Jody Williams, Founder & Director
Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous)
(702) 468-4529 Telephone
October 1, 2015
Re: Use of the Word “Prostitute”
Owners & Editors of
Dear Respected Members of the Press:
First, I want you to know I respect your jobs even more now than ever since the Telecommunications Act of 1995 passed. I want you to know that had that law passed one day before it did – we wouldn't even be talking about the issue of child sex trafficking. Why? Because in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's (I don't know how old you are), the issue was considered to be so non-existent that if you spoke about it back then you were received exactly the same as if you said “aliens are abducting me and selling me for sex” today.
If you call a cop today and ask them to “go rescue a girl at such and such address because the aliens have her” - that's the reception I got when I tried during the 1980's and women were being pimped and sold by the men who were nicknamed the “Hillside Strangler”. Notice they called these two men “murderers” but NOT traffickers which is what they were before they started murdering women.
If you tried to seek a therapist for the trauma you just endured having your family's lives were being threatened if you did not comply, for being shot at, kidnapped, raped, locked in a crack house and forced to “service” 20 gang bangers and a baseball bat, or witnessed our CIA bringing boat loads of cocaine into the piers of Los Angeles in Iran Contra in the 1980's – they would lock you up for observation for “hallucinating”.
I know because when I started having anxiety attacks and sought professional help in the early 1980's – that's exactly what they tried to do to me every time I sought counseling or tried to get help. I wound up “self-medicating” on the cocaine doctors were promoting on TV talk shows back then as “non-addictive” and “mood elevators” - and wound up with a $2000 a day drug habit that drug me into Narcotics Anonymous finally where others who had witnessed what I'd witnessed because they flew those planes and sailed those boats put me back together again. So I know well the power of the media.
I had to wait until I was off probation for an arrest I suffered in 1984 where a “safe house” I had built for trafficking victims (we couldn't turn to the police and homeless shelters weren't safe and since no one believed sex trafficking was real – there were no homes for adult trafficking victims then so I created one), was dubbed a “brothel”. The only other “safe house” in the world I was aware of back then was for teens with Children of the Night. The security I had built into it (a home in a residential area wasn't safe in case there was shooting which did happen) got me dubbed the “High Tech Madam”. Www.hightechmadam.com. No one bothered to ask why I had a “brothel” two blocks from the police station. But once I was off probation, and after seeing that there were no services for us anywhere because no one believed this was even real – I embarked upon a media campaign to change things.
I had no money to buy advertising or create a marketing campaign. Mind you this was in 1987 when I stepped up so there was no fax machines, no internet, and our 800 hotline I had installed was costing me $1.00 a minute Actually even more because I had to rent an office to host an 800 phone (they weren't allowed in residential homes – so I had to rent an office just to get an 800 number back then). So the only power I had back then was the power of FREE press and media. So I did what I could do back then – I went onto talk shows, the news, the tabloid shows like 20/20 and 60 Minutes, and I even had a couple of documentaries made about my story and what I'd witnessed.
Was this dangerous? Gary Webb was a respected reporter who validated everything I was saying as true about Iran Contra and he was found dead with two shotgun blasts to the head. Coroners say it's impossible to do this. Jeane Palfrey released her “Black Book” to prove that the sex trafficking she was a victim of was in fact connected to people in the highest offices in this country such as Randall Tobias. She was found hung in a shed in her mother's backyard. Her mother's home being where she'd fled to the night before for safety because someone had been following her around all the day before. So yes what I was doing was risky. But frankly I was allowed to speak because I received the same reaction initially telling the stories of what I'd seen as if I was talking about alien abductions – at first.
Geraldo's producer suggested to me in 1988 that “if you could bring on more stories from people you'd rescued – then people would have to believe you”. I also knew from watching Linda Lovelace before me who had tried to tell her personal story – that if I accepted money for a book or movie I'd be discredited as just “trying to make money” so I refused all offers. We followed that advice and we started doing shows like Geraldo with 2, 3 and 4 survivors telling their stories also. But then the “novelty” wore off and we stopped being asked to appear on many of these shows.
But the FCC had a rule of law then that if you were speaking about an issue that was being voted upon – you had to bring an “opponent”. So in 1988, when Joe Conforte, owner of the Mustang Ranch legal brothel wanted to expand into California and further into Nevada, put a $1,000,000 up into a PR firm and embarked upon his campaign – he literally could not appear on TV or radio without an “opponent”. No one would step up against him back then but me. I wasn't threatened either because he needed me to get on the air. He lost. So at a time when everyone believed that prostitution was a “victim less crime” and when having sex with anyone under the age of 18 was NOT “statutory rape” in ALL circumstances – I beat out by myself a man who had $1,000,000 in advertising AND the hearts of men.
