Major Sociological Association Supports Decriminalizing Prostitution

The Society for the Study of Social Problems accepted a resolution supporting the decriminalization of prostitution written by Jenny Heineman, co-coordinator of the Sex Workers’ Outeach Project-Las Vegas (SWOP-LV),  plus they honored  SWOP-LV at a banquet in Aug. 2011 for the organization’s social justice advocacy.  Here’s a link to the resolution:  http://www.sssp1.org/index.cfm/pageid/1516#R3 .

I appreciate how the resolution addresses human trafficking without conflating all sex work with trafficking or using this issue to promote the harmful laws against sex workers.  This shows how being anti-slavery and anti-trafficking doesn’t have to mean being anti-sex work.

Human Trafficking Program in Chicago

One of my regular readers in the Chicago area forwarded this to me.  SWOP Chicago is involved, and some points we often make are on the agenda so those who will be in Chicago in two weeks may be interested.

THURSDAY April 14
6:30-8:30pm
Human Trafficking: Strategies and Solutions
*Featuring our own Serpent Libertine!

http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_programsevents/_upcomingevents/_2011/_human%20Trafficking/apr14.html

Human trafficking, for sex, for other forms of labor, or any purpose of involuntary servitude, is an exploitative practice that is prevalent in countries all around the globe, including the United States.

Activists and scholars fervently debate the definition of trafficking, moral distinctions that are often made between labor and sex work, various understandings of victimhood, and questions about the intent and success rate of “rescue operations.” In addition, there are complexities of migration to consider and debates about the relationship between forced labor and the global economy.

Join us for an evening of discussion and education. Scholars and activists working to end trafficking will discuss their strategies and positions. Hull-House history and Jane Addams’ relationship with the movement to end “white slavery” will be highlighted.

Panelists represent the following organizations:
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
The International Organization for Adolescents
National Immigrant Justice Center at the Heartland Alliance
Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago

Dutch government wants their cut from sex workers

From the Huffington Post:

Nobody knows exactly how many prostitutes there are or how many of them pay tax, since legal ones are registered as one-women businesses, not brothels. But an Amsterdam-chartered study in October estimated there are slightly fewer than 8,000 prostitutes of all kinds in the city, and 3,000 working behind windows. An industry think-tank called the SOR Institute believes around 40 percent of window prostitutes already pay some income tax.

“It’s more all the time – though of course there are some sex workers who refuse,” says Mariska Majoor, a former prostitute who now runs an information center in the district.

“Their attitude is, we are stigmatized, made to feel that we are not part of society, we have trouble in getting a bank account – why should we pay taxes?”

Full Story Here

Prohibitionists’ comparing sex work and straight work: they are dead wrong.

Authorization to repost granted, except if material is used to replace an actual interview with one sourced by this.

Prohibitionists’ comparing sex work and straight work: they are dead wrong.

There are people who believe ending sex work (abolishing prostitution, pornography, and other forms of erotic labor) will end harm being done to women in these fields. These sex work prohibitionists coolly assume that jobs in the “straight world” are safe, protected, equitable—all the things they believe sex work is not.

They are wrong. Many of these people are a certain breed of feminist academic elite, comfortably ensconced in their Ivory towers. They may be well intentioned. As I know some of them like Donna M. Hughes myself, I’d even say they are genuine in their desire to advance constructive social change.

But reality can shatter even the best of intentions.

My journey into and out of sex work is unique. My first experience in sex work lasted 3 years. I was (literally) a sex slave: no safe words were needed, and I didn’t even know safe words existed. I was coerced.

The coercion was the true injustice I endured, as millions of Americans suffer the injustice of coercive workplaces that have nothing to do with sex work. That’s the reality “end the sex industry and get a real job activists” routinely and tragically dismiss.

10 years after I was trafficked, I returned to sex work as a stripper. While I worked occasionally at clubs, I mostly did outcall bachelor’s parties. The agent got 40 percent, I got 60 percent. That’s 60 percent more than when I was a sex trafficking victim.

Later still, I gave up on stripping and went to work on my own as an independent escort. I was my own boss and there were no comparable problems. No one hurt me, I set my own boundaries, I got paid what I asked for—all 100 percent of it.

While it wasn’t the greatest job in the world, it was work; it was nothing like my coerced experience. Anti-trafficking activists like Donna M. Hughes, anti-pornography activists like Gail Dines and Shelly Lubben, anti-prostitution activists like Melissa Farley willfully ignore this fact: there is a world of difference between being a sex trafficking victim and being a sex worker.

Make no mistake: ending sexual slavery is a great thing. Ending sex work is not. The two are entirely distinct. Conflating them is deadly for trafficking victims and for sex workers.

Now, let’s talk about the reality of “straight jobs.” I’ve worked a bunch of them in many different industries, usually as an entry-level employee. A lot of my experience is in the air travel industry.

I’ve been assaulted by airline customers more times than I can count. I’ve been kicked in the face while trying to screen a passenger’s leg while working for the TSA. I’ve been spit on. The list goes on.

The result is always the same: the company sends the customer on their way without reprimand because they don’t want to lose business or risk the bad press. In other words, I get told: let it go, or get fired.

I’ve had 6 surgeries from injuries suffered at work. In my State of the Union (North Carolina), workers comp is highly regulated in favor of the employer. That means you can’t pick your doctor, and so you have to see the doctor the carrier chooses. Needless to say, you get biased doctors. You also get a “nurse case manager” (appointed by the carrier) who joins you at every appointment and diligently argues with your already-biased doctor to avoid any expensive diagnostics, medicines, and other treatments, and also reminds the doctor that you are to be returned to work immediately.

When I was working as a valet parking attendant, I was sent back to work for 10 days with a fractured knee, torn MCL, and two torn menisci (one in each knee). The job required running three-tenths of a mile. Three-tenths of a mile for each customer. Three-tenths of a mile for each customer in the 95 degree heat of North Carolina’s Summer.

Why did I take that job? Why did I run three-tenths of a mile on a fractured knee for 10 days at the behest of my “nurse case manager” in my mid 40’s? Because, thanks to the emphasis misguided activist academics like Donna M. Hughes have placed on “rescuing” trafficking victims, the police are so indiscriminately arresting sex workers in my area that running on fractured knees as a valet parking attendant was actually safer than working as an independent escort. Safer, perhaps—I don’t need a jail sentence—but not better.

By the way, it took 6 months for the workers comp carrier to approve surgery to repair the fracture. Oh, and given the recession, it took me 10 weeks just to find that valet job.

When I worked for the TSA, my job entailed lifting 100 pound bags all day because it was more cost effective to have employees do it than to have a conveyor put in. Unsurprisingly, I was struck with repetitive injuries. Surgery was ultimately needed for these injuries, too. The TSA paid nothing as they didn’t feel it was “work-related.” I could appeal that decision, of course, in which case my motion would be decided by the TSA’s appeal board. The TSA’s appeal board, in case it isn’t clear, works for the TSA and, naturally, sides with their employer.

So after working the straight jobs, many times I’ve ended up just like the worst experiences in sex work: no rights, no food, and in a lot of pain.

Go beyond the economic coercion embedded in this capitalist system, however, and you’ll find that straight jobs are not, in and of themselves, safer for women sexually, either.

Back at the TSA, I was sexually assaulted on a federal checkpoint by a male co worker. The assault was filmed by a security camera tape and there were 6 witnesses (5 male and 1 female). They all went to court with me to support my restraining order efforts against my workplace harasser. Now, it isn’t often that men will side with a woman in situations like this, but these 5 men did. The harasser plead no contest—all but an admission of guilt.

However, the TSA management were buddies with the Greensboro Police Department and Guilford County Sheriffs Department, the agencies that would enforce the restraining order. The same day the restraining order was issued, a Greensboro PD officer told me he didn’t believe my claims, and that filing a false police report was a crime. He threatened me with arrest if he or the department could find any proof I was lying. (They never found any.)

Neither the Greensboro PD or Guilford County Sheriffs department enforced the restraining order, the TSA management assigned me to the same work station with my harasser and when I attempted to transfer, that motion was blocked. The manager that supported me was terminated. Same with the supervisor that supported me in court. My other supporters were moved to other stations or had their careers stalled—passed up for promotion time and again.

I went to DC and filed a formal complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, the TSA has its own EEOC. Needless to say, they sided with the TSA. I pressed on, eventually speaking to Internal Affairs, but I quickly learned their role is risk management (damage control), not justice. My harasser, who I learned had confessed to Human Resources was terminated a month later for sexually assaulting a third woman; I was the second. And his confession? The audio tape failed because the HR investigator “failed to push the record button,” and the video tapes of the assaults “could not be located” by the airport police.

