Most prostitution abolitionists would have you believe that sex workers are either in the industry because they were forced, or because they’ve been “brainwashed by the patriarchy”. Contrary to abolitionists’ willful ignorance, sex workers regularly assemble to advocate for those who are in less privileged positions, fight oppression, and work to change the political atmosphere surrounding prostitution. All over the world, sex worker advocacy groups are fighting to improve their quality of life and defend their rights.
Desiree Alliance is one particular organization that is working to change the way sex workers are regarded in the world today. DA is a diverse network of sex worker-led organizations and individuals who are working to change the way that sex workers are perceived and enliven the sex industry rights movement in the United States. By focusing on harm reduction, health, and political advocacy, they are working to drastically alter the political, social, and financial climates for all kinds of sex industry workers, particularly those who are the most stigmatized.
Well-known sex worker, activist, and co-founder of both SWOP USA and Desiree Alliance Stacey Swimme claims that isolation, as a result of both social and legal issues, is a major problem for sex workers, and that Desiree Alliance conferences “address that issue directly by bringing together sex workers for an opportunity to speak face to face about the issues that concern them the most.” Swimme went on to say that part of what made DA events unique is their ability to offer sex workers the opportunity to “[share] a sense of camaraderie.”
Donia Christine, an ally who has assisted in organizing the upcoming DA conference, praised events like this one for building community while allowing people to focus on their livelihoods. She said, “Desiree Alliance is an amazing space to come together to build solidarity with others in the community and to discuss issues related to the industry and create solutions...It is also an extraordinary opportunity to network with others as well as learn about services directly related to the business.”
The social, legal, and psychological ramifications of being in a highly stigmatized industry make moving through the world as a sex worker a unique and sometimes harrowing experience. Networks like Desiree Alliance, and their events, offer a safe space for those who have been marginalized by society. It allows for all different kinds of people in this industry to get together – escorts, pornstars, you name it – sharing their particular experiences, and having their existence as whole human beings validated by their peers.
Not only do events like this allow sex workers to collaborate on ways to politically advocate for our rights, but they focus on day-to-day sex worker issues. The conference schedule offers many panels and classes on developing work skills and safety techniques. There will also be movie screenings, pool parties, and other social gatherings that will give conference attendees a chance to relax and bask in the presence of each other. By offering a good combination of intellectual, political, and social events, DA is creating an environment that is rejuvenating for the spirit and stimulating for the mind.
The impact of these events is not lost on people like Swimme, who are working hard to change the political and social climate for sex workers. After the 2005 conference, a woman approached Swimme “with tears in her eyes.” She told Swimme, "I've never been honest with anybody other than my clients about what I do. This is the first time I've had a face to face conversation with other sex workers."
If you do decide to attend Desiree Alliance, take Swimme’s advice:
“Come prepared to meet fierce and brazen sex workers who are educating and agitating for a better world.”
We knew some of our sexy Slixa babes are going to be in attendance, which means that we will be there too. Not only will I be armed with Slixa swag and details on a huge giveaway we’re hosting during the conference, but we also are teaming up with a group of amazing people to put on a little event! Donia Christine, SafeOffice, and Slixa are teaming up to host a networking event where people can mingle, talk shop, and get some business tips.
If you’d like to attend the conference, there is still time! You can register on Desiree Alliance’s official site. As of now, registration is $250. Hope to see you there!