Professional companions are front-line, mental health workers. Our patrons suffer from depression, PTSD, lack of self-confidence, isolation, neurodivergent disorders, diverse abilities, and yes some – addiction to the dopamine that comes from sex.
The current Canadian laws have made it legal for those choosing to work in this highly stigmatized, ostracized, and discriminated profession. The Nordic model is convoluted, contradictory, and confusing to most, and is currently being fought as unconstitutional, dangerous, and demeaning. The current system makes criminals out of patrons, support teams, and those aiding these legal professionals, ultimately leaving them isolated, and statistically speaking worse off than the other outdated laws that were struck down as unconstitutional in 2013.
Uneducated Reactions Cause More Harm
The Canadian Hotel Association and proposed provincial legislation have taken it upon themselves to be the front-line workers to end human trafficking (but only the lower statistical demographic of female presenting sex workers). In theory, a worthwhile cause, since victims of sexual assault should receive the support of all Canadian citizens, businesses, and organizations.
The only issue is their “cast a wide net” approach actually puts more legal by-choice professionals at risk, or at the very least traumatized by their discriminatory identifying education that targets ALL female presenting Canadians. Yes, that’s right, “they” think, sex work is only done by those who are female-presenting. PROS know that the sex worker community is diverse, so it seems strange that these proposed bills and organizations’ profiling measures are only targeted at one gender, and only one type of human trafficking.
The opportunity to change through education
During a conversation about how hotels treat sex workers, and why – an opportunity to educate and re-evaluate how the “Make THEM feel uncomfortable” status, was outdated, discriminatory, and puts those at real risk of sexual assault in danger. We got to work asking questions of providers, and connecting with the nonprofits in our communities to pull together educational resources to share with forward-thinking Canadian hotels and how they can start…
SORTING FACT FROM FICTION
What does human trafficking look like?
Although it makes the most sensational headlines, human trafficking is as diverse as the sex worker community. Migrant workers’ rights are abused daily, although these do not make the same headlines or fill the coffers of the incredibly lucrative multi-million-dollar rescue industry. Statistics in the United States show 1:4 of people trafficked are victims of sexual assault, and the others – are migrant workers. So why do we not see that in the headlines…
SIGNS SOMEONE IS A VICTIM OF SEXUAL TRAFFICKING ASSAULT
- The person is highly anxious
- Signs of physical injury
- Noticeably under the influence
- Underage with an older person
- Seemingly being controlled by another
If you think someone is a victim, discreetly ask them if they need help
and then provide a safe harbor until community support can help.
If someone refuses your help, share resource info and then leave them alone.
SIGNS SOMEONE IS A LEGAL BY-CHOICE SEX-WORKING PROFESSIONAL
Sex workers are normal people, with normal lives, needs, and in Canada, legal working citizens. They look like everyday people because they are just that – members of our community. Many people who choose to dress, or look a particular way, whether that be with the use of makeup, or surgical enhancements may not even be sex workers.
The hotel associations’ educational series speak to looking for “long hair and fake nails” as identifiers – this is not only incorrect – but in reality a target and stigmatization of all-female presenting citizens. This type of treatment would not be acceptable if it was not for the propaganda that has been produced by the rescue industry and reverberated by “news” sources for sensational profitable headlines.
The reality of the situation is that the majority of people you label as sex workers, are doing it by choice or need due to the lack of financial stability, housing, or jobs paying a living wage. Regardless, forcing “help” on someone who is not asking or wanting it, is an injustice of our liberty and freedoms.
How PROS can foster destigmatization
The age-old advice that if you want respect, you need to first give it, is a hard one to ask of a community that has been stigmatized, ostracised discriminated against since… well… it is the oldest profession, so let’s say… always. How do we foster change, if we do not look at ourselves first, and how we can learn to look to work with those who are wanting the same changes we do?
A dear friend recently shared “the secret to relationships” with me, and it was to always go in with the idea of cooperation. We have taken this advice to heart and started talking to prominent hotels about what their needs are as we start to outline a series of educational information to share with both mainstream business and professional companions visiting them.
PROS TIPS FOR VISITING A HOTEL
OUTCALLS: Tell your patron you will be dressing discreetly, but bring something more comfortable to change into. This will make the other hotel guests you encounter feel more comfortable, which is exactly the business these locations are in. YES – you can dress however you want – and NO if you dress overtly sexually, that doesn’t mean you are a sex worker, BUT if you are and you want to instill positive change, try respecting that you are visiting a business, that also has needs just like you.
WORKING ON LOCATION: Bring your own sheets, or plan to tip for the additional linens you are needing. Remove your biohazards (condom garbage) yourself, and do not leave them for the cleaning service. Communicate with clients clearly about the importance of their own discretion, going over procedures of how to be discreet on arrival, greeting in the common areas (card-lock hotels), and departure afterward. Use alternative entrances, again so as to minimize your interactions with other hotel guests when meeting your clients.
PROS TIPS FOR VISITING ANY BUSINESS
Finding local businesses where you can freely discuss your profession, meet with other professionals for a meal or provide service (social dates) is a right we should all have as legal professionals. The team at PROS.BUZZ is working towards helping identify local #swSAFE businesses that are not only educated but supportive of our community. Still, there are things we can do when visiting restaurants and tourist attractions that can help our cause of destigmatization and normalizing sex work is work. We look forward to gathering and sharing this information, as we strive to help create lasting community destigmatization.