Friday the Thirteenth

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.  –  P.J. O’Rourke

Today is the third Friday the Thirteenth since I’ve been writing The Honest Courtesan, and there will be three such days this year (today, April 13th and July 13th); as it so happens, three is the maximum number of such days in any given year, though each year has at least one.  In my very first column on the subject (Friday, August 13th, 2010) I explained how the superstition arose and why even superstitious whores should consider it lucky for us rather than unlucky:

Given the origin of beliefs about Friday the 13th…even the superstitious whore has nothing to worry about…since Friday is the day sacred to our patron goddess, and 13 the most feminine of numbers, Friday the 13th should be good luck for whores even if it really were bad luck for Christian men.  Now, I’m not really superstitious; I don’t believe that a day can bring either good luck or bad.  But considering that the reasons for fear of this day are so closely related to the reasons our profession is maligned and suppressed, perhaps whores and those who support our rights should make every Friday the Thirteenth a day to speak out in favor of full decriminalization and an end to the institutionalized persecution of prostitutes.

Nine months later (on Friday, May 13th, 2011) I explained why it’s especially important for my readers who aren’t sex workers to speak out:

A number of advocates are working to respond to the lies, propaganda and misinformation wherever we find them, but…we’re often accused of distorting facts to make ourselves look good, and no matter how assiduously we work to present a balanced view this is a natural and credible accusation against anyone who advocates for some issue which directly concerns her.  That’s why allies are so important; it’s much harder for the prohibitionists to shout down people who don’t have a dog in the fight, but merely support prostitutes’ rights on moral grounds.  Every Friday the Thirteenth I will ask my readers, especially those of you who aren’t yourselves sex workers, to speak up for us in some way; talk about the issue with someone who will listen, make a post on a discussion board, comment on a news story which spreads disinformation, or even just post a link to this column.  If you aren’t confident in your ability to debate, even a simple phrase like “I think adult women should have the right to decide why and with whom they want to have sex” or “everyone has the right to equal protection under the law” might have a tiny but important impact on those who overhear.  Because in the final analysis, they’re the ones we have to convince; rational people already support some type of prostitution-law reform and fanatics cannot be convinced by argument because their minds are already made up, but the silent majority – the fence-sitters and swing-voters, the ones who answer “unsure” or “no comment” on polls – are the ones who can and must be made to understand that we are not intrinsically different from other women and deserve the same freedoms and protections that non-harlots take for granted.

Last time around I also offered a synopsis of prohibitionist victories since the last such day, but since I already offered a similar list just two weeks ago I think that would be inexcusably repetitious.  And though there are several other days dedicated to fighting for sex worker rights (namely International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on March 3rd,  International Whores’ Day on June 2nd and International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th), human rights are not something to be discussed only once a year; even six occasions to speak out on the subject are not enough.  For me and many others, every day is Friday the Thirteenth, and so it must remain until people wake up and understand that no collective, “authority” or government has the right to tell women what we can and cannot do with our own bodies.

(Cross-posted from The Honest Courtesan)

33 charged in the massive raids of the Sedona Temple and the Phoenix Goddess Temple

Dear BnG community.  These raids have hit us hard in Arizona, and we are devastated for the loss of the Temples.  Please stay with us as we will be putting out much more information, calls to action, and ways that you can get involved.  To begin, won’t you please go to http://goddessbless.org and sign their petition?  And will you or your organization consider signing on to this letter of support?
love and rage,
Surgeon
For Immediate Release9/17/2011, Tucson AZ

September 7th, 2011 Yavapai County and Maricopa County Sherrifs raided the Sedona and Phoenix Goddess Temples and arrested eighteen people.  A SWAT Team descended on the two temples detaining practitioners at gunpoint.  To date thirty-three  people have been charged, and the temples are being investigated as brothels.  Temple practitioners were paraded in front of the waiting media, and their mug shots and legal names publicized.

Both Temples hold legal status as churches, and no minors, weapons, or drugs were found on the premises of either Temple.  Tracy Elise, the founder and High Priestess of both Temples is still in jail along with 7 other people and her bail is set at an astonishingly high half a million dollars.

