Red

After ten years as a stripper, Red quit with a bang, suing her longtime home club for sexual harassment, assault, and violating labor laws. Now a stay-at-home hooker and borderline dog hoarder, Red tries to balance running a street outreach project (strollpdx.org) with sex work and school to create a viable future outside the industry as an abortion provider and nurse practitioner working with low-income groups. Red loves dogs and hates men. Ask her about labor law any time you want!


The cast of Red Umbrella Diaries, used with permission.

The cast of “The Red Umbrella Diaries”. (Courtesy of Red Umbrella Project)

Week in Links has been on hiatus. It’s come back to you in a new form: Month in links! This is gonna be good, you’ll see.

In the meantime, momentous things have happened!

In August, despite protest from such well-educated and experienced sex workers and sex work researchers as Lena Dunham, Anne Hathaway, and Meryl Streep, Amnesty International voted to develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of sex work.  The move is based on international agreement among public health, HIV, and human rights organizations, from the WHO to the Lancet, UNAIDS, and beyond, but still faces opposition from the prohibitionist moral police.  Despite a year of highly visible police brutality and murders and protests against this brutality in the United States, prohibitionists continue to advocate for End Demand and other versions of criminalization that increase law enforcement power over sex workers.

Which is both very funny and very sad, because stories like this one, about police entrapping and raping sex workers, are only slightly less common in the news than stories of another police murder, and probably happen unreported with even greater regularity.

In the wake of the Amnesty vote, DC is contemplating decrim, Seattle is still pushing hard for End Demand (and Seattle SWOP is pushing back, here’s our own Maggie McMuffin talking about it); internationally organizations in South Africa are pushing for decriminalization as well, as are public health groups in Zimbabwe, while Vietnam officials say they need red light districts.

While the Amnesty vote encouraged LAMBDA legal to finally come out in support of decrim, gay male sex workers took a hit the very next week as the Feds and Homeland Security raided Rentboy.com. Unlike virtually every other raid on an escort site ever, this one was met with outrage and media commentary in support of Rentboy. With overblown commentary like “Is Rentboy the new Stonewall?” (Katherine Koster and Derek J Demeri speak for a lot of us when they respond with an emphatic “no) the history of raids on women escort sites and sex worker protests of that phenomenon was erased. Men, you know, have sexual agency and are able to decide what’s best for themselves, even as sex workers, while women’s sexual agency and ability to self determine must always be in doubt.  Did HuffPo post videos of sex workers affected by the seizure of MyRedbook?

So LAMBDA, what’s good? Will LGBT organizations support all sex workers, or just gay male ones? Where’s your support for Amber Batts, a woman who served essentially the same function as Rentboy for some Alaskan sex workers, and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for “trafficking”? Lily Burana has some opinions on the disparity in coverage, and she’s not alone.

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What a fantastic day! (image via Flick user purplesherbert)

What a fantastic day! (image via Flick user purplesherbert)

Season Two of True Detective maintains the original’s fixation on sex workers. I’m wary, but love me some Tim Riggins, so I’ll be watching!

Tits and Sass contributor Juniper Fitzgerald is the latest in a chorus of voices pointing out that the current trafficking hysteria is just history repeating itself.

Children from families in poverty are also people with agency, struggling to get by just like the rest of us, often exploited by the very social service organisations assumed to be helping them: this and other revelations at the link:

“It made me wonder how someone can go to school every day while coming down off methamphetamine, having been out doing sex work the night before – and never have that picked up by anyone at the school?”

Some of the participants told Ms Thorburn they had been abused by organisations set up to assist them, with claims of sexual exploitation and sexual assault. This resulted in them returning to the streets and shunning any further assistance.

More on that, and a little more.

File this one under grotesque abuses of power: Guards at the detention center on Nauru paid the asylum seeking female inmates for sex, circulated videos of the acts among themselves, and then claimed it was all square because prostitution is “legal in Australia.”

Bree Olson does have a point: when we’re outed, there’s nothing left for us but the sex industry. Don’t expect those feminists who talk about rescue to have your back—the silence will be deafening.

