San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Final Report 1996

Prostitution Task Force
Sex Workers' Issues Testimony Meeting-Vic St. Blaise

People talk about problems of prostitution, about drugs, miniskirts and fishnets and I don't embody any of that so people either don't take me seriously, because I don't fit into their expectations , that I am not worth being bothered with. Sometimes I feel that in some of the activist work that I do and sometimes on the Task Force as well, and that's too bad because alot of the problems people complain about as far as prostitution are things that I have either avoided or overcome, and it's like I am not being tapped for that, and it's too bad. Some of it is my own fault for not speaking up.

People don't get busted for having sex for money, but people get busted for agreeing to do it, and I think that is for a reason. Prostitution is very much something that deep down people don't want to get rid of. I mean everybody uses it, people who enforce the laws, people who preach at sermons. People from all sorts of backgrounds use prostitution in one form or another and I think if there was a sincere effort to crack down on it , it would have been done a long time ago. So the way it's set up now is that some things you are allowed to get away with but some things you are not allowed to get away with, it's definitely about control.

I do think that it's been for the control of women. If you read some history about when the laws were taking effect and how they were enforced, it goes far back and things and attitudes have been inherited thorough ages and ages and ages. But the sad thing is, people don't understand, it's not just about controlling women, and it does effect every other facet of humanity because prostitution touches people everywhere. The women are being controlled by these laws, but it also effects the customers, it effects the families, it effects the relationships they want to have with friends and families and neighbors, and that's really sad.

Also I don't live in what's currently so-called a problem areas for prostitution, but I am a neighborhood person and I belong to a community and I live in a neighborhood and I'm very much a neighborhood person as well, and I think alot of times that is over looked when people talk about prostitution.

Another part of it is the question of the problem our society has with sex. Let's say that prostitution was decriminalized, there would still be alot of stigmatization, judgment and alot of uncomfortable feelings about seeing someone dressed provocatively, things like that. I get uncomfortable when I walk by a butcher shop. I'm a vegetarian, but I don't go around protesting these places and make them close their doors or whatever.

There will always be least in the near future, who will be bothered by sexuality. Instead of looking at themselves and thinking why is it such a problem, they attack whoever, and I think that's why I'm in this, not just about sex for money, but sex in general. I think we need to come a long way as far this society.

The whole thing about disease and HIV, safer sex and responsible activity is everyone's responsibility, and should just be placed on the heads or whatever parts of prostitutes. Its for everybody. More than just singling out prostitution for health checks, it's not right. It doesn't reward good behavior, instead it punishes people for stuff that may or may not even happen. The whole HIV testing law has nothing to do with actual physical acts. It has to do with agreeing to commit some nebulous act so it makes HIV a status crime for people in the sex industry and I think that's really wrong.

I don't like the idea of zoning, because it's us vs. them. The whole county should be a tolerance zone in my opinion, the whole country, but I guess you have to start somewhere. I think alot of money is wasted on prostitution enforcement the way that it is, I mean there are real problems. I live on a busy street and it's noisy and there's times when I get mad, but there's other things to take into consideration. It would be easy for me to just yell out of a window, or throw something at a car or loud radio, but that does not take care of the problem.

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