Comments and Reviews from Students of the SFU Criminology Department March 2021 -
- Thank you Velvet Steele for your presentation this week and for enlightening us on your experiences as a sex worker. Sharing these experiences helps open my eyes and gain new perspectives which I’m grateful for. When Velvet talks about the fetish nights she hosted, I found this to be so important. She gave a venue or an environment in which sex workers could feel comfortable where the expectation was to leave bias and prejudice at the door. The reason that I feel this is so important is that as we’ve seen throughout this course, prejudice and bias towards sex workers have been so prevalent through institutions and society as a whole. For Velvet to offer nights like this goes to show how much care and effort has been put in to make others feel comfortable. It was also excellent to see the formation of groups to fight legislation, federally and locally, that has typically worked against sex workers and providing unsafe work conditions for workers. Working towards altering or removing Bill C-36 would go a long way in ensuring that sex workers are protected, and adjusting to safer conditions. Hearing experiences from sex workers, such as Velvet Steele carries a lot of weight in working towards these goals. These are workers who have faced these conditions first hand and contain much more knowledge than others which affirms why they should be leading the way in helping sex workers.
Thank you again Velvet, for the wonderful presentation!
Thank you so much Velvet Steele for your presentation and for sharing your stories and experiences with us. It was interesting to hear about how Velvet was able to bring out fantasies for people all while learning about the clients and what was essentially behind these fantasies. This showed how there was a deeper connection that was being created with herself and her clients. She discussed how the media perpetuated sex and violence which I thought is very important in this line of work and in general. The media often don’t have the knowledge or have a lack of understanding of what these sex workers actually do. She notes how the media always wants to portray that sex work is a high-risk lifestyle job that is perpetuating. She expands on this by differentiating other jobs that are also high-risk, but the media doesn’t say anything about them. This shows how the media forms different meanings for sex workers and what they do, in comparison to other jobs where people are known as “heroes” for taking on high-risk jobs. I think a really important part of this guest lecture was when Velvet discusses how sex workers are people who need an equal amount of respect just as any other person. This is so important because people in society begin to identify these sex workers as ‘others’ and create horrible ideas about who they are because they don’t believe this line of work to fall under the category of a job. Something that I was unknown to prior to this guest lecture was how sex workers have to learn about how to put things up on the internet using different files, such as JPEG. I had not taken this into consideration before, which was really interesting to know about. This guest lecture allowed me to further understand how sex workers do way more than we think, such as having a simple conversation with clients who are struggling to identify who they are or with any other barriers in their life. Velvet also discusses how active listening is so important in her job. This was a great idea that she pointed out in her discussion because it is relatable to everyone’s life and their jobs, as it is a crucial skill that everyone should have. It helps you understand what people are saying in conversations. A lot of people are not allowed to share their stories because someone may not want to hear them. Overall, I loved her presentation and it was so easy to follow along with everything she was saying.
Once again, thank you for your speaking with us Velvet!
What another great lecture! Thank you, Velvet Steele, for zooming with us to share your experience and your opinions on the sex work industry! It’s always refreshing to hear someone who is so open about what society still, unfortunately, considers taboo. It was also really interesting to hear about your partner’s experience. I really appreciate how involved you are within the community, like working with the VPD. I believe it’s important to be collaborative to be able to create a better and safer community, and like you said, to hold them accountable for their actions. I was saddened to hear that you feel anxious before leaving the door, not knowing what might happen to you, what might be said. To think that people still believe it’s okay to throw comments at anyone is just ridiculous. Again, I’m very appreciative of being able to listen to your stories and look forward to reading your book! It was a pleasure to listen to you!
Thank you, Velvet Steele for coming in and finding comfort in sharing your experiences and stories with us. The confidence you had in yourself and in the way you illustrated your experiences was very empowering.