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Pinocchio, man! (Courtesy of Sylke Ibach)

Glenn Kessler is on a roll debunking the hysterical claims of prohibitionists, and this week he slams the “average age of entry into prostitution is 13” stat with four Pinocchios.

In the latest example of anti-trafficking laws destroying futures rather than saving lives, we have two Oregon teens, one of whom is expected to be sentenced to four years in federal prison, after which she can’t access FAFSA or expect most jobs to hire her.

So, if disabled men also pay for sexual services, what happens to them when paying for it becomes a crime?  Good question!

Last week’s episode of Carte Blanche, a South African reality show, introduced Gita November, site co-ordinator for South African sex work organization SWEAT, without any condemnation and in fact called her “inspirational.”

The production team behind 8 Minutes says they weren’t expecting the independent sex workers they got, which is still no excuse for how they treated them—and, as the article notes, they weren’t equipped to help trafficking victims either, so it’s just good all around that the show got cancelled.

Last week was the annual Red Umbrella March, which carries new urgency in Vancouver as Canadian workers face End Demand repercussions, although Vancouver police have stated they will not be enforcing the new law.

Faisal Riza, a queer sex worker in Indonesia, is doing harm reduction outreach and education among Indonesian sex workers. Although the climate in Jakarta is less oppressive and homophobic than in the past, it’s an ongoing struggle.

Sex workers from all over Europe, many representing hundreds of thousands of workers in unions, gathered in Lyon to lobby for decriminalization and against the End Demand model, which threatens their lives as well as their livelihoods. [READ MORE]

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headlesstopless

Vincent Musetto, writer of the greatest headline in New York Post history—HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR—died on Tuesday.

The fact that 225 Haitian women being forced to resort to transactional sex with UN peacekeepers to obtain food, medicine, and other needed items comes as a scandalous surprise makes me worry about the naivete of the public.

This week in strip club op-eds: Nick Kristof gave a budding young johnalist room in the New York Times to practice the art of centering a story about harm reduction workers on his perspective as a first-time visitor to Baltimore’s Block. Women can be johnalists, too, as yet another tourist report shows. This column, though, on a Florida strip club that’s training its staff in how to use a defibrillator, is some actual news you can use.

Multiple stupid articles about camming this week, with inflated claims about the power wielded and the income earned by cam models.  The first is essentially an extended ad for Cam Girlz, a documentary that looks like an infomercial for camming rather than any attempt at cinema verite.

The Stranger tries next, declaring: “Camming is not like any other form of sex work.”  No, of course not: no long shifts with sometimes huge, sometimes minimal payoff; no performance of emotional authenticity; no live interactions. Camming is totally different.  Right.

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Things fall apart in the Witcher brothel. (Screenshot from Witcher 3)

In this video game brothel, clients and workers become disembodied parts before they fuse together in a scene that manages to be amusing and nightmarish at the same time.

The top Honolulu prosecutor had to drop charges against the massage parlor workers who were arrested in a raid and then charged with sexual assault after the police couldn’t find enough evidence to charge them with prostitution. Elizabeth Nolan Brown shreds the whole incident and points out that, while charges are dropped, some of the women are still vulnerable to deportation.

Katie Hail-Jares calls out the Honolulu Police Department’s use of coercive tactics to “rescue” sex workers and discusses the multiple ways this policy is not only ineffective, but outright damaging.

A South African ex-sex worker and Sisonke activist discusses the economic circumstances that led to him going into sex work and the social stigma and violence South African male sex workers face.

Despite all the big talk about rescuing sex workers and helping people who want out of the industry, the Canadian sex work exit fund is too small to be of much use to anyone. More on that.

The Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK seems to be actually invested in helping HIV positive sex workers leave the industry! Unsurprisingly, THT actually works with sex worker support group SWISH.

A legislator in Tanzania takes the “If wishes were horses” approach to public health:

“It is unacceptable to find people engaged in commercial sex and then educating them on how to avoid contracting HIV. The only solution to addressing HIV prevalence is to prohibit prostitution,” Ms Ali said.

And on that note: two new studies are out examining why the attempts of other Indian states to replicate the success of Kolkata’s Sonagachi project—a “programme of HIV prevention through community mobilisation…intended to empower sex workers to tackle the social conditions which made them more vulnerable to HIV”—met with different results.

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