International Aids Conference, Pre Conference for Sex Workers.

It’s the first evening and Welcome Reception for the Universal Action for the Sex Work Inclusion Pre-Conference meeting about Sex Work, which is an Official Affiliated Event of the International Aids Society. which is part of the International Aids Conference in Mexico City.

For me this is HUGE. This is my first time with the International Sex Worker Movement. About 170 Sex Workers had dinner together, and it was awesome! I’m feeling very overwhelmed, crowds of people always do that to me though. But how amazing is it for 170 International Sex Workers to come together and talk about rights for Sex Workers! I’m awed, the whole thing is paid for, free to all of us, including Hotel Rooms, Food, everything! It’s VERY awesome! Everyone has been really nice so far, and there was a whole table full of Transgendered people, and another great table or two of Men. So there is some representation from us “others” in the movement. The entire contingent of US Sex Workers is not all here yet, but we are growing in numbers.. 3 so far with more to come!

Great Energy, wonderfully well put on so far. They’ve JAM PACKED the schedule however with Breakfast starting @ 7:30 AM, and running until 8 or 9 PM! Very Long days ahead!! The last day of the conference ends in a March against Homophobia! Robyn and I are very excited as well as the Cambodian Male Sex Workers! So much more to report, but I’m sleepy sleepy, long days ahead, and I didn’t get to fully recuperate from the DA conference. I’m going to try and not work so hard this conference, just take it all in and stay quite. That’s my plan. I’m hoping after the march to go visit the Basilica Of Guadalupe. I’m not a catholic, but my best friend is enamored with the Virgin of Guadalupe, and has gotten me intrigued and interested. I wish my friend could be here to visit with me!

ON THE ISSUES MAGAZINE featuring Juhu Thukral, Ann Jordan, Carol Leigh, Erin Whitfield, Rita Brock and others

Their press release..

ON THE ISSUES: The Progressive Woman’s Magazine

Works Hard For Her Money: Feminists and Prostitutes

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/july08/index.php

A print publication from 1983-1999, ON THE ISSUES MAGAZINE ONLINE
offers full archives and all content for free as a committed public
service to upgrade the level of feminist conversation. Visit
http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com

“NEW YORK: Prostitution penetrated the news in a major way in recent
months — from ex-governor Eliot Spitzer of New York and his paid
binges with women to the suicide of DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey
and the Showtime fluff of “Secret Diary of A Call Girl”

But the media, politicians and feminists have not grappled with the
real complexities of prostitution. In its new Online edition, “Works
Hard for Her Money: Feminists and Prostitutes” ON THE ISSUES
MAGAZINE releases compelling original content — diverse articles,
art and poetry that challenge current notions and urge new thinking.

“The issue of prostitution has divided feminists for years,” writes
publisher and editor-in-chief Merle Hoffman in “Divide, Conquer and
Sell”

“Is the prostitute herself a victim of an oppressive patriarchal
system, or a free agent choosing sex work as a rational career
choice in difficult circumstances?” Since sex is “a continually
renewable resource — unlike other body resources (sales of
kidneys), it does not self-exhaust; it can just keep giving ∑. We
ask who owns that resource, who has the power to use, abuse, buy and
sell it,” writes Hoffman.

Angela Bonavoglia’s “Of Victims and Vixens” describes the feminist
abolitionists who link prostitution to violence against women and
their clash in worldview with women who run sex-for-pay services and
see it as empowering. Juhu Thukral explains how differing
interpretations of human rights by feminists has become a flashpoint
in new anti-trafficking legislation in “Feminist Divisions Cause
Real-World Repercussions”

Major thinkers and artists offer other perspectives. In “Pimping:
The World’s Oldest Profession” Kathleen Barry frames in vivid terms
why some feminists see prostitution as bondage. Carol Leigh,
aka “The Scarlot Harlot,” describes the frustration of erotic
laborers who are denied basic rights. Artist Suzanne Lacy, featured
by art editor Linda Stein, narrates a display of her travels with a
prostitute.

To these provocative topics, Shere Hite, known for her work on
female sexuality, calls for a redefinition of women’s pleasure
in “Female Orgasm Today”

The range of the voices on the topic also includes Alexis Greene on
a gripping play by Lynn Nottage about war, rape and prostitution in
Africa; Sonia Ossorio of NYC-NOW on stricter anti-trafficking laws;
Ann Jordan on hardships caused by brothel crackdowns in Cambodia;
poets Minne Bruce Pratt and Erin Whitfield with two views on the
aftereffects of prostitution. Other works are by: Bernadette Barton,
Rita Nakashima Brock, Ariel Dougherty, Mahin Hassibi, Norma Ramos,
Jane Roberts, Nicole Witte Solomon and artists Audrey Anastasi and
Tiana Markova-Gold. Several videos are mounted, including “Turning
The Corner” by BeyondMedia.

