynd could face a $2,000 fine or six months in prison, or both.
Hynd was the first person B.C. health officials had to take to court to
compel to seek HIV treatment. “In general, people with HIV do not pose a
risk to the public,” Dr. Harding told the CBC. So why did the B.C.
Centre for Disease Control create whole new policy guidelines to deal
causing physical harm, including negligence, are already crimes under
the federal Criminal Code whether it be in an infectious disease context
or not. Do HIV-positive people who stop taking medications belong in
prison? If it rarely happens, does that make it fine to use provincial
criminal charges to compel HIV treatment? Is this not an excessive use
to Medical Health Officer Dr. Gustafson, charges were sworn under
provincial health legislation designed to protect public health as
opposed to the Criminal Code. “Criminal prosecution is not appropriate
for HIV,” she said. “It’s not appropriate for communicable
diseases—period. It’s not appropriate; it’s not effective,” Dr. Gustafson told the CBC.
of the worst outcomes of taking this step is that the public mistakenly
gets the impression that something like this can happen to them either
easily or that there isn’t due process or fairness or ethics.”
I asked Cheryl Overs, senior research fellow at the Michael Kirby
Centre for Public Health and Human Rights in Melbourne, for a comment,
she had this to say:
find it interesting the doctor says criminal law isn’t appropriate. We
agree with that. However, health regulations—like all administrative
laws—are complex and can have just as many teeth.
administrative law [like B.C.’s health legislation] has lower standards
of evidence, proof and judgment, and offers little opportunity for a
defence. Crucially, administrative law is not open to the same level of
scrutiny as criminal law, unless appealed to judicial review.
In other words, offices can be more dangerous than courtrooms.
Implications for sex workers
The 2017 B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) guidelines for Medical Health Officers explicitly states that “exchanging goods or money for sex”
(along with anonymous sex in bathhouses and group sharing of needles)
is considered a setting and context for high risk of HIV transmission.
According to the guidelines, physicians who learn or suspect that a
patient may be engaging in behaviour considered high risk, have reason
to report that this person may pose a risk of HIV transmission to
others. Based on these reports, the Medical Health Officer can compel
individuals to be tested for HIV. Testing positive for STIs is also used
as evidence of having posed a risk of HIV transmission to others.
In addition, “sex workers”
appear as the only example of persons who may have HIV who may pose a
risk to the larger community, and thus non-compliant sex workers are
vulnerable to having their name, a description and HIV status published
in the media by public health authorities, police and courts as has
happened in the past. (Read, “HIV Hooker A Dilemma for Court,” The Province, June 23, 1996.)
are harmful assumptions rooted in ignorance and steeped in prejudice.
In fact, a sex worker study conducted in Victoria (n=201 adult sex
workers aged ≥ 18 years, including 160 female, 36 male and 5 transgender
individuals) has shown that condom use with clients among sex workers
exceeds 90%, indicating that professional sexual services are performed
safely in an occupational setting. (BCCDC’s Estimation of Key Population
Size: Final Report, 2016 p. 13)
public health statements that centre sexual services as a vector for
HIV transmission contribute to the fact that 29% of sex workers fear
being judged by doctors? A 2014 Working Paper by Celia Benoitet al from
the Canadian Institutes for Health Research also reported that 40% of
sex workers said their health-care needs were not met in the prior year
compared with about 12% of the general population. Could prejudicial
assumptions about providing sexual services be barriers to public health
goals for STI and HIV prevention and discourage sex workers from
accessing sexual health services?
2017 BCCDC Guidelines for Medical Health Officers outlines the steps
Medical Health Officers can use to legally compel sex workers to test
and be treated for HIV. Sex workers need to be made fully aware of
Medical Health Officer’s powers under the Public Health Act,
before ever disclosing any personal information about providing sexual
services. (For highlights from the BCCDC policy, see page 10: “Powers Under Public Health Act to Contain Risk of HIV Transmission.”)
Hynd’s case, where court actions were used to compel HIV treatment, has
been called a legal precedent by Medical Health Officers. It
demonstrates how courts are to be used to prevent risk of HIV
transmission by compelling HIV treatment under B.C.’s Public Health Act.
