Thursday, August 28, 2003

Feminist teacher defends her prostitution

Says women have right to self-determination, sexually and economically

A Berkeley, Calif., High School teacher is defending her moonlighting career as a prostitute, comparing herself to Martin Luther King Jr. in her fight to decriminalize the vocation.

"As a feminist I believe in every woman's right to self-determination, and that includes sexually and economically," Shannon Williams, 37, told the San Jose Mercury News.

Williams, a former biology teacher who became a field-trip coordinator last year, was arrested earlier this month in her Oakland apartment, the paper said. Police say she agreed to have sex with an undercover cop for $250 an hour.

The woman is determined to eliminate laws against the world's oldest profession.

"I feel like a gay teacher must have felt 20 years ago after being outed," she told the San Jose paper. "I feel that prostitution laws are dinosaurs. That they're similar to sodomy laws, and they will eventually be repealed."

About 20 supporters of her position held a rally outside Alameda County Superior Court yesterday, one of whom was arrested for taking off her shirt, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

During a brief hearing in the courthouse, Williams' plea entry was delayed a week at the request of her lawyer, reported Bay City News.

The teacher told reporters outside the courthouse she believed women in the "sex industry" are entrepreneurs and should have the same rights as other workers.

According to the Mercury News, Williams complained that during her arrest eight to 10 police officers allegedly refused to let her get dressed.

"I felt they were looking at me like an animal or something," she said. "I had this real desire to tell them, 'I'm not who you think I am. I'm a person with dignity and pride.'"

Williams could strike a plea bargain, which would include a misdemeanor charge and a small fine.

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Created: November 29, 2003
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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