Speak Up! Media Training Materials as PDF

speakupcover On April 18, 2009 Sex Work Awareness had our first Speak Up! Media Training for the Empowered Sex Worker in New York City. All the attendees got to take home a big packet of training materials, and now we’re making that 45 page manual available to the public with a Creative Commons license.

Here are some of the subjects covered in the PDF:

    • Typical variations of mainstream media stories about the sex industry
    • Deciding to be part of a story
    • Crafting your message
    • Interview tips and tricks
    • Writing press releases, letters to the editor, and op-eds
    • Strategies for events and earned media
    • New media best practices and took kits

The manual also includes lots and lots of examples of both mainstream media and content produced by sex workers.

Click the cover image above to download!

Is there something you’d like to learn more about? Are you a sex worker support organization that is in the midst of a media onslaught? Think your community could benefit from a media training workshop? Get in touch with us.

And also, I tweaked the Sex Work Awareness website:
Sex Work Awareness

 

And added an email list to the mix. Check out what the first email announcement looks like here and then sign up if it strikes your fancy.

Sex Workers, Resistance, and the Media Panel at NYC Grassroots Media Conference 5/30

grassroots

Join us at the 6th Annual Conference:HOPE to ACTION
Saturday, May 30, 2009

9am-6pm: Hunter College, 68th St & Lexington Ave

Registration is now open — save cash, register early! 

Sex Workers, Resistance, and the Media panel/workshop

Sex workers are frequently maligned and misrepresented in the mainstream media, where stories are most often about scandals, busts, violence, health and safety risks, exploitation, legislation, and moral judgment. This panel of present and former sex workers who are activists and media makers will address the ways we are represented in mainstream media and what sex workers and their allies can do to challenge and remake the way we are perceived. We will present media projects created by sex workers and discuss challenges encountered in the process of distribution and building an audience for our work. The workshop will conclude with making a short PSA video about how sex workers and allies can work together.

Audacia Ray is a media maker and activist who is passionate about sexual rights, and is the author of Naked on the Internet. Audacia is a former sex worker who was an editor at $pread magazine who co-founded the advocacy and support organization Sex Work Awareness. Dacia has been writing her personal blog, Waking Vixen, since 2004.

Megan Andelloux works as a board certified sexual educator , sexual rights activist and author in the book: We Got Issues! She is the founder of a Sexual Resource Center, located in Providence, RI where she hosts workshops, speakers, and activist events related to sex positive issues. Check out her website.

Monica Shores is Managing Editor of and frequent contributor to $pread magazine. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Nerve.com, The Rumpus, DCist, Popmatters, Alternet, and Make/shift magazine. She also pens a bimonthly column for CarnalNation on sex worker rights.

Mariko Passion sings “Decriminalize Me” in PSA for Sex Worker Fest

It plays when you come to the site, http://www.sexworkerfest.com/

You can download it here! http://www.sexworkerfest.com/PSASexWorkerFest2009.mp3

Support sex worker rights in Providence, Rhode Island May 21, 2009 by phone!!:

Forwarded on behalf of Maxine Doogan
Support sex worker rights in Providence, Rhode Island TOMORROW by phone!!:

Tara Hurley from Providence Rhode Island made a documentary about the sex workers there and legislation that is being proposed to make sex work illegal. She interviewed many sex workers in the area and has honestly represented their views and situations in her film. Because this film contains the truth about the issue, Tara is being slammed in the press by academic Donna Hughes, Chair of Women’s Studies at University of Rhode Island. Hughes has ties to right wing anti-choice Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey (who promoted the anti-prostitution pledge, which denied HIV funding and treatment to sex workers worldwide). Hughes called George Bush the “first feminist president.” Hughes is reputed to be in the pocket of the US anti-abortion religious right. This is the stuff that will speak far more to listeners than her anti-prostitution stance. We need to discredit Hughes.

Donna Hughes will be on Dan Locke’s radio show tomorrow at 4pm. Please call in to the show to question Hughes’ credentials and affiliations:
1-800-321-9776

You can listen to the the show live online at:
http://www.630wpro.com/

State of Arizona Commits Negligent Homicide Against Sex Worker

Yesterday afternoon, a female inmate of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Marcia Powell, who was serving 27 months for prostitution, perished in 100+ degree heat after being left outside for four hours in an uncovered holding cell.   A criminal investigation is supposedly underway to determine negligence.

Sadly, one more for our beloved December 17th list.   Article and video can be viewed here.

Update:  Ms. Powell was serving a Class 5 felony repetitive prostitution charge with enhanced sentencing.  You can view her current ADOC inmate profile here, altho I doubt it will be up for very long since she is now deceased.

