Messing Around Under the Covers

If things start to look a bit strange, that’s just me (Melissa) doing some cosmetic magic under the blog covers. Should be done in a few hours. Posting and commenting won’t be affected, so come on in as usual.

Or just watch this video blog about sex work by Devinity, talking about escorting, burnout, transition, and getting into porn. She made this around the same time Bound, Not Gagged began:

33 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link. It was interesting to peek into her life. She sounds like someone who hasn’t found her direction yet. I hope the porn works out for her.

    Okay, I’m ignorant about YouTube. How do I find her whole video series?

    XX

  2. I looked around to see if she had any other videos, but this is it. From her video page, you can click on her username and then get to all of her other videos — if she had some, of course.

    I stumbled across a ton of sex work related videos on YouTube — some crazy, like people who in the name “cleaning up their neighborhoods” will tape the arrests of alleged prostitution-in-progress (I think Amber had some more info about this practice?), and others are recordings from demonstrations and conferences held by sex workers. Not a lot of personal video blogging like this, which I really, really love.

  3. Gentle I go and carefully, too. I want to not be mean and of course I would never want to hurt any ones feelings but there is a war going on. Some of you may have noticed. The enemy does not need any more fodder. Especially when the fodder is being produced and provided by us.
    There are stereotypes of women who work in our industry. These stereotypes are constantly being put forward by the anti-prostitution and anti-pornography forces in order to keep us criminalized, keep us opressed and further, deny us our rights as workers and as women. We need to constantly be confronting the stereotypes and not contributing to them.
    We need to ask our selves before we post, who benifits? How will this contribute to what we want for our industry. We want decriminalization. We want full rights as workers and as women. We want to smash the myths, lies and the stigma that surrounds us. Please, please stop promoting those stereotypes.

  4. One of the things I find so promising about more and more sex workers having access to the means of producing and distributing our own media is that we’ll be able to confront stereotypes that people have about us that much faster and in a way that’s really true to our community. My ideal is that there are so many of us speaking out and talking about our experiences that it will be impossible to hold stereotypes about any of us.

    The reality is, the sex workers who have access to blogging and videoblogging don’t represent the true diversity of our community. There’s also a big difference between us creating what we think is media that’s really personal (yet is visible to the whole world) and us creating media campaigns for sex worker rights advocacy. Those different kinds of media address different audiences.

    As someone who came through the gay/queer rights movement as a bisexual teenager, who never felt represented in the images of queer women that the gay rights advocacy movement used to advance what was supposed to be our common cause. I wanted my civil rights, but I wasn’t interested in trying to fit in so I could prove that because I was “normal” I therefore deserved them.

    We do need strong, focused, savvy advocacy messaging — the kind of stuff Amnesty International, for example, excels at. But I think that’s a separate priority from encouraging sex workers to find support among one another for when work sucks. We need to be honest about when work sucks, and that’s what I saw in this video.

  5. I don’t think there was anything negative about this video. This is someone who is not getting what they want out of life, but they’re still trying to find their answers. Nothing out of the ordinary here, except the subject matter.

    Amber did pass around a notice about the Atlanta thing and I linked to the news story from the SWOP-East blog today. This goes beyond public opinion and is a major violation of rights. I wish he’d get arrested for what he’s doing.

    Melissa, you are right. This is a battle on two fronts: trying to unite sex workers and help them feel like they have a voice, and working on the mainstream level to change perceptions and the law.

    It’s taken me a long time to feel (mostly) comfortable posting here and on my own blogs. I haven’t even stepped into video or podcasting. Those who don’t have access or who are afraid of using their Internet access are even further left behind. But doing stuff like BnG and putting more videos on YouTube helps those in the woodwork realize they don’t have to stay there. Trust me, knowing that someone will respond positively (even if they don’t agree) goes a long way to making one feel like they have something to say. It all helps.

    As for the mainstream public, well, that’s a different issue.

    XX

  6. ” But I think that’s a separate priority from encouraging sex workers to find support among one another for when work sucks. We need to be honest about when work sucks, and that’s what I saw in this video.”

