Home The Week in Links The Week in Links–March 8th

The Week in Links–March 8th

photo by the African Sex Workers' Alliance
photo by the African Sex Workers’ Alliance

International Sex Workers’ Rights Day was this week, on March third, and it came with a whole slew of links. Maggie’s Toronto, The  Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, produced a press release for the occasion in which street workers demand full decriminalization of their lives.  Many sex workers honored the day by creating a hash tag on twitter, #whenantisattack, in which we dished about the worst things anti-prostitution activists have said and done–blogger Jemima, of It’s Just a Hobby, collected some of the best tweets. Commenting on this twitter activity, The Guardian  seems to have just gotten the memo about widespread whorephobia in feminism. International Sex Workers’ Rights day was founded in India in 20001, when the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based organization, sponsored a sex workers’ festival which had more than 25,000 attendees. Thus, it was about time for the day to be observed in the Indian state Mizoram for the first time, in its capital, Aizawl. On yet another continent, sex workers and human rights activists marched in Johannesburg on International Sex Workers’ Rights Day to protest the continued police abuse sex workers face and the criminal justice system’s failure to prosecute the perpetrators. Sex workers in the other four major South African cities will take to the streets today, for International Women’s Day, to make the point that the majority of  sex workers are women, and this police abuse should be recognized as a form of gender based violence. Sisonke, the only South African based organization by and for sex workers, also took the occasion to argue for decriminalization of prostitution in South Africa.

The Red Umbrella Project writing workshop’s literary magazine, Pros(e), will be free on Kindle all weekend. Jessie Nicole and I’s upcoming review of the volume is gushingly positive, so, please, snatch it up with our blessing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how the Swedish model works: Police in Stockholm were surprised on Monday to find that a man they had arrested for buying sex from a prostitute was the duty prosecutor to whom they were obliged to report the crime.

Bitch Magazine interviewed Margo St James, founder of COYOTE, the first US sex workers’ rights organization. The interviewer, Anne Gray Fischer, is writing a book called Bodies on the March: How Prostitutes Seized the 70s. I kinda wish she was already done writing the book so I could be reading it.

SF Weekly calls for accountability for racism within “alt” communities, citing porn mogul Joanna Angel’s use of yellowfacing in her latest porn movie and the queer community’s support for the blackface caricature of “Shirley P Liquor”. The magazine’s blog also covered local sex worker activist Siouxsie Q’s decision to resolve her conflict with Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass by changing the name of her podcast from “This American Whore” to “The Whorecast”.

The Advocate interviews ex-sex worker Andrew Cristi on his suicide-note-turned-novel, Peter Pandrew. He bashes Anne Hathaway and Lady Gaga mercilessly, which is reason enough for me to want to read his book.

Sex work paternalism alert: Forbes Magazine reports on how Amsterdam officials have decided to raise the legal age for prostitutes from 18 to 21 and to establish brothel “business hours” mirroring those of the hospitality industry. They’ll also be demanding that brothels draw up business plans for government review, and for migrant sex workers to be tested for ‘language competency’.

Despite citing sources that prove that the “12 is the average age for entry into sex trafficking” abolitionist statistic is false, The Oregonian’s Politifact Oregon’s Truth-o-meter still wishiwashily calls it “half true”. There’s also some suspicion that they lifted their work off of sex workers’ rights activist Emi Koyama’s research–Koyama writes about this issue and demolishes the 12 years old myth with finality in her blog.

An evangelical anti-prostitution organization recently sponsored a sock hop to help sex trafficking victims. That’s right, a sock hop. No, I don’t know what that is, either.

The Australian Women’s Weekly busts stereotypes about sex workers by profiling Nikki Cox,who is 42, married, and a brothel worker.

Tactical Tech have just completed a two and a half project working with two sex-worker collectives in India and Cambodia –the aforementioned Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) and the Women’s Network for Unity (WNU) – to strengthen their use of data and evidence for advocacy on violence against sex workers. The DMSC community surveyed up to 22,000 women sex-workers in West Bengal about violence they had experienced. The data–turned into helpful infographics– contradicted some of the organisation’s previous assumptions: showing, for example, that the police and babus (long term clients-turned-partners) were responsible for the highest proportion of the violence against sex workers.

