adult industry

We Don’t Need Rescuing, Not Even By Organized Labor

A great article Labor Intensive: In Defense of Sex Work is an anonymous angry rant along the lines of ‘we sex workers are tired and we’re not going to take it anymore’! Its got some great analogies like this one in talking about how simulated violence in adult films isn’t real violence but how the response to a recent adult film performer is blamed for actual domestic violence acts she suffers; ‘We wouldn’t blame a stuntman, after all, for getting hit by a car in real life just because he sometimes gets hit by a car during work hours.’

When discussing our position in the current climate of extremist capitalism, they say ‘We understand that our work is negotiated in different, complex ways and in the context of the most oppressive economic system the world has ever known’. As a prostitute, I am proud to be associated with that statement.

Its good to know that some of us are well aware of our precarious position and demand to be fully enfranchised in the economy. However the authors’ critique of the broad based criticism we all receive for working in the oldest profession seems to not quit demonstrate how its up to the collective ‘us’ to grasp and then leverage the common economies matter to us as a means to organize ourselves. Oh well, I imagine we’ll get there someday.

I do love how the authors take on everything and every body. My favorite line is ‘We make this world turn, and we make this world cum. Respect us’. Lets make that a tag line or # for a good long while!

With all that said, it seems they’re waiting on the labor movement to organize us when in fact that’s not how organized labor works, at least not in Amerika. The authors ask ‘how about the labor movement stop ignoring the oldest profession, and start organizing us? That’s a fair question for those who haven’t spent any time with us in organized labor. It is often the misconception that labor happens like everything else happens to us. Its worth our time to learn about the history of organizing labor and our own sex workers rights struggles in addition to learning what it would take to organize the sex worker rights movement into organized labor.

carharts1

My experience in organizing sex industry workers and organizing with organized labor is that you have to show up and do it face to face. Its cannot be done over a blog. Organizing labor style means you have to show up for your own issues because you have issues. You have to be willing to show up and stand in solidarity with others who might be from different social/economic/race/gender/sexual orientation back grounds or who might be doing different types of sex worker than what you might consider…safe or politically correct….but who share your issues.

The authors also call for allies to be in solidarity with sexworkers ‘for union representation, free speech, improved working conditions and decriminalization’ but the fact is sex workers in general lack a significant amount of solidarity amongst ourselves in these areas too. Given the authors own feelings of ‘fear of reprisals’ if their identities were known for writing this article, I would say that solidarity has a long way to go within the sw rights movement. And given that solidarity is a prerequisite to unionizing; gaining access to our right to negotiate for our own labor and safe work conditions and decrim, we need to be finding a way to be in discussions with each other that would be productive towards these ends.

Having said that, I’m concerned about our ability to come together upon reading recently public critiques of sex worker rights activists by other sex worker rights activist. There is a great need for face to face space to create real solidarity amongst ourselves. Coming together ought to be prefaced with different types of trainings. Some of the much needed trainings would be labor specific like exercises to inform each other of the economy that matters to us. But before we get to that point, we need to get some violence de-escalation training. We could use some non violent communication training. We could use some respectful confrontation training and some conflict resolution training with the goal of standing in solidarity with each others work publicly, not to fortify the currently existing fiefdoms.

I love that the authors of this article are using the labor word, but writing it is no replacement for action. A good place to start to practice solidarity is to find other workers at your nearest labor rally who too are in struggle for their rights and join them.

And finally get some training! If we all had what it takes to change our status in this world, we’d not be in the situation we’re in so get some training-any training then make yourself and your skills available to your nearest sex worker, sex worker rights activist and sex worker rights based organization.

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Talking POINTS to OPPOSE SB 1388: Historic Change Proposed to California’s Prostitution LAW

This is a reprint from Erotic Service Providers Union site

California SB 1388 is two pronged failed approach:
It recriminalized customers of prostitutes with the purpose of creating a funding scheme from new high fines to pay for counseling services for minors involved in prostitution.

Where’s the evidence?

The author of this bill has yet to present any evidence that mandatory jail time and new high fines to be shared with non profits who provide counseling to minors and law enforcement has any positive effects on anybody. http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/topics/politics/2105-devoid-of-research-an-evaluation-of-human-trafficking-interventions

Indifferent to the existing human rights violation of criminalization

By bringing mandatory penalties onto customers of prostitutes, SB 1388 places the burden on us newly defined ‘performers’ to protect our customers by forcing us to work in more secluded spaces. Carrying or insisting on using condoms to protect ourselves will put additional risks on an already vulnerable population, not to mention the public health risk.
UN General Assembly. The protection of human rights in the context of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS): Report of the Secretary-General. Human Rights Council, 16th session. UN doc. no. A/HRC/16/69, 20 Dec. 2010.

Why legislate failed policy?

