No, Not All Sex Workers Want To Be Saved

A&E is producing a To Catch a Predator-like show about sex workers called 8 Minutes:

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Executive producer Tom Forman describes the premise:

[Kevin Brown is] a cop in Orange County who retired a couple years ago, then devoted himself full time to his church. So he was a full-time cop turned full-time pastor. As a cop, he worked vice. He saw girls who had no place else to go, who had been abused by their pimps, girls who really needed a helping hand, and what he had to do as a cop is arrest them. Now that he’s running a church, he can offer them that help.

And Brown has eight minutes to make his case to a woman each episode, hence the title. Samantha Allen pans the series:

Kevin Brown’s vigilante preacher schtick is “disappointingly unsurprising,” as Lane Champagne, a community organizer for Sex Workers Outreach Project New York City (SWOP-NYC) tells me in a phone interview.

The idea that all sex workers are victims who want to be “rescued” is so pervasive that some clients regularly try to convince sex workers to give up their trade—they just usually don’t bring a camera crew along with them. As Champagne suggests in her own critique of 8 Minutes for a sex workers group blog, Brown’s holier-than-thou angle is not a far cry from the “well-meaning but kind-of-a-dick regulars who fall in love with you and think it’s a compliment to say [things] like, ‘You’re so much better than this.’”

And in an e-mail interview, Kaelie Laochra, a sex worker who runs the popular Respect Sex Work Twitter account, agrees that clients who attempt to “save” her are often the most inadvertently insulting.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown recently called the program “an abomination that should never, ever have gotten the greenlight”:

Seeing someone’s photo online and then proceeding to track them down IRL and secretly monitor their movements would, under other contexts, be considered stalking. But apparently anything goes when your aim is to “save” women from exerting their own agency.