Now I work at a job in which I have no breaks regardless of the length of my shift (no lunches either), and an expectation that I will never be sick, injured or need personal days or I may be terminated. Yes, this is all legal in North Carolina. I could go on, but I think this makes my point.

To anyone who believes that ending the sex industry and forcing sex workers to take on straight jobs is some great achievement, please look at the reality. The devil is in the details. Ask those of us who have gone from sex work to straight jobs what really transpired.

Please, do continue to rescue trafficking victims but stop conflating sex trafficking with sex work. Start focusing on realities rather than just mass-rescues that do us real harm, that hurts and kills sex workers, and often has no real basis in the reality of the lives of those involved.

I have been far more harmed by “straight jobs” than I ever was as either a stripper or an independent escort.

Who feeds me when injuries knock me out for weeks and I have no more income? Does Melissa Farley’s Prostitution Research Education provide these services? Does Donna M. Hughes’ Citizens Against Trafficking? Does Gail Dines’ Stop Porn Culture? Does Shelly Lubben’s Pink Cross?

Melissa Farley, Donna M. Hughes: where is the justice you promise to bring us trafficking victims? Do you even care about us?

Sigh. Anyone feel like helping out over at “Hope for the Lost”?

Sigh. Anyone feel like helping out over at “Hope for the Lost”? The following is Victor Malarek’s response to Pye Jacobssen’s video criticizing the Swedish Model. He wrote “The Natashas” and “The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy it”.

“The pro-prostitution organizations…which are basically individuals used as fronts by the sex industry (which is only interested in making huge amounts of money), will come out of the woodwork and vociferously attack any group that fights legalization and decriminalization of the flesh trade.

The arguments put forward by the pro-prostitution groups are specious and full of lies and propaganda. The fact is that wherever legalization has been implemented, it has led to a monumental failure in all aspects of the so-called trade. It has always led to more and more women trafficked, and has not led to an improvement in the condition of women ensnared in the trade.

The pro-prostitution groups’ position against trafficking is a ruse. Their attempts to separate trafficking from legalization are a divide and conquer tactic…they know full well that huge numbers of trafficked women make up the trade. To see how bad the situation is where legalization has been implemented, read ‘The Johns’ and what has happened in Amsterdam! Moreover, the legal and illegal brothels in several Australian states which have legalized are filled with Southeast Asian women. These women do not speak English, they don’t have any money. They don’t have the business acumen to set themselves as business contractors.

It is interesting that in ALL my talks in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Britain, Ireland, Copenhagen, Madrid, Helsinki, Kiev…reps from the pro-prostitution orgs come out in force to take me on, and after my speech, not a peep! Because they know I know B.S. when I hear it and can challenge their claims with ease.

My issue here is one of social justice for the vast majority of women who are forced into the sex trade fiasco…not the minority of twits who yell and scream on behalf of the sex industry!”

You can go here to comment: http://www.hopeforthesold.com/author-victor-malarek-responds-to-swedish-sex-workers-statements/

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4th Desiree Alliance Conference Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics

July 25-30, 2010
Las Vegas, NV

Conference to Unify and Educate in the areas of: Academics & Policy; Activism;
Arts, Entertainment & Media; Business Development; and Harm Reduction &
Outreach!

REGISTER NOW!
Space is limited and WE WANT YOU!
No on-site registration will be permitted so ACT NOW!
Don’t forget to book your hotel…conference participants pay $25!!

Who is Desiree Alliance?
The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, volunteer-based, sex worker-led network of
organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm
reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex
workers.

How do I fit in?
Desiree Alliance is a forum for people who have experience of sex work (this
could mean working as an escort, sex worker, prostitute, street worker, massage
worker, exotic dancer, hustler, living with the support of a sugar-daddy or a
sugar-mama, having sex for housing / food / clothing, drugs, or having sex to
get the money needed to survive) and allies of sex workers. Desiree Alliance is
committed to support for representation and inclusiveness of people from varied
backgrounds including different cultural, racial, economic, age, size/figure,
sexual orientation and gender identities.

