Another Call for Feminst/Sex Worker Solidarity (Please, pretty please?)

Sexual stigma killed Debprah Jeane Palfrey. This seems like an issue that sex workers and feminists can agree on.

I think there’s this really complicated thing going on with feminist and sex worker perspectives on this. We all agree that we want to stop violence against women. But sex workers are still not treated as equals by many feminists. This is undermining both feminists and sex workers. The tragic death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey and the lack of response and demand for action from the feminist community is a reflection of this problem. Women really cannot be equal and free of oppression if some women tolerate the legal harassment of other women based on their perceived sexual behaviors.

The prohibition of prostitution is a method for social and economic manipulation of women. I don’t believe that it was necessarily the oldest profession, I think that women have always been capable of survival in many different capacities. I do believe that it is probably a profession with the longest history of stigmatization. It is the one form of legal and ritual persecution of women that some western feminists continue to tolerate. The systematic discrimination of prostitutes has a long, long life span. It is as old as sexism.

The visible sexual stigmatization associated with the deaths of Brandy Britton and Deborah Jeane Palfrey have a chilling resemblance to the attitudes that made the systematic murders of thousands of women during witch hunts tolerable to the public.

Feminists and sex workers have to be able to find common ground to fully address the issues of sexual stigmatization, violence and harassment of women based on their sexuality. I think we can identify many mutual goals in resiting such oppression. Our disagreements seem to be about where the harm is coming from and who harm is directed at. Really, I think it’s important for every single individual woman to be able to determine those things for herself and we need strong communities that support us in doing so. Sex workers and feminists are natural allies for creating that community. But if we can’t all learn to communicate better with each other and to treat each other as equals with valid life experiences, we will not be able to have a critique of very legitimate issues without also alienating the people who are affected by what we’re discussing.

In general I totally agree with this post written by Elizabeth A. Nowicki. The part that disturbs me is that there is an overemphasis on expanding criminal penalties to clients and not enough focus on how the legal prohibition of prostitution is damaging for women and is used to either justify their murders or bully them into suicide. Focusing on arresting the clients suggest a motive that isn’t as much about equality for women as it is about punishing the men at the expense of some women.

Women who are exposed as having been involved in prostitution scandals often kill themselves. Men tend to waltz away, unscathed in the long term. I realize these are gross generalizations for which I have no empirical substantiation, but I am thinking about Brandy Somethingorother, from about a year ago.

The author is pointing out that sex workers are treated differently by society than our wealthy and powerful clients. But then she refers to Brandy Britton as “Brandy Somethingorother.” She didn’t have the time to google “Maryland dead hooker Brandy” to check her facts? I mean seriously, if you were going to write about the death of one of our wealthy and powerful clients, would you refer to him as “Somethingorother” or would you use his full name, maybe even checking to ensure that it’s spelled correctly since he’s a public/wealthy/notable figure. But the dead hooker is just a “Somethingorother” whose death you can use to make your case about sexism in the enforcement of prostitution laws without questioning the sexism that defines prostitution as a crime in the first place.

Lots of feminist are writing really powerful critiques that are conscious of the perspectives and experiences of sex workers This post at Feminist Rising is one example:

The United States is guilty of systematic structural violence which silences sex workers and disempowers women and female sexuality to the point of death.

The messages from the above posts are very similar: “This is visible and structural sexism that costs women their lives.” The first post objectifies sex workers, the second was informed by sex workers. These are subtle but important distinctions. In developing solutions, feminists need to allow sex workers to identify the source of the oppression and stand in solidarity with our demands for policy change. If more feminists don’t choose to do so, they will be undermining what they claim to be their goals: independence, safety and equality for women.

36 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, Karly. I have another post about Palfrey’s untimely death in the works, and I think I will link to this post in it. This should be required reading for all feminists.

  2. […] Another Call for Feminst/Sex Worker Solidarity (Please, pretty please?) « Bound, Not Gagged “We all agree that we want to stop violence against women. But sex workers are still not treated as equals by many feminists. This is undermining both feminists and sex workers.” (tags: feminism sexwork stigma hypocrisy) […]

  3. […] idea tacitly endorsed and reproduced in feminist spaces.) Jessica’s recent BNG post entitled Another Call for Feminst/Sex Worker Solidarity (Please, pretty please?) is excellent and should be required reading, but it saddens me that its very writing suggests that […]

  4. “The United States is guilty of systematic structural violence which silences sex workers and disempowers women and female sexuality to the point of death.”

