On Oct. 14, a clip of Twitch streamer and commentator Hasan Piker saying he has hired sex workers before ignited debate on Twitter. He specifically said he has hired workers from Berlin’s Artemis, a brothel.
Piker was responding to someone in his chat asking, “have you ever had an escort? no shame obviously, sex work=real work.”
“I’ve gone to a brothel, Artemis, in Berlin, and had sex with the workers there,” Piker said. “I don’t hide it. I don’t give a shit. Why would I?”
The stream was posted by independent journalist Alex Rubinstein (@realalexrubi) on Oct. 14. Vice reports that the clip is from “a few months ago.”
In the days since Rubinstein’s tweet, anti-sex work sentiment has been spreading throughout Twitter. Some sex workers have responded to anti-sex work tweets by noting that Piker’s comments are ultimately helpful for public perception of sex workers.
“Hasan openly talking about seeing sex workers in such a nonchalant, non-judgmental, and non-romanticized way is one of the best ways a client of his visibility and status can work to destigmatize seeing SWers,” tweeted Ana Valens of We Got This Covered. (Until recently, Valens was an NSFW reporter for the Daily Dot).
Valens’s comments were amplified by Violeta Félix, a NYC-based dominatrix who fired back at tweets from @bimbocommunist, who called Piker’s actions “not normal.”
In a phone interview with the Daily Dot, Félix said that Piker’s comments normalized sex work and supporting sex work by hiring them—rather than solely verbalizing one’s support.
“A lot of leftists talk about supporting sex workers,” they told the Daily Dot. “Here we have a guy who’s literally supporting sex workers with patronage,” which they said was “pretty fucking awesome.”
Plus, Félix said that Piker talking about hiring sex workers publicly breaks the stigma that only “perverts,” “weirdos,” and “losers” interact with sex workers. They tweeted that the majority of her clients are “normal-ass people that are just exploring/engaging in their sexuality in a non-judgmental and non-committal environment.”
Other sex workers echoed Félix’s comments. Princess Poison, a Texas-based dominatrix, tweeted that those who hire sex workers are “more mentally healthy” than those who don’t and “coerce their tinder dates into fulfilling their highly specific fantasies for free and then ghost afterwards.”
Rubinstein also tweeted that Artemis was “raided for human trafficking” in 2016. According to its website, Artemis is still in service.
Sex work and human trafficking are not the same thing. Plus, the Urban Justice Working Group on Sex Work and Human Rights has explained that “rescue missions,” like raids, are “not the answer” in their media toolkit.
“Most ‘rescues’ are large-scale police raids that sweep up everyone present for arrest, interrogation and detention, ignoring the difference between those who are there under coercion or are under-age, and those who are not,” like sex workers.
The Guardian reported in 2016, “Those detained in the [Artemis] raid were accused of tax fraud and withholding social security contributions.” Although the police said they were investigating “possible human trafficking” by the biker gang Hells Angels at the club, it does not appear any related charges were brought.
Update 3pm CT Oct. 20: SX Noir, president of Women of Sex Tech who has engaged in sex work activism, told the Daily Dot in a Zoom interview that the confusion and tension surrounding Piker’s specific mention of Artemis muddled his statement on sex work.
“He wanted to point to a legal example, or an ethical example,” SX Noir said, speculating about Piker’s motives. “And the reality is, it’s all messy. To point to Berlin and the way that sex work works in Berlin is not at all how it exists in America.”
She also stressed that Piker was only speaking from his own personal experience. “He’s a grown-ass man,” she said. “He’s being very open about something that a lot of Americans do.”
Félix expressed a similar sentiment.
“If you purchase from a sex worker, you’re not like inherently commodifying women,” Félix told the Daily Dot. “We provide a service, that doesn’t make us an object.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Hasan Piker, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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