I wanted to start off by acknowledging the importance in terminology which has been discussed by every guest lecturer we have had so far. Learning such content in the course and then it being reiterated in real life experiences is so fascinating and really highlights the importance of certain concepts. Throughout Velvet’s lecture there were a couple things that stood out to be and really grasped my attention. The first being the skills Velvet has and the confidence that she has in her skills. An important skill in Velvet’s role was to understand individuals and turn their fantasies into a reality which is difficult to do and not everyone has the skills to do this. To be able to understand one’s pleasure and the way their mind works is a not an easy task. The way Velvet empowered this and was able to care for the pleasure of these individuals is so fascinating. Another part of Velvet’s lecture that really got me thinking and opened my eyes in looking towards a different perspective was when she mentioned the support that needs to build for students. Support and organizational groups have been implemented for the LGBTQ community in most schools, however there are no programs or support groups for those working as sex workers. School is very expensive and for some individuals this is a way to support themselves and rather than being shamed for it, institutions need to come out and show their support and provide resources for those wanting to reach out for help. I am glad Velvet brought this point up as it was something I had not thought of and was completely blind to it.
I appreciate Velvet coming in and speaking with us and sharing her knowledge and wisdom. It is so nice to hear how involved you are in the community and in sharing your wisdom throughout the community and through your book! I wish you the best of luck and once again thank you for your time!
Thank you, Velvet, for joining us and sharing your knowledge and experiences with our class!
I particularly enjoyed how you talked about the changes in sex work during your career and how it had changed throughout the last years. It stood out to me when you highlighted what kind of dangers using terminology insensitively can bring. In direct and indirect ways, sensitivity to terminology affects those in the sex industry in a multiplicity of parts of life. Like Velvet had mentioned, sensitivity to terminology affects access to health care in regards to communicating with health providers, finding lasting employment opportunities, and relationships with family and friends. The example she gave about when advertising would not include different categories and would group them into women is very dangerous because clients would come expecting something else, cisgender women. I definitely agree that with anything in life, there is a need to be open and honest for the most success, happiness, do the best job in any industry. I have learned the importance of being kind and understanding, moving aside from judgement, and that genuinely listening to what someone in the industry or someone who identifies as something different from society’s norm has to say is the best we can do to be a supporter and ally.
I wish I could have attended this session in person.
I would like to thank Velvet for being so open, as well as providing the information to which I was previously ignorant, particularly regarding terminology surrounding transgender and transexual persons. I had never thought of the distinction between gender and sexual as being analogous to mind and body, respectively. Moreover, the distinctions between crossdressing, transvestites, drag kings and queens, as well is pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transexuals was eye-opening. I am very thankful to have learned the proper terminology!
Continually, I think an interesting point Velvet touches on is that there was once a point in time where sex workers felt relatively safe and secure in the downtown core of Toronto as a result of legislative changes. I wish I could have asked Velvet whether she believes this is a possibility currently, or does she believe legislative changes now do more harm to sex workers than good.
Velvet also touches on the damaging narratives the media perpetuates, as well as the stereotypes they create based on the morals they project onto society. This is a topic we have discussed within our class, but it was extremely powerful to see how it affected Velvet personally, rather than simply reading about it through academic literature. She makes interesting comparisons to incidents where, a person holding a socially-agreed upon “safe” job, was killed due to no fault of their own. I believe similar arguments and comparisons should be made in order to negate stereotypes and stigma, and potentially to influence policy.
Thank you so much, Velvet, for sharing your wisdom and perspective! This was a very engaging and informative presentation!
Watching Velvet’s guest lecture only enlightened me more on the experiences that sex workers face each and every day and I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to be exposed to them. As was mentioned in the lecture, this line of work is often viewed as taboo and not many people feel comfortable enough to learn about this profession and challenge their own biases. One thing that I loved to see as well as what made me feel hopeful for the world is that she had, not only a loving partner but a supportive one. A lot of times these individuals experience a lot of prejudice and discrimination and it was just so nice to see that she can do her work unapologetically and still maintain a healthy relationship. Again I am so appreciative of this lecture!
Thank you Velvet!
Thank you to Velvet Steel for her presentation! It was such an eye-opening presentation and I learned many things. I loved how Velvet was so open and confident about herself and her profession. In order to understand the sex industry, it is vital to actively listen to workers in this industry; I believe the concept of “active listening” that Velvet mentioned is lacking in the research and policymaking involving sex workers or the sex industry. She also describes her job as being able to help her clients turn their fantasies into realities. In the current society, men are taught to hide their emotions and her role of giving companionship and showing affection can improve the wellbeing of her clients. This perspective seemed very foreign to me at first, but it actually makes a lot sense. Being able to talk to someone or even receiving a hug can help an individual’s mental wellbeing. Also, I thought was very informative for Velvet explained some of the terminology. Particularly, she discussed the terms “transgender” and “transexual”; she explained that when you take out the word “trans”, you are left with “gender” and “sexual” which relates to the mind and the body.