    Melissa, unfortunately the sex industry is not like other industries because of our criminalization and opression as workers and as women. Of course, we need to be able to talk about when work sucks but I am afraid because of our opression and the stereotypes put forward that keep us opressed make those conversations something that should take place inside our own community among eachother.
    This blog is public and is put forward as an instrument to push our movement forward. What is our movement and what does it want to achieve? Our right to work without threat of arrest and without fear of raids and deportation. Our right to work in the industry without fear of having our children taken away from us and to be able to have recourse when something goes wrong on the job or when we are working in unsafe conditions. Our right to work where we chose to work and the right to work with other women. Our right to chose who we want our support staff to be and the right of our support service workers not to go to prison on pimping or pandering charges. Our right as sex worker organizers not to be put in prison for “promoting prostitution,”
    Last November Maxine Doogan and I attended a play entitled “My Real Name.” The play was an anti-prostitution propaganda piece that contained every sex worker stereotype. Promoting the stereotypes of sex industry workers is the most effective weapon being used by the anti-prostitution forces to keep us criminalized and I might add to criminalize us further with the TVPRA 2007/11. The anti-prostitution forces use the M. Farley statistic of 85% of women working in the industry wanting to escape because it puts forward the idea that of course we are all miserable (keep us criminalized to save us) and further get them more funding for sham exit services.
    M. Farley has a strategic plan and of course she would never want to let on that the women who work in the sex industry who take pride in their work and get satisfaction from their erotic labor are the majority. That would not further her agenda. We need to be clear on our agenda as well.
    As I stated there is a war going on. If you think this is an over statement read the TVPRA 2007/11. But we don’t have to wait for it’s passage from the Senate to know the war is on. Workers from our industry are being sent to jail and prison right now. Workers from our industry who cross borders are being raided, detained and deported right now. Women who provide us with their support servies are going to prison right now and the prison system has the harshest conditions reserved for our “madams.” You know, the women who make it possible for us to work with other women (conspiracy to commit prostitution) and go home safely at the end of the day.
    The hysteria of “sex trafficking” being used by the the radical feminists and the religous right who are now in bed with one another to put us all out of work.
    And I don’t agree Amanda that it all helps. If giving individual voice to a sex industry worker perpetuates the stigma and so futhers the agenda of those who truely are waging a campaign to silence us, than it hurts us all as a movement and an industry.

  7. I want to add that I had an extremely difficult entrance to the industry. I entered the industry as a teenage girl working the streets of New York. My exit from the industry was no less difficult even though I retired as a successful, highly paid indoor worker. I attribute the difficulties I had entering and exiting the industry directly to our criminalization and the stigma of our industry workers. I want the criminalization and the stigma of sex work to end and sometimes that means that I have to be mindful of what I say and that I constantly ask myself, who benifits when I put something forward? I just want it to be us and not them. That is all.

  8. […] Workers Deserve To Be On YouTube? Posted on January 19, 2008 by Melissa Gira Thinking about Lisa’s comments on whether or not sex workers should use social media (like this blog): If giving individual voice […]

  9. Lisa,

    With all due respect to you as someone who is working on sex work issues, I doubt Devinity is going to be thrilled you think she should keep her problems to herself.

    No job is all peaches and cream. Sex work has the problem of almost pure negative publicity and I understand that. I don’t see people like Devinity as adding to negativity. There are real issues because not all sex work fits every sex worker. I had a difficult time with stripping, but was at home as an escort. I could talk about stripping as a total negative, but I prefer to couch it as a job that didn’t suit me — because that’s true. Devinity is making it clear that escort work doesn’t suit her. Doesn’t mean sex work is bad, this particular area is just not working for her.

    This is probably more subtle than the public can understand and I realize that. But creating a false front of approved sex worker stories is just as bad as the false front of total evil (like sex work is often portrayed). It makes me uncomfortable.

    XX

  10. Melissa said: My ideal is that there are so many of us speaking out and talking about our experiences that it will be impossible to hold stereotypes about any of us.

    I disagree that putting forward one person’s stereotypical moment in time will make it impossible to hold stereotypes about us.

