For those that saw me at the conference, you most likely were handed a card about my new project, AIT Research, which has been about 2 years in the making and has finally come to fruition. This was originally a partnership between myself and a few activist friends who wanted to develop our own nationwide research survey on human trafficking in the sex trades. Since then, one of our original partners has dropped out of the project, but along with SWOP-Michigan’s Crysta Heart, we’ve created a platform to promote and develop sex worker led research that we hope will uncover some “truths” about our industry, as opposed to much of the biased research about the industry that comes from outsiders.
Our first AIT research project, The Erotic Labor Market Survey, or “ELMS” focuses on human trafficking in the various erotic labor/sex industries and was launched last week. With this survey, we hope to gain more accurate stats on how often trafficking occurs in the industry and whether or not workers, clients, and staff of industry establishments are properly educated on how to respond to trafficking situations when they are confronted with them. This project was our own direct response to the trafficking PSA that we created in 2012. One of the conversations that came out the the writing process of that video was that we create a survey for not just sex workers, but for clients and other industry personnel (staff at strip clubs/escort services/porn companies, etc.) on whether or not the can identify a trafficking victim and how they would respond if they did come across one. As we stated in that video, WE are the ones most likely to come into contact with individuals in coercive situations, yet because of the wall between us and most anti-trafficking organizations and efforts, there is little knowledge and education being done about what to do about it.
The Feminist Times has an excellent series on sex work, covering a diverse range of issues. (Sadly, it is only found by searching for the hashtag #SexIndustryWeek, as if finding it on Twitter was more important than a person being able to find all the discussion on the site.) Because it is a diverse series, there are plenty of articles I do not agree with; but that’s what makes it a good discussion, so, please, do take the time to read them. However, there’s one article in particular that raised my hackles and prompts me to write today ~ primarily because it has gone without comment. Such absence of comment might make people think it is “right”. And it is not.
The article is #SexIndustryWeek: Dworkin Was Right About Porn, by VJD Smith of Glosswatch. In it, Smith uses the words of Andrea Dworkin to align all porn as patriarchal misogyny abusing and raping female victims:
When I began writing erotica and non-fiction articles on sexuality I took a pen name for privacy. But it might surprise those of you who do not write to know that one of the biggest reasons was to separate one writing career from another.
Anyone who writes, as a profession or a hobby, knows that over-all perception of erotica authors is poor and no where is this belief held more firmly than within the writing community. "They're not real writers," other they say (or type). It's not just that we dare to write about sex (or even profit from it) but if we write about it, it must be because we "can't really write" and this is our last resort.
Anyone who writes erotica (dirty stories, erotic literature, porn -- whatever you choose to call it) will tell you that writing smut takes extra skill. For not only must you obey all the rules of writing but you must make it arousing too. Just trying to find synonyms for "cock" (without sounding cliched) and "orgasm" (virtually non-existent) is a challenge. But 'the real writers' will giggle and sneer. I've seen the cruelty in writer's groups and online forums firsthand.
Even mainstream editors and publications may reject your work on these very notions, or just from the fear of any association. Even for non-fiction works this happens. Mention you write 'about sex' in any fashion (or have them discover you do so) and you're blackballed. So in order to preserve my professional mainstream writing reputation, I created a pen name upon joining the ranks of smut writers.
You'd think that a group which has experienced such persecution and unfair devaluation would be wiser. But they are not.
Whether an escort, a Dominatrix, porn actor, stripper, a phone sex operator, or 'just' an author, we all learn quickly to take a stage name and live two lives. One life belongs to the entertainer; the other with family and friends.
While it is possible that Ms. Brosmer (or Mrs. Weider) simply signed away rights to her name to some photographer, it is even more likely that she and her husband, body builder turned health and fitness king Joe Weider, simply saw money to be made. It was Brosmer, after all, who was the first model to get residuals every time her photo was published, so why shouldn’t she make money off selling her photos directly to the consumer?
In truth, many of the pinup models and burlesque performers ran their own side businesses, selling photographs, autographs, etc. Lily St. Cyr sold lingerie. Lynne O’Neill, The Original Garter Girl, not only had one of these businesses, but apparently kept quite a bit of the correspondence from fans.
Like the models and performers of today, these women...
Tom Cat’s Phone Sex Reviews is not a phone sex directory or topsite, where placement or “ranking” is based on how much a PSO pays or how many “hits” a PSO sends to the site. It is not a bunch of spammy listings or fake reviews. It is a real review site where each and everyphone sex operator listed has actually been reviewed by an experienced phone sex caller.