Let’s all watch Beef Jerky and Lusty Day’s  “Every Ho I Know Says So”  again, in which sex workers tell their lovers and partners how they can best support them.

Molly Crabapple writes in Vice Magazine about the law that allows New York cops to arrest one for carrying condoms, using them as evidence of prostitution. She  outlines the danger it poses to sex workers and nonsexworkers, as well as the dangers many people face “walking while trans.” The Village Voice goes on to write about the bait and switch presented by the New York City Department of Health distributing free condoms en masse while the NYPD arrests people for carrying them.  Audacia Ray of the Red Umbrella Project and Sierra Baskin of the Sex Workers’ Project at the Urban Justice Center are quoted extensively in the story.

An opinion piece on the news site All Africa calls for the decriminalization of prostitution throughout southern Africa.

On the other hand, a recent opinion piece in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper calls sex workers “lazy people”, “underachievers” with “low self esteem” who “cannot think beyond their body parts.”

The Huffington Post UK hosts Jacqui Hunt’s witterings on how legalising prostitution is a terrible idea. I guess the Huffington Post thinks it’s “honoring both sides of the issue”, without taking into account the power imbalance between sex workers and their opposition which makes up the elephant in the room.

The 2013 San Francisco Sex Workers Film and Arts Festival has extended its deadline for submissions to March 15th. Surely you can produce a filmic masterpiece in a week?

More statistical confusion about sex trafficking, this time in Huntington Beach, Oregon.  The city council there wants to crack down on massage parlors offering extras. Police chief Kenneth Small has claimed that most of the women working at such rub down parlors are trafficked, yet he offered no information to back that assertion based on arrests and the type of crimes being committed, nor would the police department respond to calls for an interview on the subject.

An advocacy group called POWER, which represents prostitutes in Ottawa and Gatineau, calls for a moratorium on “john sweeps”, exposes police abuse of sex workers, and demands that the department pay more than lip service to working  in cooperation with them, especially given the recent trio of unsolved murders of local street workers.

Newsflash! Escorts use twitter as part of their business strategy. Really. Well, the Courier Mail was surprised.

COLLEGE SLUT DENS! I’m not entirely sure what this is, but hey, remember: “You should realise that you are just one of those ‘sluts’ hyping funny behaviour in the name of fitting in ‘cool’.  Well, don’t try to crucify me before am done with you yet. Partying and keeping Pulse cool is good.” On the same site, there’s a more coherent and entirely fascinating profile of Nairobi’s exclusive brothels, in which the trend is for workers to retain their middle class day jobs along with their jobs at the house. Don’t look for any objectivity here, though—the barely restrained moral panic here is clear, as the proprietor of one of the houses is called a ‘pimp’ throughout the article, while another house is dubbed a “swanky sex den.”

A street sex worker in Vancouver had to jump from a moving van to escape a violent assault. Police are looking for this new predator, in a case which reminds some uncomfortably of neighborhood serial killer Robert Pickton, who also targeted sex workers.


  1. “… the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.”

    “The Oregonian’s Politifact Oregon’s Truth-o-meter still wishiwashily calls it “half true”.”

    When you’re researching a claim like this, you look for two types of evidence: evidence that will support the claim, and evidence that will disprove the claim. In their search for evidence that would support the claim, Politifact contacted the author of the research from which the claim originated, an unnamed criminology professor, the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and a Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff. None of these people were able to offer support for the claim.

    However, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, a professor at the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, said that the claim was “statistically impossible”. In other words, she’s claiming to have evidence that disproves the claim. But Politifact made no effort to follow up on this, so we have no way of evaluating her statement that the claim is impossible.

    So PolitiFact made a strong effort to find evidence that would support the claim, but ignored evidence that might have refuted it. That’s biased, not wishiwashy.

  2. Indeed, you’re right. I’ll think about how to change the wording of my copy to reflect that. Did you look at Emi Koyama’s blog post with her research on the subject?

    • No. I just now googled it and I’ll read it later. I’m not trying to weigh in on whether the average age of entry is 12-14 years. I’m just pointing out that the process PolitiFact says it followed in evaluating the claim seems to be designed to avoid evidence that might undermine the claim.

    • Duh. I went straight to the Oregonian link and missed your link to Koyama’s blog post. I googled and read her original post from 2010. There’s a lot of similarity to the PolitiFact piece. And then I finally noticed and followed your link to her 2013 post.

      Assuming that Janie Har is a political reporter, sex work is probably well outside of anything she normally covers. The PolitiFact format requires her to make a public evaluation of politician’s statements. In fairness to her, that’s probably difficult when:
      1) she’s unfamiliar with the subject
      2) few experts are willing to say anything definite
      3) the subject is extremely controversial

      Of course, none of that excuses plagiarism, if indeed she plagiarized Koyama. And as someone who is supposedly providing a public fact-checking service, she has no excuse for not following up on Roe-Sepowitz’s “statistical impossibility” statement.

  3. I don’t know what a sock hop is, but I am in Chicago right now stripping, and there is a really fucking annoying group of born again Christians who are former sex workers, going around to the strip clubs trying to get us to leave and go to bible study with them, as well as holding prayers in the club. I tried hustling them the other day, not knowing who they were. They spoke to me like I was a mentally inept child unable to make my own decisions in life or accomplish anything, and said to me, “We know how it really is behind the scenes, it’s not all glamorous.” I really fucking hate them and think they are a profoundly stupid group of individuals who must have been so bad at hustling and organizing their own lives as sex workers, that they decided to quit and assume they know shit about the lives of all sex workers. I hate them SO much.

    • So sorry you have to deal with that. I remember this client who tried to get me to leave the business and convert me to Messianic Judaism, then harassed me over the phone with his dogma when I refused to see him and tolerate his preaching anymore. Luckily, as an escort, I only ever have to deal with one of these nuts at a time at work, assuming they get through my screening. Do you know what this ‘organization’ calls themselves or if they have a website?

      • I don’t have time for being involved with SWOP right now, though I am a fan.

        I talked to another dancer at work who had to deal with these born-agains at another club, and she thinks they’re from a group called Eve’s Angels. I went to the website (evesangels.org) and couldn’t find photos of the ones who I talked to, but the mission statement for the group sounds identical to what the people I tried to hustle were attempting to do. There is a part on the website that says, “No little girl says, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a stripper’.” Actually, did say that when I was little and still think it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

        • Ah, no worries, Caty. I was in SWOP-Chicago for a while and we planned on doing a counter-protest to a religious group that was gathering to protest the opening of a strip club on the far South Side. That’s why I brought that up.

          @Wendy: I detest that “no little girl ever says…” line. I wanted to be a ballerina but I am decidedly happier where I am now.

  4. What I worry about are websites that put put escorts and working girls at risk. Several so-called ‘review sites’ trash escorts and generate the wrath of unstable men who use their services.

    One dangerous one that is well known in Canada is http://www.cowboysdiary.info/wordpress. The man who hosts this site refers to these women as liars, scammers, thieves…and far worse.

    Put an end to hate sites like this and working girls will have a safer playing field.

  5. The link about racism in alt communities is worth the read.
    “One thing that makes it impossible to discuss racism in queer and kinky communities is that white liberals have crafted their own mythology of racism. Breach this mythology, and you can be dismissed as being “too P.C.” or “hysterical.” The mythology comes in two parts: First, racism is something that uneducated, poor people living in the South do. It’s segregated water fountains and Bull Conner turning the water hoses on black people, and comes from living in trailer parks and listening to too much country music.”
    So true!! And there’s a nasty regionalism and class-ism that plays into that attitude also. I don’t like to buy racist shit. If Burning Angel wants to respond with “lighten up”. I won’t buy it anymore. I don’t buy Illamasqua makeup anymore after their black face campaign and subsequent response. Think of the brutal double entendre held in the phrase “lighten up”.

    • Am I the only person who sees a weird contradiction between Chris Hall/SF Weekly on the one hand (rightly) attacking racism in alt and sex-positive communities on one hand, and on the other hand offering positive coverage to a white girl calling herself “Siouxie”?


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