Reaching the media, Sex Workers Against Rape

We’ve briefly touched on this as a topic in various forums but never really gone forward with it.   This is a hard topic but one I honestly believe we have to put forward.  The media couches our movement, our efforts at social justice behind the myth that we are a very small fringe of all sex workers that both have not suffered violence but also are rich, affluent, spoiled brats making way too much money or in denial about what we have and do deal with and suffer.

We advocate fighting oppression, fighting violence, fighting discrimination, fighting coercion, yet this is missed by the media and very well played by the prohibitionists as exclusively their domain.  We are repeatedly blown off with these ridiculous terms as “pro trafficking”.  No one is pro trafficking other than traffickers and I don’t know anyone who is pro trafficking.  Is there anyone in our movement that wants someone coerced into the sex industry?  Is there anyone in our movement that wants to see a sex worker raped, assaulted, or harmed?  No.  Those are the very issues we are fighting against.  While our reasons for fighting for social justice for sex workers are many, I have never been part of a more inclusive, more united, more willing to be respectful of diversity group of people in my life than the sex worker rights movement.

Thus my thoughts whether popular or unpopular within our movement here they are.

We have to speak out against violence that we suffer, that we have suffered.  Obviously no one should be expected, forced, anticipated or even remotely pushed into outing their past suffering.  But those that are able and willing to do so.  We need to.  It is easy for reporters to slot audiences against us when they are able to portray us in the light of the never victimized high priced escort.  And yes there are many of them and yes their voices are just as important as anyone’s.   I’m not denying the importance of the voices of sex workers that were never harmed.  We all have very important voices.  But some of us are victim/survivor, however one self defines of various forms of harm.  We need to present this part of our movement too.  When a victim/survivor of trauma from our movement comes forward and says yes, I suffered this in the sex industry, or as a child, or both, we become much more accessible to people who would otherwise miss us and flock to those put forward by the prohibitionists.  That some of us come forward and say yes, these things that were very wrong happened to me in the sex industry which is why I advocate for sex worker rights, these things that were very wrong happened to me in the sex industry, as a child, whatever, BUT prohibitionist/end demand ideologies only make things worse, people have a much harder time dismissing us.  Or putting us into the slots that the prohibitionists so want us to be in.

I am the one in six childhood abuse survivors, I suffered violence in the sex industry, BUT, I advocate sex worker rights.  I do it by choice, I am aware of the various other ideologies, I’m not brainwashed by some monolithic pro porn movement as critics charge,  I’m not rich, I live paycheck to paycheck, worry about bills, am happy when I come home from work and the dog hasn’t gone potty on the floor,  in other words I’m human.  Just like 20/20’s viewers.  I don’t want to be glamorized, pitied, studied, or rescued.  I left the sex industry in 1995 because I chose to.  Not because I was running from it, not to beat an addiction, but because I wanted to do something else.  The same reason I have left many other jobs.  The same reason others leave their jobs.

When I did need help, when I was facing violence and coercion in the sex industry, none of the current anti trafficking measures would have applied or helped, I couldn’t go the cops or the justice system because in the US being a prostitute is illegal,  the clients getting arrested,,, so what???  Great so the whole thing which was underground in the first place just moves farther underground.  Not to mention I went into the sex industry for a reason.  To make money to survive.  I didn’t need the clients arrested because they were clients, I was there to make money to eat, to live, there was a need for the clients.   I needed the ones arrested that beat the shit out of me, or raped me, or forced me to do things without my consent.  I needed them arrested for rape, for assault, not on some minor misdemeanor that they could wash away with a visit to “John School” in some lame ass plea bargain.  I needed labor and human rights so that an abusive, sadistic pimp, didn’t have criminalization to use against me to keep under control.  As long as the whole thing is illegal the cops were more his allies than they ever could have been mine as I was more afraid of being arrested, or worse, being blown off because I was a prostitute and sent back to him to face a very angry pimp.  I needed human rights.  Not more than the rest of the world should get, but not less either.  Perhaps what people don’t like about the sex worker rights movement is that we want to determine our own course.  We don’t want to be rescued, or be research guinea pigs, or stereotyped.  We are individuals and human beings.  We are hugely diverse.

