by Furry Girl

05.28.10

Throughout my life, I have repeatedly had my beliefs and politics put to the test, which tends to end in me doing this thing that terrifies most people: bridge-burning.  Here are three of those stories - most notably, why I refused to speak at last weekend's Sex 2.0 conference due of the involvement of Carnal Nation, and why their presence made event an unsafe spaces for sex workers.  Bear with me - I know this is a frighteningly long post, and it's about my personal experiences as well as just the main controversial issue.

Years ago, I stood in a friend's kitchen on my cell phone, staring intently at his spice rack in disbelief.  I'd just found out that someone I'd considered a trusted friend committed a horrible violation against another person. Later, I burst into tears outside on the street, feeling so sick and pissed off.  Most of this man's friends stood by him.  They made excuses.  They told outright lies.  They came up with explanations about why what he did wasn't actually that bad - if he had done it at all - and why him being such a "good person" basically negated what he might have done anyway.  A man who was very popular in his social circle victimized a lesser-known person, and I was one of the only voices publicly standing up against him.  One of his defenders was perplexed by my anger.  It didn't happen to me.  Someone else continued to live in fear and torment, so why did I care so much?  I was given the choice between many personal friendships, and the political/ethical beliefs I have espoused for years about standing up against those who take advantage of others.  It was theory versus reality.  I made the right choices.  And I lost friends over it.

Last year, a guy in the San Francisco nerd scene posted a "humorous" guide on his blog about how to drug and date rape women.  I Twittered angrily about it.  I asked people to confront him in person at the monthly event he organizes.  I hoped he'd be kicked out of his scene for being such a blatant misogynist.  Nothing happened.  Months later, I brought it up again, and some people who are friends with both myself and Mr. Rapejokes stopped following me on Twitter immediately.  So, given the choice, a sect of the San Francisco nerd world stood by someone who thinks the idea of raping drugged women is hilarious.  I bluntly forced a mutual friend to pick between us, and she picked Mr. Rapejokes and dismissed the topic as "drama".  I was the one who lost friends over what he blogged, not him.  Theory versus reality, and again, I made the right choice and I'm glad I spoke out.

Last week, as my Twitter followers and many others are already aware of, I boycotted the third Sex 2.0 Conference.  I'd attended the first two Sex 2.0 conferences, loved them, and spoke on two panels at the previous one.  I was scheduled to be a speaker this year on a panel about sex work, and I pulled out days before the conference because I refuse to participate in an event that is not a safe space for sex workers.  I've been a sex worker for 8 years, and in case it needs mentioning, I'm big on the idea of places where we can chill out and talk about our lives and our work without dealing with verbal or even physical attacks from those who don't look kindly on us. Real safe spaces for sex workers matter to me.  Sex 2.0 used to be one of those spaces.

Sex 2.0 stopped being a safe space for sex workers when it welcomed in Carnal Nation, an online media company that caters to the sex-positive community.  You see, a while ago, a stalker popped up offering cash rewards for anyone to out/stalk/harass sex workers at their homes.  Carnal Nation defended endangering the lives of sex workers as important "free speech", giving promotion to the stalker and belittling and mocking the women being stalked.  Because of this stalker, people were, and still are, genuinely scared for their safety.

Whatever that official or unofficial connection was, Carnal Nation was allowed by Sex 2.0 organizers to be present at the conference in spite of the criticism of many people.  They could have picked the concerns of sex workers and our allies over a bit of publicity for the conference - barring Carnal Nation from covering the conference - but the organizers picked publicity.  The consolation prize was that if anyone wanted to talk about why they resent Carnal Nation for endangering the lives of sex workers, they were allowed to be interviewed about it. Yeah, I'd love to give Carnal Nation free content for their web site, that's exactly the aim of my boycott.

One of the defenses of Carnal Nation's presence at Sex 2.0 is that no one had to be interviewed - it was just a media outlet that you could talk to.  I've never said I was opposed to Carnal Nation's involvement because I thought they'd force all attendees at gunpoint to give interviews, the point is that Carnal Nation was allowed in the door at all.

What if Carnal Nation was a company known for mocking gay-bashing and dismissing groups that advocate violence against queers as "important freedom of speech"? I have no doubt that such a media outlet would have been barred from Sex 2.0.  Sex workers, however, are apparently not a vulnerable minority that deserves to come together in a space free of media companies that think our safety makes for nothing more than an amusing libertarian argument.  Well, sorry, Carnal Nation, but the women being stalked are not abstract philosophical constructs.  Two of them are my friends - not debate fodder about the importance of yelling fire in a crowded theater.

As a scheduled speaker, I felt as though refusing to attend was the biggest stink I could make as just one person.  (I got a refund for my Sex 2.0 ticket and donated that money to the Desiree Alliance conference - a sex worker event going on this July in Las Vegas.)  This did get people talking: online, on the Sex 2.0 email discussion list, and at the conference itself - both in sessions and unofficially.  I wish I had something prepared for public dissemination last week, however, I've been mulling over exactly what to blog and gathering input from others.  I hope this full explanation makes more sense of the issue to those of you not already familiar with what happened.