Anytime anyone gets arrested in a non-criminal context there should be
some form of inquiry and review of the case, resulting in a report that
the accused can access and publish if they so desire. And, an appeal
process to an independent jury.
we all know the central core of Vancouver is jam packed with high rise
buildings to the point of being known as the most densely populated
downtown in all of North America.
It goes without saying that “things” get seen and “things” get done. The things I am talking about are sex, and lots of it!
dwellers are doing it, from the ground floor and up, all the way to the
penthouse, even the rooftop and that equates to a lot of window space.
What I consider stages of the theatres in the sky of each and every building visible on the city skyline.
hot stages displaying the actions of the adventurous who have chosen
not to close fabulous window treatments in favour of a show for those
glued to the other end of a pair of binoculars or telescopes.
Exhibitionist sex is on full display each, and every day and night, with a playbill that just can’t be written.
it’s an early morning erection or the need to rub one out over some
projected porn from a laptop, folks just aren’t that concerned about
concealing those activities from eager eyes in the adjacent buildings.
It’s not a situation of “if you got it flaunt it” but more of a “I’m just to lazy to get up and close the curtains” situation.
all love the morning sun beating down on us first thing as you lay
there, so can you really be blamed as you begin to beat the meat with
furious abandon? Not really.
action is always good, hell it’s good anytime throughout the day, done
with wildly exciting reckless abandon or something a little more
It’s inevitable that as population density intensifies,
we have no where else to grow but up if your urban, and grow out if your
urban landscape is getting higher and higher, and built closer and
closer not only to meet the supply and demand of the ever growing
population but make efficient use of the declining real estate.
an effort to give the illusion of space and view, developers and
architects are working closely to create that illusion by increasing the
size frame of windows being used. Sizes that let in as much light as
possible, not to mention unobscured views for prying eyes.
If your like me, you like to walk about in your home void of the trappings of the street, I’m talking about clothes.
I love to be nude at home, carefree just the way nature intended.
first I was very conscious of parading about to close to the window for
fear of what the neighbours would think, but as time went on, to be
honest I didn’t care what the neighbours thought.
a proven fact that the closer we get to people by having our personal
space intruded on, the less we care about what others think.
Our personal space of three feet, translates to thirty feet of living space and each is being “invaded” more and more.
subconscious numbing is occurring and folks are becoming less inhibited
about expressions of sexual freedoms with this increased closeness.
The amorous antics of those in high rises are not to be excluded.
and less are those that are engaged in high rise folic caring about
those who spy from afar, and that makes the spies very happy.
Voyeurs figured this out long before the exhibitionists ever did, so as high rises grew, so did binocular sales.
Free is always good, why pay for it when all you have to do is look out your window?
Keep in mind quality control is not a guarantee, you never know what you’ll find on the other end of those looking glasses.
all seen many a telescope positioned in front of the plate glass
windows that line high-rise buildings in big cities, and I’m pretty sure
they aren’t there for star gazing.
I have no problem with the idea of seeing a telescope or pair of
binoculars on the coffee table, after all, it is your view.
heated passions rise, closing the curtains is that last thing on the
minds of those getting down for some hot and bothered fun time. Most
don’t make a mad dash round the place in prep for privacy for play, they
just get to it.
now lets consider this, is it an invasion of privacy if someone is
watching and there is no effort put forth to having privacy? No!
If you can’t go through the very simple and basic act of putting up and using blinds, you can’t expect any real privacy.
People will look through your window, and unless it’s your bathroom or bedroom, is it really that big of an invasion, anyway?
Who is going to want to stare as you watch TV in your living room, or sit down to dinner?
will watch other people do just about anything, no matter how boring,
and you need not look any further than the selection of “reality”shows
jammed down our throats. Just saying!
Dressing up the performance for the uninhibited is now taking centre stage.