    And when you say ‘so many of us’ how many of us will it take to release the stereotypes?

    I’ll make a qualified statement and say that most sex industry workers are afraid to speak out. They don’t want to be exposed to any harm their community could do to them. Things Lisa’s already said. Is the idea that hookers will speak out in amass and expose their personal/professional decision-making and as a result, society will stop dangling these stereotypes in the media of us because we’ll be dangling them ourselves? Is that the thinking?
    Her goal is to make money. She’s making a documentary about it. Her goal isn’t to help release stereotypes is it? If so, I didn’t get that. I understand that Melissa’s goal is to do that. My goal and Lisa’s goal is to free the prostitutes.

    It sounds like this worker is experiencing what many workers do when facing the disillusionment of living in a capitalist society. I could be wrong though.

    She also makes blanket statements about growing old in the sex industry. Most workers are concerned about retirement. Most workers understand that there will come a day when they won’t be able to earn as much because their abilities will be diminished. Why does this sex worker think she’s any different? And why does she make sterotyping derogatory statements about it? All workers have to be careful in how we set ourselves up to meet certain economic standards. Those standards are produced and sold to us by the same people who set the sex negative shame based standards for us.

    Another qualified statement. I believe that the only people who are interested in worker centered stories are hooker groupie and the groups of students who are beating down my door to get me to think for them so they can write for school credit. Other workers might be interested in it in that they maybe say; ‘I feel that way too’.
    But if there is no direct feedback loop to reach out and have the conversation while it’s relevant to both parties, then what?

    I guess it’s like the time in the 1980’s when I worked in a remote area, I’d go to the women’s bookstore and they’d call my attention to newly arrived article about my industry in the newspaper/magazine that had come from the USA. Yes it was great to read about how we had rights, but I don’t know that I would have been attracted to someone else’s anxed about their work. I mean I dealt with it everyday, 10 girls on a shift.

    So maybe that’s the issue, the isolation of the workers. Lisa and I always worked with others.

    Now that would be something to research. Are workers working in isolation more these days? If so, why? Do workers feel more isolated theses days as opposed to another time? What problems arise out of the isolation? What concerns do workers have?
    I mean the internet/electronic media has had mixed bag effect for our industry and us workers. Has electronic media lessened the stereotypes? If yes, for who? I can’t say off the top of my head that that is true for me.

    I do believe that those of us, who are directly engaged in the fight to free ourselves, know that it is a political fight that requires a political solution. Direct action. When I was circulating the petition the summer before last, the stereotypes were still there but everyone agreed that arresting us had to stop and they were more than happy to make that happen. I’ll make another qualified statement and say that I believe the stereotypes are going to around long after we’re free. Just like the black people, just like GTBL folks.

    So maybe the idea of displaying this worker’s story is an indirect action.

    It seems that by exposing the fact that we are just like other workers, when we are unhappy with our lives at any given moment, stereotypes will evaporate and everyone will say to himself or herself, ‘she’s just like me, I’m just like her’.
    And then what?
    The anti prostitution laws will evaporate too?

    My personal unhappiness stems from the fact that we all could
    be federal felons sometime this year if this version of TVPRA passes. And I accept that most of the people on this blogg won’t be in that category and is probably the reason the imminent feeling and need for direct action isn’t felt like I and Lisa feel it and I accept too.

    And what does this person’s blog have to do with that?
    I don’t know.

    I do know that I have bigger fish to fry because know that bigger fish want
    to fry me.

  11. Amanda, just to make clear that my problem with posting the video had nothing to do with Divinity. In fact, I do not believe it was Divinity who posted the video on Bound Not Gagged. The video was found on U-tube and posted by Melissa. Perhaps Divinity would not have appreciated her video put forth on a political sex worker blog, since the content of the video was personal and not political.
    The issue of what gets put forward is a critical question. It is a discussion or debate that needs to take place because their is just too much at stake. What is at stake of course is our freedom, we all agree on that. I think what we have the ability all of us to make a distinction between our personal struggles and our political struggle. All I am suggesting is that we need to put our political struggle to the street and keep our personal struggle to our own community.
    The Sex Worker Rights Movement needs to ask another crtical question. Why have we been so seemingly close to decriminalization and why has it not happened. What has the movement ,as a whole done wrong stratigically? What changes does the movement need to make right now before more opressive laws come our way.