I won't be linking to the exact article because of its menacing content, and I ask that if you comment about this issue, you don't link the article, either.  I ask that you not name or link to the web site offering cash for people to out/harass sex workers.  I ask that you do not state the names of the women who are targeted by the stalker's web site without their permission.  Basically, be the opposite of Carnal Nation - be respectful and responsible.  When and if Carnal Nation posts a defense of itself on its own web site, I hope you will ignore it, rather than pouring your energy into their comments section and giving them traffic.

John Pettitt, owner of Carnal Nation, wrote in his short article about the controversy,

While we regard [stalker] as repugnant CarnalNation believes in the right to free expression, if Larry Flynt can offer a bounty for cheating Republican politicians it's equally defensible for somebody to pay for information on sex workers. Neither is a morally defensible position but morals are personal and free speech transcends personal morals. It comes down to a simple truth It's the unpopular speech that needs protection.

In the spring of 2010 CarnalNation will begin letting our users publish their own content in personal blogs. One of the reasons we decided to provide this service is the fact that a well orchestrated mob can cause a service like blogger to remove content they don't like by flagging it for terms of service violation. We won't do that. In fact if it's legal (that is a court hasn't told us to remove it) it will stay up no matter how much we disagree with it. That doesn't mean we won't be critical but it does mean we can only disagree with attempts to silence [stalker].

So, according to Carnal Nation, the most important thing in this situation was that stalkers need "protection" to harass sex workers, because a stalker's "free speech" rights trump safety concerns from a highly vulnerable population that is regularly attacked, raped, and murdered?  Further, that the stalker is the real victim in the situation because people had been trying to get the stalker's blog taken offline?  Of course, John Pettitt tried to cover his ass by saying the site is "repugnant", but he still still gave it tons of free publicity and defended how important it is that we stand up for "unpopular speech", aka, harassing/outing sex workers.  Having the stalker promoted and legitimized on a well-known "sex-positive" web site was done, in my opinion, simply to get a lot of comments and traffic.

And comments there were!  In a section a mile long condemning and debating John Pettitt, sex-positivity super-heroes and sex workers including Monica Shores of $pread MagazineHeather Corinna, Tasty Trixie, Kat of Kat's Stories, Mistress Matisse, Melissa Gira, Sarah Sloane, Annie Sprinkle, Jill Brenneman of SWOP East, and Sadie Lune spoke out against this irresponsible and dangerous behavior from Carnal Nation - and that's just on Carnal Nation's own web site.  Much more has been said elsewhere.

Carnal Nation has proven that they are happy to cover sex workers as titillating new items, but will quickly kick us in the teeth when we're down.  (Hey, that sounds exactly like the hostile mainstream media!)

Speaking of using sex workers to make a profit, former writer for Carnal Nation, and $pread Magazine editor, Monica Shores, has been involved in a multi-month battle trying to get paid for articles she'd written for the company in the past.  She believes Carnal Nation is refusing to pay her because she's criticized the company, and as of now, has still not be paid for work she did months ago.  Whether or not she ever will ever be paid still remains to be seen. [Update on 6/15: Monica has finally been paid.  But, I've heard from another sex worker and former Carnal Nation writer who is owed money by the company.  It's an interesting trend.  Are there any more people out there who've worked for Carnal Nation and not been paid as promised?]

In speaking out on the issue of Carnal Nation at Sex 2.0, I lost friends.  I made sure I'll never be welcome in the Seattle kink community.  I even received a not-too-thinly-veiled threat against myself if I continue to speak out against Carnal Nation. But you know what really fails to motivate me to shut up about my concern for creating safe spaces for sex workers?  It's threats to my personal safety.

I hope that this whole mess will allow more people to take a moment to think about what it really means to create safe spaces for sex workers.  You would think it wouldn't be that hard for supposed allies to grasp the basics like, "Don't allow in companies that defend violence against us", but apparently, it is.  This was an instance where I felt the need to point at one conference as the perfect example of how not to make an event safe and welcoming for sex workers.  This is a bigger fight than just Carnal Nation, so while I do hate to give them so much attention, and will no doubt be called a hypocrite for doing so, I also want my community to know their true face, and to be on the lookout for more wolves in sheep's clothing.

I feel like an activist cliche to write profusely about a problem, but offer no concrete solution.  I hope all sex-positive people can talk about ways to make more spaces welcoming and safe for sex workers, because it's not just about one offensive web site or one stalker.  It's about living in a culture that has no regard for our safety, our human rights, our dignity, and our lives - and trying to change that culture, bit by bit.  My little bit to add right now is publicly calling out Carnal Nation and hoping that in the future, they will be banned from spaces that are supposedly safe for sex workers.

Conferences are about like-minded people getting together, talking about common interests, meeting old friends, making new ones, and that buzzword that's everywhere now: networking.  In an age where people treat "networking" like it's the only currency that will ever matter, we get nervous about speaking out on controversial issues, even when we know something is wrong.  We don't want to lose a friend, a blogroll link, an ability to use a connection to ascend social or career ladders.  So, what does "networking" mean to you?  Does it include overlooking things people do that are dangerous or abusive, or allowing people to defend those who are dangerous and abusive?  Will you keep your mouth shut so as to not come across too angry, oversensitive, and socially ungraceful?

