Remembering and Mourning
This week is the 16th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and communities across the globe are taking Tuesday to honor those we have lost this year, and highlight the ways that sex workers are vulnerable to violence. This website, hosted by SWOP-USA, has a round up of 2019 events happening, as well as the annually-compiled list of those who have passed.
A few weeks ago, New York's Red Canary hosted a vigil to remember Yang Song, a massage parlor worker who lost her life during a police raid.
The Wake of FOSTA/SESTA
This week, Rep. Ro Khanna from San Jose, CA shared more about the bill he is about to introduce asking for a federal study on the impact of FOSTA/SESTA. Sex workers have been collecting information about the impact for months, and this study is looking to add to that community knowledge.
And of course, widespread economic instability, increases in vulnerability and increased exposure to law enforcement wasn't enough of an impact from FOSTA/SESTA. In Tumblr's first year without porn, visits dropped by over 20%, as well as other impacts of people moving to other platforms.
Reason also took a moment to remind us that while it's clear that everyone watches porn, and gives up on sites which remove it, myths still abound.
Fighting the Antis (Or, New York - What's up? Who hurt you?)
The reaction to sex workers gaining voice and support after years of stigmatizing, anti-sex work rhetoric has been for those on the wrong side of history to become even more aggressive and vocal. Recently, attorney and wife of Seth Meyers, Alexi Meyers, went after sex worker activist Maya Moreno after Moreno protested an event. The attorney's attempt at public humiliation should give pause to her workplace, which seeks to provide comprehensive services to victims of crime, including victims of trafficking.
And in a doubling down of media attention over nuanced reality, Law and Order gets it wrong again when trying to portray an Asian-run and staffed massage parlor in a story based on the life and passing of Song Yang.
New York Police Department also raided another massage parlor, this time revealing that despite a state-wide ban on the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution, they are still engaging in the practice.
Gaining Support and Co-Conspirators
In the style of Chesa Boudin and Tiffany Caban, this candidate for Harris County, Texas (where Houston is), has announced that as District Attorney, she wouldn't prosecute sex workers, though remained mum on clients.
At Harvard, one course is looking at how capitalism values "emotional labor" – or jobs which involve managing the feelings of others – and includes sex work as an example of labor along side teachers and paid surrogacy.
Building and Supporting our Community
Do you know masculine of center/male-identified providers? A new community is forming focused on the needs of male providers, and they're looking for feedback:
Red Canary also hosted a panel on Asian Migrant sex work, and the thread-as-reportback is a wealth of incredible knowledge and wisdom:
The Florida-based sex worker group, SWOP Behind Bars is building an interactive art event to promote dialogue and normalization of people who trade sex:
California-based SWOP-Sacramento is expanding their street outreach, providing support and supplies to sex workers in the city.
Showing Support for Incarcerated Sex Workers
If you're looking to show support for someone currently incarcerated, Chrystul Kizer is on trial right now accused of murdering a man who was involved in trafficking her. Support her case for freedom by signing on.
But Chrystul's is sadly not even an exceptional case. If you're into making more calls, also consider the case of Hope Zeferjohn, who has filed for the Kansas governor to commute her sentence for things she was forced to do while a victim of intimate partner violence and trafficking.
Another way to support one of our sex worker family is to send letters to Helen, an incarcerated sex worker who has recently been diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer and is looking for more love and support.
December is always an emotional month, and dealing with family can be rough. Don't forget the self care and chosen family look many different ways, and as long as they feed your heart, that's what matters. This article may be a helpful reminder that as practitioners as emotional labor, prioritizing your own emotional health can often be the most difficult:
Back to the grind.