Donna Hughes: Have tattooes? You don’t deserve respect.

I was pretty taken aback at the condescension dripping from Donna Hughes’s opinion piece below that appeared in the Providence journal. How on earth someone who is clearly repulsed by “certain” women can be involved in any Women’s Studies program in any university is way beyond me.

01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Providence Journal
DONNA M. HUGHES

AFTER MY EXPERIENCE at the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, I believe Rhode Island is headed for a human rights disaster and nationwide political embarrassment. It is becoming apparent that the Senate is not going to pass a much-needed prostitution bill. Rhode Island will continue to have an expanding number of spa-brothels, prostitution of minors in clubs, and no law that will enable the police to stop it.

The hearing (on Senate bill 0596, to close the loophole allowing indoor prostitution) was a sordid circus, with pimps and prostitutes coming forward to oppose the legislation. Continue reading

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.

“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.

May 8th: Video Advocacy Training for Sex Worker Organizing & Advocacy

Via The Sex Workers Empowerment Project — a video advocacy training in partnership with WITNESS,  for sex worker rights’ advocates will be held on May 8th in New York City.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
(video from WITNESS training with sex worker advocates in Macedonia)

The Sex Workers Empowerment Project (SWEP) and $pread Magazine are working with WITNESS to put together a full-day training on video advocacy, specifically for sex worker organizing and advocacy. This training will provide participants with a range of effective strategies for using video in their human rights documentation and advocacy, including a basic overview of filming and video editing. The training focuses on three types of projects:

(1) Setting up a “cop watch” program: Includes effectively utilizing video to present to UN treaty bodies in order to pressure responsible parties to take action to stop abuse by police.

(2) Incorporating video in legislative advocacy: Includes streaming video on the internet as part of advocacy campaigns and presenting focused, action-oriented video to key decision makers.

(3) Story-telling documentary: using video as a grassroots educational tool or as a fundraising tool. Continue reading

Call for Applications: Speak Up! Media Training for the Empowered Sex Worker

Along with some former $pread Magazine staff members, I’m the co-founder of Sex Work Awareness, an organization that works toward the destigmatization of sex workers. Our work is partly focused on creating better information and resources about sex workers for the public and for journalists. Our online project Sex Work 101 is the tip of that iceberg. Sex Work 101 has been dormant for a while, but I’ve got some content for it now and will be updating it once a week. Last week I posted an answer to the question Does the average sex worker practice safe sex?

Public education is just one part of the work of Sex Work Awareness. We also aim to train sex workers to safely respond to media requests, craft a message, and make their own media products. To that end, we’ve created a workshop: Speak Up! Media Training for the Empowered Sex Worker (click to read more about it and download a PDF of the application form).

I’ve taught several versions of this workshop over the past few years, but I’ve never gotten the chance to teach a day-long version of it. On Saturday, April 18th, my co-facilitator Eliyanna Kaiser and I will be doing just that here in New York. The workshop will cover topics like when to say no to media, outness, crafting your message, interview techniques, and basic skills for creating text, video, and audio.

This is a day-long seminar in which meals will be provided. The workshop is limited to ten participants on the basis of a submitted application; each participant will receive a Flip camera and a $50 stipend. Only self-identified current and former sex workers are invited to apply, to ensure that all feel comfortable during the seminar. The workshop is lead by two English speakers, so participants must be fluent in English.

I know lots of people will be bummed that the workshop isn’t in (fill in place). We can’t offer to cover travel for anyone coming from outside NYC, but we have a limited amount of space to put people up if theydecide to shoulder travel costs. We are planning on traveling to other cities eventually, so if you are not in the New York City area but are interested in participating in a future workshop, please get in touch. We have limited time and resources, so if you truly want us to come to your city to do this workshop, your community needs to be invested in helping make it happen.