I'm not afraid to do battle about the issues that matter to me - and every time I do so, I know I'll lose friends and burn bridges.  I do it anyway.

I don't even know what a fucking bridge looks like any more and how easy it must be to have a world filled with them.  But after a lifetime of being a loud-mouthed cunt, I'm a damn strong swimmer.

* * *

(You can read Sequoia Redd's blog post for her perspective on this issue.)





31 Comments

  1. I thought for sure that hate speech is not a protected form of speech.

    Comment by Roxxie — May 28, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  2. Roxxie: All is null and void with sex workers. Rape is also supposed to be illegal, but as a judge in one case (in Oakland?) recently declared, it is impossible to rape a sex worker.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 28, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  3. Don't worry about not being welcome in the Seattle kink community as I'm pretty sure not every kinky person in Seattle is in that community anyway. :)

    Networking for sex workers at events like DA is SO much more important than career-climbing. It's about not being alone, trading wisdom and supporting each other. Because of networking I've tried to help others when they need and others have certainly helped me when I've needed it. "Networking" for us is quite a different thing than in corporate America. Which is why we need safe spaces to do it in -- as you've taken pains to point out.

    Opening eyes is part of the solution because ultimately that's what changes behavior. And sometimes there is no absolute solution because life isn't a movie. You've offered partial solutions for others to follow: speak up when something offends you (like supporting behavior that endangers others) and don't support companies whose two-faced policies encourage dangerous behavior. It's a good place to start.

    XX

    PS: As for Mr. Rapejokes...if people want to be friends with him, I guess they shouldn't be surprised when it happens to them too. Ugh. How revolting.

    Comment by Amanda — May 28, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  4. You know, I recall just seeing a Law & Order SVU about raping a sex worker, a non-SVU cop made a crack that you couldn't rape a prostitute, it was theft of services instead...

    Remind me, why aren't police working to unionize and/or standardize and/or regulate prostitution? Clean up the crime, clean up the abuse, make health regulations standard... It really is the only solution I see here. Hell, you could even tax that way.

    Comment by lisafunone1 — May 28, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  5. See, this is why I read your blog. I found you via my partner's subscription to Cocksexual, and stayed for the awesome rants.

    This is exactly right. You've hit the nail on the head, too, that they thrive on the publicity. This shit really sucks, and I'm glad you're able to so articulately call it out.

    Comment by Aria Stewart — May 28, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  6. I was upset and confused by the attitude of the conference to your concerns and what you'd said. I'm so sorry that it seems each time you speak up, stand up for what is really, minimum standards for human engagement, you end up with the backlash. I did post on the thread for Sex 2.0 but I didn't see it ever get published. Even had I managed to travel overseas to go to the conference, with the stuff that surfaced at that point I would not have been able to bear to go, not with the community intended being blatantly ignored. I love your attitude regarding bridges and swimming.

    I'd love to run a sex positive, feminist conference here in Perth, WA - I was inspired by what I thought Sex 2.0 to be... and I still want to do the event, but in part this is because Sex 2.0 really disappointed me. I might blatantly be a feminist, but I don't hold to several popular views about issues I have no experience within - such as women who are sex workers. Certainly I don't for a second believe that they're all either 'victims' or 'oppression colluders' etc.

    I'm glad you posted about this and talked about what had happened - it hadn't crossed my blogfeeds prior to your speaking up, and I was ignorant of the circumstances. That said, everything the people from CN said, didn't quite ring true/genuine and I was already unsure what I felt about their involvement.

    I appreciate what it takes to continually be that loud voice, how much energy and commitment is involved. I sincerely admire it in you even as I keep working toward it myself.

    Comment by mynxii — May 28, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  7. mynxii,

    Wow! I'm in Darwin, NT right now.

    XX

    Comment by Amanda — May 28, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

  8. Amanda: thanks for the kind words. As for kink, I've always been more of a play-at-home girl anyway, but I did still uninvite myself to any local events I could ever want to attend in the future. Oh well.

    Lisa: there are a lot of different efforts around the world aimed at legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution (which are two different things). Check out http://deepthroated.wordpress.com That's probably a good place to start for more on general issues like that.

    Aria: Thank you.

    Mynxii: You know, all it takes is a few people getting together and deciding to organize a conference/meetup/event, and you can get a ball rolling. The second Sex 2.0 conference, which had nearly 200 attendees, was organized mostly by just one lovely hard-working guy, and an email list of people offering ideas and picking up volunteering slots.

    Australia, by the way, is the only continent I haven't been to yet, but I'd love to see it, and curious about working there, too. Someday, someday.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 28, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  9. Dear Furry Girl,

    While I am happy that you brought the Carnal Nation situation to the Sex2.0 discussion, refusing to participate and attacking the group trying to plan the event did nothing to improve sex worker safety at the event.

