Warning: Images of graphic violence are at the end of this post. I have included them after much deliberation and internal moral conflict but believe them to be necessary to the story of sex work stigma. I use them in the correct photographic context. I do not believe them to be gratuitous. If you disagree, please feel free to comment.
This Masters Degree has broken my heart on more than one occasion.
I cry more often than not. More often than the sarcastic banter on the twitter will lead you to believe. I cry at the socially acceptable violence that is committed against sex workers and then the victim blaming that follows. I cry at the self serving agenda of the moralistic who seek to have sex workers trapped in violence by state sanctioned draconian legislation. I cry at the violence of sex worker imagery spread by prohibitionist hate mongers.
Photography is an agent for body political change weaponised against sex workers. If we don't start calling out prohibitionists on their use of photography against sex workers then sex work stigma will never end.
I am 100% committed to having Whoretography as a platform for visual activism, my way to actively protest for legislative change. I know sex work and I know photography. I know how to question images and photographic theory. In this digital age, the message lies not in the photograph but in the transmission of the image. We need to disrupt the flow of sex worker imagery from the hands of prohibitionists. They are controlling the visual message.
Daily I read prohibitionists lambaste sex workers for photo-shopped images and accuse the falsely labelled privileged of creating a fakery and a falsehood of the perfect world of sex work. One which apparently is masking the prostituted reality via one photo shopped image at a time. One may suggest they are gentrifying sex work in a photographic photo-shopped conspiracy to hide the prostituted reality prohibitionists believe to be truth. Yep. its a pimp my photo conspiracy.
Sex workers are a photographic voice not welcomed on the internet by the very same women who alter their visual self representation on line. Smells like visual prohibitionist hypocrisy to me. Yep, blatant prohibitionist hypocrisy. Imagine that. Now let me explain in terms of photographic theory.
Follow enough anti sex work people across social media platforms and you see them doctoring their images. The filtered Instagram image is a phenomenon that has changed the visual landscape of the internet. Allowing prohibitionist women to alter their self representation without appearing to be vain or lying by manipulating an image through photo-shop trickery. That's what whores do after all. A more honest way of creating visual dishonesty. Photoshop is for whores lying about being prostituted. The Instagram filter is attempt to make the lives of the antis appear visually special, add an aesthetic beauty to the ordinariness of reality. To convince others their lives are better that yours, better than reality, better than the Photo-shop lying whores they are rescuing.
It goes beyond a photo filter though.
All prohibitionists have profile photos on Facebook, a twitter handle image. A visual expression of identity, a form of digital self representation, a visual performance at tricking the world to seeing you the way you want to be seen. Much like a married man who convinces the world he is a happily married man but his Facebook profile is not of a family unit. Its a self portrait that omits the other half of his apparent happy marriage. A careful process of culling, photo editing and selecting. Sounds like photo-shopping to me.
So, in my journey to challenge the visual antics of the antis I stumble across images that are just gut wrenching. A direct consequence of the hate generated by the visual myth of the prostituted woman. If men perpetrate the violence against sex workers its female prohibitionists who create the platform for the violence to flourish. What's not to love about exclusionary feminism and their photographic manipulation.
This is Hanna Karim murdered by prohibitionist hate. She is the consequence of the visual hysteria whipped up by the anti sex work industry.