We built upon that and I took advantage of a weekly public access TV show I could get put on air free back then. Frances Nuyen, the actress, recorded free public service announcements that we made dubs of the tapes and sent to TV and radio stations across this country. Soon from the east to the west coast – there were commercials running late at night with our 800 # saying “if you want help to get out – call 800 #”. We made dubs of the cable show and sent those to public access all over the country as well with interviews from the MEN and women who were coming to us for help – and getting it. These were things all afforded us by the FCC's requirements that a TV or radio station had to “serve the community” by donating a certain amount of air time free to groups like ours. It gave us voices.
Sure certain corporation owned stations didn't want us on the air. Others wanted to actively try and discredit us. I got a call in 1992 that the Donahue producers were going to put an impostor of me on the air. I threatened with legal action. They sent someone to beat up a man who was demanding to be allowed to speak about male sex trafficking so he couldn't appear on that show. Finally, I walked onto that stage. But because they didn't own ALL the media – we still were able to continue talking.
But as Noam Chomsky wrote in “Manufacturing Consent” about the power of words – he said that “propaganda is to democracy what violence is to a dictatorship”. We were winning ground nonviolently. So the Telecommunications Act of 1995 was passed and suddenly our voices were silenced. Our commercials, our weekly cable shows, all went “poof”. No longer were we allowed to “oppose” anything which allowed for the rise of the fake “Samoly Mam” who defrauded Americans out of millions of dollars. More importantly, she did not speak the voice of a “true” American sex trafficking victim. The same allowed for Bill Hilliar to rise with his fake story that became the movie “Taken” which further defrauded people not only financially – but ideologically about again what AMERICAN sex trafficking is, what it looks like, what our concerns are, and our voice.
Despite this all, we saw the Trafficking Act of 2000 passed. The modern day sex trafficking movement was now a reality. However, even the author of this Act, Michael Horowitz, agrees with me it's been “hijacked”. Randall Tobias, the same man who was in Jeane's “Black Book”, came along and had the TVRA Act of 2003 passed which OVERRODE the 2000 Act. This stated that no one would receive any federal funding IF they did not “have a written policy AGAINST prostitution”. Pretty big deal when you're a 12 step program and you're not allowed to have ANY “opinion on an outside issue”.
What's the big deal? From the east to the west coast, our program was in the jails. Our program was being used as an “alternative to sentencing”, and as a condition of probation in all major cities. We had a meeting in just about every Salvation Army and Catholic Charities shelter. EVERY residential program that had prostitutes in them ALSO had a “Prostitutes Anonymous” or a “Sex Workers Anonymous” meeting in them (we had to change our name in 1995 to Sex Workers Anonymous to bypass the adult filters on computers). We had set up the first court systems in Los Angeles and Allentown in our history which afforded those considered “victims” to be given treatment instead of incarceration. Now mind you OUR programs were for EVERYONE. This included men, women, transgenders AND the LGBT community. We welcomed everyone AND we ensured ALL got help.
But because of TVRA of 2003, we were handed our pink slip in 2004 and shunned by anyone and everyone that received one dollar of federal funding. Social workers, probation officers, cops who used to hand out our flyers on the whore strolls – were all told they'd be fired if they even mentioned our name. (Just for the record – I'd like to state that the Supreme Court shot this down last year as “unconstitutional”.)
President Bush then further added that ONLY “faith based groups” could receive federal grants. Now I think you know most churches DON'T take kindly to transgenders and the LGBT community – two groups we welcome in our 12 step structure. So what happened in 2004 – was that suddenly these groups had the money, had the power of the press, AND the support of the whole legal system at the same time we were being BLOCKED from everything. What this accomplished was it completely, utterly and totally WIPED OUT all services to transgenders, men, and the LGBT trafficking victims,
Could we speak out about this injustice? No. Many publications, even radio stations, receive federal money as well as money from the church. So we were now banned from those media outlets. Leaving us to turn to media monsters like Hearst Media whose CEO, Steve Sassa, was a “john” (this is verified in the press as to why he got fired). Now let me ask you – if you were an alcoholic would you allow advertising for “Alcoholics Anonymous” and run stories on the damage alcoholism does? I think not. Meaning that those TV and radio stations that are promoting the sex industry – shut us out also.
Now for the record since people seem to have some pretty crazy ideas about us – so let me first clarify something. The LEGAL age in this country varies from state to state. Meaning that you're still a minor at 18 years of age in California. However, if you jump across the border into Nevada that age turns to 15 years old. In Nevada, a girl can LEGALLY have sex AND she can work in a strip club as well as get a license to work in a legal brothel. To my knowledge, we are the only program that has been actively doing outreach to, and going and physically picking those girls up from those combination strip club/brothels that operate in Nevada because those girls not only are too young to get a drivers license – but it's literally against the law for them to walk out of there on foot except on rare occasions.
Meaning that we might get a call from a 15 or 16 year old who is working in one of those clubs to “come and get me out of here”. There are no cabs nor buses anywhere near these. The girls are also not given their money when they quit – it's only released to their “manager”. So they're broke.
