#ListenToAllSurvivors 1: The Spectrum of Agency

by admin  - September 18, 2021

Three people are having a conversation. Alisha has medium brown skin and dark brown wavy hair and wears red glasses and a hoodie. Chris has light skin, freckles, short blue hair, and dark blue glasses. Leah has long straight blond hair, light skin. All three look upset.

Leah is saying, "I was a prostitute and felt so exploited. PROSTITUTION IS EXPLOITATION. "Sex work" is paid rape!
 Alisha says, "I'm a sex worker and I feel empowered! SEX WORK IS EMPOWERING!" Chris puts their hand to their head, unsure what to do.
Alisha says, "EMPOWERMENT!" Leah says, "EXPLOITATION!" Chris, standing between the two, is trying to figure out what to do.
Alisha shouts, "CONSENSUAL!" Leah shouts, "PAID RAPE!" Chris grabs their own hair in frustration, standing between the two escalating people.
Chris whispers, "I've experienced both. Do people like me get a voice in this conversation?" As Alisha and Leah look on.
Chris says, "Saying all sex work is paid rape dismisses the experiences of people who've traded sex consensually as adults. Saying all sex work is empowering dismisses the experience of people who've been forced to trade sex."
Chris adds, "And saying there's no difference between consensual and exploited participation in the sex trades tells people who've experienced both that they don't know what they experienced, which is gaslight-y!"
Chris adds, "Acknowledging, honoring, and teaching about the spectrum of agency is the only way to be clear about the range of consent without dismissing the voices of survivors."
As the people start to calm down, Chris says, "The reality is that being in the sex trades, like other forms of labor, exists along a "spectrum of agency" from consensual to circumstance to coercion. We all deserve to be heard, and we all deserve safety."

For more about the Spectrum of Agency, see the Yale issue brief, Sex Work Vs. Trafficking.

#ListenToAllSurvivors 2: Circumstance Is Messy

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