Open Letter from Sex Worker Advocate to South Africa’s Honorable Premier Nomvula Mokonyane

fist This open letter comes to us through the activists at the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) in South Africa. SWEAT is involved in direct outreach work with sex workers around health and safety as well as public awareness and advocacy work.

For much of our history the vast majority of South Africans suffered extreme injustice, deprivation and systematic human rights abuses. We need to continue to guard against the ways in which the abuses of the past live on.

Sex workers have for too long become targets of hate crime, name calling and being shamed and violently abused, often by those supposed to protect their human rights and the law. As under apartheid when somebody found themselves hyper visible and invisible due to the color of their skin and subject to derogatory stereotypes ; sex workers today find themselves subjected to very similar acts of prejudice, harassment, stigmatisation and violence.

Being a sex worker in Africa is not a matter of morality or even sexual expression, in much the same way that being black under apartheid was not a matter of pigmentation but a reflection of a mental attitude, state of consciousness, a way to emancipate yourself and fight against all forces that marks you out as a subservient being without access to basic life enriching resources. Being a sex worker is to hold your head high in defiance rather than willingly surrender to the crushing effects of poverty.

It is to say, in most situations:

“As a mother, as an ordinary poor woman, I enter the sex industry for economic reasons so as to put food onto the table to feed my children. I am poor but I will survive and will not let my children die. The sex industry is one of the few options open to me. Even if my choice is constrained, it is a rational choice and survival strategy even if it creates difficulties in other respects, like working under exploitative conditions and risking human rights violations. I deserve to have my choice respected.”

Your frank talk last week reminded me of Biko and the time period in our history when those fighting for the rights of the oppressed become lone voices in the darkness and human rights abuse was the order of the day. Biko spoke of liberation as both an act of claiming land and legal rights but also an act of psychological emancipation from the chains of the mind where by people internalized the prejudices of the oppressor and then oppresses others the way they have been oppressed. After years and years of abuse of sex workers we at last have a voice of reason and compassion from somebody in a position of power. It is significant that this voice comes from a woman who clearly knows and understands the struggle of those mothers trying to feed their children, something men struggle to understand. Perhaps it takes a woman to see beyond the hype, sensationalising and stereotyping of sex workers – to see the human face of the sex worker.

In the face of brutal abuse and stigmatisation your recognition of the humanity of our fellow sisters and brothers means a huge amount. We salute you for this; even though we do not agree on how best to regulate the industry – we argue for decriminalisation. You have opened the debate up in a humane and pragmatic way. Yes, it is imperative to stop criminals capitalising upon and exploiting sex workers, a situation that prevails as long as sex work is not regulated. You are correct that we cannot wait until 2010. As long as sex work is illegal criminals will thrive and use this to their advantage. Sex workers will not be able to report situations where they observe trafficking and children selling sex.

We can apply the words of President Barack Obama when he said that the debates around abortion will not go away. Similarly the debates around sex work is necessary and important. We will never get anywhere unless we stop reducing those with differing views to caricature and stop demonising one another. The debate on sex work is extremely complex but we must be able to deal with things that make us uncomfortable.

We thank you for you open mind, passion and concern to protect the human rights of sex workers and ensure that criminals do not capitalise upon the situation. A “conducive” environment needs to be created were sex workers can work in safety, pay their taxes and exist as citizens.

We salute you for not only raising the debate, but also having the courage to propose solutions.

Eric Harper
Director SWEAT
Tel: 27 21 448 7875
Fax: 27 21 448 5857
E-mail: richie.september@sweat.org.za
Community House
41 Salt River Rd
Salt River
7915
Cape Town

Quick Summary of the Situation

Someone else who doesn’t seem to be a sex worker has a great, quick, sarcastic answer to the whole CraigsList thing.

I don’t have permission to post her text here, so I’m just linking to it.

In Defense of Craigslist

The dialogue around Craigslist has been raging for months, and in the wake of the announcement that CL will be discontinuing its “erotic services” category in favor of the new “adult services” I have a few points I’d like to discuss.

I believe that we should be responding to the persecution of craigslist, and by proxy all sex workers that use CL regularly, strongly.  I also believe that throughout these proceedings of the last several months, CL has come down resoundingly on the side of reason, and individual rights.

If you read the (many!) recent craigslist blog posts by CEO Jim Buckmaster, the removal of the “erotic services” category and the introduction of the “adult services” category seems to be a reasonable solution to me.  It is unfortunate that posting is no longer free-impacting those who cannot pay the $10 initial fee to post, and those who do not have credit cards.  It is devastating for workers in this category, however those changes had already occurred in the ‘erotic’ section, though to a lesser degree.  Credit cards, or some form or online payment are required, as they are required by many other online listing services.