These arrests came after six months of undercover operations by the Yavapai County and Maricopa County Police Departments.  It is the largest sex work related bust in Arizona since 2008, when the Desert Divas prostitution ring was busted, with over 100 people charged, including phone operators and photographers.  There were no minors found in that investigation either.

We believe that these arrests, and all other arrests of consenting adults engaged in healing or sexual practices equate to a modern day witch hunt.   In many cases, the money being spent by the police force to arrest, intimidate, and establish undercover sting operations is coming from large scale anti-trafficking campaigns intended to target child prostitution.  Instead, the money donated by a public horrified by images of young children in cages, and sensationalized stories of sexual slavery is diverted into operations like the so called “Operation Goddess Temple.”

In press conferences, Police spokesmen say that Temple practitioners were engaging in acts of prostitution under the guise of religion.  We say that the Arizona Police are using valuable funds, and unnecessary force to arrest consenting adults under the guise of protecting citizens and saving children.

Whether one believes in the validity of Tantra or sexual healing practices as a religion, it is not the charge of the government to legislate morality.  Sex is legal in this society.  Criminalizing prostitution, massage, and healing sexual practices bears all the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition, sodomy laws, and religious intolerance.

We demand the immediate release of all those arrested in affiliation with the Phoenix and Sedona Temples.  We demand an end to police raids for non-violent crimes.  We demand an end to the persecution of practitioners of sexual healing, and the decriminalization of prostitution.

To support the Goddess Temple directly, please visit http://goddessbless.org
To take action and support decriminalization, please visit http://swop-tucson.org

Sincerely,
SWOP-Tucson (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, Tucson chapter)

For further information, or to speak directly to a spokesperson from SWOP-Tucson for press or media, please email info@swop-tucson.org

change.org petition for a verified adult industry provider section

change.org is mobilizing 2 petitions: one to stop CL’s erotic svcs sec WORLDWIDE and one to go after Backpage.com ( take action by telling Village Voice Media it’s time to stop profiting from child sex trafficking now).  I CREATED THE PETITION AND IT IS LIVE!

please VOTE, TWEET, FACEBOOK!

www.change.org/petitions/view/demand_a_verified_adult_provider_section_to_stop_sex_trafficking_and_exploitation?te=npe

ARE YOU REALLY INTERESTED IN STANDING UP AGAINST PIMPS, PREVENTING EXPLOITATION OF MINORS and PREVENTING ANOTHER CRAIGSLIST KILLER TO PREY ON ADULT INDUSTRY WORKERS?

My name is Mariko Passion.  I am an adult industry worker of 13 years, over the age of 18 and I am not being forced or coerced to do any work with anyone or for anyone.  I am not being held against my well.  In other words: I am not a sex trafficking victim.  I am an advertiser on backpage.com and was a former erotic services provider on Craigslist.com. before the appearance of the Craigslist killer when things became more difficult to advertise.  I feel compelled to make this video to put a face to those that do this work and hope that I can urge you to TRULY TAKE A STAND to help those of us that are often victims of violence because we are pushed underground, forced to be ashamed and secretive about what we do and often feel that the police will not want to help us when we are victims of rape, robbery or as we saw in the Philip Markoff case: murder.

The SOLUTION to combating violence and exploitation in our industry is not to eliminate advertising sources.  Many adult providers who are NOT in human trafficking situations are also mothers, part time workers, students in college, artists, persons who would otherwise be homeless or stuck in domestic violence situations and many many other things.  Eliminating craigslist adult services and and moving onto eliminating ads in  backpage, where many of us have now advertise will hurt the last bastion of income revenue many of us.

I am proposing that advertising outlets that wish to run adult industry ads be required to create a VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION in their newspapers or websites.  This is very similar to the 2257 laws that the porn industry uses to combat claims of and actually stop the employment of underage performers in their videos.  It is also a system that is already in place by other more upscale adult provider websites like Eros.com

