The Patterson Post was delayed this week due to significant technical difficulties – my laptop has died.
So, apologies for the delay, but better late than never.
This week I’ve been thinking about the world of sex work, looking at some good and not such good news from the industry, and sharing some thoughts on drug laws.
Estimated read time – 5 minutes
A Piece of Good News Involving a Sex Worker In New Zealand
There have been two high-profile news stories this week involving sex workers, so I wanted to unpack them and dig a little deeper into the subject.
The first story was about a sex worker in New Zealand who has been awarded a six-figure sum for sexual harassment in the workplace.
In a “one-of-a-kind” ruling, the sex worker, whose identity has remained confidential, was compensated for “emotional harm and “loss of earnings”.
Sex work was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003, making a case like this possible.
To see the state of NZ standing up for a sex worker, protecting her from an abuser, and awarding her what can only be assumed to be a large amount of money, is both refreshing and a positive step toward normalising sex work in Western society. To make the whole case a little bit sweeter, the man harassing her had to pay her the 6-figure sum. Love it.
There’s absolutely no reason a woman should be subjected to sexual harassment, even if her work is sexual. I don’t buy the excuse so many men come out with when it comes to sexual harassment, claiming they “didn’t know” what they were doing was harassment. It isn’t difficult to conduct yourself in a non-harassing way.
I’ve never paid for sex, but I’m 100% sure I’d be able to distinguish what was appropriate in that setting, and what was not. In the documentaries I’ve watched on brothels etc, there are always clear rules and boundaries, not difficult to understand and respect.
So, good for New Zealand, and good for the woman who was awarded the sum of money. It must have taken guts to take a case like that to court, and what a great ending she’s walked away with a large amount of her harasser’s cash. Hopefully, it’s the first case of many.
For an insight into what life as a sex worker might be like, a great podcast I can recommend is an interview Tim Ferriss did with the US’s top-earning sex worker, Alice Little. They go into what it’s like to work in the industry, and have an especially interesting conversation about power. Check it out, it’s a great listen.
A Frustrating Story of A Paramedic Being Shamed For Setting Up an Onlyfans Account
Also in the news this week was a sad and frustrating story involving a young paramedic who set up an Onlyfans account.
An article in the New York Post outed a 23-year-old EMT, Lauren Caitlyn-Kwie, for having an Onlyfans account where she posted sexual content “to make ends meet”. Not only did the New York Post try to shame a young woman for making money on the side, she also asked to remain anonymous, but they ran with a cover photo of her face and name anyway.
Where is the news there? What did the two journalists, Dean Balsamini and Susan Edelman, think they were highlighting when they wrote that story? They should have asked why a paramedic was getting paid so little she had to set up an Onlyfans in the first place.
It’s so sad to see a large publication like that running such a low-level story targeting a front-line worker. It’s another example of people treating sex work as something you should be ashamed of, which it absolutely isn’t.
Thankfully, the internet came to Lauren’s defence. There’s been an outpouring of anger toward the New York Post, with Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leading the backlash. She tweeted “Sex work is work. The federal gov has done almost nothing to help people in months… Keep the focus of shame there.”
One of Lauren’s friends also set up a GoFundMe page, which has raised $100,000 at time of writing this post.
It’s awesome to see the collective power of the internet at work, giving a voice to those who have been silenced in the past. But situations like this shouldn’t exist in the first place. Women should be able to make money from their sexuality, without being shamed by major newspapers.
Sex work is a tricky subject, and one I realised I knew very little about once I started writing about these stories. So I got in touch with a few of my female friends to get their opinion on it, and I’ll be posting a longer blog post in time for next week’s Patterson Post.
Drug Deaths in Scotland – The Highest of Any European Country
A damning report was published by the government this week, showing Scotland has by far the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe. There were 1,264 deaths due to overdoses, which is three and a half times more than England and Wales. Scotland had 295 deaths per million people, with second place Sweden at just 81.
Drug laws in the UK are still based on the 1971 misuse of drugs act, which was around the same time Reagan waged his war on drugs. Since then, an estimated $1 trillion has been spent to destroy people’s lives and generate huge profits for private prison companies.
There are very few issues I have a hardline approach to. I can see both sides of most social issues. However, along with climate change, drug laws are an area of society I think we have gotten catastrophically wrong.
By criminalising a trade, sex work included, you push it underground, which leads to criminality. Victims are no longer able to seek help from the police because they are committing a crime, and are therefore left with no option but to fend for themselves.
There is a mountain of data which shows criminalising drug users does not solve the problem. In Saudi Arabia, people are regularly beheaded for possession of illegal substances, and still people use drugs.
So what should we do? Decriminalisation has to be the first step. Portugal decriminalised possession of all drugs in 2001, and saw a 50% reduction in levels of addiction. When you treat addiction as a health problem, which it is, instead of a crime, you start to solve the problem.
A proposition was made to create drug consumption rooms in Glasgow which would give addicts clean needles and a safe place to take heroin, but the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, was “staunchly opposed”.
Patel has been unwilling to do anything about the crisis, while deaths continue to increase year-on-year. Last year she refused to attend a meeting with Scottish Government Ministers to discuss what can be done about the problem. As drug laws are not a devolved power, unfortunately we have to look to Westminster to change the laws, which seems extremely unlikely.
Drug deaths are a crisis in Scotland. The number of fatalities are increasing, and the government refuses to even hold a conversation about it. Let’s hope that changes soon.
Obama answers questions from famous YouTubers
I’m on the Obama hype-train at the moment. Last week’s newsletter shared some wisdom from his new book “A Promised Land”, which I’m very much enjoying.
This week, he answered questions from some youtube stars about his presidency and life lessons.
You don’t have to have read his book to enjoy the video.
He discusses leadership, some childhood memories, and his music tastes. As always, he’s charming, charismatic, and gives thoughtful and profound answers to the questions. Give it a watch, it’s a goody.
““Just say no” (to drugs, gambling, eating, sex etc.) is the least helpul advice one can say to a human being caught up in any addiction. If they could say no, they would. The whole point of addiction is that people are compelled to it by suffering, trauma, unease, and emotional pain. If you want to help people, ask why they are in so much pain that they are driven to escape from it through ultimately self-harming habits and or substances. Then support them in healing the trauma at the core of their addiction, a process that always starts with non judgemental curiosity and compassion.” – Dr Gabor Maté, Author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Would you ever pay for sex?