It strikes me that we should be lending our support to CL through this crisis of prosecution-Jim Buckmaster continually refers to statistics and facts that back up our platform of decriminalization.  Read his most recent blog post here http://blog.craigslist.org/

From a blog post by Buckmaster a while back

“Now, it’s horrible to think of craigslist being used in connection with any violent crime whatsoever, let alone a murder. One crime is too many, and we must do everything in our power to eliminate it.

However, when critics rush to tar craigslist as especially dangerous, it’s important to put things in perspective. craigslist users have posted more than 1.15 BILLION classified ads to date, easily 1000x the combined total ever posted to the print publications involved in all of these “print ad murders”.

Anyone demanding that craigslist use the same protections that print classifieds have employed should be careful what they’re wishing for — because the incidence of violent crime in connection with print classifieds is clearly far, far higher than it is for craigslist.”

On a purely business note, I did notice that with the implementation of payment, a lot of the spam posts in erotic services were eliminated, making it easier for actual sex workers to have their ads seen by potential clients.

Thus far, the postings in the ‘adult’ category seem virtually indistinguishable from the postings in ‘erotic services’ and with Craigslist’s commitment to philanthropy regarding the use of revenue from the ‘adult’ category, I am happy to pay the charge, should I choose to post there.

I would like to support Craigslist in their process through this-it is far better that CL continue to exist, and offer some form of posting for ‘adult’ entertainers, than cease to exist all together.  And CL has  a history of listening to members of the community.  I hope that we can continue to be in direct dialogue with them.  Perhaps we can encourage them to donate some of the revenue from the ‘adult’ category to various decriminalization efforts.

We live in a difficult world, where we are prevented from utilizing normal marketing tactics that any other business is afforded.  However, I believe we ought to give credit where credit is due.  While CL has not taken a bullet for us, it has certainly not completely folded to the appallingly uninformed politicians that would choose to scapegoat craigslist and prosecute sex workers for crimes committed against them.

And in the words of Abbie Hoffman “the first duty of the revolutionary is to get away with it”

May we all continue to get away with it, survive, and thrive, despite the deck stacked against us.

thinking of you,

surgeon

“Erotic Services” Denied: Craigslist and Attorneys General Are Putting Sex Workers At Risk

This is a collaborative press release – please distribute and repost widely!

Contact:
Dylan Wolfe – Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), swank@riseup.net
Will Rockwell – $pread Magazine, will@spreadmagazine.org
Audacia Ray – Sex Work Awareness (SWA), aray@sexworkawareness.org
Susan Blake – Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Michael Bottoms – Sex Workers Outreach Project – New York City (SWOP-NYC), info@swop-nyc.org

With Craigslist’s recent announcement that its Erotic Services category will be discontinued within the week, hundreds of thousands of erotic service providers will become more vulnerable to dangerous predators. Eliminating erotic listings as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and others propose will only drive us further underground.

Policing the masseuses, phone workers, pro-dominants, and escorts using Craigslist fails to protect those of us who are coerced into the sex industry. Preventing the use of Craigslist advertisements also eliminates the advantage of screening clients online, which makes for a safer work experience by filtering out potentially dangerous individuals. Furthermore, keeping us offline hinders police investigations of violent crime. In the Boston murder of Julissa Brisman, it was online tracking that enabled the police to identify the suspect. One has to wonder: are the Attorneys General examining the evidence or simply enforcing their moral values?

“Removing the erotic services category from Craigslist does not help prevent violence against escorts and other sex workers. It only pushes me and people like me out of the places where advertising is available,” said Jessica Bloom, a sex worker from Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK). In the face of increasing criminalization, we insist upon respect. As mothers, daughters, brothers, and members of your community, we claim that sex work is real work, work that we are entitled to conduct in safety. As such, we must be accorded the human right of full protection under the law.

Rhode Island getting closer to outlawing indoor sex work.

Today is a busy day for Sex Worker Rights.  With news of Craigslist(only in the US) canceling the Erotic Services section, we’ve had a flurry of press calls.  Plus Rhode Island (the only state where indoor prostitution is legal) just had the house pass H5044 Sub A, the vote was 62 to 8, and this is the 4th year they’ve tried it, and it’s gotten way farther (it’s never even got out of committee before).  If you care about this issue, especially if you are in Rhode Island, PLEASE CALL a state senator in RI, by filling out the bottom form at this page: http://www.sec.state.ri.us/vic/ to track down who your senator is. (Yes they make it complicated, so that you WON’T talk to them, prove them wrong!)

Breaking: Craigslist to end Erotic Services

This just came across the news; posting for the sake of us having a place to hash out how to respond, what comes next, and field the inevitable questions from the press.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be holding a press conference at 11am Eastern today. We’ll post more news as it develops.

AP wire story:

Ill. AG: Craigslist dropping ‘erotic services’ ads

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that Craigslist is getting rid of its “erotic services” ads and will create a new adult category that Web site employees will review.

Madigan’s office said Wednesday that such existing ads on Craigslist will expire in seven days.

Madigan and the attorneys general for Connecticut and Missouri met with Craigslist officials last week seeking an end to ads they contend are advertisements for illegal sexual activities.

An e-mail sent to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

Craigslist came under renewed pressure to remove the ads after a medical student in Boston was charged with the April killing of a masseuse he met on the site.

More in the Hartford Courant, Chicago local news.

Good Review for Sex Work Books in Qualitative Sociology

Just wanted to make sure people know about a review essay of four books of interest to sex-industry students and activists. Academics AnneMarie Cesario and Lynn Chancer published it in Qualitative Sociology 32:213–220 (March 2009) – which is a mainstream academic journal in the USA. The essay begins:

When Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign as Governor of the State of New York after revelations that he regularly patronized the elite “Elite” agency, conversations among friends, family and colleagues turned for a while to the topic of prostitution. Suddenly sex work—as many women working in the business of selling sex from the ‘80s onward have preferred their occupation, more respectfully, to be deemed-was central to day-to-day discourse on contentious events in the news. Why, people wondered with understandable incredulity, would a man of Spitzer’s prominence risk his career and reputation by seeing prostitutes, high-paid or not? Even more peculiar, why would a prosecutor-turned-governor, well-known for fighting corruption and advocating stricter penalties for johns, indulge so
hypocritically in the very private activities he sought publicly to decry?

Starting with this incident is useful in several respects for a review essay centered on four works recently published about sex work. For one thing, the fact that prostitution can “bring down” high-level politicians—not only here but in other countries (think, for example, of the 1963 high profile case involving British cabinet minister John Profumo’s connection with a high-class prostitute that led to his resignation)—immediately reveals the complexity of this topic in and outside of sociology. Within our discipline the theorist’s antennae may well be stimulated, and a qualitative researcher’s sociological imagination aroused, by situations that blatantly challenge any easy notion that rational choice and utilitarian self-interest are adequate explanations of human behavior. Rather incidents like Spitzer’s, and the interesting issue of whether sociologists can explain them, encourage researchers to focus on several theoretically and empirically intriguing questions. What keeps men (still, it seems, far more than women) patronizing the sex industry—from prostitution to pornography, nationally as well as internationally, in the fearful age of AIDS and often when sex “for free” with girlfriends and wives may be readily available—to the tune of maintaining and sustaining a multi-billion dollar industry? What does their doing so suggest about unconscious and emotional, as much as about conscious and logical, social/ psychic processes? Then, from the “supply” rather than “demand” side of the two-sided calculus prostitution necessarily entails, why do women and men (for here, though less frequently, both genders are often involved) go to work in this industry? While money is a necessary explanation, feminist writers of the ‘80s and ‘90s have hastened to point out that it may not be a sufficient one. Instead, motivations run a complicated gamut from the stark realities of economics to oscillating dynamics of power and powerlessness,  sometimes sadomasochistically tinged. Take a hypothetical example: a girl whom gender has rendered vulnerable as a child may feel thrilled when, as a grown young woman perhaps working as a dominatrix, she can now hold the reins of power over a man whom desire has rendered dependent at least for a while. Last but hardly least, how can the Governor’s fall from grace be understood without considering how sex and government, legality and illegality, are themselves interrelated? Would Spitzer’s apparently schizoid position, at once prosecutor and now prosecuted, police and policed, have been the same in the Netherlands—if prime minister of Holland, might he also, quite possibly, have had to resign? For how it comes to pass, historically and culturally, that some societies criminalize (the U.S., except in Nevada) while others (Belgium, the Netherlands) legalize prostitution likewise begs investigation—not only but also by Foucault-influenced scholars—into sex, society, marriage, economic, family, politics, and their interrelationships.

The books are:

Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. Laura María Agustín. London: Zed Books, 2007. ISBN 1842778609, $31.95 (paper), 224 pp.

Temporarily Yours. Elizabeth Bernstein. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 0226044580, $24.00 (paper), 288 pp.

Male Sex Work: A Business Doing Pleasure. Todd G. Morrison and Bruce W. Whitehead (Eds.). Binghamton: Haworth Press, 2007. ISBN 1560237279, $32.00 (paper), 354 pp.

Sex Work: A Risky Business. Teela Sanders. Portland: Willan Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1843920824, $26.95 (paper), 256 pp.

Sorry but copyright law prohibits quoting the whole thing, which anyway occupies seven pages. You must have access to an academic library to get the essay, which I don’t, which is one reason why I didn’t know about this review until now. If you don’t have a friend who can help, contact me via the form in the right-hand column at Border Thinking, where you’ll also find the concluding words from the essay.