To advertise in this section MUST BE AFFORDABLE.  Every adult provider who comes into the advertising office to verify themselves is actually making a small contribution to STOPPING TRAFFICKING by supporting a simple verification system that helps to prevent exploitation by a 3rd party.  This system makes the adult voluntary workers and papers like LA Weekly, backpage, or others MORE responsible to the realities of possible exploitation that may exist in our work.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION will give verified adult providers ad space at a discounted rate that is competitive with craigslist/backpage rates per week about $35-45/week, which actually will create INDEPENDENCE from agencies or pimps that have more credit cards or capital to invest in full page buyouts of weekly papers, postcard littering campaigns on sidewalks or billboard trucks driving up and down streets.  THIS IS HOW A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION WILL TAKE A STAND AGAINST PIMPS AND AGENCIES.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION will ALSO be beneficial to the customers of such ads.  There will be no mistaking a A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER as a trafficked person or minor.  There will also be the added assurance for the client that the provider is only allowed to represent their own image in the ads that they run.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER verifies that they are over 18 with government issued ID, are not being held against their will, are not being forced to exchange services by a third party, are entering agreements with clientele from ads willingly, AND are using REAL pictures and representing their own advertising and business decisions as listed in any ads with said publication.  They must come into the media outlet office and sign a written agreement.

Information gathered from VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER will not contain any more information about the provider than their age and that they are not trafficked.  It shall not be used to gather information to be used against the adult providers.  NO questions in the verification process will be used to incriminate workers in any way.  They are simply verifying that they are over 18 and advertising on their own will.  It is a TRUE effort from media publications to help adult worker safety.   It is an effort to create a REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE to the strategies currently being used by the moral majority as the solution.

Kudos to COSWAS!

And our very own Tara was quoted!
From Salon:

Taiwan legalizes world’s oldest profession

Score one for sex workers: Activists in Taiwan emerged victorious Wednesday after waging a long battle to legalize prostitution in their country. Six months from now, the nation’s 600,000 working girls (and guys) will be free to ply their trade without fear of incarceration. “Now the client gets off free, but the prostitute gets punished, and that’s not fair,” sex worker spokesman Su Jun-pin told Reuters. Under the new regulations, it will be up to local governments to decide whether to relegate prostitution to specific districts or decriminalize it throughout the entire region.

What is especially remarkable about this decision is that it results from old-fashioned grass-roots organizing from groups such as Taipei’s Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters. This means a massive victory not only for prostitutes in Taiwan but also for activists around the world working for decriminalization. “This is telling about the global movement,” says Tara Sawyer, a Sex Workers Outreach Project board member. She compares the fight for decriminalization to the civil rights movement, saying that the Taiwan decision underscores the urgent need for the U.S. government “to listen to the people doing the work. We’re not doing that yet.”

Of course, it makes sense that groups working for decriminalization in this country have had less success than their Asian counterparts: In Taiwan, prostitution has only been prohibited for the past 11 years.
― Judy Berman

A Sex Worker-based Approach to Media

Though I know not everyone here is on the SWAN bandwagon, I do think they’re doing some good work.

Here are two news items from their feed about how they’re dealing with mainstream media, sex worker media and getting out their messages. Though these news items are vague on the how-to of it all, I like the concepts.

media sensitization seminar

sex worker training on community media

$pread Magazine Launches Issue 4.1 East Coast, West Coast Style

East Coast Launch – NYC

SpinSpinNYC, SWANK & SWOP-NYC, and $pread present…. $pread it, Spin It Dance Party.

WHEN: Thursday, May 8, 2008 – 10pm – 4am
WHERE: Upstairs @ The Leopard Lounge, 247 E. 5th Street at 2nd Ave., New York, NY
WHAT: Dance Party with Sexy Raffle, Lapdances, Go-Go Contest
COVER: Suggested donation $5

Music by DJ Nutritious, DJ As If, and DJ Fritz
Art by Michelle Talich & Cricket Alexander

West Coast Launch – SF

The Reverse Cowgirl launch party for $pread Magazine Issue 4.1 will take place in San Francisco on June 21, 2008. Mark your calendar, and stay tuned for more info as we line up an amazing roster of talent for the most kick-ass party the Bay Area’s ever seen!

For more info on both parties, stay tuned by visiting $pread Magazine.