    The main structure is criminalization, the Elliot Spitzers and prosecutor who litigated the case against Jeane. Their economy and the advancement of their careers are at our expense.
    The second structure is the non-profit sector, which profits off the criminalization of prostitution. If we weren’t being systematically violated by the state sponsored capitalizm through the criminalization of our occupation,

  5. No one here wants to take responsibility for their actions. Prostitution is illegal whether you you like that fact or not. If you are a prostitute or you run a prostitution service and get caught you will go to jail. This is simple logic. It doesn’t matter if you think you are too pretty to go to jail. It doesn’t matter if you think you might get off on a technicality. It doesn’t matter if you think you can leverage your john list into a deal. If you do the crime and you are an adult, you know you are eventually going to have to do the time. Denial isn’t going to keep you out of jail.

    As far as who profits off prostitution, whether it is legal or illegal, the big profit makers are the pimps. In escort agencies, for example, the agency (pimp) will frequently get the fee plus half the tip. That is more than the prostitute gets. Maybe Maxine Doogan ran (runs?) a more generous operation than most. Enlighten us, Maxine.

  6. anonymous wrote: “As far as who profits off prostitution, whether it is legal or illegal, the big profit makers are the pimps.”

    Where’s the documentation for this statement?

    It seems that Michael Shively, Sarah Kuck Jalbert, Ryan Kling, William Rhodes, Peter Finn, Chris Flygare, Laura Tierney, David Squires, Christina Dyous, Kristin Wheeler, and Dana Hunt of
    http://www.abtassociates.com/Page.cfm?PageID=40658

    got paid how much? 12 million?

    And Jeane got paid how much?

  7. The big profit makers of illegal prostitution, as far as I can tell, are those in authority (police, judges, bail bondsmen, etc.). Of course, as sex workers, we are aware of how pimps and agencies function. Are YOU aware there is such a thing as an independent sex worker?

    And yes, we’re aware of prostitution being illegal. That’s why we’re here discussing the laws, and how and why they should be changed. We are painfully aware of the laws. But, thank you for the civics lesson.

    I suggest reading more of the blog before making your incredibly simplistic statements. You are dealing with actual sex workers here. We do have a grasp of the finer details of our work.

  8. On the issue of pain, yes, pain is what the slave owners seek to inflict upon those that dare run their own sexuality without the permission of the dominate culture. It’s that kind of state sanctioned sadistic sexual policy and practice, the profiteers profit off of without permission. To inflict such harm without permission is an act of violence that has consequences for those that do the inflicting of harm; police, prosecutors and non profits and those that sponsor the harm, i.e. the voters/ tax payers.
    The consequences for the law enforcement and their agents, is that they are corrupt. The consequences for the tax payers/voters is that they are less safe because they’ve made ALL sex industry workers targets for crime. Additionally, the cost of paying for corruption instead of paying for schools is obvious. Not to mention the bad karma. We’ll all be back here again if we don’t do the right thing and make the right decisions this time.

  9. […] as a starting point, I’ll be using karly kirschner’s post on Bound, Not Gagged (which I was honored to be mentioned in), which should have been posted on every major feminist […]

  10. May 5, 2008 by karlykirchner

    ‘In developing solutions, feminists need to allow sex workers to identify the source of the oppression and stand in solidarity with our demands for policy change. If more feminists don’t choose to do so, they will be undermining what they claim to be their goals: independence, safety and equality for women.’

    Feminists need to acknowledge that workers have already identified the source of our oppression, which historically has been them! The feminists were the one’s who consciously decided to violate our civil right to whore. Feminists were the ones who decided to target our profession for extinction, (like they did alcohol) as part of their national women’s rights agenda and lobbied state legislatures to criminalize; our locations, (were we were relegated to the out doors), our first amendment rights (to negotiate for our labor) and our work conditions (possession of condoms are used as evidence). Feminists are responsible for the apartheid state we live in. They created the Elito Spitzers in the first place by not acknowledging that everyone has the right to bodily freedom. They didn’t acknowledge our right to bodily freedom because they hadn’t any bodily freedom themselves. You can’t stand in solidarity when you don’t have any in your own head. You can’t give something you haven’t got and feminists don’t have that level of freedom. Whores have that level of freedom. They need us to model it for them. We are the one’s who exercise the full extent of our freedom. We can’t wait for them to acknowledge our rights to do what’s right for us. And I for one don’t believe that they ever will acknowledge our rights as long as they are making money off oppressing us. All of those non profits like SAGE. They are pretty solid on that action. Their economy is directly linked to criminalizing us workers, not the bodily freedom of sex workers; there’s no money in that for them. As long as they’re making money off of providing us charity, they will never acknowledge our rights.
    And yes it is great that some writers can write about us with humanity, but the only question is;
    What ACTION are we, (collectively) taking today to assert our rights?
    How is it that we stand in solidarity with each other? And what are those who write going to do besides write?