Thank you again to Velvet for the presentation! It was very interesting since I do not know many people in this profession, so I do not have much knowledge about the experiences of sex workers from sex workers themselves. I loved listening to all the stories that were told and how open, engaging, and confident you were!
Thank you Velvet Steele for sharing her experience with us and be able to share her knowledge with us. It was interesting to see and know more about transsexual and transgender people. This was interesting to know since it helped me gain more knowledge about trans people and not many people talk about trans people or even do research on it. She gave us an insight of the difference between transsexual and transgender which not many people know and it was good to learn about it. It was also good to see the reasons why people do in the sex work industry. People want to be like everyone else and there is no more truth than that. And to see that people are treated like objects, it is just sad to see the reality in the world we live in. One question I want to ask is why trans people are being neglected in a way that they cannot transition to the world?
It was great learning from you Velvet! Tamara has done an excellent job of teaching us one of your main lessons: sex workers are people and deserve rights like everyone else. I found it interesting when you suggested that post-secondary institutions should create centres for sex workers, where they can feel welcome and safe. Hopefully in the future this can be a reality.
Thank you for coming to our class!
Thank you for the wonderful presentation Velvet!
I must say the information shared on the presentation as a transexual was very interesting! It makes sense that choosing that identity speaks to who you are and your life story far more than transgender. I feel you have added a layer some often forget, asking what that individual prefers. Taking an extra second we can be far more accommodating and truly learn and embrace the many walks of life that makes up our home. In addition, I appreciate the way you own your moment, the way you said to embrace your perve was something that can be applied to all walks of life. For example, for the clients you work with, you chose to empower them by fully immersing in their fetish to make it an experience that is pleasurable for both which I think is so empowering. Thank you again for opening our eyes to the life you live and your wisdom!
Thank you, Velvet Steele for a wonderful guest lecture full of perspective and wisdom. It was both and honour and pleasure to be able to hear your personal stories and experiences. Something that really stood out to me is when you said that behind the things that people do, there is a real person. I think this is especially important in today’s society because much of our identity is based upon our actions, behaviours, and things such as our jobs and career choices. People are defined by how much money they make, what they do for a living, or who they associate with, and sometimes this mistakenly draws barriers between people and cause certain people to look down on others. However, at the core of it all, when these are stripped away, it leaves us as like anyone other person.
Your care and love for your clients and for those in the sex work industry is evident and inspiring, as you possess a will to keep helping others despite all that you have gone through yourself. It is definitely a different experience to hear the things taught in class on a first-hand experience than through a textbook or lecture, so I thank you immensely for providing us with an amazing opportunity to learn and be educated on this industry and individuals that are so near to your heart.
Thank you Velvet for another great lecture, I really feel as though these insightful discussions with experienced individuals has helped so much in taking in the themes and importance of the topics we discuss in this class!
One thing that really stuck out to me was the terminology around transgender and transexual, and the differences that are imminently important in understanding many peoples identification. I have always known transgender to encompass what I’m guessing many of us have assumed, an individual who identified with a gender that is not what they were born with. For me, the introduction of the difference in terminology when it comes to transexual was very enlightening, especially the specifics of pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transexual. I believe this is terminology that should be better educated-upon, as I have not encountered it up until this point. Of course, as Velvet said, terminology is constantly evolving and people have their own versions that can cause confusion. However, the idea of transgender compared to transexual is simply a concept I knew nothing about coming into this presentation.
In addition, I really enjoyed the topic expression Velvet touched on throughout her presentation. From both a client and sex worker’ perspective it was really interesting to hear “another side” of sex work that often has nothing to do with innate sexual acts, as I may have assumed. The creation of safe spaces to come into touch with oneself and your inner emotions and desires is a very different perspective of sex work that I have often overlooked. I really enjoyed how Velvet introduced the side of sex work that may be viewed as more companionship or counselling. Furthermore, this is something I noticed at first in Raven’s presentation last week, where sometimes escorting can mean simply spending time with clients. This approach to “sex” work (in quotations because it may not be explicitly sex) is a super interesting and under discussed sector that I believe is decently something to continue to learn about.
Thank you so much Velvet for an amazing presentation, I really appreciate your time to discuss your experiences with us.
