I posted something about Colorado deciding to raise their fines for johns from $75 to $10,000 (to pay for john schools) on my FB page. What's wrong with these schools, you might ask- I mean, they're always touted as places where sex work clients can learn about trafficking, class issues, and prostitutes with drug problems and rethink their purchase of prostitutes. That's good, right?

Well, no. And there's a few reasons why.

First of all, john schools treat sex work clients like they're women-hating assholes:

John "schools" fail to recognize the diversity of sex workers and clients alike. Sex workers are categorically portrayed as victims of exploitation, while clients are categorically treated as psychopathic manipulators out to satisfy their sexual addictions. While both of these stereotypes may be true of specific individuals, they deny the reality that often sex workers and clients are simply engaging in a mutually agreeable act between consenting adults.

 Not surprising, as the media often also paints clients as being unattractive, demanding, and misogynistic. I'm asked a lot about my clients, too, and usually the people asking are really concerned for my well-being. Are clients always messed up men?

Well, no, this isn't true in my experience *in places where sex work is legal*- I have never gotten a single call to call me names or treat me poorly since I've been in the UK, and in fact, my clients often apologize for being late, or trying to take advantage by trying to get some dirty texting for free. They treat me with respect, don't try to negotiate very often, and *consider my time as equally valuable to theirs*.

In the US, however, where sex work is illegal, I have had death threats, clients push their luck, and insults thrown at me down the phone or in my inbox. Sometimes it's because of my weight. Sometimes it's because I'm a sex worker. Sometimes it's because I'm a feminist, or queer, or something else entirely. I have had worse luck with time wasters, stinginess with tips, and general disrespect. In California I have had more men try to avoid condom use or manipulate me into unsafe sex professionally than I have anywhere else. And yeah, I think sex work being illegal has something to do with that.

So, ok, there's a fundamental issue with this john school thing- the assumptions around who sex work clients are, why they see sex workers, and how they behave. But there's other issues too. Entrapment is obviously an important one- often times entrapment is a legal way to catch clients, which means that even if someone is purchasing sex work for the first time, they'll get slapped with a fine the same as a regular. I understand that the idea is to prevent people becoming clients... but, when you make something illegal, the only people who will do it are people who don't give a shit about the law- not really a "safe" option. Not only that, but, as this article from the Sex Workers of Vancouver says:

Allowing police forces the power to carry out the full procedure of justice, which is currently reserved for the courts, would set a dangerous precedent. Currently, when someone (usually a police officer) cuts a deal with the police in order to avoid criminal prosecution, it is considered to be an instance of corruption.

I also liked this point:

Speakers at john "school" are typically women with a negative or ambivalent attitude towards johns. This necessarily creates an adversarial atmosphere and discourages johns from voicing their true opinions, or disagreeing with what they're being told. Johns are made to feel that prostitution is a "women's issue" and as such their "teacher" is always right, regardless of whether or not she has anything in common with the sex workers the johns see. Sex workers and their clients would benefit more from john "schools" run by sex workers, who could teach johns how to be more courteous, to tip well, and other ways to improve their chances of getting good service.

On my personal site, I've posted a guide on being a good client which has been great for briefing new clients. Why on earth would you ask someone who isn't a sex worker to talk extensively on the impact clients have on sex workers? And why oh why do people feel they have the right to speak for me, like I'm incapable of advocating my own agency? ARGH.

Anyway. So when I posted about this john school idea in Colorado, an older, probably well-meaning, white cismale (who identifies as a sex healer, btw) posted this:

Honestly ... I am quite sure they don't care where the girls are from .... to them ... it is just a piece of meat they are renting!!

 I'm gonna tell you now, on behalf of the clients I've seen and the clients I will see-

They do not treat me like meat.

The way that anti-sex work feminists, politicians, and men who "want what's best" for me treat me is more patriarchal, problematic, and meat-like than the way my clients treat me.

Because my clients LISTEN. My clients give me agency. They respect my choices, and my humanity. They are male and female, able bodied and not, straight, bi, and questioning, kinky and vanilla.

So fuck this john school bullshit. I'm calling it out for what it is- the government standing in the way of women even independently and safely working the one job where they consistently earn more than men. You wanna talk about treating women like crap? Send the anti-sex work activists to school, instead. I could teach them a lot... starting with history.

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