  11. I realize that there are people identifying themselves as feminists who advocate for sex work prohibitionist policies and rhetoric that harm sex workers. The women’s movement has a history of certain groups of women acting superior to some groups of women. However, I also think it’s important not to overgeneralize. There are also sex workers who identify as feminists and there are feminists who are very supportive of sex workers rights and the decriminalization of prostitution. So, please realize that people such as Melissa Farley, Donna Hughes, and Nikki Craft don’t represent all feminists.

  12. I second what sexworkeradvocate said. We should not generalize about feminists (hi, I’m a feminist, btw!) just as we ask people not to generalize about sex workers.

  13. LOL, it must be a full-time job following Maxine around to moderate the wackadoodle comments she makes like the one above.

    If you are forced to be a prostitute, then the oppressor is the pimp and the john.

    If you choose to be a prostitute when you know it is illegal, then you are your own oppressor.

    If you think the law is wrong, work to change the law. But if you know the law and you choose to break it because you want the money, then blaming the police and the feminists and SAGE and capitalism is just childish. You are not children. You are responsible for your choices.

  14. Lousyjob,

    If you think that t is a full time job following Maxine, perhaps it is time to get a real full time job.

  15. Amen to that Lisa,

    Of course, one has to consider perspectives. Most of the self identified rad/fem prohibitionist types view freedom of speech from the perspective of Pinochet, Mao, etc, thus a huge amount of time is used in censoring dissent. One either agrees with them or one’s voice simply disappears.

    When one looks up the definition for feminism one gets from webster

    Feminism

    the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

    Yet those very rights as viewed by our fellow poster lousyjob, apply only to select equality of the sexes as deemed by the leadership hierarchy and organized activity on women’s rights and interests only of select women. Thus for all of us not the right slant of feminist, we disappear.

    Which sounds remarkably like another word starting with “f””

    Search “fascism” in:

    * Thesaurus
    * Spanish/English
    * Medical Dictionary
    * Open Dictionary

    Browse words next to:

    * fascism

    Browse the Dictionary:
    A
    B
    C
    D
    E
    F
    G
    H
    I
    J
    K
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    S
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    #

    Go to http://www.newsmax.com Feedback – Ads by Google
    fascism
    One entry found.

    fascism

    Main Entry:
    fas·cism Listen to the pronunciation of fascism
    Pronunciation:
    \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
    Date:
    1921

    1often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

  16. oops, I didn’t intend for the whole alphabet to be included with the definition. Oh well,,,, if anyone associated with President Bush is reading this, please send him the above referenced alphabet. It includes all 26 letters in the correct order. Perhaps it could help him put together a sentence prior to January 20th?

  17. http://www.spiked-online.com//index.php?/site/reviewofbooks_article/5027

    “Feminists treat migrant women as brainless commodities”

    Apparently, I’m not the only one who think feminist are bad for sex workers.

    Feminists have to step up and take responsibility for their action and so do voters/taxpayers.

    Everybody is culpable for injustices that occur in our flawed laws and the arbitrary enforcement that creates corruption at all levels of government as well as the unequal protection.
    I’ll be out collecting signatures today.
    What are you all doing?

  18. If a picture stolen from a porn site by Melissa Farley is used by a porn site, they are required to have written documentation of the actresses age and consent, are required to comply with federal regulations under US2257. They are both subject to scorn and derisive commentary from alleged prhibionists out to rescue women.

    If the same picture has been stolen and re-published on a radical feminist/prohibitionist researcher’s website called prostitution research and education it is not only not subject to US2257, but is considered educational, and considered a horrific offense to even challenge the lack of consent, lack of compliance with federal governing all pornographic images, lack of protection to keep a minor from viewing,

    Thus who is the elite? Elitist?

