pause to consider

I’m going to catch flack for this post.  I don’t care.  Maybe it will be deleted as divisive?  This totally sucks.  The sudden rise in the last few months in this movement of activist pissing contests is so screwed up.  This movement needs everyone.  It is far too small and too new a movement to afford to expend bandwidth on judgment about who is doing correct activism, who is doing enough activism, and what the correct activist picture looks like.  Everyone one is equally important.  And that means respect for diversity, respect that each person in the movement is in a different place and has to offer what they have.  This has to be a movement that respects diversity of opinion, of time to give to the movement, of resources to give.  It has to be a movement that is built around the people in it.  It can not become a movement where the people fit into the bigger picture. There are far too many obstacles to sex worker rights and the sex worker rights movement for us to use bandwidth on trying to define performance and people into set goals of the movement.  The movement needs to work with the people.  We are way too new and small a movement to lose people which is what is happening and what will continue to happen over this sudden surge in passing judgment and trying to push conformity to singular goals.

People are giving what they have.  That needs to be good enough to please the status quo of the movement or we really need to rethink where this movement has gone in the last few months.

Everyone is important.  What they have to offer is important and the movement has to be built on respecting those.  The anti rad fems base their movement on compliance and have epic battles over who is doing the most, who is saying the holiest slogans, who interprets the vision of the movement best.   Too much negative energy wasted on pissing contests.

peace

35 Responses

  1. Thank you Jill.

    XX

  2. Excellent points. My sentiments also- we are too small to kick anyone out of the family in hopes of making room for others, or for a “more equal” family.

  3. Jill, this is an AWESOME (and very important) post.

  4. Yup, Jill, but how to make that work?

    I actually am a person who doesn’t like unmoderated activist blogs. I just think human beings naturally get reactive, and it seems to me that it would be impossible to stop some of these problems.

    I think our movement can process this and come up with principles for communication. I often feel like principles for interactions should be one of the top priorities for our movement.

    Since we haven’t really tried that, I guess I shouldn’t be completely bleak about the possibility of working this out without a moderator.

    Anyway, developing guidelines, and considering moderated discussions seems in order to me.

  5. moderated discussion seems preemptive considering we don’t have agreed upon principals or goals in general.

  6. The best way to resolve the “legal brothel” issue would be to establish a list of grievances, or rather violations. One of GOOD things about the brothels being legal is that you CAN have redress better than in an illegal situation. The radfems will most certainly use any negative example of legal prostitution as ammunition. But in response to that, sex worker activists need to emphasize that legalization (and decriminalization) doesn’t mean automatic respect and rights. It’s DOES mean that activists are in a better position to work within the system to change things for the better. After reading Mariko’s and Amanda’s account of their brothel experiences, I can list a good starting point for labor grievances:

    1) First off, the bells that are used in the brothels need to go. We live in the twenty-first century, and beepers can do just as well without the sleep deprivation.

    2) The padlocks, the chainlink fences, the razor wires, or anything else that locks people inside the establishment, is a violation of human rights. They need to go.

    3) The workers have a right to be in their rooms when not servicing a customer. They have a right to privacy and to be alone.

    4) The workers have a right to days off, and the right to leave the establishment by themselves or with others while not working. The towns that surround the brothels benefit from them financially, they should have to deal with the workers who work in them on a daily basis.

    5) The brothels are very isolated, some to the point where there is no cellphone coverage in the area. The workers have a right to communicate with the outside. They should have full free internet access, and be able to make at least local telephone calls (with free phones, not pay phones, or at least working pay phones).

    I’m sure that I can go on with this, but I think this list is a good start.

  7. And how about the right to have owners with guns and workers that don’t.

  8. Hi Scarlot,

    To my knowledge this blog is virtually unmoderated and without much in the way of specific parameters to post. I agree that people are reactive but experience has taught me to deal with that when it happens rather than pro actively as the alternative is to censor a great deal to ensure everyone is on the same page. That is a lot of work, a lot of expended energy and bandwidth that I have not seen in my experience as necessary. If a heated blog event happens, I believe then you step in and tell everyone to spool down the drama. If they don’t then deal with it.