    As a sex worker, and as someone who has had a bounty posted for my personal information in the past, I am somewhat familiar with the situation you describe. Fortunately for me the blog I was threatened on seems long gone, however my posted personal information is not. I personally would have loved to chat with you about safety at the event.

    The organizers were a very small group and had many things to organize. In my understanding the decision to allow in Carnal Nation was made months in advance by those who agreed to interview with them - including the Keynote speaker.

    Stand your ground and speak your peace, though I simply see you attacking the event and the organizers for not handling the situation how you would choose. Personally I felt quite safe as a speaker at the event, I enjoyed the event, and I missed your presence.

    With Love,
    Mary
    NW Sex Workers Outreach Project

    Comment by Mary — May 29, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  10. Hmm....I suppose I have always thought of the term "burning bridges" as a term to describe ruining friendships over something that one knows is wrong (but doesnt care) or something very petty and surface-oriented.

    Sounds like you are very opinionated and you are using your blogs and relevant sex worker platforms to civily state your reasons for choosing not to attend Sex 2.0. True, you can have a bit of a harsh tongue at times, but it doesnt mean that you arent telling it how it is; telling the truth.

    Comment by Vixen Blu — May 29, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  11. Mary:

    Yes, *some* sex workers had no problem attending the conference in spite of Carnal Nation, and *some* sex workers still like Carnal Nation itself for some bizarre reason, but that doesn't negate the problem. (My second personal story, about forcing a friend to pick between friendship with myself and a man who blogged a "funny" guide to raping women? She's a woman. That doesn't therefor translate to, "women think joking about rape is okay." Finding outliers to defend bad behavior doesn't mean the behavior isn't bad.)

    Just because you, or a few other sex workers, feel safe in a space with a company that endangers the lives of sex workers, that doesn't mean that all sex workers did, or should. Most people that I have spoken with and heard from in the last 2 weeks, in fact, are appalled at the situation. Many attendees had serious issues with the conference in spite of their still wanting to attend, and I heard from one other speaker that she would have boycotted the con had she not bought a non-refundable flight and hotel.

    The fact remains: this year's Sex 2.0 organizers - small group or not - were fully aware that Carnal Nation supports outing and harassing sex workers, and they let them be a part of the conference any way. They could have listened to the community's concerns about safety - which on the organizing list was overwhelmingly against Carnal Nation - but they chose not to. Anyone that defends companies that purposefully endanger the lives of sex workers will always get criticism from me, whoever they are, even if they're the big names in my local kink scene.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 29, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  12. As someone who followed along online the first Sex 2.0 in Atlanta and attended the 2nd one last year in DC I think what some don't understand about Sex 2.0 is the vision Amber Rhea had when she created it.

    I also worked on Sex 2.0 last year with Match to obtain a sponsor for it and Amber was very adamant about one thing in our many conversations. It was to be a safe space where Sex Workers and their allies could come together. A place where sex workers would feel safe and comfortable to participate. I saw that first hand last year in DC when I sat in the presentation Elizabeth Wood and Ren gave.

    Sex 2.0 was an amazing conference last year in DC and prior commitments had made it impossible for me to attend this year for which I am now glad. From what I've seen online of the conference this year the presenters and presentations looked amazing but it was not Sex 2.0 or the vision of what Sex 2.0 was to be that the core group of people who helped Amber create it because you and I both know that if it was CN would not have been allowed to cover it.

    Someone said to me last week if even one sex worker felt unsafe to attend then the event is a failure. I see in the google group that Amber requested that the name be retired and Sex 2.0 end here. In light of what appears (speaking as an outsider who didn't attend this year) to be major changes in it this year I agree with Amber 100%. The Sex 2.0 that was created in 2008 and held in 2009 were never intended to be profitable conferences and followed specific guidelines which included specific terms that were to be used.

    I do hope that other conferences will grow from Sex 2.0 and Amber's vision. It is important to bring together sex workers and allies in settings such as Sex 2.0 was.

    As someone who has taken the unpopular spot in the past of standing up for what you believe in and getting an important message out there I know how difficult it can be at times, especially in this online world. Which can really suck but like everything else in the online world there will be something else next week to grab everyones attention.

    Comment by Diva — May 30, 2010 @ 5:27 am

  13. Dear Furry Girl,

    "The fact remains: this year's Sex 2.0 organizers - small group or not - were fully aware that Carnal Nation supports outing and harassing sex workers"

    I believe that I attended all but one of the planning meetings here locally in Seattle. I was personally unaware of the concerns about Carnal Nation, or even their planned presence, until you voiced them on the discussion list on May 19th, just three days prior to the event itself. That was well after the event was actually planned and the individuals who consented to interviews with CN had done so.

    The organizers attempted to create a discussion around your concerns and you not only rejected participating, you portray those attempts as a further affront to sex workers. I am disappointed in your refusal to engaging in finding a way to address your concerns, while still honoring the rights of those sex workers who individually CHOSE to interview with CN. Personally boycotting any participation or promotion of Carnal Nation makes sense to me (though you are giving them quite a bit of press just in these conversations), attacking the organizers of the event does not.