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network on Blog Talk Radio

Here is the latest updated program listing. All shows available at www.xxbn.net www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast Times listed are Eastern time. All programing subject to change. All previous programs are archived, please check for great guests. Thank you to Liz Berlin of Rusted Root and The Naked Heroes for their music for our programs. Listener call number 646.200.3136

  [172657]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
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. We provide leadership and create space for sex workers and supporters to come together to advocate for human, labour and civil rights for all workers in the sex industry.
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [171963]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet pxrn performer, sex workers rights advocate
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/3/2008
6:30 PM
60 Minutes
  [172663]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Discussing the alleged “The Pimp Lobby” Maxine Doogan, Jill Brenneman and other guests..
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/4/2008
12:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com​ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.com​ht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights.   Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [172226]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Gracie Passette Gracie Passette is a sex worker, though no longer working directly with clients in the flesh; she now uses media to work with the issues of sexuality.   Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/5/2008
10:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173836]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network SerpentLibertine
SerpentLibertine is a veteran sex worker and activist with Sex Worker’s Outreach Project-Chicago. She has worked in many facets of the sex industry as a dominatrix, escort, masseuse, and madam, as well as behind the camera doing castin, camera, and sound on shoots. She is currently creating sex worker made videos and podcasts for her new project, Red Light District Chicago and helping organize the Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago in Summer of 2008. You can also visit her blog at http://www.sexpr Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/6/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173589]
XBN Swopeast Broadcast Network
Queen of the Sky the Most Famous Blog-Fired Flight Attendant”
Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/7/2008
4:30 PM
60 Minutes
  [171042]
XBN Special Guest Der Gregor
Der Gregor- FEMINISM UNMODIFIED Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/7/2008
11:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173109]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/8/2008
9:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173858]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
The Naked Heroes, time to be determined Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/10/2008
9:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173647]
TBD
TBD Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/22/2008
10:00 PM
60 Minutes

Twitter, iPhones Let Sex Workers Spread Their Gospel

By Regina Lynn at Wired

When the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal heated up headlines earlier this month, every media outlet in the country suddenly began scrambling to talk to a sex worker.

The downfall of Spitzer, the New York governor who resigned after his private sex life unexpectedly became public, generated an enormous amount of interest in the escort industry and in Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the woman he had been seeing.

But the whirlwind didn’t catch sex workers and activists lying down. They organized a media blitz through blogs, Tumblr, Twitter and shared Google Docs. They kept tabs on which reporters approached the topic with respect and which didn’t. And perhaps for the first time, they made their voices heard in mainstream venues like Fox News and CNN — organizations that cannot be dismissed as fringe or adults-only media.

More…

Live on Blog Talk Radio XBN: Sex Worker Rights Broadcast Network 5PM Eastern Saturday 3.29.08

XBN Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Please join XBN at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Listener Call in number 646.200.3136

Join sex workers and sex worker rights activists in media created and driven by us!

Upcoming Guests

Guest Carol Leigh! Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot Unrepentant Whore published by Last Gasp Carol Leigh,

3/31/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171865]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest to be determined

4/1/2008
8:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest to be determined

4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet porn performer, sex workers rights


Everyone 4/3/2008
9:30 PM
60 Minutes [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com
ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.comht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights. internet, jill brenneman XBN, Melissa Gira, sex work, sex workers, sex workers outreach project, swop, swopeast Politics Progressive
Mature 4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes

All previous shows are available for playback or download at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Previous Guests include:

Veronica Monet

Constance Sisk

Stacey from Desiree Alliance

Maxine Doogan

Amanda Brooks

And a live call in show after a Presentation by Jill Brenneman at William & Mary, this program hosted by Amanda Brooks, features many live calls from the presentation audience from the Brenneman presentation who stayed and joined XBN’s live broadcast which was being simulcast over the auditorium. This presentation was in response to the significant protest and backlash against the organizers and supporters of the Sex Worker’s Art Show Appearance at William & Mary and protests against the Sex Workers Art Show themselves. As the show demonstrates there is a lot of support for the Sex Workers Art Show at William and Mary.

Many outstanding guests are being scheduled, please watch for updates! If you would like to be a guest on this revolutionary project bringing sex workers voices to the media please contact www.swopeast.org

If you are a sex worker or sex worker rights musician and would like to make your music available to XBN, please contact us as we are in need of both theme music and would love to feature and credit sex worker and sex worker rights musicians.