  19. I don’t think that feminists are bad for sex workers. I don’t really think the term ‘feminist’ really accurately represents any particular group of people. It’s a philosophy and as with all philosophies can become dogmatic and dismissive of anything that doesn’t fit the formula in a historical context. I join in the call for feminists and sex workers (both of which I identify as) to unite. We are all on the same side here and we need to support each other in coping with a history of sexuality that has become distorted for women. It’s all complicated.

    I think the people who write have things to write about because they ARE out there taking action, engaging in the community and actively working to make lasting changes. The point of this blog is to help us feel engaged and connected with each other, not to point fingers and make accusations that one of us is not active enough. i mean, really Maxine, you write here all the time. So why is somebody else’s writing suggestive that they’re not taking action?

    Sex workers have enough stigma and discrimination to deal with. Your repeated statements about “more sex worker than thou…” “more activist than thou” really are not productive. We don’t censor any of this of course, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to call you out on it. We’ve built a really positive, solid community both online and elsewhere and you’ve been welcomed, please stop attacking our posters.

    with sincere solidarity,
    xx

  20. Staceyswimme,

    Maxine was not responding to another sex worker or another ally, she was responding to an anti-prosttution poster. The anti-prostitution forces have been able to attack Maxine quite openly here and have taken advantage of the openess of moderation. Because of the petition for decrim the anti prostituion forces have been threatened enough to come out to also attack Maxine in the media. Yet you chose to call Maxine out here on a site meant for sex worker activistism and supporters and I have to tell you, I am shocked that you attack Maxine here and at this time. I am almost confused enough into asking myself, are you now taking the side of those who mean to keep sex workers in a cycle of criminaization and oppression by attacking Maxine when she is clearly addressing the comments to those who sole purpose is to do just that. That could not possibly be your intention but am hoping you will staighten this out.
    Yesterday, again I saw Maxine and several other ESPU members at an all day event, collecting signatures for the SF decrim petition.
    Maxine has been able to do what no other sex worker organizer has been able to do. Maxine has brought the issue of sex worker rights to the labor and progressive movement. This is an historic achievement to the sex worker rights movement and it has only been made possible by tireless commitment and hard work on Maxine’s part. I am a political activist and I belong to an organization of the best and hardest working organizers and I have to tell you nobody works harder than my comrades-accept for Maxine Doogan. Maxine has brought into the movement other hard working radical labor activists from IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) and the movement will not only benifit from their relentless dedication to bringing full rights to our group of workers but the movement may also see decrim for the first time in the City and County of San Francisco.

  21. Lisa we understand that you are fiercely loyal to Maxine, but this particular San Francisco ordinance is problematic for some of us. Maxine’s heart is in the right place and she is a hard worker, but–how can I say this–she was not the right person to have her name as the author of the legislation. Maxine has an arrest record for running an escort agency will be latched onto by the media. Plus the legislation has huge problems with it.

    We understand that Maxine is a good person, but the only place where the Industrial Workers of the World (socialists) are given any respect is maybe in Berkeley, on a good day. And attacking feminists to pass this legislation in San Francisco is just really bad strategy.

    This whole ballot measure thing has the potential to be nothing but bad headlines. Please understand this does not mean that we don’t love Maxine, just that some of us disagree with this strategy. And please get someone to spell check her work, there are embarrassing typos going out.

  22. Hi, my name is Slava and I am with the Industrial Workers of the World in San Francisco. I just wanted to put my two cents in.

    In the past two months I have collected about 1,500 signatures myself, and I can tell you that the reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

    First of all, it is quite obvious to me that this was the best possible time to put forward this ballot initiative. If this does not pass this year, I don’t believe it would pass next year or the year after.

    First, prostitution has been in the news A LOT lately, as I am sure you all know, and I think the recent news has created a lot of sympathy for sex workers in the public.

    Second, there is going to be a huge voter turn out in November, which will help. People are VERY ready for a change, and when they get to the voting booth, they will be voting for CHANGE.

    Third, California is having a budget crisis right now. Teachers are getting fired and all kinds of programs are being cut. Anything that saves the city money is a good thing right now, and this ballot initiative will save the $11.4 million dollars that is used on the enforcement of the prostitution laws.

