Occupy Oakland Patriarchy outing people in the sex trade?

An important follow-up to the demonstration that activists organized under the banner of Occupy Oakland Patriarchy held outside an anti-prostitution conference in Oakland last week—Emi Koyama, who writes extensively on anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution campaigns, responds:

…in the statement announcing their protest/disruption, [Occupy Oakland Patriarchy] prominently use a quote from my article in Bitch magazine, identifying me as a “sex worker and activist”…

While I do not make secret of my history in the sex trade, I use discretion as to when and where I refer to myself as a sex worker for my safety–not just safety from violence, but from prejudice, discrimination, and police surveillance.

It’s a distinction that might not make sense to people who haven’t done sex work. It’s one that I’ve fought with, as well: when writing about Backpage and Ashton Kutcher for the Guardian (UK) last year, I didn’t explicitly come out as a sex worker in my piece, which angered some people in response to it, who felt I should have (as if that alone explained away my criticism?).

Posting Emi’s response here gave me pause for a minute, too. I don’t necessarily want to amplify the original posting that Emi is calling out. But I do think it’s important to amplify Emi’s concerns and to ask activists, even those who aim to support sex workers, to understand the risks that can come with being known as a sex worker.

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