  12. I am aware Melissa posted this here and not Devinity. I think Melissa posted it because she feels it has relevance.

    “Why have we been so seemingly close to decriminalization and why has it not happened. What has the movement ,as a whole done wrong stratigically? What changes does the movement need to make right now before more opressive laws come our way.”

    That is the larger issue. The movement as a whole does not seem to have made much impact in mainstream culture beyond the tentative use of the terms “sex work” or “sex worker”. Decriminalization is not even an issue on the table, except in a couple of spots in the entire country. I think the movement is starting to gather momentum because of more people coming to the Internet (it makes things easier in the short run). If there have been any “wrong” moves it’s simply that we haven’t managed to push things onto a national level of awareness.

    This past year, the two biggest sex work issues (on a national level) have been Melissa Farley’s new book and D. J. Palfrey’s ongoing legal battle. Oh, and continuing CraigsList busts.

    I think we need to make more noise. More people means more noise. Your basic question is one I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about. I wish I had an answer to give you at this moment.

    XX

  13. I disagree that any harm was done to Devinity by sharing her video in this forum; I wish I could get in touch with her, but I made the assumption that as her video was found in a public search of YouTube, that it was meant to be viewed by the public.

    Just by way of example, the following is a comment made by a commenter at Metafilter, a popular site where people talk about what they find online (more or less), inspired by reading a series of supposedly “personal” sex worker blogs:

    “If sex was revered rather than stigmatized, I expect this whole conversation would be very different. Sex workers are 120 times more likely to be murdered than any other demographic. This is due to stigma (and laws created around the stigma). We would worship and honor sex workers if our world wasn’t so anti-sex. They wouldn’t be the first ones to be picked off by murderers because people would notice them going missing and there would be an uproar about it. Instead they are treated as the most worthless human beings and their deaths are considered occupational hazards. It makes me sad.”

    These are issues central to sex workers’ rights, but they are being given voice to in the context of reading the blogs of sex workers telling “personal” stories. That’s powerful, to me, in ending the stigma facing sex workers — making us real people. On the other hand, I don’t really want to wait for people to stop believing that it’s a pity that I’m a whore in order to get my civil rights. We deserve full personhood no matter who hates us. But challenging that hatred, as we internalize it, is part of the work done in personal sex worker blogging. The different ways we all work can all be part of the same struggle.

    Maybe one way to continue this conversation would be to say we need to decide what we mean by a “political” blog and a “personal” blog, but I think that’s a false start. In sex workers use of the web, I see the living results of the feminist axiom that “the personal is political.” But your mileage, as they used to say on alt.sex.prostitution, may certainly vary.

  14. “I think we need to make more noise. More people means more noise. Your basic question is one I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about. I wish I had an answer to give you at this moment.”

    Hell yes, 1000 times over.

  15. Two things here.

    I don’t believe that we’re not part the same struggle.

    and

    we don’t have a sex worker rights movement persay.

    We have pockets of people doing things, activist, researchers, supporters and the rest.

    I don’t see any buy in about what the ‘same struggle’ looks likes or means as a group. In other words, I see no agreements about what the issues are by those who are effected, those that support us and want to see change.
    There is no organization to organize around issues, on a national level in the first place.
    And there is no agreement about the kind of structure of organizing in the second place for those of us who’ve been already having those internal discussions. Primarily, non-profits serviced based models verses the membership based models. Or what I call the charity verses the solidarity models.
    I would say that this blog is another example of the lack of unity around something sex worker. And I find human in that personally.

    According to Wikkipeidia: Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change.

    According to Wikkipeidia: A political movement may be organized around a single issue or set of issues, or around a set of shared concerns of a social group. In contrast with a political party, a political movement is not organized to elect members of the movement to government office; instead, a political movement aims to convince citizens and/or government officers to take action on the issues and concerns which are the focus of the movement.

