I don’t have the time to adequately deconstruct this noxious disaster at the moment, so let’s cut to the core: Career choice has absolutely nothing to do with one’s parenting skills.
Poor parents have included A-list celebrities, titans of industry, politicians, and every other stripe of worker imaginable. If the uncited quote above came from a child raised by a Hollywood actress, would the Salvation Army send a flyer that started with “My mother was a star…”?
Of course not.
Although not stated explicitly, the clear implication here is that any woman who is a prostitute is unfit to parent. This is an insidious notion that has caused loving and dedicated sex working parents to lose custody of their children, even in environments where the provision of sexual services is ostensibly not criminalized.
What’s also missing from this horrifically demeaning message is how many women engage in sex work in order to support their children. To suggest that a woman engaged in sex work in order to provide for her child is an unfit mother is both incredibly ignorant and revoltingly insulting.
Child abuse is reprehensible, and although I could never in good conscience support the Salvation Army, I applaud any efforts they take to objectively educate the public on its devastating consequences and support those who’ve been victimized by abusers. This is perhaps one of the poorest ways I can think of to obtain the funds necessary to do that work.
Should they choose to issue an apology to the sex work community (as they most certainly - and swiftly - should) it won’t be the first time they’ve found themselves in this position; absent a firm decision to completely cease stigmatizing and exploiting us to meet their fundraising goals, I doubt it will be the last.
UPDATE: Salvation Army Australia has issued an apology.
Unfortunately, their mea culpa misses the point: While some may have found the specific terminology used in their flyer offensive, the implication that sex working women are unfit to parent is the far greater concern. One can only hope they do better in the future.
Additional update: Salvation Army has amended their apology.