Carol Leigh on Fox, O’Reilly re: SF Decrim Initiative

http://sanfranciscodecrim.blip.tv/#1117401

Research for Sex Work, Volume 10

Research for Sex Work is an annual journal dedicated to the topic of research on sex work. It aims to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences, observations and research results with regards to sex work and HIV prevention in the broader framework of health and human rights. Although the title suggests otherwise, Research for Sex Work is not an academic journal. Readers and authors are from sex workers (support) organisations, HIV prevention projects, local and international NGOs, universities, research institutes, etc.

Volume 10 of the journal is now available online, in both English and Spanish. VAMP and SANGRAM of Sangli, India, were the production partners for this edition. The bilingual table of contents for this edition is listed below.

Editorial
Melissa Ditmore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cover
Resisting Raids and Rescue
VAMP Collective and SANGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Los trabajadores sexuales en la India
enfrentan abuso en Ataques de incursiones

en la Colectividad de VAMP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
SexWorker Activists: Embodying Aberrance
Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Activistas trabajadoras sexuales:
Expresando la Aberración

Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
A participatory-action and interventional research
approach to HIV prevention and treatment
among women in survival sex work

Shannon and Bright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Una aproximacion participativa e intervencionista
en la prevención del VIH y tratamiento en mujeres
que hacen trabajo sexual para sobrevivir

Shannon and Bright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
“My one-way ticket to Kamathipura”:
Rights of sex workers compromised

Karandikar and Próspero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
“Mi boleto de ida a Kamathipura”
Karandikar and Próspero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
The PEPFAR “Anti-Prostitution Pledge”:
A Case Study from Nigeria

Elder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
El “Compromiso Anti-Prostitución” PEPFAR:
Un estudio de caso desde Nigeria

Elder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Sex worker organising in Madagascar
Greenall and Rasoanaivo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Organizando a las trabajadoras sexuales en Madagascar
Greenall and Rasoanaivo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
Unfriendly encounters
Freeland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Encuentros no amistosos
Freeland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Street SexWork and SexWorker Rights?
Blinding Connections

McCracken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
¿Trabajo Sexual en la Calle y Derechos de las
Trabajadoras Sexuales? Conexiones cegadoras

McCracken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Tribes Bangin in Da City
Jeffreys, Tapuhi, Abigail and Huynh . . . . . . . . . . .32
Announcements / Avisos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
Colofon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Back Cover

Grind the Vote D.C. 2008: Sex Workers From Pole to Poll!

From Sin City to the Big Apple, sex workers are organizing for political and economic justice. Now in the Nation’s Capital we are capitalizing on the sex worker electorate to Grind the Vote! The sex workers of $pread Magazine, Different Avenues and Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), are proud to host their first voter registration event and dance-party this July 30th.

Grind the Vote 2008 in D.C. will register voters and create awareness around the issues concerning sex workers throughout the country. Please forward this information to Beltway contacts!


9PM-2AM, Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Be Bar’s “be:xx” night
1318 9th St NW
Washington, D.C.

Join us for politically-inspired performances and a rockin’ mid-week dance party featuring strip-tease, drag acts, raffle, DJs Bent & Kofi, burlesque, voter guides. Also featured will be updates from Different Avenues and HIPS on the policing of sex work in D.C., Prostitution Free Zones (PFZs) and the political entrepreneurs of Washington, D.C. For the first time in D.C. history, candidates running for election in the district will be asked about their positions on the criminalization approach to sex work in the city by an established political advocacy group, the non-partisan Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“Grind the Vote is the first-ever national voter awareness and registration event for sex workers and their allies in the United States,” said Carol Leigh of Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN). “Our fast growing movement has learned much about the political process and how crucial our political participation is. This day is a milestone in the history of political participation and
self-representation in the USA.”

William Rockwell, $pread Magazine, 917.345.0404, will@spreadmagazine.org

Darby Hickey, Different Avenues, 202.829.2103, darby@differentavenues.org

Cyndee Clay, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), 202.232.8150, cyndeeclay@hips.org

Men and The Issue of Timing- Desiree Alliance

Saturday late morning, or maybe it was early afternoon I rolled into the third day of the Desiree Alliance mid-way through the morning plenary. The room was half full and a panel of male identified sex workers were sharing the mic. People slowly trickled in, grabbed some fruit and found their seats as the guys talked.