The author of SB 1388 has yet to show that the cost of mandatory jail time, in combination with the bounty incentives it creates for law enforcement to make arrests and prosecutions will be covered by the proposed high fines let alone cover the cost of counseling.

The authors of SB 1388 have ignored the already failed policy of San Francisco’s First Offender Prostitution Program administered by the District Attorney’s office that clearly shows that this very same fine scheme DOES NOT cover the cost of said ‘counseling’ let alone the cost of criminalization.
http://rightswork.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/John-Schools.Lovell.Jordan.7.12.pdf
MOU Between San Francisco Police Department/DA/SAGE
Management Audit of the San Francisco First Offender Prostitution Program

The authors of SB 1388 have ignored widely published studies that show that long term housing is the priority for youth in prostitution, not counseling. http://ann.sagepub.com/content/653/1/225.full.pdf+html


Why Does SB 1388 Get To Violate State Professional Standards?

Given that the California State Legislature has allowed non credentialed ‘peer counselors’ to provide counseling to youth, SB 1388 has yet to show how these unaccountable non profits avoid the pitfalls of unethical and ‘self- dealing’ actors from being allowed to use and further risk the most vulnerable for more harm? http://oaklandnorth.net/2013/12/06/juvenile-hall-in-oakland-plans-to-create-a-girls-camp-for-sexually-exploited-youth/comment-page-1
Ms. R’s testimony
California Senate Public Safety Committees’ Analysis of SB 1388
2013 VAWA pp101 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113s47enr/pdf/BILLS-113s47enr.pdf

Why do they get to rename us?

SB 1388 renames us prostitutes as ‘performers’ and our customers as ‘purchaser’. This renaming of our identities, our relationships and our work as ‘commercial sex acts’ without our permission is a human rights violation of the most egregious kind and is completely unacceptable!

ESPU

4/25/14

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Kink.com workers lost in the anarchist shuffle.

 

 

It was with great concern that the Archaist Book Fair hosted two  possibilities to talk about what’s going on at their host space, Kink.com.

 

One was the very generous Saturday night evening discussion over the withdrawal of one of the speakers, conflated Kink.com with Bank of America and deemed that un anarchist like.

And the other was the sex worker section on Sunday afternoon.

Having only attended the Sunday session for the last 15 minutes and hearing from those who attended the Saturday night event, there didn’t seem much discussion of the topic of how anarchy would benefit the workers at kink.com  Thinking about the workers and their present situation is on my mind. I would have liked to have effected the conversation towards the fate of the workers at Kink.com in light of the recent arrest of the owner, Pete and recent public complaints from former workers about his management practices.

 

I, like many of my fellow kink/sex/worker positive community  members can remember when in 2007, we all piled into city hall planning commission to show public support for kink.com’s right to buy the armory. It wasn’t so much I personally was standing up for Peter’s right to buy and occupy the armory but more of the right for a kink based business to occupy the armory.  Like many of my fellow kinksters, we knew that peter had his detractors then.   In hindsight, a key question that ought to have been asked and answered about if the workers had a collectively bargained contract to cover their labor and work conditions in place.

 

So it was of no surprise to read about recent complaints of the disrespectful management practices where he unilaterally changed a pay scale for webcam performers without negotiating with them first,  the lack of concern for injuries and questionable scene negotiating practices.  The former being a major value in our community.

 

At least one worker found out she didn’t have the skill set to take on unionization in a competitive adult work site to make the necessary changes.  Not many people do.  That skill set comes with training, support and determination.  Maggie Mayhem’s explicit indictment of the peter culture in the wake of  his arrest for cocaine and shooting off guns rings harsh in my ears.  I would say that any new approvals in city planning have to include a collectively bargained contract for the workers no matter what kind of business.

 

So I know I cannot be the only one who feels that our community should take up our part in being responsible for this situation that the kink.com workers are in and start the conversation with them about where to go now.   Where do they want to go now?  I think its really important to be available to listen to concerns as a community.

 

The criminal charges against Peter are not really of that concern as most of us have had problems with Johnny Law, but there’s a question of the what could happen to him and what state will the business be left in or more to the immediate, what state is the business in now as the workers depend on it, the kink community vouched for it, the city approved it, with the haters are nipping at our heels always.  There’s more on the line here besides Peter’s status.  He might be able to buy his way out of his legal situation but to what end?  To go back to business as usual?  Is that what the workers want?  Is that what the community who stood up for kink.com that day in 2007 wants?

 

I hope that part of the conversation can include looking at models of unionization that includes a cooperative component as depicted in this article.   Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-Op Model   Its about the United Steel Workers and co-op hybrids coming together to create some new possibilities in our new economy that might apply to a fairly new industry.

 

 

I know the Lusty Ladies have had experience with these institution and how they  might relate to Kink.com especially considering  Kink.com has some interests now with the LL.  But that’s a topic for another blog….

 

Maxine

Erotic Service Providers Union

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