XBN: Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Many Thanks to The Naked Heroes for letting us use their awesome music on XBN! Please check them out and support them!!! http://www.myspace.com/thenakedheroes

Add XBN: The SWOP East Broadcast Network to your blog or website by inserting this code. <a href=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast”><img id=”btn180×60″ border=”0″ alt=”Listen to swopeast on internet talk radio” src=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/img/180×60_wht.gif”/></a>

Shameless self promotion, Brenneman on Rock 102 WAQY

I confess. It’s shameless self promotion. But we need to be heard.

My interview on Rock 102 Springfield
Category: News and Politics

It’s edited, they misquote my role in SWOP, cut part of the interview out, add pieces to it and move things around, but it compared to other media events, this one they didn’t do a bad job with.. Brenneman on Rock 102 WAQY Springfield

I was able to get out key phrases like sex worker rights, SWOP, what sex worker rights were, how we could be victims of rape and how sex worker rights were part of social change. Bax and O’brien weren’t perfect, they each played their stereotypical roles and I and O’brien don’t know each other as he implies. But……….. Nonetheless I achieved what I felt was important. I never said I was co founder of SWOP. They misunderstood that.

 

Did the DC Madam get DC residents to rethink prostitution?

Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

###

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Madeleine Dash, Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), 
877-776-2004 x 2 swank@riseup.net

Audacia Ray, 718.554.1714
Sarah Bleviss, Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC),
swop.nyc@gmail.com
Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Desiree Alliance, http://www.BoundNotGagged.com


Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

New York, NY –  In the wake of former Governor Spitzer’s resignation, sex workers and human rights advocates remain concerned about the representation and future of “Kristen” and other sex workers, who do not have the legal and social privileges that will be afforded to Mr. Spitzer. The identity of the sex worker implicated in this case has already been made public, a situation mirroring many a sex worker’s worst nightmare.  “Kristen’s” exposure may entail not only bring her legal repercussions, but invasion of privacy, financial hardship and social opprobrium.

Rather than continuing to sensationalize Spitzer’s actions and those directly involved, we urge the press and the public to shift their focus to the legal climate under which sex workers operate, while respecting “Kristen’s” agency to have chosen sex work as a viable source of income.  “Everyone wants to know how high her rates were, all the salacious details, but the real issue at stake here is that the hypocrisy of criminalizing sex work has been exposed!  It’s a part of our society, of every society, and we need to take this opportunity to stop with the value judgments and start coming up with policies that respect the human dignity of all people, sex workers and all workers. ” says Dylan Wolfe of SWANK (Sex Workers Action New York).


Former Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law as well as other initiatives that stigmatize sex workers and their clientsIt is the stigma of sex work that leads many individuals like “Kristen” to keep their occupations a secret, creating further isolation and opportunities for exploitation. This same stigma compromises the safety and well-being of people like “Kristen” when their private lives become public knowledge.  Sex workers are then forced to work further underground, rendering them more vulnerable to abuse, while denying them access to the basic civic participation, health and social services available to other people. “Hopefully Mr. Spitzer’s unfortunate public decline will send a message to all like him who pass laws that endanger the safety of sex workers while indulging in the service themselves,” Sarah Bleviss of SWOP said, “Sex workers clearly provide them a very valuable service; it’s time for lawmakers to return the favor.”   Too little attention has been paid to what the repercussions of this case will be for those most directly concerned, sex workers, and more generally to the impact of laws and attitudes that marginalize them. It is time for a change. 

 

Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground. Often prostitution is wrongly conflated with trafficking and vice-versa. People are trafficked for many kinds of work, be it domestic labor, farm work or other jobs, and this kind of exploitation undoubtedly needs to be addressed. The majority of men, women and transgendered people working in sex work, however, are ‘normal’ members of society who have used their own intellectual agency to decide to make a living in a sexually-oriented way. Laws, like the Mann Act (against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex), are too often used for punishing sex workers and their clients rather than those who profit from their exploitation.