    There is a great fear and concern all over the blogosphere about “blog wars” and that there will be lost people in that event. However, there are lost people by default in a moderated environment. Thus the net gain does not improve by pro active response.

    I have never moderated any blog that I have run. There have been some heated moments and some scathing criticism of me. Life went on, my reputation as an evil pro prostitution member seemed to grown not retract from the scathing criticisms. I’ve allowed diverse opinions without any edits. I always will.

    We can’t focus on how our message may be distorted by opponents if all the information is out there and everyone can speak freely. Our message is already distorted by opponents. One need not look any further than how the anti’s portray us as unwilling to look at the bad sides of the sex industry or how people are hurt within it. They portray us as one dimensional seeking to focus on just the high end, just the end that benefits the wealthy escorts.

    Our strength comes in numbers, comes in networking, comes in our ability to respect sex workers, sex worker rights activists and allies from a spectrum. If our position is strong and we believe in the message we haven’t anything to fear from the truth. Truth is there are a lot of negatives facing sex workers. If we embrace those and position our movement to use those negatives as fodder and basis for social change we take the leverage the anti’s have built as guardians of all negative away.

    The anti’s have no plan for social change. None. They broadcast endlessly the stories of victimization and pull at heartstrings, then spend the money on conferences to study, discuss and further publicize the negatives. That solves nothing. How does that benefit anyone? What is their plan? They don’t have one and don’t want one as social change would eliminate the need for them if they achieved their stated goals.

    We have a rights based movement that does have solutions. But we can’t silence or moderate those that we are trying to bring social change to. History is filled with movements that started out with noble intentions and got lost in censorship, compliance and adherence to the party line.

    We can’t add rights by taking them away. If individual organizations choose to have a unified presence and message, that makes sense to have moderation on their websites. My understanding is BnG is not that. It is a place for the voices of sex workers.

    We are strong enough and our message is strong enough to embrace diversity.

  9. Well, Maxine, I don’t know what you mean by the gun comment, but it just seems to me that when you have a situation where both the managers and the workers are smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, and they are practically living together, then you have to have BOUNDARIES.

    But the radfems will use negative experiencies at legal brothels in order to de-legalize them, so therefore the best response to is to deal with the violations so that they don’t have the ammunition they need.

  10. My comment was directed towards equality on the job. If the owner has a gun and wields it around, the workers ought to have equal time.
    I was forewarned 20 years ago about a particular owner with a gun and it seems, the haters have gotten hold of that and use it as means to argue their position. But their side isn’t the workers side.
    Is our side the workers side? Which workers?
    It reminds me of the walmart situation and I don’t mean that by comparing the brothels to walmart in any sort of way. I only use it as an example of how that particular corporation was able to come in and take over retail at everyone else’s expense while the females workers won the highest monitary ever awarded in class action lawsuit for being subjected to numerous labor law violations by them. But walmart still dominates.
    So how to get around all of this?
    Decrim is the great equalizer.
    Do the brothel workers support our efforts to decrim?
    Do they support prop k?
    Have they taken up a collection for us?

  11. opp,
    I realized I made an assumption about the walmart analogy in that, many communities groups have formed in conjunction with labor organization to education the public about the economic effects of walmart but the reason you’ve not seen a formal full on boycott called out on them is because nobody wants to bring harm to the walmart workers. Because Walmart was so successful at running the competition out of business, if their sales were to suffer, a lay off in labor would be the first thing to happen and it’s unethical for non workers to boycott a store when the workers themselves haven’t called for it.
    It’s up to the workers at the brothels to organize for what they want without being retaliated against by the owners. Getting the owners to sign neutrality agreements and get card checks recognition would be the first steps.

  12. >>Do the brothel workers support our efforts to decrim?
    Do they support prop k?
    Have they taken up a collection for us?>>

    Maxine, maybe the brothel workers aren’t even *aware* of prop k or your efforts. Maybe you might want to email some of them, and perhaps also ask them what they would like changed in the places where they work.