There’s no “pay to play” schemes, no cheating to get to the top of the list or to get better ratings, no spam or scams for PSOs or callers. While I will be using some affiliate links (primarily for additional information on trends, popularity, and client interests), this review site isn’t about money; it’s all about the phone sex & the phone sex girls. It’s all about callers being able to find quality phone sex operators — and it’s a chance for quality PSOs to get some recognition without having to pay for it.
When conservative Ohio Governor and former Lehman Brothers executive John Kasich feels compelled to remind his fellow conservatives that upon entering Heaven, “Saint Peter is probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor,” you know poverty has reached center stage.
From the homilies of Pope Francis, to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's (pictured) inauguration speech, poverty and its close cousin inequality are playing starring roles in the current political discourse. The President’s 2015 budget proposal, released earlier this month, calls for a significant increase in federal spending on anti-poverty programs, and while these proposals are likely DOA in the Republican-controlled House, Democrats across the land have promised to campaign on the issue leading up to the 2014 midterm races. This year, then, appears little different from much of 2013: the spotlight on poverty shows no sign of dimming.
Despite the fact that Raine appears thrilled to make the transition “from virgin to literal whore”, in positioning herself “above” sex workers by insisting that she will lose it only for “exorbitant” sums of money, Raine’s project smacks decidedly of classism and whorephobia.
In her book about virginity in America, The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti wrote, “What’s the difference between venerating women for being f-ckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want.”
Gracie Passette's insight:
As this (maybe not real?) woman proposes to sell her virginity, she slams sex work & feminism.
Despite my vehement support for Knox, her career and her right to make whatever choices she deems empowering and necessary, the overwhelming emotion I felt was discomfort. It was the least sexy sexual experience I've ever had....
Gracie Passette's insight:
Insightful & honest response. Kudos to Alanna Vagianos for being able to dissect her personal response and individual choice from the rights involved in the discussion of sex work.
The Pornhub Insights blog is responsible for post after post of awesome porn data. So when we decided we wanted to know what people were getting off to in cities like Anchorage, Honolulu and Detroit, we knew exactly who to ask.
Normal is a 48 minute creative documentary that brings the real life stories of male, female and transgender migrants working in the sex industry to the screen. Drawing on original interviews with people working in the sex industry in Albania, Italy and the UK, documentary director and anthropologist Nicola Mai reveals their unheard voices.
In Tirana we meet Besnik, an Albanian young man who uses violence to stop his women getting under his skin. In Rome, Catalin is a Romanian minor selling sex to other men as it’s the best job he’s ever had. Having used violence in the past, Adrian, a Romanian young man, now respects his working girl to keep himself safe and out of jail. In London there’s Candy, a Romanian young woman who loves her trafficker to the point of getting convicted for controlling. Alina, a Moldovan woman, decides to work independently in the UK sex industry after having been trafficked. We also meet Cynthia, a transgender woman selling sex to feed her estranged family while waiting to fix her papers.
These voices often go against the grain of popular expectations that most migrant sex workers are exploited and forced to sell sex against their will. Confronting these attitudes, Normal uncovers a layered, human story of migration and sex work. What we hear are unexpected, disturbing, sometimes moving and often contradictory life stories. The viewer is continually challenged by the truth of their words, their dreams and the lives that they lead. All the characters are portrayed by actors, guaranteeing the anonymity and safety of the original interviewees
When people hear the phrase, "Sex Work," they often picture either a prostitute or a dominatrix. What are some other forms of sex work that people may not think of so quickly?
Cam girls, phone sex workers, fetish models, escorts, strippers, porn actors, massage parlor managers … I could go on :) It’s important to remember that “sex worker” is a self- ascribed term. A sex shoppe owner, for example, may identify as a sex worker, as may someone who runs the front office of an escort agency -- or, they may not.
Working to facilitate meetups and friendships within the sex worker community. Posts should NEVER include meeting location or personal information. All the posts should be used for is networking for...
Consequently, her argument that selling sex is a way of disrupting patriarchy, and thus patriarchal capitalism, falls short for me. Just like the price tag on her education, patriarchal capitalism and free market principles determine the price tag on her body. It’s patriarchal capitalism that will determine she is “shot out” and should retire. And after she’s retired from selling sex, she will have to re-enter a patriarchal capitalist society, “ashamed” or not of her economic choices.
Gracie Passette's insight:
I agree that education is important; and I'm anti-patriarchy. But this conversation dismisses the factual subject of people, of women, who like sex work. For a myriad of reasons, we like sex work. And that's too shocking for so many brains.
And funny how we never have these conversations about the capitalistic body issues of aging etc. regarding models, athletes, etc.