    Fourth, SAGE and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has never been in a worse position. The First Offender Prostitution Program, run by SAGE, is being audited by the board of supervisors because it is unclear where all the money is going.

    At the Sunshine Task Force hearing, in which Maxine Doogan requested information about FOPP, the DA’s office was unable to produce documents that their own contracts say they should have had. Either the DA’s office is completely inept or totally corrupt, and so they were found in violation of the Sunshine Ordinance. Also, it recently came out that this same DA’s office received more money to combat border gangs than any other county, including counties that are actually on the border, like San Diego. In other words, something seriously fishy is going on at the DA’s office right now.

    And – the hatred of Bush has never been higher than now. The fact that Norma Hotaling, of SAGE, wrote an amicus brief in support of the Bush administration’s policy on prostitution, will totally work against SAGE. In one year or two, people will not care about this as much.

    To summarize : prostitution in the news, huge voter turn out, the California budget crisis, the connection between SAGE and the Bush administration, possible corruption in the DA’s office, the city’s audit of the FOPP – all of these things will work in favor of this ballot initiative.

    In other words, the stars are aligned for this RIGHT NOW.

    When I first became involved in helping the Erotic Service Providers Union, I was amazed at the state of the sex worker rights movement. There are at least three different organizations here in the Bay Area, and all of them seem to have negative things to say about each other.

    Several people (I am not going to name names here) have told me they felt miffed that Maxine did not consult anyone when she filed the papers for this initiative.

    I can tell you this: if she had attempted to ask people what they thought, it would have gone NOWHERE. People were not ready to support Maxine no matter what she came up with. If she had tried to consult with any other groups, I can GUARANTEE based on what I have seen, that she would have missed this opportunity to make this happen this year. The moment would have passed, and there would be nothing to show for it.

    The point is, this initiative is happening! We have almost 5,000 signatures at this point. It is time to get over any differences you have with other groups. We need a lot of help with this. We need volunteer time and money, and we need it ASAP.

    Also, I wanted to clear up some misconceptions about the IWW. The IWW is not a socialist organization. We do not endorse any political party, whether they are socialist, democrat, green, libertarian, or even republican. All are welcome, regardless of their party affiliation, as long as they do not use the IWW to promote their party’s agenda. The IWW is a democratic organization for workers. PERIOD. It is true that the IWW is small, but we are having a resurgence right now – and not just in Berkeley. Check out our website at http://www.iww.org

    Thanks, and if any of you out there in Sex Worker Land want to come to San Francisco to help us with this campaign, we can definitely find housing for you. Also, if you haven’t seen the website for Erotic Service Providers Union, here it is: http://www.espu-ca.org

    Thanks.

  23. Thanks so much for this comment Slava. I think that many people do support this initiative and even more would have been active in the beginning had anybody at all been consulted.

    Yes, there is drama between some individuals in SF, individuals who tend to be pegged as ‘figureheads’ for more people than they actually represent.

    In San Francisco, sex workers have had along history of organizing on many different fronts, including in the labor movement. Nobody does anything single-handedly. All of the successes have been group efforts. It’s sad when our spirit to fight sometimes is misdirected toward each other, as I’ve observed over and over in SF.

    However, with new people coming out to support us daily and a whole new generation of young, energetic activists and allies (as you’ve pointed out) there is a lot of hope.

    I don’t think it’s fair to discriminate against anybody because of their unjust criminal record. The initiative in SF needs support and support comes when kindness and understanding are offered, not accusations and finger-pointing. People really do care about this, don’t alienate them by creating an unnecessary imbalance of power.

    Let’s not make this about any one particular individual having more success than any other. That is really what has been the problem historically in sex worker organizing. The whole point of all of this is that we need each other, many fronts are important, including labor, harm reduction, public health, economic and reproductive justice- ALL of these things matter. Many people are giving their energy to all of these things and we’re seeing growth and success in many different arenas.

    What is the point of debating who is doing more or what is more productive? There are a whole lot of people who deserve praise and recognition. i have new SW heroes with every activity and event that I participate in. It’s so exciting and inspiring to witness so much of this positivity!

    Let’s keep it positive.

  24. Reality Check said: “Lisa we understand that you are fiercely loyal to Maxine, but this particular San Francisco ordinance is problematic for some of us.” end quote

    Why is this initiative problematic for you?