People know they’re being watched and are going to great lengths to give that added extra many appreciative audiences desire.
that’s happening centre stage, right up in front of those windows, by
dressing it up, roleplaying the ever popular break and entry, or pizza
your lucky enough to find them, there are the internet postings
offering the next performance so those in neighbouring high rises can
gather with some wine and cheese for the 8PM showing.
don’t really care if someone watches, cause that’s me, but if that’s not
your gig you can just like TV, change the channel and turn to look at
the night skyline.
You never know what you’ll see.
About the Author
Welcome to the multifaceted world of Velvet Steele, a woman with a transsexual medical history.
takes pride in her 6’1” tall frame, fair skin and once naturally blonde
hair; keeping up appearances by exercising daily and eating right.
she an exhibitionist? You betcha, with measurements that rival Jessica
Rabbit’s at 36G, 30, 39, and all her hard work at the gym, she loves to
show off, more than just a little.
She is a fetish service
provider of 25 plus years, and known for her appearance on the wildly
popular documentary series KINK filmed here in Vancouver.
She is an advocate and activist for transsexual and transgender rights, within, and outside the sex worker community.
is a sensitivity facilitator, contracted with the CoV and VPD. She
counsels on lifestyle, sex, sexuality and gender drawing on her lived
She educates on the good, the bad, and the ugly of
the world of sex toys, and created the first Fetish Night in Vancouver
which ran for 10 years.
Life as a fetishist and visual artist led her to activism on sex, sexuality, sexual health and subsequently sex worker rights.
is currently nurturing her love of hosiery with a retail and blog site,
at Girdleliscious Gam Wrappers. And she writes…….. a lot.
Fetish, fashion and sex, and a mantra of,
“Inspire Desire to Create, be a part of positive change!”
Awhile ago, we circulated a survey to sex workers and clients asking what they really want to make their participation in the sex industry better…
We’ve been watching the results closely.
Some very obvious concerns and challenges have dominated your reactions.
Here are the results of the survey so far and how The *NEW* Naked Truth is going to address those concerns when we re-launch in the next few months.
I am incredibly excited to share this with you!
Without a doubt, five particular challenges have dominated the survey for sex workers, some of them fluctuating for first place as responses have come in.
The 5 Main Challenges identified by Sex Workers who answered this survey are:
Finding A Safe, Discreet Workspace
Fear of Enforcement / Police
Reporting Bad Experiences
How The Naked Truth is Going To Address SW Concerns
The Naked Truth is owned and operated by sex workers.
We have first-hand knowledge how the above challenges play out in our lives.
We are activists on the forefront of sex worker actions.
And we are tired of others making money off our backs, while being constantly turned down for funding.
years of activism, research, program creation / coordination /
implementation, and our lived experience have led us to seek solutions
to our challenges.
The Naked Truth (Revision 69, as I like to call it) will be the manifestation of our collective vision as a community.
It is based on the work we, as individuals and groups, have done over the past several years and the concerns you have shared.
What you are about to witness is history in the making!
We hope you will be a part of it!
Thanks to our amazing website designer…
The *NEW* Naked Truth will offer you affordable advertising for your services and a profile to use in your promotions.
classifieds section will also allow sex workers and allies to share
things like work-spaces for rent and SW friendly businesses.
will have an internal system for screening clients and opportunities
for you to recommend and report clients using our system.
will also have an automated system for reporting bad experiences, with
an easy search function, available only to sex workers.
will provide essential online training for sex workers earning members
“certifications” that will let clients know we are safe and
We are already working with police and other outside agencies to recognize the certifications of our members.
Our goal is to lower and potentially end the enforcement of Canada’s deadly laws around sex work.
This is the simplified version of what we are planning and we will send out more info very soon.
The 4 Main Resources Accessed or Sought by Sex Workers who answered this survey are:
Sex Worker Organizations
Sex Worker Support Groups (online, apps, etc)
Adult Classifieds Websites
Bad Date Lists / Red Light Alert
The *NEW* Naked Truth will be a central resource that encompasses the above “most accessed and sought” resources for sex workers.
Our Partner Organization is the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities.
