Sex Work 2.0: On “Bound, Not Gagged” & Sex Work Tech Advocacy

Juhu Thukral, of the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, wrote this piece, Sex Work 2.0, for American Sexuality Magazine:

Like other groups who come together because of shared work and interests or out of shared political concerns, sex workers have created thriving online communities beyond those that relate directly to their work. Due to the ever decreasing cost of laptops and wireless access, along with cell phones that come equipped with fancy cameras and texting options, technology has empowered many sex workers to organize online. Sex workers are rallying around technology to create collective political voices, using a broad array of tools: the ubiquitous listservs that crowd everyone’s in-boxes, blogs, podcasts, texting, video, and MySpace pages…

These tools have helped breakdown some of the basic barriers to organizing that sex workers normally face. Not only is a great deal of sex work criminalized in most parts of the United States, sex work also carries a social stigma that makes it difficult for activists to simply meet and discuss common fears and concerns. The underground nature of the work lends itself to underground organizing. For example, the fear that a new member of an activist group is an undercover police officer is a real threat—it is almost impossible to engage in political organizing without outing yourself as a sex worker and admitting to have engaged in unlawful activity. Online organizing allows people to share information and “meet” without sharing their faces, their real names, or other identifying information.

Given this larger context in which sex worker advocacy is changing, what do you think about the potential for this blog (whose origins are highlighted in the piece) for social change for sex workers? To advance our human and labor rights? My hope in creating this space (which really, all I did was open a wordpress account after a phone call to Stacey, and then we invited some people to blog who invited more people to blog and comment) is that a sex workers’ group blog like this can accomplish political work on multiple levels: that we can be both supportive (for our community) and transformative (when it comes to our place in society).

Next week, Stacey and I will both be presenting on Bound, Not Gagged at Sex::Tech, and we’re looking for examples of how this blog and the community around it have been a success. From the Day to End Violence, to challenging Judge Deni, to our online press conference countering trafficking charges against Nevada brothels, to supporting the DC Madam, and calling out our good old friend Randall Tobias, I can think of a lot that we’ve accomplished since last spring. What else can we discuss? What lessons learned? What more can we all be doing?

6 Responses

  1. You all have done AMAZING work with this blog.

    Just keep on keepin’ on, honestly. One thing I can think of is to try to use the blog as a hub for organizing real-life activism – marches, protests, etc. Maybe have guest bloggers or regular-bloggers focus on a particular area of the country and the problems a community might be facing, and allow readers of the blog to help in some way.

    Seriously, you guys blow me away with this blog.

  2. What’s great about it is that sex workers and adovcates from ALL OVER can meet and discuss as it were, which would be impossible to do in real life on a regular basis.

  3. I’m really looking forward to it!

  4. BnG has made it easier to find like-minded souls, have debate in a fairly safe place and express any number of sex worker views. It’s also drawn attention from people who have become allies, who might not have paid attention otherwise.

    I’m excited for you and Stacey! I hope you make the point that this is the Internet being used for something real, instead yet another damn blog about how many orgasms the writer had the night before.

    XX

  5. […] Sex Work 2.0: On “Bound, Not Gagged” & Sex Work Tech Advocacy « Bound, Not Gagged “Given this larger context in which sex worker advocacy is changing, what do you think about the potential for this blog (whose origins are highlighted in the piece) for social change for sex workers?” (tags: sexwork activism tech society socialjustice community blogging blogs socialmedia politics) […]

  6. 22 and a half.

    Orgasms, that is. :p

    But really- this is truly an amazing space to come, where real, deep, meaningful and intelligent discussion is being had about real issues facing sex workers. May this only be the beginning!!

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