Thank you Velvet for a great lecture with regards to her personal experiences, in addition to all the other fantastic lectures from the other speakers we have had the privilege of having over the past couple weeks. What I really found enlightening from her lecture was when she talked about the relationships she had with her clients. Over the course of the semester, we have been exposed to readings and articles where sex workers were the target of backlash and violence from their clients, but to see that many sex workers along with Velvet are able to bond and enhance relationships with customers was very cool to hear. This certainly gives hope to the future outlooks in how these individuals are treated and I certainly do hope that the sex workers are able to develop these lasting relationships with their clients, just like any other client-based industry in the workforce. Once again, thank you Velvet for sharing your stories with us.
I am so happy I had the opportunity to attend Velvet’s lecture. I really appreciate Velvet taking the time to explain terminology to us and explain the differences for terms such as transgender and transexual. I also want to thank Velvet for being so open and honest with us. Especially with telling us about the horrible violence and negative treatment Velvet has experienced just from walking around in public. I think it is so horrible to be treated this way and to have to experience such unnecessary and extreme violence. Also, I really liked that Velvet discussed the importance of being open and honest in advertising and the safety measures taken to minimize the risks, such as having a person know where you are and that can call if something goes wrong.
I also like how Velvet explained the differences between Toronto and Vancouver in the sex work industry and how Vancouver seemed to be more competitive. As well as the difficulties with adjusting to online advertising and how this was challenging at first.
This was such a valuable lecture, and I am so glad we had the opportunity to hear from Velvet. These topics are so important and valuable to learn about. Thank you Velvet for an amazing and interesting lecture!
Thank you so much to Velvet for sharing experiences and knowledge so openly with us all! I found it super informative to hear about Velvets opinion of terminology surrounding transgendered and transsexual. Before this class, I did not realize that there was such a difference between trans gendered and transsexual, including non-operative, pre-operative and post-operative, which can all be very important to someone’s identity. This definitely made me realize how important it is to be aware of what terminology we are using when talking about different individuals, to make sure that it is appropriate and respectful. I found Velvet’s personal experience talking about consequences of coming out to be really interesting. It was mentioned that part of the work Velvet does is helping others with coming out, which is something I was curious about when watching the recording. I feel this this just goes to show that the work done by Velvet and others can be important on many different levels, rather than just sex work itself.
Thank you again to Velvet, it was so amazing to hear you speak and share your life experiences!
Velvets lecture was super informative and real, it is honestly something everyone should have the opportunity to watch due to how much knowledge Velvet possesses. Thank you to Velvet for taking the time to educate us on this matter, as there is truly just not enough information out there on this topic. One out of the many things that stood out to me during Velvets lecture was when she was discussing how without properly disclosing what you’re situation truly and properly is, you put yourself in harms way as individuals may expect to see a particular individual who is for example cisgendered and if this is not the case, you place yourself in a dangerous position. I do wonder how much of a role this plays in regards to hate violence, including extortion, physical and sexual assaults, and murder as many of these horrible forms of violence go frequently unreported with little attention given to underlying causes such as anti-trans, transmisogynist, racist and anti-sex worker hatred.
Thank you so much Velvet, for your time and energy in providing such a great guest lecture! I am so sorry to have not been able to attend live, so I really appreciate you allowing Tamara to record the lecture for us all to hear. As others have pointed out, it really stood out for me when you discussed transgender and transsexual. We have spoken about terminology throughout the weeks in this class, but to hear your viewpoint on it was super informative and made such sense regarding the mind and body. You answered a question about the most important take-away for us to be that sex workers are people, and you are absolutely right in this. It really is a hope for society that more people could remember this and act accordingly. It is great to hear of all the civic work you do, and have done, especially that of your role as a sensitivity facilitator. Large organizations such as VPD are definitely in need of such a position, and after hearing your guest lecture, you are absolutely perfect for that! Your parting phrase of ‘be safe, be sane’ is all too needed especially in these time we live in. Thank you for sharing your background, your stories, and your work with us. I ended your lecture feeling more educated and I definitely learned from you!