  25. Slava,

    Great post!

    I am not going to pretend that reality check is any kind of friend to sex workers but I am going to take the open door oppurtunity to bring up the demonization that takes place of women (and some men) who provide the space for women to work with other women and yes, I am including outcall/escort as well.
    There is no better example of the corruption and violence that takes place inside our industry under criminalization than the cases involving our “madams.” Part of the struggle for sex worker rights has got to include the right to work for whom and where we chose. This is an oppurtunity to educate the public, especially thiose who have been misled to believe that they want to just decrim the prostitute but keep either the client or support staff criminals, leaving us isolated as workers. No worker should be forced to work in such a way.
    The Jean Palfrey bust has so far produced two deaths. The cases in and around the Seattle area are during the Gary Ridgeway murders. Again, there are no better examples of the corruption and violence that take place under criminalization.

  26. Staceyswimme,

    My intention was not to take away from any accomplishment or contribution by any other organizer.

  27. Modern day feminist eclipse our voices and dismissed our position that is an act of violence. Its documented in the Prostitution Papers; the discussion and subsequent action, (forcing arrests of customers) or inaction, (indifference to what the workers wanted) which continues today. The whole idea of arresting our customers was predicated on the fact that women are arrested for prostitution and not men, hence the targeting of men in ‘reverse’ sting operations. The idea that ‘reversing’ the injustice by arresting men at the same rate as women is an act of gender equality. Feminist created this political rhetoric.
    Labor organizing for sex workers is the antidote to this injustice.

    If this blog was created to do something for Jeane, well she’s dead now.

    If now is not the right time to bring forward a new contract for freedom, then when?
    After someone else dies? After another one of my co-workers is asked to perform sex by an undercover cop and then arrested for prostitution? After I have to hear another tyranny tell how the cop gave her a choice to either such his dick or go to jail and then takes her money anyway? Before there’s another ICE raid with people’s live hanging in the balance because women continue to act as collective codependents by putting themselves in our shoes to qualify their experience of sexually and economically coercion to justifying their indifference to our ask for freedom?

    I have a political voice and I share that with all who labor erotically. I’m about opening up those venues for workers and our support staff. If you don’t want it or need it or think you can just go out and get one your own, blog on.

    And the comment about not being the right person, I am the right person. I am the perfect person. I, like Jeane, like the Vegas Madame, like others I can name, were all approached to become ‘state sponsored’. Those of us, who refused to lay down with those government dogs to become the bottom bitches for those who insist on having a sexploitation chip to play to maintain their political power, went to jail. How is it that Jeane goes from being in jail for running an escort service in San Diego to opening a service in Washington D.C.? Helloo?

    Somebody asked why it was that independent sex workers weren’t being included in the political equation and the answer is that independents aren’t usefully politically to the powers that be. Look at what happened to Bill Clinton. They couldn’t take him out because he had sex with independent women. It’s the third party, like the agents, the phone people, the janitors, and the drivers who are in the position to collect the information. That’s why those positions are felonies and not misdemeanors. The higher the penalty, the more sextortable you are. Well some of us more than others.

    That’s another reason we include support staff in our union. We’re not going to play that game of having our political lines drawn for us by those who benefit from pitting us against each other. Its hideous to even suggest such a thing. It’s discrimination pure and simple and it dishonors all the workers who employ support staff. If they were to blog on this site and be out about the fact that they employ support staff, what reception will they get? How much respect would you be forking over for them?

    And I’ll just end with responding to the idea nobody was consulted about the refilling of this initiative. I sent out notices for input and invited participation on the committee; there were responses and there is participation. And if you didn’t get the memo or you didn’t respond, that’s on you and your ‘figure head’s’ head. We’re not waiting for you to give your permission of when it would be a good time to end the violence.

    And finally, if you can’t stand the way I write or my spelling, you are duly invited to help with the editing.
    LOFL!

  28. Reality Check, I found it problematic when you complained about Maxine spearheading an initiative. If you don’t think Maxine’s name should be on the initiative and you find the initiative problematic, then why don’t you develop and spearhead an initiative? Otherwise, please don’t complain about Maxine’s proactive work in terms of spearheading this.

