Go Audacia Ray and Red Umbrella Project!!! The big news this week is that the NYPD has finally ended the policy of confiscating condoms from suspected sex workers to use as evidence! The change still leaves a loophole, however: they can still seize and use condoms as evidence in sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution cases.
There were several really great pieces this week deconstructing the trafficking conversation and calling for labor and human rights for sex workers: Georgina Orellano, with the Argentine Sex Workers Association, “is adamant that women who choose the sector to make a living should be given the same labour [sic] rights as everybody else.” Orellano is consistently brilliant at shutting down the interviewer’s hand-wringing attempts to make sex work into some kind of metaphysical violation; especially gratifying is her distinction between men who pay to have sex with kidnapped women (criminals), and the clients of sex workers.
Also satisfying: Anne Elizabeth Moore takes apart the racism and imperialism of the anti-trafficking movement and Christian “anti-trafficking” organizations (shady as always). Like many of us recently, she needs clarification about the concept of women “trafficking themselves.” THANK YOU FOR ASKING ABOUT THIS! Also: “Arguing that, in an ideal world, no woman would willingly sell sex, abolitionists aim to eliminate the industry entirely. Sex workers, when asked, note the absence of this illusory world.” High five!
Like Orellano and Moore, Jes Richardson over at Women’s News Network writes a post reiterating that sex work is work, i.e., a response to economic and social factors: “Lack of personal resources leads more people, both young and old, to seek opportunities they would never consider before if their needs were being met. Generational cycles of poverty can hide behind white picket fences as huge debt loads that are not sustainable for the debt-to-income ratio continue to exist.”
High heels united will never be defeated: We listed a Vice article about the Mexico City sex workers’ march last week, but Truth-Out goes into more depth about their new status as non-salaried workers here.
A group of sex workers in Namibia met with City Police Chief Abraham Kanime in a move toward challenging their legal status and gaining more rights. Kanime was less than helpful, but the group is undeterred.
In Jacobin, Tits and Sass’ own Charlotte Shane writes about the ways that sex workers are rendered invisible and negligible even as sex work itself becomes more high profile and easier to learn about. Addressing the ways that people like Katha Pollitt and Megan Murphy manage to negate sex worker voices by claiming that the vocal ones are the privileged minority, Shane points out, “In doing so, they replicate the same dynamic they are so quick to criticize and project onto clients of sex workers — namely, that sex workers are products and not people, dumb material rather than responsive human agents.”
Celine Bissette asks, “What does a representative sex worker look like?” You can’t tell cause we are everywhere. The sex work call is coming from inside the sex work house!
Sex workers in Australia’s Northern Territory are “cautiously optimistic” about the potential for change in legislation governing the sex industry; Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Business David Tollner thinks the industry has grown enough to warrant it.
Australian politician Giulia Jones, back from a tour of Sweden, France and Germany—the article helpfully notes that this trip cost tax payers $ 35,000—is now pushing for more exit strategies and anti-trafficking policies to aid sex workers. Will she involve actual sex workers in the planning of these policies?
An attorney pled guilty to raping massage parlor workers. “I don’t want to disparage the women in this case, but these were not legitimate massage parlors,” says the defense attorney. Oh. Okay. That makes everything completely acceptable, since we all know sex workers are unrapeable. Once you’ve consented to one man you’ve really consented to them all, right?
Salon posts another article about how sex workers are using the internet, “using twitter to tell their stories!” Y’all are so behind. Too bad Berlatsky didn’t wait a few more days to do more twitter-research, he could have cited some of our fantastic #notallclients tweets.
Pretty into this story from Halifax, a mixture of the very basic and the surprisingly new: among other things, the Chronicle Herald finds that sex workers use the internet to advertise, revealing photos may accompany ads, “it is not uncommon for a sex worker to get into the business because of an addiction, to support a family or a boyfriend, or just for the money,” and that some pimps are doing sex work themselves!
A zine by and for trans male sex workers is now available from Sex Workers Open University: Trans Rent Boys: Love don’t pay the rent
In yet another instance of police brutality and violence against sex workers, Hawaiian madam Marcia Arciero says she was pursued, threatened, and sexually assaulted by a federal agent who forced her to be his informant.
Remember the Superbowl trafficking panic? Some Indiana graduate students are worried about the Indy 500 and are taking steps to help trafficking victims with bars of soap labeled with hotline numbers. At least their definition of trafficking doesn’t allow for the phrase “trafficked themselves.”
Manhattan Digest interviews Hawk Kinkaid about Rentboy, his site for male sex workers.
Two councilmen in Long Beach are using the specter of trafficking to try to crack down on massage parlors, with the usual lack of distinction between trafficking and sex work.
Montreal police have decided to start treating sex workers as victims rather than criminals, a shuffling and reluctant move that still manages to be a step forward.