This workshop is financially made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Sex Blogger Calendar and the generous support of all our sponsors, especially Njoy. I know $20 for a calendar doesn’t seem like much (and now they’re actually on sale for $10 each), but it has made a huge difference for the ten sex workers and former sex workers who will be able to attend this workshop and get the training and support they need to seriously kick ass.

Deadline for applications is March 10th, and we’ll inform people of acceptance on March 17th. Please circulate this widely!

Tonight: $pread It, Spin It: Dance Party! Launch of $pread Magazine’s Issue 4.1

$pread It, Spin It: Dance Party! Launch of $pread Magazine’s Issue 4.1
*Sexy Raffle, Lapdances, Punk, Rock ‘n Roll, Disco, Soul, & Go-Go*

DJ As If! www.myspace.com/misterzan
DJ Fritz & Plushus www.myspace.com/plushus
DJ Nutritious www.djnutritious.com
Art by Michelle Talich http://www.michelletalich.com &
Cricket Alexander http://www.cricketalexander.com

brought to you by:

SpinSpinNYC

[http://www.spinspinnyc.com]
SWANK
[http://www.myspace.com/weareswank]
$pread
[http://www.spreadmagazine.org]

Date: Thursday, May 8th, 2008
Time: 10pm-4am
Location: The Leopard Lounge
85 2nd Ave @ 5th Street
East Village — New York, NY 10003
Subway: F/V to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor place, Q R W to 8th St. NYU
Cost: $5 (suggested)

Um, if you want to use my story….

Yesterday I posted a very sincere post about a conversation that I had with my mother. Later, Jessica at Jezebel posted this:

Karly Kirchner of sex-worker site Bound, Not Gagged recounts a similarly accepting response from her mom, but adds that she wants her mother to start reading her posts on the blog.

She goes on to quote Morgan Winters, whose bio at Utne Reader says:

Morgan Winters graduated from the University of Minnesota. He enjoys writing about media, food, and uncomfortable social situations—but never a combination of the three. With confidence and authority, Morgan does his best to convince his two children to listen to him. He rarely succeeds.

Wow. This guy sounds like an expert on the sex industry. Jezebel continues:

Perhaps those posts will lead Ms. Kirchner’s mother to a deeper understanding of the oldest profession and her daughter’s reasons for choosing it. But, says Morgan Winter on the Utne Reader‘s website, “There seems to be two basic motivations for writing about one’s tenure as a hooker, neither educational. The prostitute either wants to glorify or vilify the industry and its consumers. Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous. After all, not only are we talking about the oldest profession, we’re also trying to understand arguably the most complicated physiological aspect of nature—sex—through books about themes that, if authored by anybody other than former prostitutes, would fall under the ‘teen’ section in the local library.” Even with a more nuanced view of prostitution, I can’t imagine any mother would be particularly thrilled to discover that her daughter was a hooker. I got an awkwardly scolding phone call from my mother when I wrote about foreskins. I can’t even imagine what she’d say if I told her I touched them for a living!

I am sorry for (correction) Jessica that her family is so uncomfortable with the human body that she would be scolded, as an adult, for writing about a simple part of the male anatomy. It’s no wonder that Winters would simplify a sex worker’s desire to tell her own story as either glorifying or vilifying the industry. Of course. We are either rabid, angry victims who are shameful and resentful of our past, or we are deluded gold-diggers.

When Diane Sawyer and Brian Ross pull this kind of shit, I’m not surprised. But if gossip blogs want to be taken seriously, you may want to actually re-post material available in the wealth of writing available on the ‘net by actual sex workers, we are the ‘experts.’

And Mr. Winters, you may want to stick to writing about food and socially-awkward situations that you’ve actually experienced yourself. It’s sad that a writer from Utne, who gave $pread Magazine an award for best new publication in 2005 (or 2006?) a publication that we thought supported the voices of sex workers, would over-simplify and minimize the experience and writing of sex workers.

His quote really does summarize his own as well as Jessica’s posts:

Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous.