Let’s Talk About Sex Baby! (And keep talking and talking and talking…)

“Sex in America: Can the Conversation Change?” hosted by the New York Open Center and the Huffington Post

This was really just the tip of the iceberg in trying to cover the many conversations about sexuality that need to be happening. With only two hours, it was impossible to really dig deeper into the nuances. I did my best to take down direct quotes or at least summarize them with accuracy. Here’s my report-back, if others who attended would like to add to it, please do!

The chair of the forum, Esther Perel, opened with comments about why she organized the panel and introductions:

When I first imagined this evening I saw it as a townhall meeting that could look at sexuality as a serious discussion and not just obscenity or sanctimony. Social conversations, not chit-chat between two people but discourse among society.

Later during the forum she added in more of her perspective:

As a couple’s therapist for 25 years I’ve noticed that couples never talk about sex.

What about sexual knowledge for therapists? Some of the assumptions:
• Sex is a metaphor of the relationship: sex problems are always a reflection of other problems in the relationship.
• Love and desire do relate but don’t necessarily conflict. Desire needs novelty and unexpected unpredictable surprise.
• Good intimacy makes for god sex: communicate better, you want to be together more. No! Sometimes you communicate better and resent each other less but it doesn’t turn you on!
• The notion that passion fades- that it should be tame and unlasting. The only thing you’re allowed to be really passionate about in America is work.

People used to be afraid of sin, now they’re afraid of dysfunction.

Sex is not something you do, it’s a way of being in the world. People have always done it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always been good.

Since readers here have been interested in how sex work would be covered at this forum, I’ll get to that right up front: it wasn’t covered. As has been stated by many participants, including sex workers, the forum was not about sex work per se. Some topics of porn consumption did come up. A comment was made from an audience member in response to a point that Amy Sohn had made about women’s sexuality being “on display” and pornography was used as an example. Of course many of us who are both SW and feminist identified had lots to say on this and other topics, but the time constraints and diverse range of topics made it impossible.

Speaking of diversity, the strongest critique that folks at dinner had post-forum was that there was a serious lack of racial and cultural diversity. There were two male and two female presenters, however no representation of transgender people. The conversation seemed to focus pretty deeply on partnered, committed sexual relationships much more than looking at a broad spectrum of sexuality and gender.

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Sex Workers Urge Obama Administration to Help Stop Violence

Media Advisory

####

Contact: Stacey Swimme
Email: press@swopusa.org
Phone: 877-776-2004 ext. 2

Kelli Dorsey
(202) 829-2103
kelli@differentavenues.org
http://www.swopusa.org/SW_NationalMarch08/

Sex Workers Urge Obama Administration to Help Stop Violence

Sex workers will submit a letter and demands to President-elect Obama and select cabinet-appointees Wednesday December 17, 2008 to mark the 6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This year mourners will gather in Franklin Square Park for a rally and march to the Department of Justice where a vigil will be held to honor sex workers who’ve been murdered or assaulted. Sex workers are demanding that this administration enact policy changes that would prevent violence and improve public health.

“Sex workers are the experts at identifying harm in the sex industry and developing solutions,” said Tara Sawyer, Board Chair of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), a national peer-led network of sex workers who initiated this day in 2003 when Gary Leon Ridgway aka the Green River Killer was convicted for murdering 48 prostitutes over a 21-year period near Seattle, WA. Sawyer went on to say, “For most sex workers, their criminal status keeps them from working in safer conditions and seeking out assistance from law enforcement if assaulted or robbed.”

“Sex workers experience a disproportionate level of preventable violence in our country,” said Kelli Dorsey, Director of Different Avenues, a DC –based organization co-sponsoring this event, “People of color and transgender people are overwhelmingly targeted. This discrimination is too often ignored by society.”

Cyndee Clay of HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), also DC-based, said her organization is participating in this event “Not only to commemorate and honor those who have been victims of shame and stigma, but also to demand that the voices of those who experience violence within the sex industry are visible.”

Interviews are available with sex workers attending the vigil in DC as well as nationwide by using the contact info above. Email to request media kit. See website for listing of vigils around the world. Media and the public are welcome at the DC rally and vigil:

December 17, 2008 12pm-3pm
Franklin Square (14 ST NW & Eye ST NW) near McPherson Square Station and procession to Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue

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December 17 2008: National March for Sex Workers’ Rights

dec17marchflyer

A Kevin Folie from NBC is spamming the hell out of us…

Here’s what he wants you to know:

Joe.J
http://originals.cnbc.com. | kevin.folie@nbcuni.com | 64.210.199.231

On Tuesday, November 11th at 10 p ET Melissa Francis examines the world of high-end prostitution in the CNBC Original “Dirty Money: The Business of High-End Prostitution”. In every city in America sex is for sale and much of it operates in plain view. But, there’s one corner of the trade protected like none other… the business of high-end prostitution where clients can spend hundred of thousands of dollars each year. It’s a secret world with rules and practices that will change everything you think you know about the buying and selling of sex. Join Melissa as she ventures into this secret world.

For web extras visit http://dirtymoney.cnbc.com.

I’m sure we can count on NBC for something fair and balanced and not the least bit sensational. I mean, if women are getting paid thousands of dollars, then they’re not dirty and inhuman like all the other hookers right?

*For future reference friends in the media- there are people here operating this blog, you’re welcome to contact us at boundnotgagged@gmail.com to share info of this sort. Don’t spam us please, it’s a waste of our time.

Prop K News Nov. 4th 2008

Oft-mocked San Francisco leads the way

Living in San Francisco means constantly being told you’re in the kookiest place in the country – a city where you vote on whether to name a sewage plant after the outgoing president and where residents enthusiastically debate whether to enforce prostitution laws. How do you think those ideas play in Middle America?

Prop. K Could Thrust Prostitutes Into Pop Culture

Pretty soon, a “pretty woman” may be able to work the streets of San Francisco legally.

The city’s residents will vote today on Proposition K, a ballot measure that would stop police from enforcing laws against sex workers and eliminate funding for anti-prostitution programs. If it is passed, the measure will make San Francisco the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution.

Prop K News Nov 3rd, 2008

San Francisco Prostitutes, Mayor Clash on Vote to Stop Arrests

Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) — San Francisco may become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution.

Voters will decide tomorrow on a ballot measure that would stop police from enforcing laws against sex workers and eliminate funding for anti-prostitution programs. The measure, known as Proposition K, may pass, said District Attorney Kamala Harris. She opposes it, as does Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Prostitution on the ballot – Proposition K up for vote in San Francisco


Regulation of what is described as the world’s oldest profession is among the numerous issues that tomorrow’s election will decide. Passage of Proposition K in San Francisco would prohibit the police from investigating a complaint of prostitution or arresting or prosecuting anyone for that activity. An article in the Oct. 6. 2008, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle provided the details on which I am basing this analysis.

Yes on K is the Christian thing to do

by LEA BROWN

Why would a Christian minister support Proposition K, the November ballot initiative that would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco?

There are many reasons. Prop. K would allow sex workers to organize for their rights and safety. It would enable them to report abuse in the industry without fear of prosecution. It would improve their chances of maintaining their health by lessening the stigma that prevents many from seeking the health care services they need. And it would do all this while still allowing law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute human traffickers.

Opposition to Prop K Post at change.org

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, we heard from sex worker and activist Karly Kirchner about why she believes Proposition K – which would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco – is right for the city. Today, anti-exploitation activist Kristie Miller argues that the measure is a step backwards.

The Police, the DA and SAGE: A lucrative partnership

by  US PROStitutes Collective* in support of Yes on Prop K

Since the First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco (FOPP) began in 1995, there has been much public concern over the amount of money it costs to the city of San Francisco, the use of that money and the increasing criminalization of women and men arrested for prostitution charges.

The path-breaking 1996 San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution recommended decriminalization of prostitution and a diversion of funds from prosecution to protection. The FOPP has been used to oppose demands for decriminalization as it gained wider public support.

FOPP’s three main partners are the police, the District Attorney’s Office and Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE). It’s stated aim is “an educational program for first offenders, rehabilitation, vocational training . . .for women trying to exit prostitution and services to aid girls to permanently exit the criminal justice system”. What that means in practice is that women and men arrested for prostitution-related activities in street sweeps are diverted to FOPP programs and men can be charged $1000 to attend. Public defenders report that people are sent to FOPP by the courts in preference to other diversion programs, which are free and reportedly more effective. How is the decision made by the court what program women are to be sent to?
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NY Times on Prop K

In San Francisco, a Proposition Supported by Its Prostitutes
By JESSE MCKINLEY

SAN FRANCISCO — When Proposition K was added to Tuesday’s ballot, many people likely snickered at the possibility that San Francisco might take its place alongside such prostitute-friendly havens as Amsterdam and a few rural counties in nearby Nevada.

But this week, it became readily apparent that city officials are not laughing anymore about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world’s oldest profession in San Francisco. At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other opponents seemed genuinely worried that Proposition K might pass.

“This is not cute. This is not fanciful,” Mr. Newsom said, standing in front of the pink-on-pink facade of a closed massage parlor in the Tenderloin district. “This is a big mistake.”

Supporters of the measure say it is a long-overdue correction of a criminal approach toward prostitutes, which neither rehabilitates nor helps them, and often ignores their complaints of abuse.

“Basically, if you feel that you’re a criminal, it can be used against you,” said Carol Leigh, who says she has worked as a prostitute for 35 years and now works as an advocate for those who trade sex for money. “It’s a really serious situation, and ending this criminalization is the only solution I see to protect these other women working now.”

The language in Proposition K is far-reaching. It would forbid the city police from using any resources to investigate or prosecute people who engage in prostitution. It would also bar financing for a “first offender” program for prostitutes and their clients or for mandatory “re-education programs.”

Full Story

News on Prop K This Week

CBS5 Poll: Undecideds To Determine Prop.K Fate

The poll of 677 likely San Francisco voters conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday found that 35% were certain to vote “yes” on the measure, while 39% were certain to vote “no.” With a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 points — the measure is at a virtual tie.

Fight Intensifies Over Prop K in San Francisco

A woman who has dedicated her life helping prostitutes leave the profession is urging San Francisco voters to vote No on Proposition K.

Sam Spade’s San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle and all these people got it right. They support San Francisco’s Prop K and so does Sam Spade’s San Francisco.

Naked politics

The rhetoric is getting louder over San Francisco’s Proposition K, which would decriminalize prostitution in the city.

There were dueling news conferences on the issue Wednesday. First, Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris spoke to reporters outside what had been a brothel fronting as a massage parlor on Geary Boulevard. Later, the backers of Prop. K promised to have sex workers at an afternoon event in the “red-light district” of North Beach. (They produced one former prostitute and several advocates for sex workers.) Continue reading

Stripping Down Proposition K – Why San Francisco Should Decriminalize Prostitution

Supporting Prop K does not mean that you advocate prostitution. Prop K is about supporting the rights and health of all San Francisco residents, including prostitutes. Prop K asks San Franciscans to look past their socially-conditioned attitudes about prostitution to the human lives that are impacted by prohibition.

Prop K decriminalizes the act of exchanging sex for money. Prop K does not hinder the ability of law enforcement to investigate any crime that is related to trafficking, child abuse or sexual assault.

Decriminalization does not mean that there are no regulations. For example, a carpenter is not ‘legalized’ but simply is not a criminal. There are plenty of regulations in place that protect the carpenter as a worker, the community in which the carpenter is working (such as materials, zoning, noise, etc) and a carpenter can apprentice, be trained or join a union. Under decriminalization, sex workers would have similar rights, but also have civil, labor and social guidelines to follow.

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The oldest conundrum

From The Economist:

The red lights are going out all over Europe—but not elsewhere

WHEN the Netherlands legalised brothels eight years ago, the mood was upbeat. Politicians thought they were well on the way to solving one of the world’s perpetual policy dilemmas: how to stop all the bad things that are associated with the sex trade (coercion, violence, infectious diseases) while putting a proper, and realistic, limit to the role of the state.

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Opponents of Prop K Use Lies and Fear Tactics to Sway Voters

The ‘Not For Sale’ campaign has joined in the attacks against sex workers in San Francisco. They have a No on K Coordinator dedicated to defeating sex workers’ rights, Louisa Barry.

Her call to action included the same misinformation and flat out lies that are characteristic of the No on K argument this year:

At first blush Prop K’s language appears to be an attempt to decriminalize prostitution; the terrible truth hidden within Prop K is that it would: (1) severely hinder if not completely stop- local law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes of trafficking and slavery, by making it illegal for police to garner funds to investigate crimes of trafficking, and (2) de-fund programs that assist survivors, women and children, exiting the sex industry.

Neither of these claims is true. So let us address them (again):

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KCBS Podcast on Prop K

KCBS Podcast on Prop K

Prop K Visibility

Did you know that they discussed Prop K on The View and that Barbara Walters said she would support it? The whole country is debating whether or not decriminalization makes sense. Help us keep the positive messages visible by posting a ‘Yes on Prop K’ badge to your blogs and sites!

Volunteers are distributing literature and calling voters all over the city, but we need to expand our visibility throughout the web to reach SF voters who may not have seen our fliers or received a call. Posting something at your own site, even if you are not based in San Francisco, helps maintain a visible positive message that the news media will pick up on.

Get your own badge

Be sure to link your badge back to http://www.YesOnPropK.org

Thanks for your help!

From Annie Sprinkle

Dear Smart and Sexy, Compassionate Friends,
I don’t know about you, but lately some of my wonderful sensual massage friends have been getting repeatedly arrested for doing FULL BODY MASSAGE. How sad it is. These arrests/convictions ruin lives, and are so unfair and mean spirited. One sexual healer friend was busted for a third time (simply for massaging a penis,) and now has to resort to full service prostitution in Nevada to save her house from foreclosing and pay lawyer bills. She never has wanted to do full service. It’s absurd!

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10/ 25 Prop K Events and Updates!

Hi Everyone,

The Yes on Prop K campaign is certainly picking up steam- and we couldn’t do it without you! Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

LITERATURE DROP/ PRECINCT WALKING

This is really important!!

Information about Proposition K needs to be distributed to as many San Francisco residents as possible—join us in our efforts! All you need is a bag for flyers, a bottle of water and your own two feet (and maybe a buddy)—we’ll provide the rest! Help us spread the word by dropping literature in different neighborhoods around San Francisco, so that voters can make an informed choice about Proposition K on November 4th.

We need to cover as many neighborhoods as possible, so we will be distributing different areas to various volunteers to ensure that residents in all areas are receiving information about Prop K. Please be prepared to provide us with a contact name, phone number, and most importantly, an email address so that we can email you your precinct map. If you would like to receive your precinct map by some other means, please let us know and we will do our best to make it available to you.
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San Francisco to Vote on Prostitution