  29. So I am just supposed to support whatever crazy idea Maxine Doogan comes up with? I guess my voice as a independent sex worker doesn’t count as much as her pimp voice does. That stupid petition of hers does NOTHING for sex workers in San Francisco. There are no services. St. James Infirmary is probably going to lose city funding. SAGE is very useful for getting women out who should not be in prostitution in the first place and the petition shuts them down which means they will be roaming the streets ripe for the plucking by street pimps. Not everyone is cut out for this life you know. If people want to leave they should be able to. Maybe Maxine would know more about that if she were a real sex worker not a pimp writing laws to protect herself.

  30. I just started reading this blog, and I have two things to say.

    1. St James Infirmary will not lose any funding if this ballot initiative passes.

    2. no’s comment really made me laugh. Apparently stopping sex workers from being arrested means doing NOTHING for sex workers. I loved how you called it “that stupid petition”🙂

  31. One more thing:

    The IWW is an organization which prides itself on being a more democratic alternative to the mainstream unions. We organize AGAINST bosses. I would NEVER work with Maxine if I felt she was exploiting others.

    Who is the real boss here? It is the one that makes money when workers get arrested. Yes, Norma Hotaling’s paycheck comes from arresting prostitutes. That is why we are organizing against SAGE.

    I recently ran into Norma Hotaling on the street, and I said to her – If this ballot initiative passes, it would save the city the $11.4 million dollars that is used on the enforcement of the prostitution laws. What is stopping you from applying to the city for more money to expand your voluntary programs for sex workers who may or may not want to leave the business?

    Her answer was that she believes in “restorative justice.” In other words, she likes the fact that people get arrested.

    Who is the real exploiter here?

  32. No wrote: “SAGE is very useful for getting women out who should not be in prostitution in the first place.”
    How do you know this, no? Lisa Roelig wrote about having gone through SAGE and she said SAGE was a scam that really didn’t make her life any better. Also, if SAGE is interested in helping people exit prostitution who are looking to, than the organization can do this under a decriminalzed system of prostitution. Prostitution need not be criminalized in order to help people exit who are looking to, so that’s not a reason to keep prostitution criminalized.

  33. Organizing against bosses and management for workers power or for a workers state for that matter is not in contradiction to the understanding that keeping bosses and management in the sex industry felons is very bad for workers under the capitalist system. As an example, making it illegal for bosses and management to hire immigrant workers is very bad for immigrant workers. Complete decriminalization of all workers who must cross boarders to support themselves and their families is what needs to happen but it would make absolutely no sense to decriminalize the immigrant worker and yet keep the hiring of immigrant workers illegal.

    A comment to a post left on another thread. If decrim came tomorrow or in November, as some organizers are working very hard to make happen, it is unrealistic to believe that some kind of sex worker utopia will be achieved the next day. I know for a fact that no organizers are nieve enough to believe that is going to happen. Sex workers have been living under the repression of criminalization for far too long and there will be a transition period. Most importantly, decriminalization of prostitution is still just a reform to the repression and exploitation that is built into the capitalist system.

  34. One last comment about what workers have the right to be organized. It is sad but true that within the labor movement itself there is a history of one group of organized workers denying the rights of another group of unorganized workers the right to organize. Skilled workers against unskilled workers, white workers against black workers, “documented” or “legal” workers against undocumented or “illegal” workers and non sex workers actively organizing to deny the rights of sex workers.
    Whether you work in a field, a factory or a massage parlor, your wages, hours and working conditions will improve when you are an organized worker and these improvements will take place outside of how anyone feels about what a worker does for a living.

    All workers have the right to organize.

    Many months ago there was a comment made by an anti-prostitution poster who made the claim that the idea of sex worker union organizing made her personally angry because she was fighting to get or keep her union job. The fight sister is not for you or me to get or keep my union job. The fight is for all workers to get and keep their union job.

    All workers have the right to organize and all workers benifit from organization.

    Just for the record, I work in a union office and the workers in the office where I work are hospital and home care workers. Some day sex workers will have full rights as workers as well and some day they will have a union office too.

  35. Thanks comrads, brothers, sisters and fellow workers.
    It seems to me that the loyalty lines are drawn around the
    the cause and set of ideas, policies and practices we all share. Its about principals not personalities.

  36. http://www.first.vcn.bc.ca/home

    Feminists advocating for rights and equality for sex industry workers

    http://www.workingtv.com/first-11june08.html

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