The panel consisted of about 7 men, which was a noticeable increase from last year. They came from San Francisco, New York, and Chiacgo and maybe L.A. They were very well spoken as they discussed issues of inclusiveness, outreach and sexual orientation. When the panel opened up for questions, one of the first was from Naomi of St James Infirmary who brought up the excellent point that if we as a community want to really welcome and include the male workers, we would get up and show up for their plenary. If after a weekend night of partying the guys could be ontime and ready to present, the least we could do is be there to support and listen. Stacey Swimme, one of the very hard working key organizers responded that she was hoping that giving them the opening slot to kick off the day would show that they were valued and bring everyone else out to listen.

This made me think about the issue of timing at conferences such as these, and the message it can inadvertently send. I have never organized a conference so its easy for me to have an idea about it without full knowledge of all of the factors involved, but I know that it is complex and difficult and someone is always going to be unhappy with the position of their presentation. I think weekend mornings are naturally going to be especially difficult with our group. Its amazing how a schedule can affect the mood of all the participants: when the breaks are, what the day starts with, who gets undivided attention. I think the organizers to a fantastic job on working these things out, and that it is an ever morphing beast that will just get smoother and more fine-tuned.

Some other interesting points from the (second-half of) the “Male Sex Workers: How to Organize, Support and Advocate for Themselves in the Movement” Plenary:

-possibly there a less men in the sex workers’ rights movement because most male sex workers are gay and stigma against sex work is far less in the gay men’s community than the rest of society. As one man put it: “we (gay men) are all whores anyway” so they get more support and a sense of community.

-in response, one of the panelist classified himself in this way: “I’m me first, then gay, then a sex worker” so while he is very active in activist work, he proposes that many men may not necessarily feel the need to organize around sex work specifically as it is a outer layer of identity.

-there was a discussion about openness and inclusivity, and that they needed to start in the language and imagery of our own movement. Many of the panelist didn’t feel terribly represented or included in all of the “women”, “ladies” language and images that focus on female (often white and biologically female) sex workers. People often look at promotional material to determine whether or not an event or community or cause is “for them” and even if they are invited personally, they will not feel totally welcome or wanted if they do not see themselves represented in language and images of the group.

-another panelist shared a maxim he learned early on that helps him deal with stigma and oppression called the 3 F’s. “If someone isn’t Feeding, Financing or Fucking me, than why the hell do I care what they think? What right do they have to say anything about how I live my life? Fuck ’em!”

I can’t wait to see the groups of men and transpeople at the conference grow. It seems that numbers attract numbers and I think the more people we have from every group of sex work we have at our conference and in our movement, the stronger and more representative we will be as a force for change and helping each other and ourselves.

Desiree Alliance 2008- Day one

Here are some impressions from the first full day of the 2008 Desiree Alliance conference.

It is so goddamned hot here in Chicago but luckily sex workers know how to strip. Half way through the first day Stacey Swimme set the precedent by filling ice water spritzer bottles and peeling down to her comely skivvies. Many moans arose from those confined to their clothes because they arrived at the conference sans coulottes. Says ‘David’: “I never seen so many people in this industry take their clothes off with no money exchanged.”

The keynote anti-oppression workshop kicked things off and it also kicked my ass, emotionally. One of my favorite parts was the presenter’s metaphor of the house of ‘isms’; where adultism lay at the foundation since it is a cross-cultural experience for babies/children and youth, and mental health oppression as the roof as all deviations from socially established norms (emphasis on sex workers here) are pigeonholed as crazy and easily written off or persecuted for mental health instability. Other ism’s such as racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. are the pillars that hold the house up. Talking in small groups about our personal definitions of super loaded terms and creating lists of terms and phrases associated left a lot of us thoughtful, riled up and raw.

After lunch we split into different workshops, I went to “Transgender Intra-Community Relations”. It really felt like we didn’t have nearly enough time to hear the panel of eight or so women from Chicago and DC talk about their organizations, experiences, and the issues facing their communities. One thing that was mentioned several times were strategies to unite and unify young transwomen of color, the problems of transwomen sex workers who are harassed and incarcerated by police with complete lack of respect for their gender and are placed in men’s jails, and the idea of an accessible conference specifically for transwomen with emphasis on women of color.

We ended the first day with a plenary on Challenging Discrimination among Sex Workers where a wallop of topics were introduced including: accessing the porn community as allies and bridges, the horrible phenomenon of partners, friends and colleagues with a grudge turning sex workers into the police, and division and judgment between workers in different fields of the sex industry.

But I was fried, my brain was a weepy puddle of lust and attraction, fear of rejection, new ideas, old pains, empathy, self-reflection and the desire to be accepted. A conference full of gorgeous sweltering hos tackling topics like institutional oppression will do that to me. There is so much information and so many perspectives and so many people who have been marginalized and misunderstood by much of society trying to find their common ground. So as my act of harm-reductionist self care, I went to Bleeding Heart Bakery and drowned my intense sensitivity in delicious organic sugar….stay tuned for more Desiree updates!