    Thanks to the support of the organizers and volunteers this year Sex2.0 was a completely safe place for me to be - even though a known local stalker showed up at the registration desk asking for me by name. I am happy with how the situation was handled. I am also happy with how detailed concerns about privacy and security were addressed in preparation and during the event.

    I have had my own share of stalking and harassment, with individuals using the internet as a weapon against me. It is my understanding that one of the victims directly involved in this situation asked you specifically not to write about this for fear that it would stir up her harasser. Please consider that what you have done here is contributing to the further victimization of those already victimized, regardless of your intent.

    Sex2.0 has raised a significant amount of money for the local chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. We are actively trying to improve safety in the sex industry locally, and I thank this years Sex2.0 conference for their active recognition of our concerns - in planning, at the event itself, and without our even having asked via their generous donation of proceeds to our efforts.

    I (again) personally invite you to join us at one of the meetings for our local Sex Workers Outreach Project. Your passion is an asset and it is sad to see it creating division among those who share your passion when it would be most powerful used to create meaningful conversations and actions.

    With Love,
    "Mary"
    NW-SWOP

    Comment by Mary — May 31, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  14. You sure are a strong person who stands for her principles. Go on!

    Comment by Sina — May 31, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  15. As a sex-worker, I was aghast when I read even a little on CarnelNation. I didn't attend the Sex 2.0 conference; I learned about it too late to adjust my civie job schedule. After all was said and done, however, I was glad I didn't go.

    To Roxxie: Hate speech is indeed protected as in it is not a crime to be stupid and speak out with their hate. However, hate actions are a crime - or at least supposed to be, but, as Furry Girl pointed out, some people in high places don't think so if it involves a sex-worker.

    Be that as it may, I support your actions, Furry Girl. Keep going strong!

    Comment by Jolene — May 31, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  16. To address the "behind the scenes" issues, I want to clarify that the Sex 2.0 organizers in no way attempted "to create a discussion around my concerns". They defended Carnal Nation and bent over backwards to make sure to be nice to John Pettitt. Here's the real blow-by-blow summary from the organizing email list, leaving out the names of some people who might not want what they said on a semi-private list made public. I also got A LOT of private, off-list support from sex workers, sex bloggers, and other people in the sex-positivity community.

    * On May 19th, I announced that I would not be speaking at Sex 2.0 because of its vague and undefined relationship to Carnal Nation.

    * A national sex worker organizer voiced support of me.

    * A sex blogger said he didn't like Carnal Nation for other reasons, and asked me for further references.

    * I provided a reference to Carnal Nation's exact piece.

    * On May 20th, John Pettitt, owner of Carnal Nation, rebutted me and further defended his malicious piece supporting stalking and harassing sex workers. He told me he'd allow me to to do an interview with Carnal Nation about the issue.

    * Sex 2.0 organizer Clea posted, "I am sorry to hear that your frustrations with Carnal Nation have led you to leave Sex 2.0 and feel it no longer represents what you want to associate with (the blogger community). I have removed you from the website and the printable schedule." (Um, no, Clea- actually, I was not pulling out of Sex 2.0 because I'm opposed to associating with "the blogger community", but thanks for misrepresenting my point.)

    * Clea posted a friendly email directed at John Pettitt: "As the project manager for Sex 2.0, I would like to thank you for writing the group in response to Furry Girl's thread. I agree that it is important for everyone to have the necessary information to make up his/her own mind, and greatly appreciate your professional, informative response. I also respect Carnal Nation's offer to do interviews and run coverage of the issue in writing. I appreciate your intention to promote varying opinions. I encourage anyone who feels strongly about this to follow John's suggestion and seek out Monk [Carnal Nation's reporter for the con] for an interview."

    * I posted that John Pettitt is just in this to make money and I would not debate the issue on Carnal Nation.

    * Another sex worker voiced support of me and said she would not be attending the conference and condemned Carnal Nation's article.

    * I thanked her for her support.

    * Someone else posted in support of me pulling out of the con, and sent to the group a copy of an email he'd sent to John Pettitt about how "horrified" he was by the Carnal Nation article.

    * John Pettitt spammed the list with a link to a Carnal Nation's first piece of coverage of Sex 2.0.

    * I thanked the latest person to support my leaving the conference.

    * Another sex worker activist and past Sex 2.0 voiced support of my pulling out of the conference and condemned Carnal Nation.

    * On May 21st, I thanked her for her support.

    * A previous commenter on the issued posted another supportive message towards me, pointing out rightfully, "It is just as abusive to make excuses for an abuser, or to allow it to happen, as it is to be the one delivering the abuse."

    * Another sex worker posted to the list that she was appalled that Sex 2.0 was picking publicity from Carnal Nation over sex worker safety.

    * Clea defended Carnal Nation's presence again, including saying that, "So I want to be clear that Carnal Nation is not attending the event as a media entity", explaining how it Carnal Nation was just there to do interviews and would just have one reporter and a cameraman. I guess in her mind, there's a vast difference between being "a media entity" and being a new web site that has a reporter that conducts interviews. You say tomatO, I say tomAto.

