Christchurch Art School director in online row comparing sex work to slavery

The emails have been shared on Twitter. Photo: Getty Images
The emails have been shared on Twitter. Photo: Getty Images
An email row, in which a Christchurch Art School director compared sex work to slavery, has gone public.

Jordan Quinn has posted her exchange with Art Metro director Simon Walmisley on Twitter after she emailed him hoping he'd promote the annual Sex Workers of Aotearoa; A Day in the Life of, 2021 exhibition.

Instead she got back a blunt response from the former New Conservative Ilam candidate.

Walmisley told her "not a chance" and wrote that, rather than support the show, he'd stand against it. He described sex work as "nothing more than a modern form of slavery that reduces women to the level status of objects. It is unacceptable to sell people in such a way, not cool."

Quinn replied asking if Walmisley had worked in the sex industry and what led him to draw his conclusions.

Walmisley told her he had a huge problem with the terms "sex worker" and "sex industry" and will not use them.

"People who end up in this situation are not functioning as workers/employees of a business enterprise, they are victims; prostitutes are not selling sex - they are selling themselves."

"If only [Quinn's] efforts and energy could be focused on doing something to free those trapped in the practice," he said, before signing off with "For shame".

The emails have been shared on Twitter by Quinn, Sex Workers Aotearoa and others in the industry and drawn a range of comments, including one from Ilam MP Sarah Pallett who commented "On the plus side, I now know about it so I can support you!"

Walmisley, who doesn't have a Twitter account, was surprised to hear that the emails were on the platform but said he found it "amusing".

He told Newstalk ZB he used his work email to respond to Quinn but was speaking on behalf of himself, not Art Metro or the half-a-dozen other staff who work there.

"I use the term 'profession', loosely, It's not the people I have a problem with it's the thing itself. It's slavery that should be hated, not the slaves."

Walmisley said he could have used less inflammatory words, but said if Quinn had checked the Art Metro website she'd see they take children as young as five and it's unacceptable.

"Irrespective of the moral acceptability or not, it's utterly inappropriate to be associating a brand that has education of new entrant school-age children with an activity like that."

Quinn has invited Walmisley to attend the exhibition, saying it's a chance for people to begin discussions and to have their views challenged by those sharing their personal stories and experience within the industry.

The art school director said he wouldn't attend, but he'd be open to sitting down and having a coffee and discussion with Quinn.

 

 

 

 

 

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