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Sunday, July 15, 2012

How To Advocate For Sex Workers

There is a lot going on right now in the world of sex-worker advocacy, and I’ve been a lazy bum when it comes to updating this blog. I know, shame on me. I need a spanking. Anyways, here are a couple of important and current issues that I would like to highlight, which other brilliant writers have thankfully already tackled.

First, the good news:

Stella Marr, exposed as the liar and fraud that she is. Thank goodness, FINALLY!!! This is the same woman who wrote an article referring to me and a few other activists as “pimps.” That’s right, apparently I’m a pimp who trafficks and abuses sex workers. It was a great excuse to listen to Jay-Z all day. Don’t ever forget, “ladies is pimps too.” I won’t say any more than that, since Maggie McNeill has done a fantastic job of covering the issue. Tangled Web

Ok, now the bad news:

A 22 year old escort who goes by “Maya” was arrested this past week, and subjected to humiliation by law enforcement. I wish that I could say that I am surprised, but I am not. We see this all too often with sex workers and law enforcement, and it’s fucking sickening. I anxiously wait for the day when cops are no longer able to get away with murder (using this as a figure of speech, although I am sure there are many MANY incidences where it’s also the truth) just because they are cops. Why are so many cops assholes? Well, because they can be- simple as that. Why do we keep allowing this? Fear? Laziness? Lack of resources? All of the above?

You can read about Maya’s arrest in this interview from the Bay Guardian Maya Interview

Okay, now time for me to rant. I am the moderator of a closed Facebook group (closed, meaning that it’s not open to the public- one needs my permission to join) called Working Towards a Sex Positive World. The group has over 200 members, many of which are current/former sex workers, and we have lively and productive discussions every single day about issues relevant to sex worker’s rights. I’m proud to say that it has been a place where sex workers and allies have shared stories, resources, tips, and found support. I have met several of the members in person, and have developed lasting bonds within this community. Hell, I even found a partner!

Today, I watched as several of the group members bickered, which ended in a thread of 379 comments (and still going strong!), some of which were my own (of course, I can’t resist an intellectual debate). After this went on for a few hours, I realized what a waste of time this had been. I wrote “Hey everyone, as entertaining (and alarming) as this thread is- here's an idea. Let's all get off of facebook and go do something to help sex workers, rather than wasting time arguing. That sounds like a brilliant idea to me. What does everyone else think? Here are some possible ideas (insert ideas here, will write out below)  . I can try to dig up more ideas, I came up wtih these on the fly. Mostly because I am saddened to see so many intelligent individuals wasting so much time arguing in this group.

If you sit around whining/bickering/sharing links on Facebook/Twitter, you are not an activist. Thankfully, I know that I am not offending any of the group members by making that statement, because everyone who engaged in that ridiculous thread also does a lot for the sex work community. I still feel it important to make this point, perhaps for those who do not understand what “real” activism is. I have re-written the list in a more organized fashion, and urge others to add to it. These are just some ideas, a limited list that I came up with rather quickly. Please comment here to add to it, because I know there’s hundreds that I am missing. 

  • Start a blog. Write about sex worker's rights, and send it to as many people as you can. Get people talking. 
  • Find your local SWOP chapter, and volunteer. Donate some time and ideas. Perhaps help create a new workshop. 
  • Spread the word about sex worker-related charities, and donate if you have the means. (examples below)
  • Read about the Long Island serial killer, and donate towards the reward for his capture. Read more here- LI Serial Killer   Reach out to the family's of the victims, offer support. Educate others on the fact that just because someone in a sex worker does not make their life any less valuable.
  •  Another sex worker project- spread the word and donate if possible Fund License to Pimp Documentary 
  • Educate others on the difference between sex trafficking and sex work. These terms are conflated all of the time. Find an event to protest. Write a letter explaining the difference to an author who may not know better. 
  • Stay current on anti sex work trends, and PROTEST them. Examples- abolitionists seeking to get rid of the Backpage section of Village Voice. 
  • March in Slutwalk, speak out! 
  • Host a sex work friendly workshop, in which you educate others about safety tips, or any other number of relevant topics that may be helpful to sex workers 
  • Reach out to a sex worker who's been treated unfairly, such as Maya, who I mentioned above. Even just a short email can offer the empathy and kindness that can help somebody through a difficult time. 
  • If you are in the position to teach others, talk about sex worker issues in your class. Example- do you teach Psych of Gender? Human Sexuality? Sex worker's rights would fit into the curriculum- make others aware! 
  • Get involved with what is happening in California's porn industry- the condom mandate, the destruction of crazy Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation (just a couple of examples)
  • Go make a documentary that relates to sex worker activism
  • Support your local harm reduction clinics and sex worker-friendly testing facilities 
  • Go to your local strip club, throw some dollars down! (lol, had to put that in there!) 
  • Stop pirating pornography (ugh, I am also guilty of this, but it IS wrong!) Watch this PSA- FSC All-Star Anti-Piracy PSA 
ADD TO THIS LIST! Okay, that is all I could come up with tonight. I will keep adding to the list, feel free to send suggestions (AND TO DO SOME OF THESE THINGS!) 



  1. Ms. Page, you forgot to mention one very important piece in that list (at least in my opinion). That would would be to set up a meeting between your local congressperson (representative/senator) and discuss the aspect of the issue that is important to you. Get a group of people together, get a hard date, etc.

    I know this is something that I've (almost) managed to set up in the past, especially given the SOAP bullshit that I've posted before.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion- so important!!!!!!!

    BTW just to update everyone on License to Pimp- it is officially fully funded as of earlier this evening!!! The project raised 30k, a victory for the sex work community! I am looking forward to seeing the final product.