Teresa with whom i exchanged dozen’s of emails over a period of more than 2 years and her response to my questions….
my letter was entitled…”thank you….”
for confirming my worst fears about you, for manipulating me and completely betraying my trust. i am really at a loss having read alan young’s email to the nfb and seeing your comments about me as a person.
do you remember crying with us while hearing our stories in gastown? do you remember telling me you admired my passion? do you remember the countless hours i spent with you allowing you access to our world? do you remember patrick? the disabled client you cut because he didn’t support a sympathetic view for your arguement? or when you said you had so much film footage of our side and really nothing on the other side? like you felt we were the larger movement of voices? when you lied to me saying you felt you had been swayed towards decrim?
or how about the hopes of everyone you dupped into being in your film? what about how you promised over and over to present a balanced vision of issues on sex work? your little loop hole of telling me you didn’t know what would end up in the film does not wash considering how much of your budget was spent filming here in the city….
why would you do this teresa? i need to understand what would motivate someone to do something so completely dispicable. i thought journalists/ documentry makers had an obligation to a set of ethics…what happened?
was it the money? the social capitol? you know, when all your friends praise you for helping the poor down trodden dellusional sex workers?
or is it hatred? do you hate sex workers? how does it feel to be a lying hater? do you feel good about yourself when you wake up in the morning? do you feel like you are a good person for lying?
how could you completely betray everything you learned while working on the film?
i feel you owe me an answer.
and her answer….
Yes, you do deserve a reply. But please be patient with me as we process this, I have only just read this myself. We were and continue to be very concerned about the safety of sex workers, that is why we made this film. And I believe everything we learned from you is reflected in the film.
I want to share with you that almost all of the reviews we have received present it as a balanced piece and one that has the potential to engage people in a conversation. Also, Patrick is in the film.
I am flying to Vancouver to be with my father in his final days so will be off the radar as of tomorrow. My absence in the next week has nothing to do with this letter and everything to do with being with my family.
the following is my letter to the nfb revoking my consent to use my image for the purpose of this unethical and completely misleading documentary;
To Whom it may concern;
My name is Susan Davis and I was filmed as a part of the “Buying Sex” documentry. Based on a complete manipulation of the truth I allowed the film makers unprecedendeted access to the sex industry in Vancouver. I worked largely unpaid to connect the film makers to sex workers, sex industry business onwers and managers, sex buyers and sex worker allies. I did this as I was lead to believe the National Film Board wanted to present an unbiased, diverse and complete look at the possible decriminalization of sex work in Canada and the ramifications of the Bedford Case.
Recent revelations about the reasons all of our extenisive expertise and perspective were excluded from the film and in particular comments made about me personally by the film makers and producer are particularly disappointing.
I have copies of emails in which i am lied to over and over about the intentions of the film being to provide Canadians with a balanced understnading and the motivations of those filming it being to deliver perspectives from all sides. I am praised in the emails for my passion, reassured of an unbiased film and used for my reputation with my community to gain access to sex buyers for interviewing. Now I am told my perspective was excluded because in the producers opinion it was “boring and lame”.
Having been featured in “ELLE” and “Chatelaine” Magazines as well as appearing in the media over 400 times including on the BBC World and Al Jazeera, i believe this statement to be a blatant lie. Others find the story of my community to be very engaging and the work we are doing to be promising. This personal attack was designed to cover the fact that producer was excluding all experiences and perspectives in support of decriminalization of sex work in favour of her own political agenda of recriminalization of sex work under the “Noric Model”.
I am unclear what part of the NFB Mandate covers funding films to further a political agenda. After all, that’s what this film is. A platform for lobbying in favor of a political position.
One of the main reasons I believed the blatant misrepresentation of this film was its association with the National Film Board. I have worked with film makers associated with the NFB in the past and as many Canadians, believe the NFB to be an institution which embodies the very essence of ethics when it comes to making documentries. I believed we would receive a fair part of the discussion because of the reputation of the NFB. I told others they could trust the film makers because of my faith in the reputation of the NFB. i have lost some of the trust of people who were betrayed by the film makers and producers.
It should be noted that sex workers take a huge risk outing themselves in public and for many it was their first time speaking out through media/ film. The complete exclusion of their voices has served to further entrench the lack of trust the sex industry community have in the media and will certainly make them think twice about doing so again in the future.
For me personally and the 2 1/2 years of my life i gave to this project and can never get back, it is particularly poiniant. I am trying to fight for over 11 years for my rights and the rights of my community and had my work diminished to “lame” and “boring” by outsiders whose only goal was to lie to me, mainipulate me and misrepresent their intentions for the purpose of gaining access to sex buyers.
If the intentions of this film, its biased goals and its complete lack of journalistic ethics were made clear to me from the beginning i would have never given my consent or allowed access to anyone from my community.
And so now I write to revoke my consent to the use of any video, audio or photographic recording or transcript that contains my image or words and was produced during the fimling of the documantry.