    * I responded to Clea re-stating that Carnal Nation's involvement at all is an insult to the sex worker community and that the company's presence in any form made the event not a safe space for sex workers.

    * I posted to the list that for anyone skipping the con over Carnal Nation being there, to make sure to get a refund on your ticket, and that I had chosen to donate my refund to a sex worker conference, http://www.desireealliance.org

    * A sex worker activist who'd previously commented posted again to condemn Carnal Nation and point out that Sex 2.0 had always been, in the past, a con that places importance on being a safe space for sex workers.

    * On May 22nd, one of the women who John Pettitt belittled and made fun of while she was being stalked posted a polite statement to the list asking that people not grant interviews to Carnal Nation. She pointed out that she is yet to ever receive an apology for the way John Pettitt treated her.

    * On May 28th, I posted a link to my blog post about the issue.

    * On May 29th, Mary re-posted her comments from my blog to the Sex 2.0 organizing list.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 31, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  17. Mary: The date I raised my concerns is completely irrelevant. I happen to lead a busy life and meant to post something sooner, and after talking with some people privately about my concerns, I pulled out 3 days before the conference started. 3 days is still PLENTY of time for any right-minded people to refuse admittance to a media company that endangers sex workers. It's not like Carnal Nation had already paid to fly in Barbara Walters to cover the conference - their reporter, Monk, is a local who probably would have attended the conference anyway. Turning away Carnal Nation, even on an hour's notice, wouldn't have set anyone back anything, other than perhaps rearranging their schedule that day. Sex 2.0 organizers chose to kiss John Pettitt's ass to get publicity for the conference, even though they knew that Carnal Nation's presence made a number of people feel unsafe. Whether they knew about it 3 days in advance or a month in advance or the day of event, they made the wrong decision, period.

    Congratulations on your organization getting a $2000 donation from the conference. I hope it goes to good use helping sex workers. But Sex 2.0 Seattle can't buy its way out of defending an anti-sex worker media company with a donation to a sex worker organization. It feels like a smart PR tactic to me.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 31, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  18. Thanks for your support, Sina and Jolene!

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 31, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  19. FG,

    [PARAGRAPH DELETED BY FURRY GIRL BECAUSE MARY IS REPOSTING/GOSSIPING ABOUT PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS SHE WAS NOT A PART OF.]

    You are misrepresenting Clea's words. I hope Clea does not mind, she can spank my ass personally if she does. Yes, she did say she encouraged anyone who felt strongly about this should meet with Monk, yet she also stated:
    "...because I've seen it's clearly important to the participants, I've gone ahead and allocated a session on Sunday at 2:30pm to be a forum to discuss these issues. I encourage everyone interested to come and participate."
    and the full statement which you selectively truncated -
    "I want to be clear that Carnal Nation is not attending the event as a media entity. There is one person, Twisted Monk, who is attending (with a cameraman), and will be producing a sex worker-positive piece. He will be recording Veronica as she delivers her keynote and interviewing some attendees, by prior arrangement, all with their permission: no one will be recorded who hasn't given permission."

    And -
    "I certainly understand the concerns that can stem from their choosing Carnal Nation to house their work in light of the issues raised, and these are great things to discuss at the session on Sunday. But there is no agreement or connection between the Sex 2.0 Conference and Carnal Nation any more than there is between the Sex 2.0 Conference and other blogs or outlets participants own or use."

    Participant attendees had already chosen to interview with Monk, there were attendees who wanted him there even after you posted your "I'm not going to be there because of this" post, and there were attendees who did not want him there. You simply pulled out of the event before any favorable solution could be discussed. As you are quite clear in your belief that there could only be one right solution, it seems a conversation may not have been useful.

    As to this comment:
    "Congratulations on your organization getting a $2000 donation from the conference. I hope it goes to good use helping sex workers. But Sex 2.0 Seattle can't buy its way out of defending an anti-sex worker media company with a donation to a sex worker organization. It feels like a smart PR tactic to me."

    1. There is a difference between allowing a participant to attend who is associated with an unfavorable organization, and supporting anti-sex worker media, even if you refuse to see it.

    2. I'm sorry you choose to be negative even here. The donation was a solid show of support for the work that NW-SWOP is trying to do locally. Period. I'm surprised you are not happy that our local chapter will now have needed operating funds and a budget for the Sex Worker Resource Guide. We did put out a call for volunteers, including writers and artists for the guide and would love if you considered contributing.

    I'm surprised that you have yet to attend any of the organization visioning and planning meetings, the human service oriented networking meetings, or the local sex worker socials. Bringing yourself and your ideas to any of these events would do direct and tangible good for improving the safety of sex workers, more so than what you have done with this blog.

    Thank you for the graciousness you have shown in posting my replies. I've said all that I can even imagine saying here. While we may not see eye to eye on this particular situation, I do hope to collaborate with you in the future!

    With Love,
    Mary

    Comment by Mary — June 1, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  20. Mary: I deleted one of your paragraphs. (My blog, my finger on the "edit comment" button, deal with it.) You were NOT a part of certain private conversations that happened around this issue, so it's not your place to publicly gossip about your take on discussions you had nothing to do with.