How do I sign up?
You are required to send an introductory email to
desiree2010@desireealliance.org with “Introduction for Registration” as the
subject. Please include the following:
• Name, email address and contact phone number (including best time to call);

o You may use any name or pronoun that you identify with when applying for
the conference and while attending.
• How you found out about the conference;
• Why you would like to come;
• If you are a student (you will be required to provide 2009-2010 student ID)

What are the conference fees?
NOW – July 15, 2010
Registration Fee: $250
Student Fee**: $200
Group Fee*: -$10

*Group fee: When 10 or more registrations are made and paid for from the same
source
**Student fee: Must provide proof of enrollment for school (student ID)

Registration fees for the conference include: Attendance at any or all of the
workshops, presentations and sessions; name badge and registration packet;
Welcome Reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (July 25, 6pm); Continental
breakfast (July 26-29); Lunch (July 27 & 29); Farewell Brunch with keynote
speaker (July 30); and a significant discount on lodging (please note that this
location will not be disclosed until registration is complete);

Registration fees do NOT include (though we wish it could): Transportation;
lodging; lunch on July 26 and 28, dinner; Fundraiser After Party (you will have
the option of purchasing a ticket during registration); dinners, souvenirs,
extra-curricular activities or personal expenses

Who can I contact for…?
Program Advertising / Tabling / Vending (click link for details):
http://www.desireealliance.org/conference/tabling.htm#Program_Advertising

Media: Please direct all inquiries to serpentlibertine@gmail.com

General Inquiries: info@desireealliance.org or 866-525-7967 (Toll Free)

Desiree Conference 2010!!

Desiree Alliance

In conjunction with BAYSWAN, Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Center for Sex and Culture (CSC), International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE), St. James Infirmary, SWOP USA, SWOP Tucson, SWOP LV, SWOP Chicago, SWOP NorCal, SWOP Santa Cruz, Harm Reduction Coalition, Sex Work Awareness, and $pread Magazine

Presents

Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics

July 25 thru 30, 2010 in Sunny Las Vegas, NV!!

Join us for the Academic and Policy track. Network with established and developing scholars who are engaged with research, theory, and methods that impact the formation of policy and applied practices concerning sex work and sex workers. Academics have the opportunity to give back to the communities they study and create careers upon by participating in this dynamic space of diverse sex work scholar colleagues and diverse sex workers. Sex workers will have opportunities to interact with scholars who concern themselves with our issues while also sharing your own—and needed—perspective regarding where sex work scholarship has been and where it should be going.

We understand that within the Activism and Advocacy of Sex Work, there is such a huge range, from organizing national marches, decriminalization propositions, to organizing you and one other Sex Worker to come together and talk about your rights and safety. All are forms of activism. Coming out to a friend, meeting a fellow Sex Worker and being able to talk about your work can be a HUGE form of activism for some that have been hiding in the closet so long! Join other activists in a safe space to discuss and learn about activism and activist leadership in the sex work community!

Arts, Entertainment, and Media: From beautiful burlesque, to majestic music, to powerful poetry, various art forms have been important parts of sex worker justice advocacy, and art is also a great way to highlight the diversity of talents so many sex workers have. Sex worker artists have in fact had a vibrant face on this movement and have been a unifying element in resistance campaigns across the globe. Join us at the Desiree Alliance 2010 Conference to explore, learn about, experience, and create sex worker art, media, and entertainment!

Business Development: Increase your confidence and your bottom line by attending workshops taught by people who excel in their fields! Learn new techniques for increasing your earnings, using the tools of your trade, and improving your business model. You will find valuable tips to improve your business regardless of the area you work! From workshops on web design, advertising, and networking to health and safety, and tax-saving tips especially relevant to cash-based earners just like you, this conference will be an opportunity for you to improve your business and your cash flow!

Harm Reduction and Outreach: Whether your expertise is the street corner, the classroom, or the clinic we are looking for you to show us what’s wrong, what’s right, and what can come to be the future of Harm Reduction and Outreach Services for Sex Workers. Come share your innovative ideas or learn how to provide outreach services. Be a part of an event that will inspire and pioneer a fresh perspective on how harm reduction and outreach services can be fine tuned to the ones that need it the most. Enjoy workshops and presentations from the best and brightest giving their unique take on harm reduction and outreach services to sex workers.

Registration is open!
We are accepting Proposals for Presentations! Hurry- deadline for submissions is March 1st.

To get involved, go to http://www.DesireeAlliance.org/conference.htm or email: Desiree2010@desireealliance.org

We’ll See You in Sin City!!