Stepping Stone in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a charitable not for profit organization that offers supportive programs and outreach to Canadian women, men and transgender sex workers and former sex workers. The Canadian organisation has launched a print advertising campaign attempting to humanisz sex workers by placing them in the context of their families. A young woman refers to the impact of her mother. A grandmother talks about being proud of her daughter’s child-rearing capacity. A man talks about his brother’s contribution to his wedding.
“I’m glad my prostitute made me finish school. Sex workers are mothers too..” “”I’m proud of my tramp, raising two kids on her own. Sex workers are daughters too…” “At my wedding, my younger hooker gave the funniest speech. Sex workers are brothers too.”
The Stepping Stone campaign was developed at Extreme Group, Halifax, Canada, by creative directors Shawn King and Anthony Taffe, art director Jeff Simpson, copywriter Jeff MacKay, photographer: James Ingram
Anthony Taffe, creative Director of Extreme, the agency that created the campaign, gives some of the thinking behind the campaign.
“People have a bad habit of pigeonholing sex workers as not being people. It’s easy not to care about a certain group within society if you actually don’t see them as people. Remove the moral aspect of sex workers’ jobs and the public might relate to them as human beings first. I’s easy for people to kind of go, ‘Oh, that woman’s just a whore. Well, no, that person is also somebody’s mother or somebody’s daughter or somebody’s sister or something like that. So it helps humanize them a little bit. And I think that’s what we want people to really understand is you might not necessarily agree with what they do for a job, but don’t forget that they’re humans and they deserve the same respect that you give to your brother or your father or your mother.”
Extreme found it difficult to find local actors to appear in the ads. Extreme employees James Rothenburg and Julie Lawrence appear as the young woman and young man. The grandmother is portrayed by Doris Lees, the actual grandmother of Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone.