Thursday, 21 June 2012

Norma-Lising Bigotry

You know those times when someone goes spouting off on a subject they know very little about and, as someone who DOES know a bit about it, you start to get cross that they're misusing information, twisting facts and not really giving out proper, correct information?

Yeah, I hate that too.

Then, imagine that person getting paid to spout these views to a mass of people who really don't know the truth from the lies and so take this person's drivel as truth because, well, they've been PAID to say it in a national newspaper so it MUST be true?


Yeah I really hate that too.

Dr Caroline Norma (a lecturer on Social Sciences at RMIT) has done just this with her poorly researched Op Ed piece in the Age on June 19 2012.

Dr Norma's Piece

Her condescending tone and disgust for the profession is apparent within her first sentence with the obvious use of quotation marks wrapped around the term Sex Worker. Like it's not really a real word. Just one the workers have made up for themselves to feel some semblance of self respect...

She then continues on with her "better than you" type of attitude throwing out "facts" about an industry she has no idea about, as if she were feeding breadcrumbs to pigeons...

Oh wait. She is. Little breadcrumbs of misinformation and bigotry to a bunch of people who really have no idea about the truth.

On the day she wrote her awful piece many sex workers both past and present, both male and female, stood up and said "Hang on,. This isn't right! Can we talk to you about this. Can we offer some real facts, real information, real firsthand actual knowledge..."

And Caroline went silent.

She was appealead to over twitter, over Facebook, over blogs. She was contacted via phone, via email, via calls to her place of work.


For example, Holly (@HollyInAlbury on Twitter) a sex worker from regional Victoria appealled to Caroline in her blog to leave the speaking about sex work to the people who know about sex work. I mean, we wouldn't let a plumber talk to us about heart surgery would we?

You Can Read Holly's Piece Here

Male sex worker, and well-known sex worker rights activist Christian Vega (@ChristianBVega on Twitter) appealed to her on social media and his blog, putting forward a notion that many people don't actually think about (Dr Norma being one of them) that sex workers are not ALL female and that generalisations are harmful and damaging and that stigmas and stereotypes are wrong and can really hurt the movement for acceptance and better laws and regulations.

Christian's Piece is here

Newcastle-based escort Luscious Lani (@LusciousLani on Twitter) has tried to not only talk to her over Twitter, email and phone, she has also extended an invitation to Dr Norma to come to her home. Visit a real sex worker. Talk to her and others about her piece and the ramifications it has to our industry, our jobs and, to be blatantly honest, our emotions (being told you're a down-trodded exploited woman can be quite confronting when you know you're not).

You can read Lani's invitation Here

Has Caroline RSVPd to this invitation?


Has she acknowledged this outcry from Australian sex workers?


I too would like to offer myself to Carloine Norma as someone within the industry who spends a great deal of time talking to and talking about sex work and sex workers and who is quite happy and willing to explain some things to her that seem to need explaining.

Like her lack of understanding on the things that most of us Aussie sex workers do NOT have to deal with...Like pimps. Like exploitation. Like drugs. Like sexual abuse. Like danger. Like rape. Like every other bad thing she put through in her piece without acrtually speaking to a single person involved in the Australian Sex industry.

Has she seen that a hell of a lot of us are university graduates and can hold an intelligent conversation?

Does she realise many of us are in relationships and have children and families and great ones at that?

Does she realise that very few of us are drug addicts and do this as a last resort attempt at earning money?

Well, if she doesn't, she will soon because there are a lot of us and we are not happy. All you have to do is search Caroline Norma on Twitter and you will see the army of sex workers, clients and their supporters who have stood up to say "We will not allow your bigoted narrow-mindedness stop us. We will fight for what we believe in and we will prove you wrong."

If you'd like to join the fight for the rights of sex workers not to be exploited and misrepresented in the media by people who claim to be intelligent beings, please head over to Lani's Website (Yep click it it's a link) and look to the left at the "rants and ramblings" tab and add your voice along with many other sex worker supporters, whether they work in the industry, use the services, or just support us as workers in general...

Happy Hooking! - DB!


  1. I would like to say that I agree with you 100% on everything you say except one. Specifically, I agree that Caroline Norma is a narrow-minded bigot who for one reason or another cannot accept the reality that some women choose prostitution because it suits them, not because they are forced into it or exploited or abused or any other such thing.

    The one thing I don't agree with you about is the term "sex worker". You say that Dr Norma treats it as if it's "not really a real word", as if it's been made up so that the women concerned can "feel some semblance of self respect".

    You're right in saying that's how Caroline Norma treats it. But Caroline Norma is right about that. That's exactly what it is. It's a term that did not exist until recently. It has been picked up and used as a means of avoiding the words "prostitute" and "prostitution", because women who worked in that occupation felt that those words degraded them. "Sex worker" is exactly what Caroline Norma says it is, a euphemism. It's like calling an undertaker a funeral director or a mortician, or calling a garbo a waste disposal engineer.

    I'm not saying this to pick a fight, but because I think that this is one battle that you can't win. You can win the rest of the war (and I think your video blog about the same article makes some excellent points), but I think that fixing on this point is a weak spot for you.

    I'm also not saying that I object to the use of the term. Prostitution has over the ages been a condemned occupation, usually illegal and always denigrated. The word itself is just a job description, but because the job has been condemned, the word has been used a term of abuse. It's fair enough for someone to say that she, as a person who provides sex for payment, prefers to be known by a description that is not a term of abuse. But a woman who says, "I'm a sex worker, I'm not a prostitute," is kidding herself. If she's one, she's also the other.

  2. Hey PJ!
    Thanks for your comment!
    No argument here, I agree with you.
    I guess my main point was similar to what you're saying about how words meanings or connotations can change over time and, because the word "prostitute" (although the correct term for what it is) has that old-world exploitative connotation to it, I find when used by someone who is obviously anti what we do, it is with that underlying scorn and contempt for our world.
    I mean, just cos Sex Worker is a relatively new term it's still a real one and one most sex workers prefer...
    Have a great day!

    Also, thanks for the compliments on the vid too!

  3. Thanks. I'm glad I didn't annoy you.

    Do you mind if I ask a question? Are you still a sex worker yourself, or have you now ceased to be one? I couldn't quite work it out from what you said in this blog and on the video.

  4. Nah... Takes more than a well written, articulate and polite comment to annoy me!

    I am essentially an ex worker as in I do not work regularly at all any more. I don't advertise privately or work for an agency or brothel. I do keep my licence and health checks up to date just in case because I often go out on jobs with sex worker friends if they need a double and I do have some very wonderful regular clients I have been seeing for years who I still enjoy visiting...
    I suppose you can say (even though I've never done brothel work that wasn't behind the desk) You can take the sex worker out of the brothel but you can't take the brothel out of the sex worker...
    I will always identify as a sex worker as I truly believe it was this lifestyle and work choice that has shaped me into who I am today and I am very proud of all I am and all I have achieved...

  5. Thanks. Just wonderin'.


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