Thank you, Velvet Steele, for sharing your knowledge and experiences! Velvet’s experiences with employment opportunities are a reality for many trans individuals. Velvet could not obtain employment at Mcdonald’s and wasn’t hired or even was fired merely due to the fact that she would not have sex with her manager or boss. Furthermore, her discussion of sex work as an occupation was insightful as she mentions that the media perpetuates a harmful narrative of violence and sex work being a high-risk lifestyle job. Another point Velvet brought up that stuck out to me was access to health care and being asked and shamed or not seen by doctors due to your occupation. Especially those who do not have a consistent doctor and who get their health care from several doctors at clinics where they get shamed over and over. Furthermore, I would love to learn more about the correct terminology surrounding trans individuals as Velvet mentions transgender being a blanket term that is not advantageous for advertising and describes herself as a woman with a transsexual past. Velvet was also able to help her clients in a way that allowed them to break patriarchal norms and be true to themselves by not shaming individuals and reassuring them that they are not deviant just because they do not follow societal norms.
Thank you Velvet Steele for taking time out of your day and sharing your past experiences and helpful knowledge for us. One thing I really appreciate your presentation would be how you provided me with key information in regards to differentiating between key terms, “transsexual” and “transgender” as I now feel confident and informed in being able to educate and explain to other individuals who might not be familiar with the context of this topic. I also found it interesting how you differentiate between the sex work industry in both Vancouver and Toronto as I initially thought that the business should be relatively around the same for both sides. Again, I appreciate you Velvet for coming in and providing us with an great presentation.
Thank you, Velvet for giving us such an interesting presentation. This is my first time hearing a sex working sharing her own experience. I think the media had made sex worker’s life more difficult because usually people see “sex” as a negative thing, and have bad feelings towards sex workers, may think that they are the ones who decided to work as a sex worker. Which I think is unfair to them, because I do believe not all sex workers wanted to work as one if they have a choice. Maybe they do not have much working experience, low education level, or poverty, all those factors can lead a woman to become a sex worker, as they cannot find other jobs. And the safety of sex workers is always being ignored, which I do feel sad about that because I thought all citizen’s safety should be protected, but seems like sex workers’ safety wasn’t being protected at all. Therefore, when Velvet talk about the fetish night that she hosted, I feel very happy and glad that she did provide a comfortable yet safe environment for others. She knows exactly how other sex workers feel.
I am really happy that Velvet is willing to share her story, and hopefully, she can use media as a way to spread her ideas and raise awareness from the public, not only fight for protections for the sex workers but also change the negative feeling towards sex workers.
Thank you for inviting Velvet to speak with us! The lecture was very informative and I learned a lot. I think one of the main takeaways from all the lecture materials and guest lectures is to really view individuals working in the sex industry as human beings. This is something that is often forgotten about when speaking about sex workers and like Velvet mentioned we need to remember and respect that “behind the worker, there is a person” just like any other job. It was really eye-opening to hear from Velvet the kinds of attacks that she’s been through and unfortunately has to listen to and go through negative experiences with ignorant people all the time. I think there is still a lot of educating that needs to happen for this kind of ignorance.
The guest lecture by Velvet Steele was informative and eye-opening. I think perspectives from Velvet Steele help to provide important context to the situation currently faced by sex workers in terms of the challenges they face with police, the overall social stigma and the larger problem of poor legislation to protect sex workers. I also appreciated her perspective because it helps to challenge and put into context my own biases and provides additional considerations that may not have been thought of. For instance, I think it was really important to that Velvet brought light to the discussion if transgender individuals in sex work. I think discussions such as these shed light on intersectionality and emphasize the importance of amplifying as many voices with lived experience in sex work as possible. Thank you.
Thank you, Velvet for your presentation and for giving us an insight into your experience as a sex worker. This has opened my eyes and changed my perspective on sex work. The most important point I took from the lecture was that even though she deals with a lot of prejudice and discrimination, she managed to work through it. She is able to keep a healthy relationship with her partner and not let her work interfere more than it needs to in their life. That can be useful for people to learn and use in their own lives. It is important to keep your work apart from your personal life. This point I feel is very important to remember.
Thank you for your time.
Velvet’s lecture was so interesting and informative I could have listened to her talk all day! The way she brought up topics and used her own experiences as well as how she used humor made her lecture especially fun to listen to. It was interesting to hear her comparisons when she discussed how society views her profession as potentially high risk. However, as she mentioned, there are countless jobs that are not viewed as dangerous where people get killed on the job. She brought up the examples of money mart, Starbucks, etc, which all came as a shock to me considering I live in this city and I do not recall these incidents being brought up on the news or in the media. I think this just proves how we never really what is happening in our world, and that those in charge of media and policy use their resources and power to only show what they want society to believe. Further, it was great to hear about the opportunities she has received based on her experiences and knowledge in the field, specifically being a sensitivity facilitator for the VPD. Thank you!