  16. I am not nor is Maxine advocating cencorship. What we are attempting to do in establishing/defining the Movement and in building the Movement is trying to raise the conscienceness of workers from our industry. In order to bring rights to our industry workers, one of the biggest obsticles we have as The Sex Worker Nation (I believe that is Maxine’s term) is the propaganda and lies that perpetuate the stigma and in turn keeps us criminalized and opressed. What we are advocating here is building a Movement that shares common goals and common stategy to confront the lies, the stigma and so our primary goal of decriminaization and full rights as workers can be achieved. To build this movement we need to establish within our own Nation/Community /Movement what is considered contradictory to our goals. In other words, we as organizers need to establish what is counter organizing and lead the way in guiding our Nation/Community/Movement forward and not away from freedom.
    85% percent of prostitutes are so miserable they want to get out of prostitution. That Farley statistic is used over and over again by not just by farley and the anti-prostitution forces but is sited over and over again by journalists, students and academics who don’t know any better not to use it because we have not been given the same forum to speak out and say “This is the work I choose and I am proud of my work and good at what I choose to do. ” This statistic has also become one used by the State to attempt further criminalization of our industry and also to feed the corrupt nonprofit system which also profits off our criminalization.
    And of course I agree that everything is political. That is my point. So that if you post a video that in any way contributes to the bulshit stigma that is going to influence one voter when she goes to vote for decriminalization and chooses not to because all she has seen and heard about us is how miserable we all are in our work and that even on our own sites when we have the oppurtunity to tell the outsiders about our work and our industry we only confirm the haters view of ourselves. What? If one lawyer is able to tell the judge, in a child custody case that one Mother should not have custody of her children because she is a prostitute and prostitutes are mentally unstable, drug addicted and miserable and the judge denies custody based on the stigma, who can we blame but ourselves if we contributed to that stigma.
    Melissa, you are media savy. You have so many talents that are desperately needed by the Movement. You have the gift and talents in media to wage huge war against the lies, stigma and propoganda used to keep us opressed and at our time in history the stakes couldn’t be higher.

  17. Lisa, I wish I had more time right now to respond to you point by point, but I’m rushing to get my presentation ready to talk about BNG at sex::tech on Wednesday.

    I appreciate your recognition, of what I am and what we are doing here. I think where I prickle is at the suggestion that any of us — individually or organizationally — can decide what messages might be “bad for the cause” on the level of citizen/participant-produced media, like this blog and like videoblogs and on forums and all the other places we informally gather & organize online. That’s the point of citizen media: we make it ourselves, and we are a diverse community who won’t always agree.

    Now if we were talking about raising crazy money to do a national media campaign, I’d for sure be up for having big, long, involved conversations about what our slogan would be and what strategy our messaging is serving. We might not be doing this level of work yet as a national movement of sex workers, but these conversations *are* happening on the level of the global sex worker rights movement, where some great work is being done and pretty much everyone can agree on the following:

    * Sex work is work.
    * Only rights can stop the wrongs. (I think this came out of DMSC in India)
    * Sex workers are not the problem; sex workers are part of the solution. (This gelled at a recent meeting of representatives from sex worker orgs who met in Malaysia.)

    I’ve seen, over the ten+ years I’ve been a sex worker and a sex worker rights activist, that no matter WHAT we say about the realities of our condition, those who seek to oppress us have a response already. If we like our jobs, we’re elitist and not to be trusted. If we have complaints, we deserve the abuse. That’s what oppression is, isn’t it? That no matter what we say, we’re battling some prejudice, some bias, some suffering? Farley’s not powerful enough to perpetuate the propaganda against us alone — there’s real abuse in the industry and people need to be able to talk about that. The thing I think we DO need more of is that we need to be mindful to frame that abuse as a result of stigma, not sex work itself.

