Norma Jean Almodovar: The AGs vs. Backpage

Veteran sex worker rights activist Norma Jean Almodovar has written a passionate essay on the hypocrisy of the stance taken by 45 state attorneys general in demanding that Backpage discontinue all adult advertising, and I’m pleased to announce that she’s done me the honor of allowing me to publish it as a two-part guest blog on The Honest Courtesan:

Part One (September 16th, 2011)

Part Two (September 17th, 2011)

Both columns contain numerous links supporting Norma Jean’s position that if the “authorities” really want to protect “children” from sexual exploitation, that aim would be best served by forgetting about Backpage and cleaning up their own “disorderly house”.

Jill Brenneman Interviewed by Maggie McNeill

Regular readers of Bound, Not Gagged need no introduction to Jill Brenneman, a regular contributor to this blog with a unique perspective on sex worker rights.  You see, Jill is what many prohibitionists like to claim we all are:  a woman who was forced into prostitution in her teens by a brutal pimp.  But though she participated in the prohibitionist movement herself for several years (and really, who could blame her?) she was open-minded enough to see the truth and reason in the arguments for decriminalization and intellectually honest enough to be repulsed by the lies and misrepresentation rampant among the prohibitionists.  She thus became an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights, and the one person whose opinion on the “sex trafficking” issue I most respect.

After Jill commented extensively on my February 7th column Amanda Brooks suggested I interview her, and I thought that was a fantastic idea so I contacted Jill and she generously agreed.  The interview was conducted mostly via email on February 11th-13th and completed by telephone on the 13th, and though Jill suggested I edit it down I have done this as little as possible because I wanted her to be free to tell her story in her own words.  Jill has read over the completed interview twice and has approved it for presentation in The Honest Courtesan in four parts, from February 21st to February 24th.  I feel I must warn you that it is not light reading; the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  The interview is quite long, but Jill and I both feel that it’s important to show the ugly side of the world of prostitution as well as its attractive side; our opponents are liars, but we are not.  If we hide facts which might make us look bad we are no better than the prohibitionists, and the suppressed information would then become a weapon in their hands.  The truth shines light into dark places inhabited by filth who exploit women and Jill understands, as we hope most people will one day, that only decriminalization will grant free whores the power to help the law to uncover these monsters and liberate the girls they victimize.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Did you know women were involved in technology in the 1800’s? Ada Lovelace passed away in 1852, and was very instrumental in Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Most of us here on BnG and within the Sex Worker community in general are Female Identified, so I think it’s important that we recognize our amazingness!

As part of Ada Lovelace Day, I want to take a minute to share some of the amazing things Sex Workers have done with technology.

  • Some Sex Workers have day jobs in technology!
  • Sex Work has turned safer by our use of technology, for example our screening process has become much safer by use of email, cell phones, etc.
  • We’ve been adopting technology before the mainstream, think twitter, myspace, facebook, etc..
  • We are building blogs, websites, forums and discussion lists for our organizing.
  • Some of us are building our own Video’s, making movies, podcasts, etc.
  • We are finding new creative uses for twitter, etc.
  • One of our own has helped found their own Web 2.0 technology Company!
  • We have our very own Film and Art festival, where our own self-made videos have a chance to be seen by the world at large!

I’m sure there are many many things I’m forgetting, so please chime in below with links, stories and thoughts on the cool amazing things we are all doing! I haven’t given any names, or links to people, because of privacy concerns for those present.

AIDS 2008: Pre Conference Day 2

So I’ve learned a lot today! The AIDS conference will have 25,000 people there! I’m shocked, I had no idea it would be so big! Today we planned our strategies for the upcoming conferences, more on that soon! Otherwise it’s been really great working with , meeting and getting to know even more amazing people. Today for me was busy. 2 support calls, lots of planning for the week, and trying to finish off last minute print jobs for the conference. Somehow Dinner and I didn’t work out, I went to when and where I thought dinner was supposed to be and nobody was there! I found a little asian market and picked up some dumplings, which turned out to be kinda gross. But I ate, and that’s the important part. I’ve had some of the best soups of my life here however!

Sometimes people ask me why I’m involved in Sex Worker Rights. One of many reasons came to me again today, which revolves around my transgendered status.

I get on average 2 or 3 emails a month from my transgendered brothers and sisters memorializing another murdered transgendered person in the United States. While some of these people are not sex workers, many transgendered people are Sex Workers because when society labels you a freak, the job market gets amazingly small in a hurry! Yet, we want to earn a living, and pay for our food, a place to stay, and be fiscally solvent like everyone else. Sex Work is and should be a viable job option for transgendered people (and any other type of person).

The GLBT community is working on future transgendered rights, and ending the communal discrimination against us. While I help with and support that struggle, what I’m doing with sex workers now, is helping transgendered people with viable job options in the sex industry. We as transgendered people are respected better in this community than in many other communities.

If you are a transgendered sex worker and need support, I want to let you know that SWOP’s Chicago Chapter is offering a hotline to support transgender sex workers for general health and safety issues as it relates to the TS community, etc. To access this service dial 877-776-2004 option 3, then option 3, or if you are in the chicago area, dial 312-252-3880 then option 3.

Thank you for letting me share one of many reasons why I’m here doing what I do. Please feel free to comment below and share with us why you are involved in, or interested in Sex Workers, their communities and rights?

Tomorrow night we will be doing a live radio show on XXBN. You should definitely come talk with us on the show! Bring questions, talk to a real live transgendered person, or just listen to us talk about all the things we are doing here in Mexico City.

Want to Know Why We Blog?

Apparently it’s for the money…

…according to a poster defending Melissa Farley’s honor (and academic credentials) over at The Rebel Yell.

I loved the Yell piece because Farley tried to shut them up about reporting on us. What, can her research not withstand a little scrutiny? Where’s the insecurity coming from? And then an unnamed poster jumped in to castigate the Bound, not Gagged writers. They wonder “Could it be that they have financial rather than academic motivations?”

I wonder too. I thought this was a voluntary blog unsupported by advertising (except for a t-shirt). I guess that shirt’s raking in more bucks than suspected and I want my piece of it. So far, none of the elite inner circle of bloggers here have offered me any money and I’m feeling slighted. Since I’m currently completely unsupported by the pimp/prostitution/trafficking/stripper/porn lobby (the most powerful lobby in the US), it hurts me more than words can express to know that my colleagues here at BnG have decided to cut me out of all the dough they get by speaking up and sharing their views.

Damn!