For the past week, Women's March has been under fire due to its decision to vocalize disagreement in the recent abolition of Backpage, a site accused of soliciting the sex trafficking of women and girls. Established in 2004, Backpage was the second largest online commerce site in the U.S (behind Craigslist). People visited the site to explore "products and services including automotive, jobs listings, and real estate" (Wikipedia).
I am Jane Doe, a Mary Mazzio documentary released in February, threw the site into frenzy. It has garnered an incredible amount of public attention and criticism. The film followed the legal journeys of several mothers of girls who were abducted and traded on Backpage. These families seek justice for their daughters and punishment for those involved in the sex trafficking ring.
When I heard about Women's March's response to Backpage being shut down, I was absolutely disgusted. How could they support this website through which humans could be bought, sold, and traded? I decided to check it out for myself. I went to Women's March's Twitter page and this is what I found:
The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients. Sex workers rights are women's rights."
Women's March, choosing to ignore the sex trafficking that occurred under Backpage and instead focus of the business of sex workers is absolutely disgusting. As an organization that is supposed to be for women Women's March should not invalidate the traumatic experiences that the young women sold on the site endured.
I might not know the whole story, but I know enough.
Even if the majority of the activities classified under "adult entertainment" included legal "sex work," even one person being trafficked should be enough for Backpage (or any other website) to face legal punishment.
Also, though it might be legal, sex work is not right. It is not dignifying. It is not something women should be encouraged to engage in. And I understand that there are women who choose to participate in this line of work and that they should be as safe as any other worker. I respect Women's March for wanting to protect these women who, like any minority, are commonly overlooked. However, as an organization vested in the advancement of women, practices like prostitution (legal or otherwise) should never be encouraged. Every individual woman can do whatever she pleases with her body, but if we want to be respected and valued, ALL women need to understand that they are more than their body or what their body has to offer.
See below for a slideshow exhibiting tweets regarding Women's March comments about Backpage and sex work as well as tweets from both supporters and dissenters of the organization's stance.