    When it comes to what I do and what the movement might need from me — I’ve tried to be politic and reasoned, and I’ve also tried to be very personal and deeply vulnerable, and I’ve seen that each of those approaches gets different work done. I hold by my strategy, of promoting a diversity of sex worker voices, because I see it as the one that brings the most workers to the table. And in lieu of a physical table, I’m using the web right now. It’s not perfect, I hear that loud and clear. But there’s already too many workers here now to ignore the fact — hundreds and hundreds of sex workers are blogging, many more are on social networking sites and forums, and that’s a critical mass — a wild, rich, diverse critical mass — I want to include in any organizing we consider.

  18. Best of luck tomorrow, Melissa!

  19. Melissa’s idea that exposing workers through media in a social context is powerful to her but she didn’t say exactly how it’s powerful to her. I got the idea that was powerful to her to hear/see another worker articulate a struggle that was related to her occupational choice that Melissa may have related to. But I’m not sure. Its relevance is in the part where one worker uses another worker’s experience to speak indirectly about her own or those she believes she shares with others through social media.
    Putting that aside, if Melissa is struggling with internal oppression and wanting to use social media as a way to release stereotypes, then two things have to happen here and responsibility has to be taken. One is that there is a need for sharing personal struggles through media on a social level; the other is being responsible to our activists’ social struggles using media.

    It seems to me, that if people were struggling on whatever level, they’d want to know how others transcended those struggles, right?
    Or maybe their goal isn’t to transcend anything, maybe just struggle socially by whatever means necessary or available, in this case social media.

    So then there is the idea of movement building and how does bringing forward someone else’s complaints about their occupation impact the ‘movement’? In labor organize; we talk about this as a third party complaint or grievance. We spent hours on this in labor school this past year because of the trouble it causes. The anti sex trafficking/anti porn/ anti choice advocates use this method and as a result are always skating on thin ice.
    Lisa’s point is that by exposing someone else’s personal struggle in a social way using this medium has affects, consequences to activist/organizers who are on the frontlines are felt. And she, like me sees has experienced first hand these same stereotypes, this form of third party grieving, as a weapon against us. Literally violence against us, not virtual violence, real physical violence. I guess I’d like to see some responsibility by the virtual producers to be taken about that.

    I believe it’s unfair to frame Lisa’s concerns as being a rejection of Divinity’s expression because again it is taking what someone else, in this case, Lisa’s expression out of context and using it for expression of your own personal frustration and that’s how it is that we’re not in the same social movement.

    Okay, now back to the real work at hand!

  20. Thank you, Melissa Gira, for addressing the issue of oppression and I agree with what you said about oppression. As Melissa eluded to, it is important to understand how the sex work prohibitionists are oppressing sex workers, whether they mean to or not. When a group of people negate and/or trivialize the perspectives and experiences of another group of people if they don’t conform to what the dominant group says, that’s typical behavior of oppressors. This extends beyond just the prohibitionists’ behaviors toward sex workers, but can be applied the the oppressors and the oppressed regarding any groups. A typical behavior of oppressors is to impose their own agendas and their own ideologies onto the people they oppress.

  21. Maxine,

    “Two things here.

    I don’t believe that we’re not part the same struggle.

    and

    we don’t have a sex worker rights movement persay.”

    Yes, I think this is the real problem we’re struggling with. Your whole comment was great.

    Well said.

    XX

  22. Oops, best of luck Wednesday, Melissa.
    I agree with your comments Melissa in regards to no matter what we say the opression is coming down but I say that we are not trying to win the hearts and minds of the haters/opressors. We are trying to bulid a movement of our own workers and gain support in our struggle for our liberation from our fellow workers and gain support from the people who will be going into voting booths hopefully voting in favor of our decriminalization and right of self determination.
    You know their is that saying, “We need to speak truth to power.” The rebutul to that statement came from Noam Chomsky who said, ” We don’t need to speak truth to power because power already knows what the truth is.” In other words, don’t waste your time. The Movement needs to speak to the people and speak to them in a united and militant voice to both educate and to agitate. Listen, I am not advocating censorship here. I am only asking that we start right now to stratigize, to organize and to decide, what’s it going to be? Some leaders of the sex worker rights organizations are putting some strategy forward. Recognize the organizers that are going to bring us real liberation and follow their direction. A worker posting whatever on a site that is meant to be a political vehicle for sex worker social change is not liberation.
    I know we have lived through years of silence and years of opression and I know how it feels to finally have the oppurtunity to stand up. All I am asking is that when we do stand up, we have the eye on the prize in mind and can I also add that i do believe we as the Sex Worker Nation can infact be smarter than the enemy.

