Lawyer and independent Ontario 2022 provincial election candidate Naomi Sayers. Credit: Naomi Sayers
It can be difficult to believe that attitudes are changing about the adult industry when we still deal with judgements, discrimination, and disenfranchisement daily.
Yet, there is progress.
Steps toward decriminalization of sex work in states like New York, and Wisconsin, India’s recent supreme court decision defining prostitution as a profession, and the rise of former sex workers in professions outside the industry shows real movement. Of these advancements, it’s the last topic which is possibly the most important: freedom for sex workers to pursue any job they want without discrimination – especially in the political arena.
It’s trailblazers like Canadian, Naomi Sayers who recently announced her candidacy for the Saul Ste. Marie, Ontario provincial election that are paving the way.
Sayers, a human rights advocate, who went from escorting and exotic dancing to becoming a prominent Anishinaabe lawyer in both Alberta and Ontario, is now Sault’s independent candidate. With more than ten years’ experience in the legal profession, she has never hidden or been ashamed of her past. In fact, as reported by SooToday, she uses her “personal story to create and influence change” and shares her support for marginalized workers on her campaign website.
But, even with all this passion, honesty, and concrete skills, it has not been an easy road for Sayers as evidenced by her initial bid for the candidacy.
In May, she announced she would like to run for the provincial election as a Liberal. Seems like a perfect fit – a highly intelligent, passionate, and experienced woman who has served the community for years. However, the Ontario Liberals were not so liberal, which shows you how thick judgement runs toward sex workers. According to Northern Ontario News, they rejected Sayers on an excuse that she used her social media “too often.” Bogus! Even more bogus… wait until you hear who did get the bid.
SooToday broke the insane news that Sayers was passed over for an 18-year-old high school student – Aidan Kallioinen of Espanola.
You read that right, an 18-year-old kid who just finished eleventh grade, had never lived on his own, who had never even held down a full-time job got the nod. Sure, he could be someone to reckon with in the future, but c’mon, he’s not ripe yet! I find his quote from Sirius XM Canada Talks’ show especially humorous:
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn just how much of our day-to-day world is political and how much it influences the decisions we make.”
Ahhh all his wise 18 years…
Sayers, of course, did not let this stop her; she simply became the independent candidate instead. She also got the last laugh after the teen was ousted by the Liberal party in less than 24-hours. Apparently, he engaged in some inappropriate comments on an online gaming platform which lost him the bid, said CBC.
But the point is, she didn’t give up over this outrageous insult of a political system and continued to forge ahead. I’m willing to bet if she doesn’t win this election, she won’t stop and will be up for another until she succeeds. As a side note, she’s not the only one fighting against discrimination over sex work when pursuing new careers – there’s also former stripper, Alexandra Hunt who is running for Pennsylvania’s US House of Representatives.
Times are changing. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way with women like Sayers and Hunt who are changing perceptions one vote at a time. When we have those who know us, represent us, our voices will be heard.
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names).