  13. and shall I do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back?

  14. Maxine

    I always saw you as the one to do the tie up and blindfold others,,,,,,,,

  15. Words like…

    “All of these women are mentally and emotionally damaged, sleep deprived, brainwashed and working around the clock…”

    and referring to the sex workers of this movement as “conscious sex workers” in quotations as a means to cut down others…

    … don’t give the respect you are talking about.

    I feel your words to the very core. However, I think we have to-at the very least-ask of each other to be conscious of our words in a public forum, and to also be conscious of the space we take up in this community.

    If we demand center stage, like the repeated personal postings of Mariko, then we must act responsibly and consciously. We must conduct ourselves as a member of a community, not as a spokesperson.

    Making demands on a community to think, feel or act in any accordance with some code of activism is ridiculous, I agree. We all have our own agendas and motivations for working hard in this movement, and there is enough room for all. God forbid we start asking others to subscribe to certain politics or policies, otherwise we are so fucked.

    But asking for personal responsibility and consideration of others (even those who are “brainwashed”) is what communities do for each other. It is the main principle of working cooperatively.

    COMMUNITIES:

    *identify themselves as part of something larger than the sum of their individual relationships and experiences;

    *commit themselves for the long term to their own, one another’s, and the group’s well-being.

    From “Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World” by Carolyn R. Shaffer & Kristin Anundsen (New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1994).

  16. Jill, I love your message. I think this is why the AR/AO training’s are SO important, but making people attend AR/AO training’s is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. We need to have available places for AR/AO so that we can individually decide to attend, and learn, and do it for ourselves. I’m very bad at oppression. I’m definitely a repeat offender, but I’ve learned thru all of my offenses how important it is, and I work at it now daily. Am I very good? perhaps not, there are definitely more successful days than others, but I try my best, and try to keep my ego , privileges and stubbornness out of the picture!

    In my experience, everyone in the SW rights movement is doing their best to move the SW rights movement forward. I think we do have very common goals, and things to unite about, and it all starts with treating Sex Workers as Human Beings, and recognizing them for the amazing beautiful people that they are.

    As for BnG, my understanding is that it’s very unmoderated, except to catch and weed out spam and with who can post actual stories, which as I understand it is limited mostly to Sex Workers. We routinely approve the rad-fem, and anti-prostitution comments as they get caught by the spam system.

  17. >>and shall I do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back?>>

    Well, if you want the brothel worker’s support with Prop K, I don’t see how you’re going to get it unless you contact them about it. Many one or two of them care enough to help you, Maxine.

    In any case, since I know about Prop K, I’ll send some money over to ya. I know how hard you and others are working on this.

  18. Can I make a brief point? We are all on the same side. Spooling up hostility with each other is a Farley and other wet dream. I would like to lightly bonk everyone a bit on the head and put out there that openness requires respect and when/if that breaks down the focus becomes on defending turf from our allies. Can I please suggest that we spool down the hostility at each other?

  19. Thanks Jill, point well taken. My blondefolded comment was meant as a joke as I heard one of the title holders in the women’s leather community say that ‘in leadership, we all bottom for the community’. So it was my reference to having to bottom line this project.

    And yes, we need financial support to get the message out about what K is all about. It’s our only job for the next 65 days.
    Remember, if we can’t do it in San Francisco…

  20. Dear community:

    I’ve changed names and details of my posts to protect identities and I’ve changed wording so that it doesn’t seem so inflammatory, as if it were a melissa farley wet dream. I’ve reflected on EVERYTHING on my blog, including PROP K in San Francisco and how this whole so called “brothel hating” campaign that some percieve and all the horizontal hostility reminds me so much of the stripclub activist issues and drama that stunted that movement when I first became an activist. Perhaps SWOP became national because many activists who were originally from SF got so frustrated with the drama that we relocated somewhere where we could make an impact away from the inherited hostility.