    Yes, Clea offered to give the issue its own timeslot, but to quote from the organizing list, one of Carnal Nation's victims rebutted that offer with, "Giving a full session to discussion of this topic is just giving more attention to this misogynist. Is that really what Sex 2.0 is about?"

    As I've said in my original post, "One of the defenses of Carnal Nation's presence at Sex 2.0 is that no one had to be interviewed - it was just a media outlet that you could talk to. I've never said I was opposed to Carnal Nation's involvement because I thought they'd force all attendees at gunpoint to give interviews, the point is that Carnal Nation was allowed in the door at all."

    Carnal Nation's presence, in any way, shape, or form, at Sex 2.0 is not okay with me, nor was it okay with a number of other sex workers, and people who attended Sex 2.0 anyway, with mixed feelings. There's another speaker who would have pulled out of the conference as well if she hadn't have already paid for her flight and hotel. This is not just something that bothers *me*, it seemingly bothers *everyone* who wasn't a part of the Seattle Sex 2.0 clique. I don't know how I can possibly be more clear on that.

    The point remains that Sex 2.0 knowingly let in - AND KISSED THE ASS OF - a media company that supports stalking, outing, and harassing sex workers. There is no possible way to spin that, either with words or with donating money to sex worker groups, that makes that mistake okay.

    I'm not interested in being a part of your organization for reasons that I won't get into publicly for the sake of not being divisive. I don't need to "prove" my "cred" to you that I'm doing anything positive for sex workers, but I will explain for other readers. It's ironic to be challenged for my sex worker cred by a person almost no one has ever heard of before this debate.

    I will continue my ongoing financial support (even if it's not as much money as I wish it could be) of sex worker organizations and events, and I will participate national sex worker events like the Desiree Alliance conference. I will also continue to blog about sex worker's rights issues to my audience, plenty of whom are actually totally new to the subject and appreciate reading about my life and opinions as a sex worker. I can't tell you how many people have told me in the last 7+ years of operating porn sites (even before I started blogging) how I've changed their opinions of what sort of "dumb sluts" or "druggies" must be a part of the sex industry. In public, I will politely confront strangers who say disparaging things of sex workers, and have had some pretty interesting conversations as a result. As an out sex worker who doesn't hide who I am from my "real friends" and family, I see my life as its own form of activism by not denying who I am.

    You can dismiss me all you want because I don't come to *your* social gatherings and meetings, but so what? I have my own circles of sex worker friends I am much happier spending my free time with, online and offline.

    Comment by Furry Girl — June 1, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

  21. Furry Girl,

    I'm sorry you thought I was dismissing your blog, your "cred" or yourself personally, I was dismissing this one post and the good it was doing (or not.) I am a fan of your blog and am supportive of your larger efforts. As I've said several times now, very seriously, I hope that despite our not seeing this particular matter in the same light we are able to work together in the name of our shared passions. If you see me at the DA conference please come say hello, I'd love to buy you a drink so we can chat this out.

    Please don't be so quick to dismiss me FG. I may not be well known in the blogging circles though I am very well known in the Pacific Northwest for sex worker safety and support that I've personally coordinated for years, long before there a NW-SWOP organization that could support those efforts. I'm also quite well known nationally providing information and support to sex workers visiting our area. Just not with this name... and if you choose not to engage with the organization for whatever reason, perhaps you will engage with me and the local providers.

    "Mary"
    or,
    that other me you met with the other name

    Comment by Mary — June 1, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

  22. Ah.

    In re-reading, I do see where I truncated my message.
    "more so than what you have done with this blog."

    That was to have said "more so than what you have done with this blog post."

    I can see how you read what you did into my response and I apologize.

    Comment by Mary — June 1, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

  23. Mary: I have no interest in working with you, as I've stated. I'll continue doing my own separate projects. Again, you've dismissed me by assuming I refuse to "engage with the local providers." Actually, I do "engage" with both local and non-local sex workers. Just because I don't come to YOUR potlucks doesn't mean I refuse to interact with ANYONE. Perhaps you should consider that maybe your friendship circle is not the entirety of the sex worker world in the region. You have told me so many different names you use, I can't keep track of them all, nor do I really care to expend the energy trying to remember them.

    Comment by Furry Girl — June 1, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

  24. Wow. I read your last reply and had no idea where your very personal attack was coming from so I re-read this whole exchange. That was a really fucked up typo that totally changed what I was trying to say. :(

    I'm getting my bleary eyes off the computer before I manage to mangle another thought.

    Comment by Mary — June 2, 2010 @ 12:08 am

  25. Other than I'm sorry to hear that your interest is not only in not working with NW-SWOP, it's in not working with me, and it's in not connecting into another segment of the local provider community (note I specifically did not say sex worker community)... the circle I'm in is a small segment of the industry and NW-SWOP is an effort to bring together some of these disconnected circles. I'll make sure to stop personally inviting you to anything I'm involved in, please take the initiative yourself to remove yourself from our newsletter.

    Good night!

    Comment by Mary — June 2, 2010 @ 12:12 am

  26. Mary: I've removed myself from your email list. There goes my precious opportunity to have potlucks with the local coven of tantric spirit healers- JUST what I felt my life as a sane and pro-science sex worker has been missing all these years!

    Comment by Furry Girl — June 2, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  27. Good Morning Furry Girl,

    Thank you for removing yourself from the mailing list. It is clear that you are most happy being a renegade. Admirable for it's own reasons, though as our primary focus is networking across the range of sex workers and available support for the good of all, clearly I was misinformed when I was told that you were someone who would be supportive of the work that NW-SWOP is doing.

    Re: The tantric practitioner socials - you never were invited to those and wouldn't be. The Healers Exchange is a much smaller and completely separate project which has nothing to do with the work of NW-SWOP's handful of dedicated internet whores, other than as those groups have naturally overlapped via participation by specific individuals.

    I do not know why you hold so much animosity towards myself or the NW-SWOP efforts. That offer for a drink at DA is still on the table and you are welcome to contact me directly if you ever choose. I'll stop engaging with you here as it seems this should be a personal conversation, should it ever happen.

    My wishes for a prosperous and bright spring time to you.
    "Mary"

    Comment by Mary — June 2, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  28. Happyfuntime greetings with peace and love to you, Mary! (Ugh, why do hippies have to talk like that?)

    I think my schedule at the DA con is all full hanging out with people who believe in science and logic and reason - AND don't defend companies that stalk sex workers, or events that welcome companies that are anti-sex worker. I never really cared if you want to be a magic crystal healing escort, that just meant I never wanted to socialize with you unless absolutely necessary. (Why do you think I haven't been to your potlucks? Ever consider that branding SWOP NW like a new age support group might turn off other sex workers, too?) After seeing you doggedly defend an event that kissed the ass of an anti-sex worker company, I now have absolutely zero interest in interacting with you for ANY reason. But, good luck - and I do sincerely hope something useful comes out of the $2000 donation you were handed by the people so you oh-so-coincidentally just happen to support.

    Comment by Furry Girl — June 2, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

  29. Hi, FG,

    Just dropping you a note of support in standing up for what you believe (which is wise regardless of the circumstances, and in this case I think the circumstances are unassailable).

    In the past, I've seen close up a completely unrelated controversy involving Carnal Nation. I've come to the conclusion that the organization (not the contributing "reporters", who are just commissioned writers) is functionally delusional, and nothing in your tale changes my mind.

    They are acting as if they are a major news organization, like (say) the New York Times, for whom there may well be grounds to argue the freedom of speech issue. But they are not the NYT, and their stated audience is allegedly the sex positive community.

    Which leaves them with a problem: either they can claim to be support freedom of speech at all costs OR they can claim to address the sex positive community. They can't have it both ways, but they don't seem to appreciate that the reality is that they are one of thousands of outlets for material, and eventually their habits (as you illustrated) will drive away the contributors upon who they depend. And they will fade away...

    (By the way, for those who try to defend them: the "freedom of speech" argument also could have been addressed as it is by serious and ethical news organizations, i.e. by permitting the asshat to write his "stalking bounty" piece, and then publishing it simultaneously with a rebuttal written by *them*. I don't think this is a particularly good approach, but it is one that would have made it clear what their views are, and potentially could have resulted in pulling the fangs of the asshat).

    M

    Comment by Sleek Imager — June 4, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  30. Good for you, I would rather live the rest of my life without any contact with anyone than to let what I know in my heart be just plain black and white wrong be done and then white washed as right or not to have ever taken place without me screamed "no effin way, I am sorry, but I cannot NOT do something after knowing what I know"

    I am not saying that I can more clearly draw legal lines or whether or not our countries legally established rights need to be changed, I am not advocating any lifestyle or religion or taking sides with anything at all.

    But I am saying that when the ones who are affected by these situations of contention (the happenings that the line between right and wrong cannot be agreed upon even in a way to disagree)
    when these who are affected are not allowed to move on anywhere (in real life or ether) without facing principally the same situations on a daily basis which such treatment justified to ensure that the past remain "still no consensus if the past was wrong or right" WELL THAT IS ONE EFFED UP SITUATION and I would rather swim in boiling lava, I would rather not live and be dead of this world than cross any bridge or stay on any side with those who choose to remain spiritually dead but physically alive.

    in principle I commend you friend.

    because only those with hearts like yours (who hearts will always be in principle right) and in loving ways always guide you to act (I will give my opinion here because I believe it is better to commit an action of a love or deed of love that hurts nobody (that the world and laws may or may not define as wrong) for better to do love than any action that is considered legal, just, or praised by the majority when it does harm.

    Funny Girl the Saint, I would swim too for the reason that this time you do, and anytime my heart told my not to choose comfort with discomfort was the only way right.

    thank you

    dusty

    Comment by dusty — June 8, 2010 @ 7:20 am

  31. Comment by Trackbacks — October 20, 2017 @ 7:59 pm

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