As a sex worker, opting out of politics, current events, updates to social media platforms and the status of laws and legislations isn't an option. Our work and day to day lives are, unfortunately, heavily affected by changes in all of these areas. The sex working community has been rallying for decriminalization on a local, national, and even global level for decades, long before I even stepped into my first whore heels. Now there's a push for progressive action in not only decriminalization, but active rights and protections, potential unions, accurate and beneficial media representation, less digital censorship and for moving the power and profit gained from the industry directly into the pockets of those doing the work. Weekly, we'll be gathering some of the latest political and pop culture headlines making waves in the community.
It's official! The Victorian government is decriminalizing sex work, making real efforts to achieve better public health and human rights outcomes. In Victoria, sex work was currently regulated under a legalized model, which means sex work is only legal if it takes place under certain conditions set out in the Sex Work Act 1994. The licensing system was outdated and difficult to navigate for those trying to work within it. Now, decriminalisation will make sex work legal and regulated just like any other industry by agencies like Worksafe and the Department of Health - ensuring every worker in the industry is entitled to the same treatment and protections under law, with rights to call out discrimination and unsafe workplaces or practices. Read more information on the Victoria Government's site here.
The title of Paula Vogel’s play The Oldest Profession has two meanings. It refers to the saying that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession—originated by Rudyard Kipling—but also to the aging of its characters. The Oldest Profession was first published in 2005, but it does not feel like a product of the Bush era. Directed by Jamie M. Rea, begins in the waning days of President Jimmy Carter’s first and final term, which is no accident. Vogel has never been afraid to write frank, funny dialogue about sex, so it is no surprise that The Oldest Profession is packed with zingers, like Vera’s declaration that sex work can be a patriotic duty. Read more about The Oldest Profession playing at Old Moody Stages’ Barge Building in Zidell Yards, Portland, here.
A recent research by human rights organization Front Line Defenders has revealed that sex worker activists are among the most at-risk defenders of human rights in the world as they face multiple threats and violent attacks. The research highlights the experience of 300 individuals in Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, El Salvador and Myanmar. As per the report, in El Salvador, and other countries, physical attacks by clients and managers began after they learned about a sex worker’s activism. This research shows not only are sex workers (especially in third-world countries) at risk while working, they're even more at risk for advocating for their safety at work. Read the full coverage on Wio News here.
Attitudes towards human trafficking and commercial sex can be roughly divided into three main camps: pro-sex workers’ rights, prostitution abolitionists, and 'on the fence'. You cannot effectively combat human trafficking within the commercial sex sector without taking a stand on basic regulatory questions. So much attention gets focused upon the pro- and anti- camps that "fence sitters" have been able to fly below the radar. This low profile is undoubtedly useful since their main goal is to avoid controversy, but their strategic silence come with major costs. Read the full in-depth piece on Open Democracy here, and follow along over the next couple months as they cover major questions surrounding trafficking protections and sex worker rights.
This recent Buzzfeed article focuses on and breaks down the history of the stripper heel from the original platform heel to it's evolution as the celebrity-appropriated shoe it is today. Most know the lucite platform heel as the iconic "Pleaser" or just "stripper heel" but few are familiar with the cultural significance it holds, and why the appropriation from celebrities can be harmful rather than helpful if not done with the right care. While this article touches on Cardi B's demand for "respect" for strippers, and speaks with a current stripper known as "Sweetpea" there is little acknowledgement of sex worker voices that have brought attention to the stigma that comes with sporting the shoe when you actually do the work. However, you can read for yourself at Buzzfeed here, and see if you can feel when pieces are written about stripper culture by people who have done their research, but are far removed from the culture.