Who were those hot bitches talking about BoundNotGagged.com at SF State?

stacey and melissa at sex tech small
photo by Audacia Ray

Attendees at Sex::Tech– The Inaugural STD/HIV Prevention Conference focusing on Youth and Technology- were all abuzz about the “sex work blog thing” before our panel even happened. Or so Melissa and I were told at the post-conference happy hour. (Yes, despite missing many of the workshops, I did manage to make it to both of the cocktail parties!) “What does this have to do with youth and HIV/AIDS prevention?” “Why are they presenting at this conference for prevention educators?” After our presentation, people were stopping us in the halls to tell us how great and informative our presentation was! I certainly observed a furrowed brow or two when I looked out into the audience, but in general I think that our message was clear.

Sex workers have everything to do with sexual health education and disease prevention. We are a huge part of the solution. Our presentation was the first time that many educators learned about the PEPFAR provisions that limit health and education funding to agencies that serve sex workers. It was the first time that many people learned of the hypocrisy with which such policies are implemented and of the exposure of Randall Tobias, former Deputy Secretary of State who said that “it was just like ordering pizza” when he’d “call up and have the gals come by for a massage.” This is the birth point of BnG.

So we told them how the blog started. We told them about long, teary, angry all-hours-of-the-night phone calls that Melissa and I shared while as sex workers we were sitting in our own isolated worlds watching the media tell our stories through the lens of the “DC Madam Scandal.” That we desperately needed a space to respond and share our own opinions, to tell of our own exploits and scandals and to confront the stigma and harassment that we experienced with every twisted, slanted and salacious ‘hookers-to-the-elite’ story emailed out over our various list-serves. We told them that we didn’t really expect anybody besides our friends to read it, so we set out. But then Melissa actually talked to the DC Madam and the story suddenly felt accessible to us. Web-based radio shows and other bloggers were actually interviewing Jeane Palfrey, ABC News interviewed us about our first Blog-Scandal-Viewing party where sex workers got together and watched ‘Taking the Pledge’ along with the 20/20 fluff piece about the ‘Madam’s phone list.’ People were actually listening to us! Bloggers were linking to us and lurkers were stopping by regularly to see what those crazy hookers were talking about this week.

But the more we talked out in the open, the less crazy and foreign we seemed to people!

The conversations bounced around, lots of people came by to hate on us, which only sparked a whole bunch of new people coming to stand in solidarity with us! Once we found our collective voice we began using it to confront enemies on all sides. We held a virtual rally to support the actions in Philadelphia to oppose the reinstatement of Judge Deni who tolerates sexual violence against sex workers. Just a few weeks earlier we had our biggest day ever (9/18/07 with over 2,100 hits!!!) when we held a virtual press conference to confront Melissa Farley and her not-peer-reviewed research that conflates prostitution with trafficking…

…leading us back to how the blog started… US policy… the conflation of forced labor with consensual sex… the trafficking smoke-screen used to distract Americans from their own responsibility for the demand for cheap labor and to hide the corporate-driven severe exploitation occurring in many labor markets… pledges that prevent us from giving away condoms… the divide-and-conquer tactics that keep feminists busy fighting against women so that the anti-choice forces can focus on attacking Roe v. Wade… the horrible things said about us in the media… in ‘journalism’… in blogs…in living rooms…

People die when sex workers are silenced and stigmatized.

BnG exists because sex workers are the solution, and despite the gag orders that bind us, we will never be silent!!!

We made lots of new friends at the conference and got to meet up with some folks we already knew. Have to send a shout out to Guy and Nikol at the Midwest Teen Sex Show!! Thank you to all the people who attended and asked great questions about sex work at the end. We welcome all service providers and agencies to use this blog as a resource to get info, ask questions or just come hang out with hot, sexy, politically-minded people of all genders!

Thank you Melissa for putting together the power point and being our amazing messing-around-under-the-covers goddess!

In solidarity,

Stacey

13 Responses

  1. I soooo wish I had been able to be there! Did anyone take video of the session?

  2. […] Bound, Not Gagged: So we told them how the blog started. We told them about long, teary, angry all-hours-of-the-night […]

  3. The conference organizers had videographers at many if not all of the sessions — will post when we can! Much of what we presented will be part of my Sex 2.0 talk, too.

    There was an interesting sex-positive pastor from Atlanta in the audience for the talk, who had spoken the day earlier about giving out condoms at Church and teaching self-love. (Yes!) I wonder if he’d be helpful right now for you all? He seemed supportive, and that he attended the session meant a lot to me.

  4. […] Who were those hot bitches talking about BoundNotGagged.com at SF State? « Bound, Not Gagged “Attendees at Sex::Tech – The Inaugural STD/HIV Prevention Conference focusing on Youth and Technology – were all abuzz about the ’sex work blog thing’ before our panel even happened.” (tags: sexwork awesome conference sex tech socialmedia newmedia blogging internet education activism) […]

  5. Hot bitches indeed!

    This is so great! Thanks for the report, Stacey. Very exciting news, given everything that’s gone on here in the past week or so.

    XX

  6. Thank you both for the great presentation. cheers.

  7. Wow. It sounds like you hot bitches did my old alma mater justice. Thanks for that. I learned a lot at San Francisco State, although not always what my teachers had on the syllabus. It was where I started learning about both sex and computers in earnest, and more importantly, how the two things could be connected. I had my first internet account there, and if you get me inebriated enough on a late night, you could find out the email account that I used to post more than a few rather dopey-sounding things in Usenet groups.

    But I don’t remember having anything as interesting or educational as the show that you put on. It must have been something, and I deeply regret not being able to check you out at my old school.

  8. that is awesome. Well done!

  9. I can’t think of a better way to start my day than reading this! Great Job!!!! Thank you for all of your work!

  10. All that work and a job well done! Thank you for doing such a fine job representing. Right on! Looks like you made some real strides forward in recruiting allies.

  11. You Ladies Rock — keep talking, bloging, and getting the word out.

    Whips and Rubber Chickens,

    Widow Centauri

  12. Aw, thanks, Ms. Widow Centauri. It was a blast to finally meet you in person! Maybe see you in Chicago?

  13. Thank you so much for this site and helping us all have a voice! i wish i had been there for you all’s talk.

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