Mia Herndon, Executive Director of Third Wave, an organization run by and for young women and transgender youth age 35 and under, believes that shutting down Craigslist’s ‘adult services’ section is a simplistic and ultimately ineffective response to the complex issues around sex work and young people.
Herndon says, “Craigslist is one of the few sites that worked with law enforcement. It’s not the right target.”
Herndon says that it was mostly sex workers themselves who used the site to support their work. “Those ads on Craigslist were mostly paid for by the people providing services.”
I asked Herndon if Newmark’s silence on the issue and claims of censorship bothered her. She said that people have different responses to being attacked and that Third Wave is concerned about the health and safety of sex workers rather than the response of the Craigslist founder.
Herndon warns against law makers and the media conflating the issues of young people engaged in sex work versus sex trafficking and using blanket ‘victim language’ to talk about it all. She says Third Wave is committed to helping sex workers have a safe and healthy work environment from which they can support themselves.
I still believe Craigslist has a responsibilty to speak out instead of clamming up. It’s hard to get women’s and children’s issues on the front page and presented in an intelligent way. Here’s an opportunity for the media, law makers, and the public to get educated on sex trafficking, sex work, and young people. If Craig Newmark doesn’t want to be the expert to speak out, he should hire someone who is qualified to and who will.
Here is an excerpt from what I posted yesterday about media reports that most women’s organizations are refusing to take contributions from Craigslist, including burning an $100,000 check:
I’ve got to admire any organization that stands by its principles and burns an $100,000 check. I think that must have been an empowering act for the Center for Young Women’s Development. Though I also believe its challenging to claim any money is pure. Obviously all donors aren’t investigated. It seems like every cosmetic company on earth gives money to help eradicate breast cancer, including all the ones that test on animals and sell magical creams that promise to banish cellulite. Obviously selling girls is far worse than selling potions and lines have to be drawn. Oprah doesn’t carry ads in her magazine from cigarette or diet companies. Everyone’s got their limits. Or they don’t.
I’m most troubled that Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, hasn’t said more about sex trafficking. I saw a much repeated CNN interview where a reporter kept questioning him about the ads on his site and he mostly stared back at her, stone faced. He seemed mad. Now he has a “Censored” sign over his adult section and that seems angry too. Especially because Craig Newmark isn’t being censored. He has a voice on CNN and any TV news or radio outlet or national magazine he wants. Why doesn’t Newmark use that platform to do something to help the powerless, voiceless kids who are victims of sex crimes instead of petulantly sulking that he’s being censored?
Read Third Wave’s statement on sex workers here.