An Open Letter to The Project Re: Ubergate 2/5/17
To Whom It May Concern,
Please allow me to introduce myself in a snapshot.
I am 34 years old and successfully self employed since the age of 25.
I am an amateur writer and visual art student.
I have been in a same sex relationship for almost six years.
For almost a decade I worked full time as a fitness professional.
the Australian Adult Industry now knows me as Marci Romaine.
I am an independent sex worker.
I felt moved to write to the Project after a Twitter furore amongst my colleagues in response to the footage from your show aired Tuesday 2/5. Your panel interviewed Daniel Moore, a likeable Uber driver who had mistakenly picked up a street based sex worker instead of his customer.
My colleagues and I were offended and frustrated by your commentary for several reasons, which I would like to explain to you. Clearly, The Project noticed our numerous comments as your footage from the interview was removed from social media.
Workers in the adult industry face stigma on a daily basis, regardless of the method in which they choose to work. As a private escort, I feel lucky to “get off lightly,” with my own social anxiety surrounding my profession being the most notable side effect.
Others I know have had much more serious issues directly related to the stigma surrounding the industry. Young sex workers I have spoken to have dealt with ostracisation from their families resulting in severe depression. Some have been physically assaulted, raped or robbed and felt unable to report to police due to the legislation around sex work in different states, or simply the fear of being judged.
I would also like to mention our clients, who are also inevitably a largely misunderstood demographic. Why should it be a shameful thing to seek the intimate company of another person when love and belonging is understood to be a fundamental human need (Maslow’s Hierarchy anyone?)
I would now like to examine and challenge some of the comments made by your panel during the Daniel Moore interview in the interest of developing greater social awareness on this issue.
*Walleed (laughing) to Daniel Moore - “How often do you mistake a customer for a sex worker?”
Daniel Moore (incredulous and amused) - “Never!”
Just so you know guys, touring escorts always prefer to travel to and from jobs by Uber when we are working in a city away from home. An unofficial Twitter poll posted by one of my colleagues in response to this segment showed that 45% of us use Uber services 1-10 times a week and 22% of us use Uber 10-20% a week. So chances are Daniel, although being mistaken for a client by a street based sex worker was a first for you, the likelihood of you having a private independent sex worker in your car almost every shift you drive in the Sydney CBD is probably quite high.
*Carrie Bickmore “I could see how you could get them confused.. I would have never thought that was a sex worker.”
Funnily enough, we look and dress like regular people. Because we ARE. This is not Law & Order SVU.
*Carrie Bickmore referring to Daniel Moore as a “Good Bloke” for continuing the conversation.
I”m sure Daniel is a “Good Bloke” in many ways, but publicly outing this woman in video footage was certainly not a very compassionate option….and is he a good person simply for having a standard Uber conversation with a sex worker rather than treating her poorly?
*Rachel Corbett to Daniel Moore - “Wasn’t there a part of you that was thinking… (Rachel mimes absolute disgust and horror at this point. Tongue out, drawing her finger across her throat in an ‘off with your head’ type gesture.) “Gotta get outta here!”
Wow, I don’t even know where to begin on this one.
Rachel, what an absolutely disgraceful way to publicly stigmatise someone. Do you understand that street based workers are possibly the sex workers most at risk of violence? Do you understand what kind of psychological impact showing footage of this woman may have had on her? Are you aware that she mistook Daniel for a client, rather than randomly “propositioning” him as was presented in this segment? Did you not hear the notes of confusion in her voice as she asked him “Well what are you doing then?”
Without knowing anything about this woman, or having any experience with street based work myself, I feel slightly anxious meeting a new client when they have been screened and paid a deposit prior to their appointments… so I can only imagine what this street based worker’s fears may be on each uncertain shift.
Rachel, you should be truly ashamed for making fun of her. For displaying to the entire country that it was ok to humiliate her. How dare you.
For a program that could usually be commended on allowing minority groups to be heard and understood, The Project truly dropped the ball here. One could practically feel you patting yourselves on the back for using the term “Sex worker” instead of “Prostitute” whilst getting every single other thing so horribly wrong.
While most Australians are not opposed to having a cheeky laugh at ourselves, the angle of your report could not have been more dehumanising. I’d recommend a bit of reflection and a public apology to the sex workers of Australia.
A Tax Payer.
A Sex Worker.