September Speech


I give this speech to a radical conference in Glasgow.

After speaking it, I crashed very hard. I realise I had been ignoring or coping with trauma for a year.

I had been ill, but learnt to ignore that. I had flashbacks, but learnt to put them in boxes. I had been full of extreme grief, but did not know what to do with it.

After speaking this speech, I spoke for days to good friends, but it still crashed into me.

This is why I have been unable to write – I cannot think without wanting to cry, to die, to run away – so I have made my mind dead.


It is amazing to be in Glasgow, and to be in a vibrant radical feminist environment.

This is so rare these days, for we are so often suffocated by the views of liberal feminists. This has had a very damaging effect on how, when and if exited women can get permission to speak to feminists about abolition.

We are now in an environment, where so-called feminism is claiming that the real issue when dealing with the sex trade is only about the individual choices of prostituted women. In that environment, it becomes logical to speak of sex work, and to think that prostitution can be safe enough to continue as normal.

Liberal feminists are terrified to appear judgmental – in doing that, they avoid looking clearly at the regular hate and degradation that is the sex work – and look instead for the mythical Happy Hooker.

It is vital for radical feminists to raise above this language and attitude.

A first and powerful step towards abolition is to fully back the Nordic Approach. This will help to give back to the prostituted class their dignity and full humanity.

It is wonderful that the Scottish Parliament is having a consultation paper to debate the possibility of having a version of the Nordic Approach into Scottish law.

There is an important thing I need to say, that comes from my heart, and from many exited women who are in contact with me and know that I spend a deal of time with radical feminists.

I would like that radical feminists to be aware that their movement has and always had many exited women inside it. But the vast majority of exited women who have become radical feminists would never want to be known that they had been in the sex trade.

This is not from shame or self-hate – but from feeling and knowing that much of the language and actions of some radical feminists keeps the prostituted class as sub-humans.

This happens when some radical feminists refuse to allow that exited women can have a separate voice or voices, or translate our words to fit their concepts.

I believe this comes from the fear of knowing that trauma for exited women is not about the individual.

No, for exited women our trauma is from being connected to all the prostituted, whether they are living or dead.

We are connected to all the prostituted, whether they are from our country or countries we have never been to.

We are connected to the prostituted, whether from our time or from the time when the first man found he could barter to have consequence-free rape.

We live with all this trauma inside of us. There is no easy fix for our trauma.

I understand that be hard for radical feminists to handle. You may want to put all our pain, our grief, our anger and our confusion into a neat and tidy box. To make our trauma vanish.

But to truly understand the politics of exited women, you must look directly into our trauma.

To do that, you must listen and hear the multiple voices of exited women. We must be the leaders in the movement to abolition.

We are leaders – it would give us back our humanity if radical feminists respected that.

5 responses to “September Speech

  1. We don’t need anyone’s permission to lead. The way I see it, you and your sister colleagues ARE the leaders of the abolition movement for those with the radfem label or other labels or non-labels who connect with, believe and respect what you say; we are following you and listening carefully as you lead with the Truths that you tell. To me leadership is not a popularity contest, it’s a matter of following and walking alongside those we respect, and ignoring those we do not.

    Sorry you’ve been ill, wishing you strength & energy to keep writing and being the fearless leader you are!


  2. Dear Rebecca I hope you are getting some help – I think that we all have a lot of concerned about you.
    wonderful news about the Scottish approach to the Nordic Model. I really hope they will take the final step towards a full criminalisation of buying sex.


  3. I will be fine – I have been living with trauma or so long, that I have many ways to deal with it. It just I get so frustrated.


  4. I don’t know any prostitutes but I’ve known a couple who were also strippers. The “individual choices” of the women I’ve known and stories I’ve heard are to never have gotten into prostitution in the 1st place. The fact that some feminists are forgetting that prostitution is sex trafficking is maddening. Thank you for speaking out


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