Thank you so much to Velvet for such an amazing lecture! It was really interesting getting to hear about the changes in sex work throughout her career and I feel that I’ve become more knowledgeable about the challenges that sex workers face every day. As with many of our previous guest lecturers there was the mention of using proper terminology in order to reduce the harm to those in the industry and I appreciate that Velvet took the time to explain the differences between terms such as transgender and transsexual. I found it interesting hearing Velvet’s perspective on different aspects of her career and I appreciate how open she was sharing her stories. Thanks again, Velvet for sharing your knowledge and experiences with our class.
Thank you to Velvet for sharing your knowledge and being so informative about such a complex industry. Firstly, it was nice to learn about how Velvet works as a sensitivity specialist in collaboration with the VPD, so many of the research studies I have read suggest that sex worker inclusion in policy and procedure is the first step in changing how sex work is policed and criminalized. Any discussion around sex work usually adds LGBTQ+ individuals within the sex industry as a token topic of discussion, however, they are rarely ever the core topic of discussion. Furthermore, these discussions usually focus on the abuse they face within the industry but fail to acknowledge how they navigate the industry compared to cisgender sex workers. Velvet did a great job in highlighting how personal relationships change, and the limited access to housing, employment and health care, while in the industry as a LGBTQ+ individual. In regards to navigating the industry, it was interesting to learn about how sex workers had to advertise themselves in the 80’s and 90’s before the internet and cellphones became common among the general population. This makes me think about the conditions that sex workers currently deal with and how they must’ve been a lot more unsafe back in the day when workers couldn’t get information about a client as easily as they can now. However, as Velvet mentioned, the internet has also opened up the sex work industry to a lot more hate and vitriol, although it allows for safer physical working conditions, a sex workers mental health is at a higher risk over the internet. I appreciate Velvet for sharing her experiences and being a part of the movement towards destigmatization of sex work, while working in collaboration with the police.
Hello everyone, I think Velvet did a great job in providing us with the knowledge about being a transsexual sex worker by sharing her experiences with us. Her detailed explanation about what transsexual is allows us to have a greater understanding the difference between different identities other than the dominant ones in society such as female and male. She raised a concern that transsexual sex workers often encounter which is the issue of violence when a client expected to see a cisgendered individual instead of a transsexual sex worker. Velvet talked about the struggles of being a transsexual sex worker such as being excluded by the cisgender sex workers. This discussion helps us gain a greater understanding of the inequality issues that goes beyond just male and female inequalities. Her years of experience as a sex worker allowed her to educate us on the different advertisement methods and resources available to them throughout the period of technology being commonly used by community members. For example, she talked about placing advertisements in magazines and the use of pagers which was a really interesting contrast to want kind of technology we have access to nowadays. I did not know that there were sex workers that provide sexual services surrounding the fetish concept prior to Velvet’s lecture session. Velvet makes a very distinctive point on how she as a transsexual woman has an advantage because of her height and strength, which allows her to protect herself in some sense.
I found Velvet’s lecture so informative, and I felt as though this lecture helped me navigate how to better inform those around me around the realities of transgendered sex workers. I recently saw a post that claimed and almost ridiculed how many individuals were now openly sex identifying as transgendered and transsexual, and unfortunately I had some family members speaking negatively about this. With the claims that you can imagine of “they such want attention this didn’t exist 50 years ago” and I couldn’t believe how ignorant they were being. While I recognize and I’m sure many of us can relate to this, that speaking with the generations above ours can sometimes de challenging due to their strong closed off views, having heard lectures like Velvet’s reminded me why those conversations are so important to be had. While admittedly I would have likely ignore the comments or just chalked it up and said something along the lines of “ok boomer” because I believed that it was a lost cause, I would with out a doubt say something now. I don’t believe in cancel culture or calling people out, but rather calling people in to expose them to the ideas Velvet (and many others) shared which is in my opinion sad to even have to be said in 2021, but fundamentally respect for all should be the standard – not the controversial idea it currently is.