But we are fighting for social justice, we are fighting against oppression, we are fighting for human, civil and labor rights for reasons and those are often being missed by the media or the messages are being hijacked by the prohibitionists and their misguided conflagrations and stereotypes.  Prohibitionist researchers who were never sex workers and know little about them other than their 2 hour interviews with loaded questions slanted for desired results.  I’ve been to the big prohibitionist conferences and the biggest topics tend to be the number of stars of the hotel rating, how disappointing the eggs were at the continental breakfast or that their hotel suites had bad color schemes.  I’ve been to their conferences and been given the list of prohibited words, phrases and ideologies that will be stricken from the record if used and/or lead to expulsion from the conference.  These are some of the reasons I left that movement in 2002.  I’ve never seen that kind of garbage at sex worker rights meetings conferences, events, even if those same events are nothing more than a meeting at an unheated, poorly lit space that some other org is letting us borrow, with no meal service other than what we bring for ourselves, but we are there because we are working on issues, social change and fighting oppression.  Not because we are being funded by the USDOJ to stay in Washington DC Hotels after having to suffer the “indignity” of flying in coach because the Government wouldn’t agree to pay first class as some of the suffering prohibitionists did in 2002.

I’ve never known a more passionate, tolerant, empathetic, and authentic group of people than I have met in the sex worker rights movement.  There is a great amount of humanity in our movement.  Let’s make sure media sees that.   Yes I suffered in the sex industry and as a child.  But I want to choose my own path, my own career choices, and determine the propriety of my own experiences not have them reframed as some prohibitionist based projects would do for me.  We don’t need to be rescued, we need fucking rights and the people who best know this are the sex workers themselves, not the politicians, not the researchers, not the media.  But we have to be heard and people have to see us as three dimensional human beings and sometimes that means risking exposing our vulnerabilities.  For those who can do so we should.  Let Diane Sawyer argue with the sex worker who says yes I was harmed in the sex industry BUT I don’t want SAGE to rescue me, I want the same rights as Diane has as my path to not being harmed by my industry just as she shouldn’t be harmed in hers.

 

Kristen’s Mom

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…she wasn’t worried about her daughter after news erupted that she was the prostitute Spitzer slept with, causing his fall from power. “She is a very bright girl who can handle someone like the governor,” she said.

NY Post 

Has anybody been able to find interviews with Spitzer’s parents?

Awesome interview at Feministe

Holly interviews Sienna Baskin from Sex Workers Project.

The barebacking thing is slightly different, because its about a client asking for an experience that could be physically unsafe for the sex worker. My experience has shown me that this is very unusual. Sex workers who have access to safe sex stuff—and the power to use it—universally do. Even in very poor countries, where sex workers are really working to put food in their mouths, if they have unrestricted access to condoms, they are enforcing their use, educating their clients, and really leading the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Music Biz and The Moral High Ground

Jay Smooth. Intelligent and cute!

Call to Action: 20/20 Report Demands SW Responses

As an active sexworker, longtime sex worker rights activist, and member of SWOP and this board, I urge anyone and everyone who viewed Diane Sawyer’s “Prostitution in America” on 20/20 last night to write to ABC in one of two ways (or both):

1. Seen something? Heard Something? Know something? Please let us know — by being the reporter yourself. If you have facts or information to add to the story, fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you. You have a 2000 word limit to add your own story about your reality as a sex worker.   Make sure to link back to either boundnotgagged.com or your local SWOP chapter.

2. You can also leave a comment about the story on the ABC site.  Again, make sure to link back to either boundnotgagged.com or your local SWOP chapter.

Blog comments on this board can be found here.

Sex 2.0 is April 12th!

Come join us in Atlanta!

Sexing Up Social Change & Social MediaMelissa Gira and Stacey Swimme

The non-profit web, it’s so hot right now. But what of us sex activist outlaws — working queer politics, throwing feminist actions, laboring for sex worker rights, and promoting sexual health uprisings? Many of our community members are super web savvy, from gay teen YouTube celebs to third waving bloggers to podcasting porn stars, so doing outreach, advocacy, and organizing online makes complete sense (especially in frequently cash-strapped organizations). Then what does it take to do social change with social media strategically? How do you know when you’re doing effective work vs. just messing around on MySpace? And is there funding out there for online activism? Drawing on examples from international campaigns and peer-led trainings I’ve supported, I’ll run down free tools we can use now, brainstorm how we involve our communities in peer-based advocacy online, and facilitate discussion on how to launch a campaign.

Full Schedule

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