 


S
ex workers make a living in an industry with the potential for high risks and little by way of protection from abuse.
The stigma surrounding our work can be lethal at its most extreme: we are often the targets of notorious serial killers, like the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway who targeted prostitutes because he thought he “could kill as many of them as [he] wanted without getting caught.”  If sex work were decriminalized and legitimized as a form of paid labor like any other, or seen simply as an intimate exchange between consenting adults, the associated harms would be greatly diminished. Furthermore, sex workers could access their basic human rights and social services without fear of legal reprisal or personal upheaval. Eliot Spitzer has represented himself to the public as a law and order man, and ironically, has been in the vanguard of further criminalizing sex workers and clients. . . However, it’s a shame that so much time, energy, and tax payer resources are being spent to criminalize consensual sex between adults. It’s time to decriminalize prostitution.” says Sarah Blake of Prostitutes of New York (PONY). 

 

 

Incoming Governor Paterson and other law-makers need to create policies that actually reflect the realities of their own lives and those of their constituents, including sex workers, rather than the harmful legislation of morality, whereby private matters become public scandals.


 

# # # #

If only I would cooperate and what happens if I don’t.

It seems today I am evil.  No surprise this happens with some consistency and despite ever changing abolitionist feminists remarkably similar.  So today a few sporadic emails to SWOP East and myspace which reference my BnG post. Most of which is the usual rhetoric that I have heard many times. So I am responding to the troll named Whou indirectly, and to Jeffery Blumethal directly as his personal email contained a thinly veiled threat.

Dear Miss Brenneman

Miss Brenneman you are suffering from a mental illness that is not your fault. But you must realize the danger you cause to women and girls because of Stockholm Syndrome definition

This is the mental illness which you suffer. Again, you are not at fault for this. The Stockholm Syndrome (SS) is a psychological involuntary state in which victims of kidnapping or abuse begin to feel sympathy, emotional bonding, and solidarity for those who are abusing them or keeping them captive in oppressive situations.

The Stockholm Syndrome was named in 1973 by psychologist Nils Bejerot after the hostage victims of a Stockholm, Sweden robbery and six-day kidnapping resisted being rescued, defended their captors, and refused to testify against them. Two of the women hostages eventually became engaged to the captors.

When victims are under tremendous emotional and physical duress, they may begin to identify with their abusers or captors as a defensive mechanism. The victim develops a strategy of staying alive by keeping the captor happy and eventually sympathizes with the captor. Small acts of kindness on the part of the abuser increases the emotional bond.

Stockholm Syndrome is a common survival mechanism of

captured brides
battered women
physically and/or emotionally abused children
incest victims
prostitutes
cult members
concentration camp prisoners
prisoners of war
those in controlling and/or intimidating relationships
hijacked victims
hostages..

that is what which you are suffering. It is not you’re fault as I believe you are telling the truth about being tortured by pimps and tricks. That is what they do and what they like. But you are affected by this so severely that you are a danger. You can not keep writing because the media likes salacious stories and will talk to you. But because you suffer from acute Stockholm Syndrome you are now a recruiter for others to prostituted and tortured as you were. You may not realize it but you want others to tortured because you were and because it arouses you because it is how you learned to be loved. It has happened to many in the past so you can be forgiven but you can not continue talking publicly until after many years of therapy. For the safety of others I am telling you to stop as you can and will not be allowed to cause harm to thousands of women and girls for the sake of your unfortunate battle with Stockholm Syndrome. Raleigh, NC is not so hard to make the price too high for you to continue. Your illness is understandable as is your pain but it has turned you into a sexploitation recruiter making your torture porn and prostitution seem glamorous. Please stop yourself so that others do not have to help you get there.

Jeffery Blumenthal MSW

 

No Jeffery, I am not suffering Stockholm Syndrome and personally I find it annoying that you enclosed the definition in your letter as you apparently feel this would be a revelation to me. What impresses me is your effort to impose your clinical diagnosis of me in an effort to advance a political agenda. I don’t owe you or anyone a detailed response to an unfounded and baseless diagnosis. You do however leave openings for discussion.

I am not the perfect victim Jeffery. I am not your stereotype sex worker that either has to be saved from herself or rendered evil and a danger to society. I digress for a moment because your post brings to mind the Genesis song “Mama” but various posts all day have brought musical references to mind. Shrug. Back to topic. Yes, I have the classic history of childhood abuse that likely fills your stereotype. Yes, I was tortured. Yes I was a sex worker. So in your belief and that of others such as “Whou”, I have a duty to open my soul to the world. You create a dynamic in which I have a duty to re-live over and over the trauma I suffered in some of my experiences in sex work and that those should be public experiences to be debated for their veracity, for their effect on me, for their value in “warning others” and in the case of the neo abolitionist anti trafficking types of the Spitzer, Melissa Farley, Donna Hughes ilk, for value in using my experiences as the template for all sex workers. Veracity being determined by virtue of whether I am speaking from the abolitionist perspective. Effect on me as a cookie cutter mold to impose upon all sex workers. Duty as a mandated survivor to warn all those who may be at risk regardless of whether or not I continue to be torn apart in that process as by virtue of suffering I should become a martyr. The answer to that is no. My value as an activist, as a woman, as a human being, does not go up if I become a martyr for the cause. Feminism does not gain when women are destroyed for a macro level war to protect all women. And much to the likely surprise of many who oppose the idea of a survivor of sexual abuse, rape and torture, I am capable not only of finding healing without patronizing correspondence of a stranger but further, I am capable of being able to determine the propriety of my activism and of my life. As to your psych assessment of me. Remind me again. Who are you? We’ve never met……………… perhaps MSW type since you don’t know me, that means you don’t know me and thus you are projecting upon me your fantasies of victims of sexual violence and how they should respond.

This thing that you have Jeffery and others about my alleged recruiting of others into the sex industry. Anything to back up those assertions? Even my “pro prostitution, pro porn” friends and allies would likely advise you that I am not an outspoken proponent of sex work. I’m an advocate of sex worker human and labor rights and of harm reduction. That is a far cry from recruiting others into coerced participation in BDSM. Which for the record, neither I, nor any sex worker or sex worker rights activist that I have ever known has advocated coerced participation in sex work. We are actually strongly opposed to coercion. We do however do something as evil as say get together to send condoms to sex workers in Chile

Perhaps Jeffery, Whou, others,, you can’t get off on the fantasy of me advocating sex worker rights rather than hearing the story of my exploitation and thus I am not fulfilling your needs and given you obviously view me as a cookie cutter whore apparently if I can’t fulfill your expectations I better shut up and get out? It seems that I like my sex worker and sex worker rights allies am not some iconic idol, I’m just a woman, just an individual, one who happens to believe in human rights for sex workers despite my past making me the potential posterchild for the CATW magazine’s year end issue. Despite having been a sex worker, I can think for myself, choose to do so and advocate for others to have the same rights.

As far as the sublime threat about my speaking to the media and the use of where I live as part of the subliminal threat. Nice try but it’s been done. It’s on my myspace profile that I live in Raleigh. It isn’t exactly a secret. So Magnum MSW, Whou and others, you will have to find someone else to sell your pitch about being the perfect victim and the duties that go along with it. If I want to march to the beat of a drummer I can listen to Mick Fleetwood or Jim Dispirito. But it is never again going to be to the likes of Farley, Hughes or their true believers Blumenthal or someone as creative as to use the name Whou. Doesn’t Ric Flair have a copyright on that? No wait, I think Ric Flair is Wooooo,,

Tracy Quan on Spitzer

Tracy Quan discusses Spizter’s use of an escort service in the NY Times. Though she’s not at all fond of the Internet, agencies are much riskier than an indie — Internet or not.

Way to go, Today Show!

The Today Show interviewed a “high class call girl” who works at the Bunny Ranch (didn’t catch her name), and she offered a very upbeat, positive insight into how empowering it is to be a sex worker.   Kudos to the reporter who asked her interesting and engaging questions in a non-judgmental manner, too!    Granted, not many of us made a half a mil last year, and by virtue of that alone, she may not be representative of the majority of us, but I think it’s important to reinforce that we can be healthy, happy, powerful women.

Submit for Best Sex Writing 2008

An open call for submissions of personal essays and reporting for the 2009 edition of the Cleis Press series Best Sex Writing, which will hit stores in November 2008. For submission details, click here.

Sexies Awards

Here’s a contest for honoring the best in sex-positive journalism. The nominations are for 2007 and close on March 23, 2008. Self-nominations are allowed. The only catch is that the piece must have been published in print. Maybe next year they’ll add an online category.

