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Friday, July 20, 2012

How To Get Away With Rape

Hey there. Are you a middle (to upper) class White male? Do you own a suit that you can be photographed in? Are you a member of law enforcement? OH, and perhaps the most important piece of this equation- do you have access to prostitutes? Well then fella, if you're looking to get away with rape, you may be in luck! Just ask 27 year old Daniel Dana, former San Diego police officer. (Actually, you probably don't even need those first 3 criteria- just get a prostitute and you ought to be covered!)

In May 2011, Daniel Dana (aka piece of shit excuse for a human) RAPED a prostitute in his patrol car. Some articles refer to it as "coercion," but I see no need to soften the language. Here is a direct quote from LA Times

"He had been charged in May 2011 with coercing a 35-year-old prostitute into having sex with him in his patrol car by threatening to arrest her if she refused." he threatened a woman with arrest if she refused to put his penis inside of her. Around these parts, we call that RAPE. Interesting how the article never once uses the word "rape." I suppose "coercion" sounds nicer. Actually, a better explanation is that since this scumbag is/was a cop, he can get away with nearly anything.

The article in Mercury News had the good sense to label the incident as what it was: "forced." Still, they shy away from the "r-word," until they mention the felony that Dana was originally charged with; "rape under color of authority." The following is from that article, found here Mercury News

"A former San Diego police officer accused of forcing a prostitute to have sex has pleaded no contest to a lesser charge.

Dana originally was charged with felonies including rape under color of authority. Prosecutors claim he threatened to send a prostitute he knew to jail in May unless she had sex with him.
The woman said she was scared into having sex with him at a park.

Dana's lawyer argued they had consensual sex. Prosecutor Annette Irving says a plea deal was struck because of concerns about whether a jury would be able to agree that a prostitute had been raped."  


No, really, WHAT?! It's 2012, and yet there are still members of our society (also referred to as idiots) who do not understand this simple concept- ANYONE CAN BE RAPED. 

Try this fun exercise: Take the word "prostitute" (highlighted in red for your convenience) and replace it with another noun. Suggestions: married woman, male, transgendered individual, minority, husband, stripper, black woman, porn star. 

So, did you enjoy the exercise? Did some of those nouns make you more uncomfortable than others when placed into the sentence? Angrier than others? Well, my point is that ANYONE CAN BE RAPED. Yes...even whores. 

Oh, and that our legal system is truly pathetic. Fucking pathetic.

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!)