    It is important to realize that I am ONE activist and that I was writing from INSIDE and freshly outside a really negative situation so I really didn’t care about the way that it sounded. It was a letter from jail and was a way to set the whole place on fire through my writing. Thank you so much to those that actually supported me with comments. Reading those everyday from the moment I was deciding to go did feel like a hug from all of you. And then on the flip side reading negative also feels like being stabbed in the eye with a dull knife, so I thank you for reminding me how delicate this whole blogging medium really is to the psyche.

    After this experience, I questioned whether I was even a “conscious sex worker” or not as I was one of them, side by side with the same clients for the same prices, trying to follow the same rules. B came to talk to many of us, and her words were captivating to many. My blogs only hope to create one other forum for research for those of you that will be venturing forth into brothel experimentation in the future. I am serious about pursuing research about recourse for labor violations in the exact same way that I did against stripclubs in SF. It does nothing to shut down oppressive systems of management, (for stripclubs, it is simply seen as a cost of doing business) but actually sets precedents so that girls who eventually feel like fighting for their rights will have a legal route to do so, which they should have already. It is impossible for workers to be critical of the system that gives them food, shelter and business if they still want to work there. I don’t think that you will hear more critical current worker voices than Amanda and I, although everyone will wish that they were represented and supported in a conventional way. Many of the controversial issues around workplace abuse and labor violations in the sex industry are not unique to the brothel system. We only worked there for a week each, yes, but it is an injustice that I have seen in many different sex work environments and I feel that sex worker rights activists need to examine this instead of silence the voices of pain that the institution creates. please check back to my site, to read what my changes and plans are with this issue and if you would like to be in support and solidarity of those plans, email me.

    Healing, processing, listening, writing still…

    MP

  21. Figleaf took my blogs and wrote what I think is a great analysis of the brothel model which imitates how prostitutes are treated like criminals in legal and illegal settings, and I actually like it a lot. I think in our fight for decriminalization we really really need to look at this analysis.

    http://www.realadultsex.com/archives/2008/08/take_nevada_brothels_please.html

  22. FYI (still reading comments but wanted to respond)

    This blog is moderated.

    All comments from new or unknown persons must be approved. I know this because I’m one of the people approving comments. So shoot me now.

  23. Jill.

    Mmmmm…oh well…that sounds true…this is a new age I guess…I don’t really read the blogs and I only look at BNG once in a while. I will rethink…

  24. I came back from my trip to Chicago with some very strong feelings and thoughts. They were not “new” to either the world or me but just re-learned on my part. They are better suited for verbal dialogue as I am strapped for time and have numerous reports to write but I will try and convey. Conflict is an unavoidable state. Particularly when there is more than one person involved, and sometimes it only takes one to have conflict! Through conflict and struggle we grow and learn and change. We can move forward.

    It seems funny to me that the conflict among the SF activist scene is referred to constantly with surprise and like it is so unusual. “Oh my God, I was so surprised that it wasn’t like peace and love and everyone getting along with the same exact vision and agenda like magic and TV and Disney.” “Wow, SF is so messy! They have conflict! What haters!”

    Everyone wants to run from it, me too, I get that. But we have conflict because we have the community and the activism here. That is the bittersweet to what we are doing. (Oh, and like people aren’t “running from it” across the US in this scene? I’ve seen some “step back” so far, I hope not for long…).

    When I made some tough calls, said some things that hurt some people, disrupted, I felt extremely uncomfortable and wanted to run, to quit to just drop out. “This shit is so not worth it. Why am I here?” My ego and feelings got involved. I got uncomfortable.

    Struggle. Conflict.

    But then I reflected on the work and that I really do believe that what we are doing is important. I also know through experience that I am going to grow as a person if I stick around and the movement is going to go places too. Positive places. It is happening.

    I’ll take the SF drama over the lack of a movement any day. I love the activism here. We make shit happen. I could stand a little less drama but if it takes drama to get Prop K AND a healthcare clinic for Sex Workers than I’m not going anywhere!!!

    FYI-this blogging thing is only ONE medium we work in and we have many other options that we ARE using. We are making progress. This Nevada thing that just happened, we can make some lemonade just “don’t walk out before the miracle” ;) and don’t let people who don’t show up, the runners, tell you that we can’t make it happen. Cuz we can and we are.