I do not consent to the use or disclosure of my personal information, data, images or audio recording in any form or format, in part or in full modified or unmodified, for any purpose connected with the filming making or broadcast of a film, television series, website or any other similar activity by yourself, your company, the National Film Board or any other contractors, subcontractors, employees or otherwise in any film, TV, web or any other productions
I am sorry to say this experience has changed my opinion of the National Film Board and will make me leary of film makers in the future. This complete betrayal of my trust and the trust of my community is completely contary to the stated goals and principles of the NFB.
This film was neither inclusive nor diverse and certainly did not meet even the most basic stated principle of educating Canadians about Canadians. This film was a smear campaign and was always intended to cast sex workers and their allies as self centered, self serving elite escorts who care nothing about their fellow workers on street and who are a threat to the Canadian Family
This film could have been so much more. It could have represented all sides. The complete lack of ethics on the part of the NFB, the producer and the film makers have made that impossible. This film is already impacting government policy and will undoubtedly cause wide spread harm as the message it spreads impacts the lives of real sex working people. This is not a film, it is promotion of hatred. It will cost the very women it claims to represent their lives..
With much regret,
Opening the Doors Report- Short 2011Opening the Doors- Final Report
BC Coalition of Experiential Communities 2011
Project Background and Rationale
During the .Developing Capacity for Change Project.-coop development work shops, workers expressed how a trade association and a branding or certification process could support safer work conditions over all and stabilize the existing safer indoor venues that exist now. The development of occupational health and safety training was also seen as a way to give people entering and in the sex industry the tools to make safe decisions about their work. It was agreed that all stake holders including business owners and consumers should be engaged to contribute to the design of the future of our industry.
Currently a charter challenge is underway to bring down the laws governing sex work. This action will only be successful if as an industry we can prove adult consensual sex industry workers are making an informed decision, have access to resources, are of legal age to engage in the sex industry and that ethical sex industry business owners do exist. In the next 10 years we must agree to respect each other and treat each other with dignity. This will be an enormous task but an absolutely necessary one none the less. If we cannot demonstrate the ways in which we have traditionally maintained the stability of our industry, the system at large will most likely impose whatever laws it sees fit and we as an industry will be faced with another disaster.
With this in mind, the BCCEW/C set out to engage sex industry workers in beginning the process and determining whether or not there is industry support for such an action and what the structure of such an organization might look like.
here is John Lowman’s response to Lee Lakeman’s attack on his testimony at the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry. Lowman’s article includes some interesting history on these issues in Canada, including on the perspective of the 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
Missing Women, Feminism and Prostitution
Outsiders to the Sister Outsiders: A Response to Lee Lakeman/Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
John Lowman, SFU School of Criminology, November 6, 2011
On October 13th 2011 Vancouver Rape Relief and Women Shelter posted on its web site1 Lee Lakeman‟s commentary on my testimony at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
Lakeman accuses me of numerous sins, including “sleight of hand, trick of phrase [and] ideological advocacy.” In this vein, she claims that when I responded to a question about my research on prostitution, I neglected to mention “forty years of feminist work on this issue demanding decriminalization of the women and the criminalization of pimps and johns and bawdy house owners,
VANCOUVER, February 24, 2011 — Vancouver sex worker groups and supporters have launched a complaint to the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime against the federal government’s decision to exclude sex workers from the national strategy on missing and murdered women.
“Unbelievably, thirteen Canadian governments – federal, provincial and territorial –totally ignored violence against sex workers in the national strategy,” says Susan Davis, Coordinator of the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities.”
The February 16th complaint strongly urges Federal Ombudsman Sue O’Sullivan to use the powers of her office to recommend the federal government immediately work with Canadian sex worker organizations to support sex workers’ urgent needs for safety and protection.
‘We wrote the Prime Minister and every Justice Minister in Canada in December demanding they take action on sex worker safety and got back a couple of pro forma responses” says Kerry Porth, Executive Director of Providing Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE).
“Our governments seem to be saying sex workers are not acceptable as victims of violence. We need the Ombudsman to make them understand that sex workers, who often endure extreme violence, have the same right to protection as every other Canadian.”
Established in 2007, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC) ensures the federal government meets its responsibilities to victims of crime and is empowered to make recommendations on its findings. Victims can file a complaint to the Ombudsman about any federal agency or federal legislation dealing with victims of crime including when they believe “Canada’s laws or policies for victims of crime do not meet their needs.”
Davis noted the tri-lateral government report on missing and murdered women was the foundation for the national strategy that governments announced in mid-October, pointing out that despite a report mandate that included sex industry workers, no report recommendation addressed violence against sex workers. The federal government later announced $10 million in national strategy funding, but not a single dollar was allocated to sex worker safety needs,
“We live in a city where dozens of sex workers have been murdered over the last 30 years while knowing that violence against sex workers happens right across our country,” says Davis.
“We’re begging government to work with sex workers to show us commitment and action. Their indifference is killing us.”
The following organizations are parties to the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime complaint:
BC Coalition of Experiential Communities - Exotic Dancers for Cancer - FIRST Decriminalize Sex Work - HUSTLE: Men on the Move - The Naked Truth Entertainment - Providing Alternatives Counseling and Education Society (PACE) - PEERS Vancouver - Pivot Legal Society - West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals - WISH Drop-in Centre Society