This article is a collaboration between Dr. Helen Shepard, a doctor of human sexuality, sexological bodyworker, pleasure activist and political organizer from Eugene, Oregon, and Kit O’Connell, a gonzo journalist and activist from Austin, Texas who’s closely followed the Green Party during this election cycle. They reached out to both key Green Party members, and actual sex workers in the hopes of better understanding this issue, and encouraging the party to improve its platform.
At a time when our country’s two major political parties are increasingly alienating, many politically engaged voters are turning in exasperated hope to third party candidates, like the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
It’s no wonder the party attracts the attention of progressives, independents, seasoned voters, and newly mobilized Bernie Sanders supporters alike: the Green Party bases its platform on 10 key values, ranging from social justice and equal opportunity to nonviolence and ecological wisdom. Stein has called for a 50% cut to military spending, proposes a “Green New Deal” that would invest in renewable energy infrastructure, has called for an immediate forgiveness to all student loans, and has been a very vocal critic of the corruption in the DNC.
While Stein’s positions are often controversial, the desire for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans isn’t hard to understand in this election cycle. Especially for left-wing voters looking for a candidate who will stand up for the rights of workers and our society’s most marginalized, the Green Party is, at least ideologically, an ideal choice.
But the party has a major, hypocritical flaw.
When it comes to the rights of sex workers, Greens seem to abandon their core values entirely—instead taking a decidedly mainstream, ineffectual, and harmful stance.
Not only does the Green Party platform explicitly discourage even the use of the term “sex worker,” but it strips sex workers of their agency by painting all or most of them as trafficking victims to be rescued, rather than workers in need of empowerment.
A growing number of organized sex workers and human rights experts support decriminalization of all forms of sex work as a way to protect these workers from the very serious concerns of prosecution, trafficking, and violence. This puts the Green Party’s platform to the right of not only Amnesty International, but even Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who otherwise makes a terrible choice for the progressive-minded feminist voter.
With its emphasis on workers rights and LGBTQIA+ liberation, how can the Green Party maintain a policy on sex work that is not just sex-negative, but regressive, dangerous, and in direct opposition to its stated ideals?