As survivors of prostitution, we stand in solidarity with those boycotting Backpage.com for the following reasons. Some women who identify as prostitutes are also pimps which means they are making a living by selling of other women to men. Female pimps who pose as women in prostitution confuse those who are unfamiliar with the reality of the sex industry and their actions serve to reinforce the myths around prostitution, especially the myth of prostitution as a “career choice” that women freely choose and enjoy engaging in.
SWOP’s protest against our Backpage boycott is like sweatshop owners protesting against those who managed to escape sweatshops. The Sex Worker’s Outreach Project USA (SWOP) was founded by Robyn Few who has pled guilty to promoting interstate prostitution, a charge associated with sex trafficking. This creates a conflict of interest and taints the organization’s ability to advocate for women seeking to escape prostitution. Research shows that almost all prostituted people want to get out immediately. A recent study found that 92% of Native women in prostitution want out now. Based on our personal experiences, conversations with other women in prostitution and research, we believe the women supporting Backpage.com are a small but vocal minority. This does not mean there aren’t well-meaning people within SWOP. But the organization itself is suspect because it is affiliated with other pimp-founded or pimp-dominated groups…