Dog Whistling for Whores “Changing Dominant Narratives on Sex Work”?
After 17 years of watching local, state, national and international laws passed recriminalizing us as sex traffickers, reclassifying us a felons eligible for long prison sentences with high fines and fees the Open Society Foundation is funding a two year grant proposal ‘changing the dominant narratives.’ Grantees are supposed to ‘demonstrate sex worker leadership or partnership on an equal footing in all phases of the project’ as per the eligibility criteria requirement. It certainly wasn’t a sex worker who dreamed up this grant.
The dominant narratives originally came out of a American sex negative shame based think tank! The dominant narrative was then legislated into law by an American White House and a United Nations which sits on American soil. The dominant narrative became fake news thanks to the American media who never once questioned the fake research it quoted over and over again. That dominant narrative and its policies spread across the globe while Open Society and the rest of society sat by and watched for years but now they want European whores to change the narrative.
It’s like Open Society is blind to the fact that everyone’s economic circumstances have been so negatively impacted by all the different forms of criminalization. Sex worker leaders are supposed to transcend all that and be equal to non sex workers? Be in partnership as leaders? How do sex workers get to be leaders in the first place? Like we’re supposed to organically get into leadership and then groups like OS decide how to use our capital to do what? Change the dominant narrative? Why doesn’t OS just hire a mediawhore and advertising firm to craft the new narrative, and perhaps consult a worker led focus group to design it? Accountability and open participation for prostitutes requires special considerations since our civic, economic and cultural lives are not on par with those who are not criminalized. I’m wondering who OS consulted with to dream up this grant.
We’ve been fighting back against the police state with little help from Open Society or other groups for decades, fighting from the trenches using our meager earnings from prostitution all this time. Our leaders lose momentum when we have to choose between financial survival or advocacy. Even Margo St. James was forced to abdicate the political and social capital she helped gain for us because she could no longer afford to fund it out of her own pocket. $50,000 for two years to overseas groups will not change our debilitating circumstance here in America where the dominant narrative started or anywhere else.
I am after all highly motivated since I am a criminalized prostitute. Changing the laws and the discourse has not been that hard once recourses have been brought to bare. What has proven way more challenging is how to eat, how to pay and maintain housing and other basic necessities. I have to decide everyday if I have enough uncompensated labor available continue to meet with decision makers, educate media, and empower other whores like me to speak out to keep the momentum moving forward. Minute by minute, I have to decide if I can spend the money on transportation to make a meeting that will fortify our allies or inspire a sister to take action or food. OS should also just cut a check every sexworker leader on the planet for $100,000 in cash just to demonstrate its commitment partnership for starters.
OS grant leaves out American prostitutes!
OS’s recent video (https://twitter.com/opensociety/status/870709923587305473), on International Whore’s Day and how criminalization is a barrier to accessing health care is the agenda of the HIV lobby who too has been slow get to involved in challenging all the false and misleading information created by the anti prostitution lobby that created the anti trafficking lobby and subsequent narrative. The access to health care narrative has only led to re stigmatizing us as dirty little whores in contrast to OS’s grant offer to predominantly white European countries who already have universal healthcare! Restricting financial support to only these counties will lead to the usual infighting pits: intersectionality enough on sexual orientation, race, gender, class against un and under paid whores who are forced to be ‘privileged’ and demagogue themselves to fulfill grant requirements instead of engaging the long term solidarity that has to take place to meet the challenges long after the grant runs out.
The whorenation deserves more and must demand more and not settle for this continued token approach from billion dollar foundations. The whorenation should boycott this application process altogether and not act in desperation. We’ve been here a long and time and we’re going to be here after their money runs out. Foundations should speak to us personally so they can get into alignment with who we really are and avail themselves to more realistic grant proposals.