In response to this article Oscar Buzz: How to Survive a Plague, and the History of Sex Workers with ACT UP http://blogs.poz.com/melissaditmore/2013/01/oscar_buzz_how_to_su.html
I’ve had loads of a success in getting labor, political and LGBT political groups support for our agenda on the west coast. I recently got our local LGBT political club to pass a resolution calling on our state legislators to enact anti discrimination legislation on our behalf because one of my friend who was raped in her home was denied access to the state victim’s compensation fund because she and her assailant were association with a particular sw chat board. Last year I got several political groups to pass a resolution calling for our congressional members to removal of the anti prostitution oath from the international AIDS funding when it comes for renewal in 2013.
We can move our issues much easier on a policy level and have wider effect than just hunkering down in the access to HIV because we’re dirty little whores who need protection. This approach re-stigmatizes us same as it did/still does for members of the LGBT community despite gaining federal protections in housing, employment and education for those who are HIV positive under the American Disabilities Act which was one of the demands that the HIV community.
The value in learning about the ACT UP history is about learning about its tactics and its militancy not its specific message. Coalition building about HIV has not born out much capital or currency because we, sw rights activists, are asking others to stand up for our right to provide protected services and be acknowledged as the leaders in providing safe services. They don’t think we have any right to provide service and don’t want us in leadership because they’re afraid of us. Too, its counter productive to have Network of Sex Worker Projects http://www.nswp.org/news-story/nswp-response-pepfar-guidance-2012#.UQFMJHBHRNo.twitter
calling on the US government to acknowledge us prostitutes as key stakeholders in crafting HIV delivery policy and then demand that LGBT coalition build with us because we’re all dirty little whores which isn’t even born out in the documentation. There are particular populations within the prostitute nation like queer youth, transgender and people of color that are most likely to be termed by police as ‘no humans involved’ and face risk of violence including contracting HIV.
Too, long time established sex industry workers are increasingly facing the race to the bottom when long time customers who had been happy to receive protected services are now demanding unprotected services and pay lower rates for it on a daily basis. And yes we need to position everybody at the center of their own safety as being respected as priority #1 but nobody cares what color, our age or what gender we are as we’re ALL getting our asses kicked out here.
When the public hears that a bunch of craigslist hookers’ bodies are found in the next neighborhood over, they just shrug their shoulders with indifference, a form of violence. When the anti prostituionist/traffickers hear that we’re forced to give blow jobs to the same cop that arrests us and then trafficked us into their shame based sex negative diversion programs under the guise of delivering us service while they use our condoms as evidence of our crime of work, they all jump up and down with glee. They rejoices because they’re going to get to profit again off our denigrated state because we are after all just dirty little whores.
So what I’m saying is that the HIV angle isn’t working as a viable means in coalition building, accessing funding for HIV prevention isn’t working as a means to moving our rights based movement forward, so stop using it. I watched a youtube video recently about violence and made by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDyNGg8gXcM
They do a great job mapping out the problem and short term solution but fail to link to the larger fight for recognition of equal protection under the law or to the larger civil rights movement let alone our own prostitution rights movement.
So its on us, the prostitutes rights movement to come together to retool our rhetoric to become strategic in our actions to gain access to the halls of enfranchisement to finally get treated with the respect we deserve. Demanding anti discrimination protections and inclusive policies as a means for gaining access to equal protection is some of the low hanging fruit that’s waiting for us to pick it. We’d be better served by learning how the LGBT, Black Civil Rights movement and labor rights movement resists oppression instead of following in the failed foot steps of the women’s rights movement that bet it all and lost on the ‘safe and legal access to abortion’. Just take stock of where that movement is now.
It’s the 40th anniversary of Roe V Wade and legalized abortion in our nation has never been less legal and less accessible and less safe.
I’m visiting New York City again this winter and would love a chance to discuss these and other observations with activists.