Together, we are a resource for any Canadian sex worker to contact for
support. We will do our best to connect SW’s with resources they need
and offer unlimited guidance for anyone seeking membership or
certification on our site.
We will provide a safe forum for SW’s to have respectful discussions. Bullying will not be tolerated.
Adult Classifieds will be the most affordable on the internet and we
will provide opportunities for sex workers to get credits they can put
towards ads, as well.
will have a secret Red Light Alert available only to sex workers who
are certified or vouched for by someone who is certified.
Clients’ concerns were similarly obvious with an emphasis on 4 main areas:
Concern for Safety: Clients
worry about false ads, being scammed or even mugged when going to see a
sex worker. They also worry the work space will be unsafe or unhealthy.
Fear of Enforcement / Police: Clients worry that cops are posing as sex workers waiting to arrest them – a valid concern in some parts of Canada!
Concern for Sex Workers: Clients
worry about what they will find when they arrive – is the sex worker an
adult working in an industry they chose – or trafficked and exploited?
Fear of Being Outed: Clients
have been outed by police in the past. If they are sent to “John
School,” they will be outed to all the people who are there, and
probably their families too.
How The Naked Truth is Going To Address Client Concerns
The *NEW* Naked Truth is
implementing a simple screening system for sex workers and clients so
that both may be vetted and verified internally and confidentially.
You will be able to see and choose people who have been “certified” in our community.
You will also have the option to recommend or report sex workers using our system.
Reports will be investigated by us reducing the need for outside agencies to be involved.
We are already working with police and other outside agencies to make them understand that our clients are not predators.
We hope to end enforcement of the current laws in Canada, while working to decriminalize our industry altogether.
can report situations where you suspect human trafficking or other
exploitation is going on, and we will make sure that information is
investigated without outing you.
You can also report the police to us.
We want to know what police are doing and which ones are doing it.
We would like to talk to those police officers one-on-one and maybe teach them a thing or two about protecting sex workers.
We are here to support the clients we love.
We Asked You (Sex Workers and Clients) “What Is Your Dream Website”
You won’t be surprised to learn that your dream website is becoming a reality through The Naked Truth!
You listed things like:
opportunities to contribute to our community
third-party evaluation tools that AREN’T REVIEWS
Red Light Alert
secret area for sex workers only
As you can see from everything I’ve told you, we are creating a masterpiece!
The best part is that we will constantly be evolving and improving the site based on your feedback.
We’re in this for the long haul.
We NEED your input and participation so we can make changes as we go.
And that leads me to HOW we are able to do all this.
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
For years I have had a vision for The Naked Truth which I struggled to implement for many reasons…
challenges, inability to get buy-in from other sex workers, dealing
with lazy and incompetent web designers, and more.
For years, Susan Davis has
had a vision for certification – a program for Sex Workers to
legitimize our profession and give us leverage against blanket
enforcements by police.
For years, Velvet Steele has been an advocate and activist for transsexual and transgender rights, within, and outside the sex worker community.
Susan and Velvet (and I to a lesser extent) have all worked with police over the years and have made inroads particularly with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
Right now, the VPD have instituted a “non-enforcement policy” around sex work laws that has been adopted across the province of British Columbia.
In other words, they are not arresting sex workers or clients in BC for breaking sex-work-specific laws.
There are laws for every imaginable exploitation that can occur.
Sex work laws are not needed.
They are truly ridiculous and harmful.
And many police officers are realizing this thanks to our work with them and the work of many other sex workers around the country.
We are all currently working sex workers who do activism in our spare time.
We have been turned down for funding too many times to count.
So now… We have taken matters into our own hands.
We hired a web designer who is not lazy or incompetent!
He knows what he is doing and he is also in it for the long haul with us!
We are using our own money as well as our blood, sweat, and tears to create this incredible resource!
And we are doing it with your help!
This is just the beginning…
will be reaching out soon to ally organizations across Canada and we
are already inviting sex workers to be involved in the Coalition’s
At this time, participation is voluntary and unpaid. However… Once
the site is generating money through the Adult Classifieds, we hope to
fund Coalition projects and pay you for your feedback and participation!
successful, we will also create jobs for sex workers like
“Certification Support Workers,” “Site Moderators,” “Call Centre
Representatives,” and more!