Velvet spoke so confidently and with such compassion, it truly helped highlight the missing gaps of the actions necessary, and the comparison between cities was great because these are two of Canada’s largest cities. That realistically hold such a strong influence on the rest of our country, neither is perfect but hopefully they can both further improve and create a ripple effect for legislative and other effective change. I have always been in support of improving the approach taken by law enforcement agencies to work collaboratively to be more inclusive and actually help not further marginalize this community, having this as a goal seems like a good way to rebuild trust within the two groups to bring a more communal approach to law enforcement instead of a harsh criminal approach. And lastly, I was super intrigued by Velvet’s role as a sensitivity specialist, I had no idea such a role existed but I would love to see other institutions implement and create space for this!! The VPD is a great start, but I believe this would be well suited in a non tokenized fashion for so many other organizations, departments, and institutions.
Wow!! Velvet’s lecture was so captivating and eye opening, this may have been my favourite lecture throughout the semester. I felt that Velvet spoke on some really important points and made interesting contrasts between terminology that is present in academia, and terminology that is preferred in the sex industry by those that are working in it. I noticed a really interesting point brought up by one of my peer students, that the majority of society is so focused on being politically correct, that the fear of being incorrect has clouded the real life experiences and voices of those that are impacted by these terms. I love that Velvet brought up the failure to include sex workers voices and has become an unwavering voice in the world of advocacy and education for those of her alike. I also found it very interesting that she works for the VPD, as the normalcy of sex workers experiences with police officers has tended to be negative. I think that the impact she has by just being employed by them, can ultimately teach tolerance among a new generation of police officers and hopefully help strengthen the relationship between the two sectors.
Thank you Velvet for the informative and great guest lecture!
I personally feel I lack a lot of knowledge in terms of understanding individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQ2S+, so Velvet’s presentation allowed me to gain better insight and understanding of some of the sex workers who identify as such.
One thing I have noticed (probably not a coincidence) is that each guest have been quite vocal and assertive regarding their advocacy and work towards encouraging fruitful discussions and a potential societal shift in opinions on sex workers. For example, Velvet’s explanation of transsexual and transgender helped set my understanding of the differences between the terms and how that relates to the lives of sex workers who are trans.
While the stories of her violent experiences are disturbing and unfortunate, I do admire her rigidity and resolve to push forward in advocating for a shift towards destigmatizing sex workers.
Thank you Velvet for the presentation, it was very insightful. I found it interesting when Velvet talked about the Manline and how that was they way for them to communicate with their clients. Also, when Velvet talked about how there was no worry about their safety and security, It really shocked me as our course really focused on how much stigma surrounds the industry and how individuals often fear that they will not receive the help they need.
It was really interesting to hear Velvet’s history and how she entered the industry. She mentioned that she didn’t enter the industry with “a gun to my head”. During this course, I learned a lot of misconception regarding sex workers and how they needed to be saved, but here is an example (velvet) that, that isnt the case, and the reality is quite opposite.
I also learned that they weren’t able to actively promote themselves in the early years as there wasnt the internet and they werent able to get a page in the back of the newspaper. To combat this, they used something called the man line, where they can advertise themselves through the phone.
Velvet mentioned that the sex industry isn’t just sex, it can be through other means too. Erotic writing really caught my attention. I didn’t even know this was something people did. It opened my eyes and I was intrigued that there was a niche industry for this
In my opinion, Velvet’s lecture was very informative because she took the time to go over different terms and really try to explain how one is different from another. I feel like this is something that is really important to know and understand because as we have learned in this course, the terminology is VERY important. Velvet made a really good point where she mentioned how sex work is considered to be a dangerous job where individuals are seen as risking their lives, however, there are so many jobs out there where violence and murders are happening. This just outlines how sex work is not different from other types of work and that violence is present everywhere. The only difference is that in other jobs the workers who are violated have rights, whereas sex workers do not. At one point, Velvet mentioned how when she leaves the house she goes through anxiety and she leaves knowing she doesn’t know what will happen. This was really upsetting to hear because I feel the lack of rights is what forces these feelings to come about. This lecture is one of those lectures that I feel like everyone should watch because it demonstrates how much a person’s words and actions can play a role on another human and how important it is to be kind to others and not judge them based on how they earn their income.
Thank you Velvet Steele for a very informative and interesting lecture!