    That is what I relearned in Chicago. I want to thank everyone for helping me get there. I am committed to working on conflict as a source of inspiration and critical change for our movement, just as it was for every other important movement that came before ours. I hope you stick around too.

  25. I am an indie in SF. Prop K is a nightmare to me. We will be awash in 14 year old Korean and Mexican girls if it passes. Prop K is BAD for responsible sex workers.

    But I am supposed to drink the koolaid and get in line with the “movement” here which at the moment is made up of wacky socialists, pimps, and somewhat deranged individuals.

    If you want me to join a “movement,” please be assured it will not be a movement that includes pimps in the definition of sex workers. Pimps are the problem, not the solution. This applies to Nevada, New Zealand, Oakland and San Francisco.

    Can we have an honest conversation about whether pimps are sex workers? Or is that too “divisive”?

  26. For whatever it’s worth anonindie, I personally have an issue with honest conversations with liars. Given that you are starting off throwing shit and being dishonest about your identity attempting to be cutesy, and homespun in between the vitriol, I personally have no interest in you joining the movement. Drama queens that come in hot and throw shit……. The movement isn’t that desperate.

    I am so not in a space for drama queens and liars. The seams already show in your UC. Seriously try to invest in a thesaurus and get away from the homespun shit as it exposes the seams in your lies.

    Tell Nikki I said hi.

  27. Oh, oh. We got another rad-flea infestation.

    Better pour on the raw munce and call Judge Dredd.

    A big uber-pimp is trying to infiltrate the city. All judges on high alert.

  28. Right on, Jill and Susan.

  29. Jill’s response is the perfect example of why solidarity in SF is impossible. If you don’t talk the talk exactly the way Jill and Maxine want you to, you are the enemy. This is exactly why real organizing is impossible here. Life is different when you don’t actually turn the tricks yourself, you stop caring about working girls as people and just see us as potential profit machines. This is not a grassroots sex worker movement in San Francisco because the “leaders” just expect us to follow along with every crazy ass idea and not think for ourselves. I don’t know why you expect all indies to act like idiots, some of actually have an education and can see through the crap. Your stupid proposition is endangering my income, but I dont’ think you care.

    I guess no one wants to address the problem of calling pimps sex workers. This is a cancer on this movement.

  30. Jill does not expect anyone to agree with her and does not care if anyone does. She is a true advocate of free thinking and free speech.

    If you think decriminalizing SF is doing to endanger your income, there are plenty of other heavily criminalized cities in the US to choose from (usually with cheaper living expenses too!).

    XX

  31. Our pathological liar rad fem is hereby dispatched to my enemy list.

    Bin Laden
    Mullah Omar
    Idi Amin Dada
    Anonindie

    I don’t have an enemy list. That is your psychotic wordview anonindie. There is no war, there are no enemies in the Jill Brenneman personal view of her own life. You aren’t an enemy, just as psychotic liar who is throwing shit to see what sticks. Enemies? WTF? Did you get detention in the computer room? At your age you may want to consider that what worked so well in 7th grade isn’t working as a thought process in this century.

  32. You know what I hate?

    I hate rad-fleas coming here as sex-worker poseurs, trying to divide and conquer.

    Well it ain’t working.

    My advice to you, Miss Indie, is for you and others like you to give it up and find another line of work and get a life, because your uber-pimping days are numbered.

  33. This tactic reminds me of how it is the FBI infiltrated the Black Panthers in order conduct surveillance and subversive acts to undermine their successful policies and practices.

  34. Shit Maxine if this pathetic hater is the best that FBI can do for a UC, we have absolutely nothing to worry about.

    Rule 1 for infiltration. Blend in at least at first. Our Dallas Cowboys wannabe infiltrator can’t even muster the slightest bit credible back story. She might as well have come in wearing a t-shirt saying I’m a rad fem hater.

    If she throws much more of her shit at me, she may want to invest in changing IP’s. Cuz jilli is gonna hardball.

  35. LOFL ;)

    I love you jill. I hope your feeling better.

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