Our mission is:
provide sex-worker-driven, accessible resources, tools, and supports
that prioritize health, safety, ethical business practices, and training
for sex workers and our clients;
and to promote a voluntary system of self-regulation in the Canadian sex industry.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about The *NEW* Naked Truth!
We hope you will find what you’re looking for when the site is launched and running.
(And if not, we hope you will tell us how to improve).
Annie Temple has been a sex worker and activist since 1997, but she’s been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to
support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about
health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging
stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person
events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry.
Vancouver has seen its share of violence against sex workers. The cases of the missing women and they’re horrific details put a spotlight on how NIMBYism and lack of concern for the lives and safety of Vancouver sex workers lead ultimately to their torture and murder.
factors identified through the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry,
the City of Vancouver Task Force, and a citywide project known as Living in Community showed that there were many actions that could have prevented the disaster and could prevent it from happening again.
revelations about yet another unfolding disaster in rural communities
in British Columbia and murders of sex workers in places where
enforcement is high have reminded us all how enforcement, uninformed
actions, and stigma can isolate sex workers and make them vulnerable to
Vancouver, all citizens were impacted by the terrible outcome of
targeted enforcement and lack of understanding issues facing sex
workers. No matter a person’s perspective on sex work, everyone agrees
that the violence and vulnerability caused by the actions of the past
are unacceptable. A culture of change was created by the tragedy and
indeed remains the legacy of the women who died.
understanding of the mistakes of the past—and the violent impacts of
taking action based on moral or ideological assumptions about sex
workers and their lives—has changed the way sex work is viewed and
monitored in Vancouver.
Vancouver police created a sex work enforcement guidelines policy,
which clearly stated that adult consensual sex work would no longer be a
priority. Instead of blanket targeted actions against all sex-industry
participants, exploitation would be their only focus and, of course,
investigating crimes against sex workers.
about the policy has ensured that police officers know and understand
the position of the VPD and what is expected of them in terms of fair
and unbiased treatment of sex workers during interactions with police.
VPD also strengthened the sex industry liaison officer position,
currently held by Lynda Malcolm. Her role has been critical to
increasing the trust between sex workers and police in Vancouver.
has consistently made herself available when sex workers are in need of
help and provides a nonjudgmental link to the police and reporting
those who commit crimes against us.
The City of Vancouver also adopted a policy of non-enforcement through their sex work response guidelines, which
states explicitly that sex work is not a bylaw violation. Training for
licensing and inspections staff has ensured that they understand the
spirit of protection in the policy and what is expected of city staff
should they have cause to interact with a sex-industry worker or
net result of all of these things, which includes a lot more than
described here, has been de facto decriminalization of sex work in the
city of Vancouver. Even before the policies were made official, steps
were being taken to change the culture of policing and enforcement
against the sex industry in Vancouver.
Criminalization of sex work has been the largest contributing factor to violence faced by sex workers—and this needed to change.
“How is it working?” you might ask.
We are happy to report that these actions have made a prolific difference.
only are crimes against sex workers being reported more often and true
exploitation being countered with several exploiters being investigated
and prosecuted successfully, but…there have been no murders of sex
workers in Vancouver since 2009!
would like to congratulate the Vancouver police and City of Vancouver
staff for having courage in the face of opposition to these actions from
those who feel the sex industry could never be safe and who, for moral
or ideological reasons, promote the “abolition” of the sex trade.
past decade has proven without a doubt that decriminalization of sex
work does make sex workers safer and is truly the only solution to
ending exploitation and violence in the sex industry.
the federal Liberals and NDP debate whether to support
decriminalization of sex work, it is our hope that Vancouver can be held
up as an example of how communities can address these issues in a way
that respects all people’s rights and safety.
Vancouver is success of decriminalization in a Canadian context. Both sex workers and communities are safer now.
It is time for reason to prevail. It is time to decriminalize sex work in Canada.