Sex Work 2.0: On “Bound, Not Gagged” & Sex Work Tech Advocacy

Juhu Thukral, of the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, wrote this piece, Sex Work 2.0, for American Sexuality Magazine:

Like other groups who come together because of shared work and interests or out of shared political concerns, sex workers have created thriving online communities beyond those that relate directly to their work. Due to the ever decreasing cost of laptops and wireless access, along with cell phones that come equipped with fancy cameras and texting options, technology has empowered many sex workers to organize online. Sex workers are rallying around technology to create collective political voices, using a broad array of tools: the ubiquitous listservs that crowd everyone’s in-boxes, blogs, podcasts, texting, video, and MySpace pages…

These tools have helped breakdown some of the basic barriers to organizing that sex workers normally face. Not only is a great deal of sex work criminalized in most parts of the United States, sex work also carries a social stigma that makes it difficult for activists to simply meet and discuss common fears and concerns. The underground nature of the work lends itself to underground organizing. For example, the fear that a new member of an activist group is an undercover police officer is a real threat—it is almost impossible to engage in political organizing without outing yourself as a sex worker and admitting to have engaged in unlawful activity. Online organizing allows people to share information and “meet” without sharing their faces, their real names, or other identifying information.

Given this larger context in which sex worker advocacy is changing, what do you think about the potential for this blog (whose origins are highlighted in the piece) for social change for sex workers? To advance our human and labor rights? My hope in creating this space (which really, all I did was open a wordpress account after a phone call to Stacey, and then we invited some people to blog who invited more people to blog and comment) is that a sex workers’ group blog like this can accomplish political work on multiple levels: that we can be both supportive (for our community) and transformative (when it comes to our place in society).

Next week, Stacey and I will both be presenting on Bound, Not Gagged at Sex::Tech, and we’re looking for examples of how this blog and the community around it have been a success. From the Day to End Violence, to challenging Judge Deni, to our online press conference countering trafficking charges against Nevada brothels, to supporting the DC Madam, and calling out our good old friend Randall Tobias, I can think of a lot that we’ve accomplished since last spring. What else can we discuss? What lessons learned? What more can we all be doing?

Who Is The War on Sex Trafficking Serving?

Reason has just published a fantastic interview with Laura Agustin, jumping off from her new book Sex at the Margins:

reason: So there is an attempt to conflate the terms prostitution and trafficking?

Agustín: There is a definite effort to conflate the terms in a stream of feminism I call “fundamentalist feminism.” These feminists believe there is a single definition of Woman, and that sexual experience is key to a woman’s life, soul, self-definition. This particular group has tried to say that prostitution is not only by definition exploitation but is trafficking. It’s bizarre but they are maintaining that.

reason video on trafficking

A follow-up video is now up at the New York Times, asking, is the “war on trafficking” a war on women? Reason Senior Editor Kerry Howley points out what sex worker rights advocates have been saying about prostitution for decades: that we are not “selling our bodies,” that poverty drives prostitution, and that for many people, prostitution is one of very few options for escaping oppressive families, nations, governments.

What is authority?

A couple months ago a very popular “self-improvement” blogger wrote a post that mentioned prostitutes in Vegas. Although he knows it’s illegal in Vegas, he was under the impression (like most people) that the laws weren’t enforced much. He toyed with the idea of interviewing a prostitute and posting the interview on his blog. He was sure it would get a lot of Digg hits. And that’s the important thing.

I’m sure he wouldn’t have offered to pay for her time (What? Pay for anything with a sex worker? Doesn’t that incriminate you?), but would happily pick her brain for as long as it took him to run through his questions (most of which she’s probably tired of answering), just so he could get a lot of Digg hits and bring lots of traffic to his blog. Hopefully some of that traffic would click on his AdSense ads and affiliate links and bring him some money. That’s the really important thing.

This isn’t to pick on him specifically. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here at all. What made me stop and think is that he’s hailed as an “authority” on anything he writes about and would get quoted all over the Web. (He’s considered an “authority” on his own life and personal experiments. One day I also hope to be considered an expert on myself.) His one sex worker interview would make it onto all sorts of Web sites and blogs and be linked to ad-nausem. Because he’s an “authority.”

Bound, not Gagged, however, is clearly chopped liver.

Continue reading