  23. When i saw this video i felt so happy. Seeing another trans sex worker (sorry for my assumptions), particularly one doing escort work, helps me feel less isolated. It helps me feel like there is an “us” to build a movement around. If it weren’t for electronic sharing of stories like this i would hear these stories most likely. Sex workers sharing our experiences can bring us together. Look at the history of women’s consciousness raising groups in the 60’s and 70’s. Sharing our stories is political and it will bring us together. (Something about this reference humors me because the second wave feminist movement largely rejected and pushed away sex workers to push the “larger women’s agenda”. Now i get to see some sex workers’ voices being questioned and potentially silenced to push forward the “larger sex worker agenda”. Just love it.)

    i guess i also want to say that, some of us live “stereotyped” lives. Just because i find myself living some part of the stereotyped life of a sex worker, especially a tranny sex worker, does not mean i should not speak for fear of it hurting “the movement”. This seems like dangerous ground. This is particularly true in my case because of the history of trans folks and the gay rights movement. Trans folks were there, were support, helped start the whole thing, and the gay movement has left us behind and purposefully forgotten us in the name of political expediency and winning over others to the cause. i don’t want to see that happen here. Cheers.

    (Sorry if any of this came off too rant-y or upset. i’m usually a more verbal person and don’t always know how to translate into writing.)

  24. Thanks for commenting Julie. Questioning sex work itself doesn’t have to pull sex workers apart. Discovering commonalities makes us stronger as a whole.

    XX

  25. I support providing free condoms, but it’s important to understand that prostitutes may be reluctant to carry around condoms out of fear that these condoms can be used as evidence against them if they are arrested for prostitution. Thus, though it is important for prostitutes and clients to have access to condoms, it is also important to end the criminalization of prostitution so they can carry around condoms without having to worry about these being used against them as evidence in court.

  26. So we are all on the steps of the San Francisco City Hall having the same arguements and debates we have here or may have had in person in the past. Melissa Farley shows up and she’s got her gaggle of hooker hating thugs with her. All of a sudden we stop fighting with eachother because now we are faced with the real enemy and I bet it would take us five seconds to stradigize, organize and take those bitches down.

  27. Julie: Thank you so much for commenting here!

    For the record, BnG is here for all sex workers to have a safe space to contribute to public discussion. This means that critics of those posters are free to comment here as well, and I very much hope that these discussions do not deter anybody from participating here.

    Maxine and Lisa: “…pockets of people doing things, activist, researchers, supporters and the rest.” [who have disagreements about strategy, positions and community]

    …ARE a movement. Maybe just the seedlings of a movement, but this movement actually is taking root.

    Publicly attacking your allies hardly seems like a useful way to promote growth. Personal concerns of this nature would be better dealt with in private, as reading a 20+ comment post of sex workers arguing with each other really isn’t that interesting in a public forum.

    “All of a sudden we stop fighting with eachother because now we are faced with the real enemy and I bet it would take us five seconds to stradigize, organize and take those bitches down.”

    We are faced with the real enemy right now. Every year on Dec 17th more names are added to the lists of lost comrades, you’ve already highlighted many examples of additional problems we face as a community. What’s it going to take to make peace with each other and focus on taking “those bitches down?”

    Isn’t it clear that the time is now and whether we like each other or not, energy is being wasted with internally-directed angst?

    The debate about whether Devinity’s video is valid content at this blog needs to end and the strategy about how we can be a supportive community for sex workers including Devinity needs to begin- or continue, depending on how you’ve been directing your energy lately.

    What can we do to inspire development in this community rather than destruction?

