Posted by: Chasy | 17/05/2011

Melinda Tankard Reist strikes again

I don’t know why I’m paying her any mind – of course she’s going to spout her anti-sex and whorephobic rhetoric masked as feminism. That’s what she always does.

In particular, this shat me up the wall:

”Prostitution harms women and one study found that prostituted women had post traumatic stress disorder symptom at similar levels as war victims,” she said.

One study. Her entire argument is based on one study. No mention of whether it was from a peer-reviewed journal, or just notes from her own diary. That could be a fault of the reporting in the Canberra Times, but it base an entire campaign and to try to bring down an extire workforce on the basis of one study is ludicrous. See also: Meryl Dorey.

The ‘exit’ strategy that she suggests assumes that ALL women are forced into sex work and ALL women hate it. This also assumes men are not sex workers and that heterosexual-identifying men do not pay for sex with male sex workers (which is a total furphy). With organisations like Scarlet Alliance and SWOP, it’s obvious that there is a large number of sex workers out there who enjoy their work, and brilliantly highlights the fact that MTR knows nothing about sex work, other than what comes from her own ignorant and conservative point of view.

Also, the use of the term ‘sexual violence’ to describe sex work is horrifically insulting to survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, as well as sex workers. Either way you look at it, it’s abhorrent. If you think sex work is bad, then you are insiunating that women have no sexual agency and only the people wanting sex from them can make decisions on how they use their bodies. If you have no qualms with sex work, then it implies there is some form of consent in ‘sexual violence’. However you look at it, MTR is furthering the infantilisation of women and their sexuality, and should be ashamed.

But, of course, she won’t. As far as she’s concerned, it’s the people who see sex as a fun activity who should be ashamed – especially females.

UPDATE: This article by Elena Jeffreys of Scarlet Alliance from 2009 shows just how much sex workers do not need to be saved by the likes of MTR and her ilk.



  1. Chasy,
    The study on PTSD is here: I think you will find that it is not just notes in a diary. You might also be interested in other studies on PTSD among sex workers that are cited in this refereed journal article, available online at I hope this helps.
    kind wishes, Helen

    • So the first article is on street-based sex workers, not all sex workers. The independent variable here is the fact they are street-based, not sex workers. In fact, the article itself quotes a study that shows street-based workers are more likely to experience violence than indoor workers. A large number of sex workers are private or in brothels/houses/dungeons. I believe this is the majority, but, unfortunately, those sorts of stats are not within my reach. I’m sure Google will help you if you really want to know.

      The sex workers also reported ‘complex trauma histories’ – this says that it’s not sex work that creates the PTSD, but their life experiences preceeding it, indicating that PTSD is a factor in selecting street-based sex work – there no cohort study to suggest private or brothel workers follow suit, nor does it say, at all, that sex workers all suffer PTSD as a result of their occupation.

      Also, MTR was using this study as evidence that sex workers need ‘exit’ strategies. The study discusses the rate of PTSD amongst street based sex workers as a result of their entire life experiences, not just sex work – so it obviously does not support the theory at all. Methinks MTR glanced at the title of the article and decided it was for her without reading it.

      The fact that sex workers experience violence at all is a problem in society, but not a problem in sex work alone, as an occupation. I wonder if the actual rates of violence towards street based sex workers is actually higher than the general population after a night on the piss? I seriously doubt it.

    • Helen, I remember reading a few years ago (and if I had the time right now to find the link, I would) that street-based sex workers are usually on the street, so to speak, because of substance abuse and significant psychiatric issues as brothels screen employees out, ultimately refusing to hire those with drug addiction and other severe issues. It sounds callous and cold, of course, but brothels are essentially a business, competing with other brothels and attempting to attract customers.

      It would be ideal if these researchers did a comparative study with sex workers who work in a brothel or places that are not street-based so that all variables are researched.

  2. Thank you for reading MTR so I don’t have to. 🙂

    • Your very welcome. Although I feel rather unhinged after doing so.

      • Yes. You must be. It’s “you’re”. (PLEASE SPANK ME!!)

  3. OH FUCK ME DEAD. *facepalm*

  4. You know she’s anti-choice as well, right?

    And yeah, you’re right on all fronts. She’s doing something that anti sex work types do a lot… taking research done on street based sex workers (or occasionally self selected sex workers who have been victims of violence) and extrapolating the results to be representative of all sex workers.

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