Village Voice vs. Ashton Kutcher

1 Jul

In case you missed it over the past few days, the Village Voice has written an article attacking Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s numbers that they use in their campaign against child trafficking. Here’s the article. It’s long, but well worth the read, especially because of all the attention it’s getting now. But if you’re looking for a more accessible, and I think more thorough, examination of the same issue I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Emi Koyama’s zine : War on Terror and War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activists Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement. You can read it online, but please support this amazing work and buy a copy too!

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have a more official response in the coming days, but I wanted to give people who don’t have time to delve through all the twitter nonsense and all the articles a quick roundup of what I found to be the most helpful information and viewpoints that I think need to be taken into consideration. Since people are both still watching, researching, and writing, this will be updated throughout the next week or so, but here’s a start.

NBC gives a quick rundown of what’s going on, including some awesome screen shots of the tweets from both @aplusk and @villagevoice

Maggie McNeil puts this particular argument into a broader perspective of Village Voice’s upcoming pro-decrim campaign and ongoing work on the subject.

Amanda Brooks investigates some of Ashton’s claims of teen victims, as well as providing a good analysis of the money angle

Charlie Glickman’s When Arrogance Meets Activism… argues for “a world in which people have the freedom to engage in commercial sex AND the freedom from having it imposed upon them”

Audacia Ray’s Twitter Commentary: (as posted chronologically)

Digging into @aplusk vs @villagevoice debate. Sex trafficking is real problem, but not one that can be fixed just by throwing $, even big $

People end up in the sex industry by circumstance, choice, and coercion, but criminalization puts them all in prison.

Though it is daunting, its important to know that good intentions aren’t enough. Good intentions (sadly) often lead to human rights abuses.

Right now, it isn’t possible to nail down anywhere near the exact number of youth at risk for/being commercially sexually exploited

The go-to oft quoted UPenn study says 100k-300k at risk annually. Police arrest about 8K youth for prostitution yearly.

Sure, we need better studies. But regardless of the #, we know that there are both youth and adults at risk. They need services, not studies

Anti-trafficking groups have a vested interest in keeping interest in their work: there is A LOT of money to be had in the rescue industry

But strangely, not a lot of this money is being funneled into services, it’s mostly law enforcement and awareness raising.

The @villagevoice piece says Congress spent billions on anti-trafficking LE, but nothing on services that shelter + counsel trafficked youth

Good services/support for people affected by sex trade must be free and voluntary, not court mandated. Good harm reduction promotes OPTIONS

Voluntary services are important bc exploited people must be able to make/own choices in order to have their human rights fully respected

Young Women’s Empowerment Project in Chicago is a great example of what this kind of programming looks like.

Here in NYC, Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project also provides voluntary services, meets survival needs. Streetwise and Safe is amazing too.

Gawker gets in on the action detailing Ashton Kutcher’s call for advertisers to pull their ads from Village Voice. Highlight: “It’s going to be a let down when they learn it’s just the Village Voice, not something like”

One of LA’s own, current sex worker Jenny DeMilo, weighs in with her anger as well. And points out the fact we’ve somehow missed that BOYS get trafficked too! Thanks Jenny!

I have to say, I’m really excited to see what else gets published as a part of this conversation. If there is something you want to see on this list please let me know! This is unfolding as I’m posting this so I’m bound to miss some good stuff. But I’m hoping to build a space where we can have this pretty well archived so when it eventually blows over or progresses we can keep track of what’s been done well and fix whatever mistakes get made along the way.

And for those interested in donating their time or money to organizations that actually address the sex trade directly, here is Melissa Gira Grant’s list of recommendations. This is (obviously) not exhaustive, and there’s some great groups regionally, but it’s a great start.

One Response to “Village Voice vs. Ashton Kutcher”


  1. The Fight Between the Village Voice, Ashton Kutcher and Some Faulty Stats: What Really Matters Here | My Sex Professor: Sexuality Education - July 7, 2011

    […] that after an extended Twitter fight and much public display, Kutcher acknowledges as much on his blog. I hope it’s sign that his philanthropic efforts might soon be turned in a more productive […]

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