  28. Thank you Stacey.

    XX

  29. Stacey, you make it sound like all we are doing is bashing and that we make no contribution to the solution and that could not be further from the truth. And I also do see some value in the debate over important issues not of course for debate or arguement sake but because we learn, all of us, even when we argue. I know that reading some of the posts from activists who have a completely point of view than I do, I have a chance to examine my own ideas, look at the issue differently and maybe change my view or at least understand where the other views are coming from.
    I know we face the real enemy right now, Stacey and unfortunately we have some real differences in how to defeat the enemy and the differences are not personal. Here we are at election time. We are also sadly facing the 5th anniversary of the ooccupation of Iraq. There will be no big mobilization this year, as there has been every year at that time. There will be no coalition of anti-war groups to organize a major march in D.C. or San Francisco because the two major anti-war groups have a difference in politics and stradegy. You could ask, couldn’t the anti-war groups just get along. Wouldn’t that be better for the movement? Some issues just can’t be comprimised. Some issues are worth standing up for.
    We have major differences that are political and not personal but maybe some of the differences can be worked out through debate and discussion. Unfortunately, we are on different coasts and different cities and sitting across from each other at a meeting is not possible.
    Just to reassure you Stacey, that for every twenty minutes we spend here, we spend twenty hours somewhere else in the solution.
    Peace.

  30. I messaged Devinity on YouTube to let her know about this conversation.

    To aurora, thank you for highlighting the parallel with the women’s movement around who should be “legitimately” allowed to speak. And this stuff is still going on in the GLBT rights movement — when ENDA was up this year, and a version that didn’t include protections for transgender people in it was supported by one of the biggest mainstream GLBT groups — !! I don’t want the same thing to happen to us — that we push out the people we think are too “edgy” for us to be known by (when, hello, just us being whores is enough for many people to dismiss us and everything we say).

    All that said, I really just put it up to capture everyone’s time while I re-did the blog’s header image. Which no one has commented on, btw!😛

  31. One last thought before I step away. I just wanted to say that perhaps I was too reactionary in my post regarding street based outreach. First, my reaction was really over the mention of the “hobbiest” view of street based work and I apologize for going off on other workers or other organizers for their street based work. Last December, the Friday before International Day, another sex worker organization planned outreach on a popular stroll and I was invited to participate. You know, it sounds like a wonderful idea at first thought but then at least for me because of my street experience, I had mixed feelings at first which led to rather strong feelings against it. This is contraversial, this subject of street based outreach and everyone has their own ideas. I appreciate Naomi’s acknoledgement of the complexities of street based outreach and her commitment to her methods and her commitment to streetbased workers themselves. Even though I disagree with some of her ideas, I also acknoledge that maybe my own street experience might not make it possible for me to be objective. I am due for some introspection on this.
    Some of us come to the politics of sex work from other political struggles, myself included. I don’t take much personally in the battle of ideas. Personally, political battles have come to my own family, my own home. Over five years ago, there was a split in my political Party, of which my daughter was on one side of the split and I was on the other. The split was devestating politically and it took some time for my daughter and I to recover personally, although I never stopped loving her and never stopped supporting her right to the self determination of her own political ideas and political growth. Within the anti-war movement, progressive movement and other social justice and labor movements all of you know that differences of ideas and stradegy have been extremely difficult for the Movement but again some ideas can not be comprimised and are worth fighting for. You have got to have armor for the struggle, no doubt. That is one of the reasons it is called the struggle.
    We are building a movement. That movement is going to have different fractions with different ideas. Activists are going to need to know where they stand and where they fit it and where they want to put their commitment. I think it is crucial to put the different approaches to the same struggle out there.
    Also, it is possible that posting on the blog, without personal contact may lead to poor communication and misunderstanding. In other words, if we could sit together and have these conversations perhaps we would not come off to eachother so harshly. I hope that when I have made the wrong conclusion about someone or some issue that my apology was taken to heart and please believe me, it is not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am so sorry if I have. You are all my Sisters.
    In Solidarity,
    Lisa Roellig

  32. Melissa, I like the new header! Even more so, I like that the header has changed a couple of times since last year, as it keeps the site “fresh” for those who come here daily.

  33. Thanks for your comments Lisa!

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