A Timeline of AF3IRM’s Carceral Discourse on Sex Work

You may have noticed some heated exchanges between the feminist organization AF3IRM and sex worker activists of color over the past year. While AF3IRM claims to oppose criminalization of sex workers, many in our sex worker community point out that their record shows differently. Sifting through these claims can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the context.

As a reference, we’ve collected the most important statements, essays, and social media interactions over the past year. In good faith, we are linking directly to AF3IRM’s pieces next to ours, including those that supposedly “debunk” our criticisms. This timeline will be updated as necessary.

2012–2019: Over the years, several AF3IRM members, including Purple Rose, leave AF3IRM due to the leadership’s dogmatic stance against sex work, which makes it taboo to advocate sex work decriminalization.

July 29, 2019: Ending Entitlement to Female and Feminized Bodies is Central to Women’s Liberation

AF3IRM, a feminist organization with chapters across the US, publishes statement criticizing sex work decriminalization, as part of an effort to defeat the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Resolution #53 to support sex worker rights.

August 2, 2019: Rights, Not Rescue: A Response to AF3IRM in Defense of DSA Resolution #53

Rights, Not Rescue: A Response to AF3IRM in Defense of DSA Resolution #53.

Red Canary Song, a grassroots Asian sex workers collective, responds to AF3IRM defending DSA Resolution #53 and the sex worker rights’ movement. After this, the resolution passed.

August 7, 2019: Decolonize Your “Sex Work” Stance: An open letter to 2020 candidates

AF3IRM Hawai’i publishes open letter to 2020 candidates encouraging them to reject full decriminalization of sex work.

Summer 2020:

Purple Rose, a trans Filipinx sex worker formerly involved with AF3IRM creates Twitter and Instagram account, @PurpleRose0666, to dialogue with AF3IRM about its harmful behavior. Without evidence, AF3IRM claims that Purple Rose is not a trans woman, sex worker, or Filipinx former member of AF3IRM, that she is a transphobic Soros-funded operative of “the pimp lobby”, that she is harassing them (doxxing, hacking, stalking), that she is coordinating a vast conspiracy against them.

Despite this, other sex workers back up Purple Rose, including some who also had abusive experiences with AF3IRM. Several trans women of color who are mutuals of Purple Rose and AF3IRM members reach out to confirm that Purple Rose is a real Filipinx trans woman. Now knowing her identity, AF3IRM members threaten to dox her if she doesn’t stop speaking out.

July 8, 2020: Fuck Work: Internalizing Neoliberal Feminism

AF3IRM Hawai’i criticizes the sex worker rights movement as “neoliberal feminist.” Cites “Hawai’i specific research” that was co-authored by Dominique Roe-Sepowitz and Khara Jabola-Carolus, AF3IRM Hawai’i founder.

July 27, 2020: A Socialist, Feminist, and Transgender Analysis of “Sex Work”

Esperanza F., a trans Latina, is brought into AF3IRM and they collaboratively publish a personal essay detailing her traumatic experiences in the sex trade, criticizing DSA Resolution #53 and defending AF3IRM’s support for the Nordic Model.

July 28, 2020: Dear BootLicker, Esperanza F.

Maya Morena, undocumented Honduran sex worker activist, and previous member of DecrimNY and Red Canary Song, responds to Esperanza’s essay.

August 10, 2020: The Af3irm Agenda

Purple Rose (@PurpleRose0666) publishes an essay describing carceral feminism and her research documenting the connections between AF3IRM, the state, and predatory rescue projects, as well as debunking AF3IRM’s spurious claims to have “defacto decriminalized” sex workers in Hawa’i and Los Angeles through their #SurvivorsNotCriminals bills. Raises concerns about AF3IRM collaborating with Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, whose Arizona prostitution diversion program “Project Rose” came to attention when black trans sex worker activist Monica Jones spoke out about her abusive experiences with it.

August 14, 2020: Dear Esperanza

Kate Zen, a sex worker activist and member of Red Canary Song, responds personally to Esperanza’s letter with a heartfelt plea for understanding.

August 18, 2020: The Problem with Sex Trade Expansionary Feminism, A Response to Kate Zen

Esperanza responds to Kate’s response, and coins the term “Sex Trade Expansionary Feminist” (STEF) as a counterpart for “Sex Worker Exclusionary Feminist” (SWERF), which is shorthand to describe anti-sex work feminists.

August 21, 2020: The AF3IRM Agenda: The Real Controversy Behind AF3IRM

AF3IRM Hawai’i responds to Purple Rose’s piece claiming to “debunk” it, while skirting the issues. AF3IRM claims that they are not involved with Dominique Roe-Sepowitz (despite regularly citing and applying her research), minimized police involvement in Dominique’s “alternative arrest” program, and maintained complete ignorance about the documented harm she caused Monica Jones. AF3IRM criticizes the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) as part of the Soros conspiracy theory, even though Purple Rose has no connection to them.

AF3IRM celebrates sex trafficking research conducted by Khara Jabola-Carolus (AF3IRM Hawai’i founder) and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, which they frequently reference in their writings and workshops.

September 3, 2020: Speaking up FOR OURSELVES and listening to Survivors: AF3IRM Names Digital Violence As a Form of Violence Against Women

AF3IRM National publishes a statement alleging a coordinated, funded smear campaign. Claims to have been doxxed and hacked without providing any evidence, despite having publicly threatened to dox Purple Rose.

September 12, 2020: The Nordic Model Needs to Be Toppled | by AF3IRM Hawai’i | Sep, 2020

After ample criticism from sex workers about their support for the Nordic Model (also described as the Equality Model or End Demand Model), AF3IRM misleadingly publishes an essay claiming to be against it. Despite having supported this model since their organization’s inception, they never mention this. In this essay, they propose the “Bodies Back Model” for the first time, which is no more than another flavor of the Nordic/Equality/End Demand model. They claim Bodies Back Model is not carceral, while it relies on policing and increasing fines.

December 21, 2020: “Follow the Money”: AF3IRM, the Anti-Sex Work movement, and the Billionaire Conspiracy Against Them

After many claims from AF3IRM co-founder that they are completely unfunded and that that their critics are being funded by billionaire George Soros, Purple Rose releases an essay showing that not only does AF3IRM receive grant funding, but also has even better funded allies and access to institutional support. The claims of critics being funded by George Soros are unfounded and have dangerous ties to a far-right conspiracy theory used to dismiss all types of leftist causes.

Febuary 7, 2021: “Transphobia Will Not Be Tolerated”: AF3IRM’s Hidden Tolerance for Transmisogyny

Purple Rose releases an essay detailing the many trans exclusionary radical feminists and organizations that AF3IRM works with. When facing criticism, AF3IRM will publicly denounce transphobia and are very eager to add more trans women into their organization, but they also have no issue collaborating with very well known transphobic feminists and do little to confront transphobia within their organization.



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