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.
China announced as part of a raft of economic reforms that it would close its controversial re-education through labor camps, but it’s less clear what will happen to a similar system of camps for the country’s sex workers.
On Friday, one of the testing facilities that serve the adult industry alerted us to a positive HIV test by an adult film performer. While we don't yet know if the performer acquired the virus in his or her personal life, or while working in adult film, we’ve called a moratorium and immediately halted all production.
Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of misinformation in the media, and some truly reprehensible behavior on social media over the past few days, and felt it was necessary to explain how a moratorium works, and call for compassion for the positive performer.
Wente's dehumanizing language is a testament to how deeply ingrained the stigma against sex workers still is in our society. In reality, what's degrading is not sex work itself, but the language Wente uses to describe it, which reveals her personal disgust for those who engage in it -- both sellers and buyers. Despite wishful thinking to the contrary, sex work has been part of every society for millennia and always will be.
loriadorable: “ Since it’s easy to criticize, but it’s hard to do, I did a do. Here is the do on What It Is That I Do. YMMV, of course. (I obviously saved #5 on my desktop, so if you have any need for...
When researchers taught capuchin monkeys how to use money, it didn’t take long for one of the male monkeys to offer a female one of the coins in exchange for sex. Prostitution is often called “the world’s oldest profession” with good reason; it is a form of exchange that predates the human species, and has even been observed among chimpanzees. Males tend to want sex much more frequently than most females are willing to accommodate, and where a demand exists it is inevitable that some individuals will choose to meet it for a price. But because sex has traditionally been viewed as sacred, magical or otherwise special because of its ability to produce life, it has always been an area authoritarians felt especially compelled to enact restrictions upon; the fact that most of the sellers were female and most of the buyers male1 probably also had a lot to do with it, especially in pre-modern times when virtually all political power was concentrated in the hands of the client class. We no longer live in a time when power depends upon gender, nor one in which coitus runs an uncontrollable risk of creating unwanted offspring, yet our laws regarding prostitution are still solidly anchored in the era when those conditions prevailed
Gracie Passette's insight:
The lead essay on what will be a series or debate at Cato Unbound.
When I followed up with an opinion piece for The Conversation on the success of the Nordic Model, a handful of men, and one prominent Australian feminist , spent hours trading inaccuracies about the Nordic approach to prostitution policy and disparaging anyone stupid enough to think that a booming industry which trades in women’s bodies is anything but inevitable.
These falsities and fabrications will be familiar to anyone who has written or said anything that publicly criticizes the sex industry. The same claims, usually without reference to relevant evidence, are repeated so frequently in certain spheres that they have practically become mantras. If you say it often enough, it becomes true, right?
In the interests of being able to offer more than 140 character responses to these predictable criticisms, here’s a list of responses to the most common myths I’ve had thrown at me.
Prostitution exists because inequality exists. At the same time, prostitution embeds into society the very inequality it feeds on; thus perpetuating the subordination of women.
For prostitution to exist as a monetary exchange, women must be commodified as products in the stream of commerce. In commercial terms, I have a problem with both supply (too many women live in poverty) and demand (too many men believe they have a right to sexual access). Both facts require that women be subordinate. That is why the radical feminist position on prostitution is abolition. Abolition is the only way to address the root cause of prostitution i.e. personal and structural inequality. We must both improve the lives of women around the world so that they can truly exercise choice and independence and teach men to understand that sexual access is not a right.
Gracie Passette's insight:
Continuing the Cato debate; this is the third entry.
Prof. Ronald Weitzer argues that prostitution should be treated as a legal commercial transaction. He finds that much of the conventional wisdom on the sex trade is the result of generalizing from experience under legal regimes where it is criminalized. He argues that in a legally tolerant regime, many of the problems we observe today would vanish.
Comedian Eric Barry stopped by HuffPost Live today to discuss his past work as a male escort and the stigma people who have engaged in sex work experience throughout the course of their lives.
“I don’t regret [being a sex worker] because I ultimately want to live in a world where being a sex worker or being a slut doesn’t have the stigma it does today -- and that people realize that you can enjoy sex and perhaps even make a living doing it and still be educated,” he said.
Although Gordon toyed with the idea of becoming a rabbi, he ditched it upon discovering he'd have to study Aramaic for two years. After graduating from Antioch College in Ohio in 1970, he met his wife Carly -- who would go on to become a therapist -- and had a different kind of religious experience: "wife at first sight."
But something was missing from Gordon's fairly idyllic existence.
"I had my wife and I had all the love I needed. But sexually speaking, I wanted to explore something else," Gordon, now 65 years old, said. "I wanted to have a sexual experience that had nothing to do with love or relationship. I wanted some sex as 'recreation' and I wanted one of those 'bad' girls'."
And so, with his wife's blessing, Gordon went on to become one of the biggest porn stars of the 1970s and 1980s.