by Furry Girl
I've noticed my local government's anti-trafficking ads on the sides of buses, but haven't mentioned them on my blog. Then I really saw one yesterday that did something I have never, ever seen before from a mainstream anti-trafficking campaign: declare that women can be traffickers and men can be victims. Sure, this dynamic is no shocker to people who actually know anything about migrant labor, but to see it in a county-funded ad campaign blew me away.
King County's anti-trafficking campaign has many flaws, of course, but I will say that I appreciate that the ads are not just about sex slavery. The campaign uses the Polaris Project, a Christian morality NGO as a "fact" source; is partnered with the Somaly Mam Foundation, which sends Cambodian sex workers to private prisons where they are sexually abused; and links to a Shared Hope International anti-prostitution page as a resource. So the campaign is deeply problematic and based in the lies of anti-sex worker hysterics and religious nuts, and I'm not defending that.
But I think this is still a tiny, possibly hopeful step in the right direction, because the campaign is about the many faces of forced trafficking, not just the sexy sex trafficking for sexy sexual abuse thing that we normally see. There are three ad designs, and only one is about sex trafficking. The other two imply domestic labor.
by Furry Girl
by Furry Girl
I like this meme, so I made one about my work. Obviously, doesn't apply to all sex workers or all pornographers, so get out there and make your own! If you make a sex work related one, you can email it to me or send me a link and I'll post it here if you like.
UPDATE! After searching around, I found three other sex industry contributions. I love that I'm not the only person who immediately thought "sexual predator" for the "what society thinks I do" box:
by Furry Girl
Throughout my life, I've often felt like I'm in the middle. (Which is a positive way of phrasing that I don't fit in well anywhere.) I have too many fiscally-conservative views to be a proper leftist, but I'm not cheering for the uninsured to be left to die like some libertarians. While I have an unshaved crotch and don't have a mainstream LA porn appearance, I lack the tattoos and rainbow hair to demonstrate that I'm "smarter than your average porn star," as one popular alternaporn site marketed its collection. I also don't mesh perfectly with the American subculture of "empowered" sex workers, whatever that's supposed to mean.
There's this profile tacitly promoted by current sex workers' rights activism of how exactly one should look and behave if they are truly empowered: it's a movement for punks and anarchists, for feminists, for people devoted to deconstructing gender, for people with liberal arts degrees, for sex radicals and kinksters, for Pagans, for artists, and most importantly, for people who don't fit mainstream beauty standards. In short, the typical person drawn to ho activism is the typical person drawn to any sort of activism: one who constructs their identity around to how they are not like the rest of society. As a person who straddles the weird/normal border, I don't always feel like I fit in with American sex workers' rights activists, so I can only imagine what it's like for someone whose only "non-normal" trait is their occupation. I have no solution to the problem of the over-representation of "lifestyle outsiders" other than to do my best to encourage more typical sex workers to step up and claim their stake in their own movement.
Inspired by Annie Sprinkle's Anatomy of a Pin-Up, I thought I'd make an Anatomy of an Empowered Sex Worker.
Do you have what it takes to be empowered?
by Furry Girl
I realize my blog hasn't seen much action in the last few weeks, but I've been keeping myself quite busy with work and other things lately. So, for now, I wanted to spotlight a new meme-ish Tumblr called Sex Worker Problems. It's concise, it's relatable, and speaks to a variety of sex work experiences and sex workers.
I just sent this submission myself:
by Furry Girl
At fucking last!
Despite having completed the billboard fundraiser almost two months ago - thanks to 115 awesome supporters - the SWAAY billboard campaign has been on hold. I haven't been trying to keep anyone in the dark, but every time it seemed like headway was being made, the billboard would get shut down by someone else, which is frustrating. Even now, after signing a contract, agreeing upon a start date, and the billboard itself having been printed, I'm still nervous to publicize that date, because it feels like jinxing things.
Every major (and many minor) outdoor advertising companies in LA rejected the pro-sex worker billboard, leaving our ad guys guys at Epic Step pretty shocked that a polite text-only billboard would encounter such a massive wall of resistance. (San Francisco's St James Infirmary has also faced an uphill struggle lately to find a company willing to accept their money. Their ad campaign ended up finding a home with Muni bus ads.) I really have to hand to to Epic Step, as the small company went above and beyond to find a way to get our message out.
The billboard was rejected by Clear Channel, CBS, Lamar, Regency, Van Wagner, Avant Outdoor, LA Transit Authority, and Outdoor Solutions. However, the big three companies are no strangers to taking money from controversial causes and campaigns. Clear Channel, Lamar, and CBS have hosted billboards featuring racist, anti-gay, anti-church/state separation, and anti-sex worker/anti-client billboards. On the other hand, CBS and Lamar have hosted pro-marijuana ones, and CBS had a WikiLeaks billboard, so these companies are no strangers to "weird" causes that I support, either.