Within a LEGAL context, these girls are not “trafficking victims”. Not until a case can be built to prove they were forced to work there. They are not “statutory rape” victims either. They ARE in the eyes of the LAW either “prostitutes” or “sex workers” according to how they want to identify.
Now do I agree with this? I live a “clean and sober” life today. Meaning I don't live in a fantasy world – but the real one. I don't live in what “ought” to be or what is “tasteful” to me. A spade is a spade and a rose is a rose. My grandfather died of alcoholism. He got drunk and choked on his own vomit to death. I do not however call liquor stores “death merchants”. I do not call breweries “death machines”. I don't call up reporters and ask them to call all references to booze as “poison”. Nor do I call anyone who drinks an “alcoholic” or a “wino”. Those are subject feelings NOT FACT.
My grandmother was murdered by my grandfather shooting her with a gun five times. Now – do I call up my local TV station and when someone is shot to death and demand every time they say the word “gun” as “grandmother killer”? My mother died from smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. Now – do I call up the newspapers and state that every time they use the word “tobacco company” they instead call them “matricide factories”? No I don't. Anyone who would is either living in a fantasy world or has an agenda. Which in reality is what's happening here with this recent petition.
There has been a move in this country by people with very large pockets to try and stamp out what we here at Sex Workers Anonymous are achieving. Like Noam is trying to warn us about the power of words here - http://hope.journ.wwu.edu/tpilgrim/j190/Chomsky.summary.html – these people are trying to control minds through the power of propaganda.
Because the Telecommunications Act of 1995 wiped out reporting and media. We are now a country of propaganda because we no longer even ALLOW dissenting opinions unless they can buy space. These people have tried to control this movement with creating fake “Samoly Mam's” they put on the podiums, on TV, and in magazines without us being allowed to have our voices heard to counter. They tried to wipe us out of the legal system with the TVRA of 2003 – but the Supreme Court struck that down. They tried to wipe us out of the movement we started with a checkbook. But the ACLU vs. Catholic Bishops judgment lost them that footing. But we're just not shutting up and going away.
So last year these people decided to try and change the English dictionary to gain control. They wrote a letter to the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style asking him to tell reporters and writers to change all use of the word “prostitute” to “rape victim”. Well that didn't fly very well. Nor did it fly when they tried to convince the UN of this word change in their meeting last year either.
So they tried to regain ground in people's minds with creating a completely staged and faked so called “reality show” called “8 Minutes” trying to further portray a “prostitute” as a “victim”. We got that show taken off the air after only three episodes. Not as a “censorship” move – but because it was being used to defraud donors and our government out of millions of dollars in grant money as well as the minds of the people as to what exactly a “sex trafficking victim is”. While they argue a young prostitute should be called a “rape victim” - I argue that a “prostitute” is not a “victim”. Anymore than Gordon Ramsey is a trafficking victim. I say that because trafficking victims exist in ANY industry.
Now they're writing to you. I propose that this country hasn't even straightened out the use of the words for “statutory rape” and “sex” with children. Not when in Nevada a 16 year old is called a “sex worker” for doing the same exact thing that if done in California would not only make her a “rape victim” but would also shut down the very place she's being marketed in and arrest those same customers. Now does calling that Nevada 16 year old legal prostitute a “rape victim” solve anything? Not one bit. Which is all the more reason why I'm saying to this THIS IS AN AGENDA.
You are our last bastion of reality here. We are becoming a society of 1984 propaganda. Especially in a world where the media just won the legal right to lie to us in the lawsuit between Akre, Wilson and Fox. I say this because to support their agenda these people have been blatantly LYING in the media for years now and it's getting worse. In an article with NBC's Marion Brooks for example, they took a woman I had served a legal “cease and desist” letter upon twice already to have her stop impersonating me in the press in order to shill for grant money and donations and they ran it anyway after I had told them in writing this woman was an impostor and that the meetings they were filming were not ours.
The FCC told me I could not only not complain about the station running this false piece of propaganda, that they could do nothing about it Further they could do nothing to allow me any equal air time to counter what was said. I was silenced about my own impersonation. Five reporters told me if they even tried to mention our name – they'd be fired. Now Fox has won all media the right to completely deceive the public also – and the legal right to FIRE anyone who refuses to report these lies. So I'm begging you as our last line of defense with truth and reality here – to please not bow to the pressure of these people to start calling things as we wish them to be instead of what they are.
If you have any questions for me – please don't hesitate to call me.
Thank you for listening.
PS – for the record, we do not have anyone under the age of 18 years old sitting in our meetings calling themselves “prostitutes” or “sex workers”. Anyone under the age of 18 years old, no matter what state they are in, we refer them out to organizations to help them who are properly equipped to do so. Our members do not identify as “prostitutes” or “sex workers” either in meetings. Those are job titles and therefore not what our program is about.