I really appreciate that she provided such a comfortable space for all of our questions in order to facilitate education and knowledge creation, which can be difficult with sensitive topics. The topic in the lecture that stood out to me the most was the lack of safety that sex workers feel and experience every time they walk out the door. I thought this was particularly alarming because Velvet mentioned that despite being confident in her abilities to defend herself due to her size and physical health, she still feels a sense of uneasiness everyday leaving her house which makes me consider how younger and perhaps smaller women who may not be as capable manage this constant fear. Another interesting topic was Velvet’s answer to one of the questions regarding student initiatives to support sex workers. She suggested working to create an organization on campus for sex workers, given the recent rise in numbers of students who take part in sex work through OnlyFans, sugaring, and other online mediums. I thought this was such an innovative and great idea to create a community for young sex workers and perhaps reduce stigmatization by showing a united front within an organization and giving exposure to an often hidden and marginalized group of people.
Thank you again Velvet for sharing your time and knowledge!
Thank you, Velvet, for taking the time to share your experiences as well as being so genuine and comfortable with us! I loved how open and confident you were in talking to us about the sex industry and I found it very cool how involved you are in society in working with the VPD. Additionally, I enjoyed how you acknowledged the importance of terminology, something we have learnt throughout the course of the semester, and how the use of certain words can be more sensitive and actually have negative affect on those in the sex industry. Terminology, as mentioned by Velvet can actually affect sex workers in their relationships with family and friends, finding employment, and even having access to healthcare as this can leave sex workers feeling ashamed of who they are. Over the course I have learnt the importance of being aware of the types of words I choose to use when describing the sex industry as well as to refrain from any judgement and instead listen to those who are currently in the industry or used to be in the industry and understand their perspectives and concerns in order to do my part and support these workers. Lastly, it was very inspiring to hear the appreciation and care she has for her clients and others in the sex industry and how she is truly committed to helping others. I absolutely love that. Thank you so much Velvet for such an informative presentation, I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with all of us!
First off, just want to say thank you to Velvet for an amazing lecture. I learned so so much and walked away with so much to think about.
I thought Velvet was one of the most interesting people I’ve heard speak, from her experiences in the 80’s in Toronto. to her current work with the VPD it’s just really cool to see all of the places she’s been and all the things she’s done. Something that stood out to me was how Velvet talks about her experiences working with the VPD, how the chief joked about knowing what she gets up to, but at the same time she makes sure that they are accountable for their actions. Doing research for my term paper I had reread the Report of Independent Counsel to the Commissioner of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry and I thought it was very interesting comparing how the VPD had approached the Pickton case and how sex workers were treated and viewed, to Velvet’s work today and her interactions with the VPD. The 90’s really weren’t all that long ago in the grand scheme of things, so it’s interesting to see how that institution is evolving. I also really appreciated Velvet’s openness to talk about her experiences and what she enjoys in the job. I thought it was really fun getting to hear what kind of things she does for clients, and it was really neat seeing how excited she was to talk about it. I really admire that as you can tell she really enjoys her job and takes it very seriously, and it sounds like her clients appreciate that as well.
I also thought it was interesting to hear Velvet compare her experience in Toronto to her experience in Vancouver. Moving from Calgary, I never thought of downtown Vancouver as small as it is very similar to what I was used to in Calgary. I had never really considered what the competition would be like moving from a large center like Toronto to Vancouver, where there is not as much space in the downtown core to occupy and work in. I don’t think I had an appreciation for how fierce this would make competition and how hard that would make it to make friends in the industry in some cases. I really admire Velvet’s perseverance as she has obviously overcome great obstacles in her life but is kicking butt and doing amazing things. Thank you again for sharing your story with us, I’m walking away with a whole heap of new knowledge.
Thank you Velvet for this amazing lecture and for being so open with us when discussing your experiences and answering our questions.
I enjoyed how much information you gave on terminology and going into deep details about it. I also enjoyed how you made the point of how sex work is like other work by comparing it to violence others might face at other jobs. It connects them together and makes it easier for everyone to see how sex work is the same. What is upsetting is still how much hate you have to deal with on a daily basis and due to this you must always be on alert to protect yourself and how you know so much about staying safe and taking precautions to make sure your protected. I found the work you do interesting. I did not know about fetish before or other sex work you had mentioned but fetish is interesting since you give others the opportunity to express themselves however they would like to and are giving them that freedom safely since many are not able to do this with others due to the fear of being judged or shamed.
Thank you again Velvet!