You can click see a large version.
This is not to say that I think people should not be allowed to express views that differ from my own, simply to point out that the big three advertising companies have no problem with other controversial campaigns. They are clearly making decisions with who they're willing to do business - which is their right - but they've decided that the ad dollars of religious nutjobs, the police, racists, bigots, and even those who are (potentially) breaking laws are more acceptable than the ad dollars of sex workers. (I'm pretty flattered that sex work is even more controversial to ad companies than WikiLeaks, honestly.)
In the end, the guys at Epic Step found RoadSign Adverts for us, which is a mobile billboard company. Mobile billboards seem to be a bit of a "last resort" option for those rejected from the mainstream, and have been favored by folk like strip clubs and anti-abortion activists. SWAAY's billboard will (assuming nothing else goes wrong) be starting later this month, and will be driving around in LA for 7 days. I'm hoping that maybe this will be a blessing in disguise, and that the mobile billboard, because of their rarity, will garner even more attention than a standard stationary billboard. The mobile billboards are more expensive, so what we fundraised to pay for 4 weeks of a standard billboard only buys us 7 days of a mobile one.
Since the billboard size was a bit different than a stationary billboard - taller, but less wide - I did change the text very slightly to make it fit better. I imagine supporters wouldn't mind. Here's what LA is going to be seeing soon:
So, three cheers for Epic Step and RoadSign Adverts! I'll write a proper press release for distribution when the truck starts running, but for now, I wanted to bitch about the backstory and rejections. Also, looking ahead, I've asked Epic Step to start feeling out billboard companies in New York City and Washington DC, since I would like to make this a national campaign. I don't know if I'll start the next fundraiser in November or in the new year, since holidays have everyone vying for donations and money, but we'll see. I'm excited to see what kind of attention this project is going to generate.
by Furry Girl
Yesterday, I went to check my mail drop, and was happy to see an awesome new postcard from the St James Infirmary, one of my favorite nonprofits. They provide free healthcare and other services to sex workers and their families in San Francisco, and they need donations from people like you to keep their doors open.
Just like with the SWAAY billboard campaign, the St James Infirmary was rejected by a number of outdoor media companies, like Clear Channel. (Don't worry, the SWAAY billboard isn't dead, it's just taken ages to find someone willing to accept out money, but we've finally signed a contract and our billboard was sent to the printers this week. I've been waiting to post about that ordeal until I have a definite launch date to celebrate.) I'm happy to see American sex workers' rights groups getting on board with the idea that we need to engage the general public, so it's exciting to see this new campaign.
If you're in the Bay Area, the St James Infirmary is having a launch party on October 16th, so go celebrate with some of the most awesome sex workers' rights advocates in the country.
For the link-phobic, here are the lovely ads that will soon be appearing on the San Francisco Muni:
The last one, featuring Cyd, is my personal favorite.
(My only nitpick is that two of the posters mention being a mother as a means of showing the public that we're good people. I realize that this is probably a smart political tactic, but it will always bother me when parenthood is eagerly thrust forward by "weird" groups - atheists, queers, sex workers - to prove that they deserve to be seen as real human beings. So, if one is childfree by choice, or remorsefully barren, you deserve equality and human rights less than people who have kids? But I digress.)
by Furry Girl
I've long complained that the sex workers' rights movement in America fritters away too much of its energy on art, feminism, and intellectual theories, and mostly ignores practical activism, like educating the public or chipping away at bad laws. I thought it would be good to take a look at some numbers so everyone can make an honest comparison of how American sex workers' rights activists prioritize their time.
I decided to base my data on the program from last summer's Desiree Alliance conference. (In my opinion, this is fairly representative of what I see elsewhere, although it excludes all the time people spend navel-gazing about feminism and the meaning of gender.) I grouped each scheduled conference session into a larger category, and counted each slot towards one category only, based on my opinion of what category best described the session. Here are the results:
[*Open mic nights and sex worker art/performances sometimes listed only a start time. I would guess that this category is at least twice as time-heavy as the 3.5 scheduled hours listed in my graph.]
Based on how time was distributed at the key US sex workers' rights conference, we can conclude that:
* Making art is 343% more important than understanding the legal issues of one's work.
* Academia is 271% more important than activist organizing.
* Yoga and meditation are 499% more important than networking with other people and social movements.
* Anti-oppression discussions, combined with minority topics, are 56% more important than having business and financial skills.
* Harm reduction for street-based sex workers and drug users is 158% more important than activist organizing.
* And my personal favorite: witchcraft and new age spirituality are 300% more important than protecting your personal privacy.
I'd say this chart is basically upside down for what most sex workers in America would consider important to them.
by Furry Girl
It's vanishingly rare for a large media outlet to cut through the knee-jerk emotional hysteria surrounding sexual trafficking, but The Village Voice knocks it out of the park this week. Make sure to read Real Men Get Their Facts Straight: Ashton and Demi and Sex Trafficking. This is probably going to end up being of my my top favorite articles of the year. After completely destroying the bogus "there are 100,000-300,000 child sex slaves in America" myth, it goes on to look at the celebrity philanthropy industry behind the hype:
The actors were watching TV in bed when they saw a horrifying documentary about sex slavery in some faraway foreign land and decided they needed to get involved.
But how to help?
Sex trafficking is a grim problem, and not one actors know a lot about—even if Moore played a stripper in a movie and has alluded to how she was "manipulated and taken advantage of" by a 28-year-old boyfriend when she was 15 years old.
So Kutcher and Moore did what any savvy Hollywood couple would do, which is call Trevor Neilson. Neilson isn't a household name, but he's quickly establishing his Santa Monica, California-based Global Philanthropy Group as the premier charity consultant to the entertainment industry's biggest and brightest. Neilson is a former Hillary Clinton staffer and Gates Foundation director who has been the subject of glowing profiles in Details and the New York Times.
"The king of Hollywood philanthropy" and his wife and business partner, Maggie, can charge up to $200,000 a year for their services because they're the best in a new and growing industry. The concept of a celebrity charity consultant is relatively new, but it makes sense, as Hollywood grows ever more concerned about image management. Neilson is the guy Madonna called to help her save face in the debacle surrounding her failed Malawi schools.
The Neilsons cooked up a 140-point "secret sauce" plan of attack for the Demi and Ashton Foundation (known as DNA).
Getting data about sex slavery was not easy, she says: "Versus most social issues I've worked on, there is actually a dearth of data—so it was absolutely cobbled together."
Accuracy is not a major concern for Maggie Neilson.
"All of the core data we use gets attacked all the time," she says. "The challenge is, it's that or nothing, right? And I don't frankly care if the number is 200,000, 500,000, or a million, or 100,000—it needs to be addressed. While I absolutely agree there's a need for better data, the people who want to spend all day bitching about the methodologies used I'm not very interested in."
Really, go read the whole thing. I promise you'll love it.
by Furry Girl
Anyone else feel like this is true? I know it's not a hard and fast rule, but god damn, does it feel like it some days!
As people who know me are aware, I'm a serious night owl, often not going to sleep until after 6 in the morning. Getting me to wake up early for anything short of the apocalypse is a big deal. I woke up early today to take a morning cam appointment with a nice kinky guy I spent a lot of time with on cam last week. I told him I don't normally do camming early in the day, that I don't like mornings, but he politely begged, so I decided to make an exception for a well-paying pervert who is into things I genuinely like. What happened? 5 minutes before our scheduled appointment, he emailed to let me know he's busy but will try to be able to see me later some time.
I once had another kinky guy who was a great client when I could catch him (he even once flew me to his city for an in-person fetish session), but he was such a monumentally irritating flake and time-waster, I stopped even trying. It wasn't worth all the following up with him to get the money. (I spoke to another sex worker who'd had the exact same experience with him. Maybe his real kink was getting us to chase him?)
I have many other examples of guys who popped in on cam, spent a bunch of money, bought me gifts, had truly fun shows with me, the promised me the world, and then disappeared. If you don't want to see me again, I get it - variety is the spice of life - but don't make a an appointment in the morning after I told you I don't like doing that and then blow me off after I dragged myself out of bed for you.
Time-wasting on the part of clients is one of the top sex worker pet peeves. If you're one of my readers who's a client/customer, please don't pull this shit on us. If you wouldn't stand up your accountant, your lawyer, your doctor, your boss, or your wife, don't do it to sex workers.
Arg. Getting only a few hours of sleep basically ruins my whole day, and I don't even have anything to show for it. Maybe I'll go and see if I can fall asleep again, otherwise I won't make it past 8pm or so, when the real cam show clients start showing up.
For more sex worker infographics, see: Calico's stripping graph, Miss Maggie Mayhem's anti-porn flowchart, Kat's strippers-who-insist-they're-not-sex-workers flow chart, and my own anti-sex worker BINGO card.
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna