Sex Work 101

This presentation addresses the basics of sex work and the movement for sex workers rights. Starting with an introduction to the terms used in sex work activism, it is designed for audiences with little to no familiarity with the sex industry, and who may have never considered sex workers rights before. Mixing in personal stories and interactive discussion, you will hear a summary of the current work being done in sex worker activism, the specific challenges of organizing a highly stigmatized community, and how these lessons can be extrapolated to other social justice projects.

Sex Work & Feminism

Historically, the relationship between sex work activists like escorts from and mainstream feminist activists has been contentious at best. From the sex wars of the 80s and 90s to the current debates over decriminalization and the Swedish model, sex workers frequently find themselves at odds with feminist thought. This presentation will explore some of that contention as well as successful collaborations between sex work activism and feminists with classic and contemporary feminist theory. The very definition of feminism is troubled, and issues of gender and sexuality within sex work activism are emphasized.

Sex Work & Popular Media

A large part of the struggle for sex workers rights consists of confronting misconceptions of sex work and of what sex work looks like. Confronting popular conceptions of sex workers drawn from the portrayal of sex work in popular media is an essential part of that struggle. With the happy hooker, Captain-Save-A-Ho, the perpetual victim and the hardened criminal, sex workers are frequently reduced to nothing more than caricature, or more often, an anonymous pair of fishnet clad legs. Besides highlighting these negative images, the audience will explore the connections between these stereotypes and their own assumptions about sex workers. The relationship between activism, pop culture, and independent media (including social media) will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on blog culture and the sex worker blog genre.

These are just some of the topics I can speak about. Contact me for more information or to discuss a presentation with a different focus.

Selected Past Presentations
“Intro to Sex Work / Sex Work Activism” – presented at California State University San Marcos, University of Southern California, Pasadena City College, University of California Irvine, University of California Los Angeles May 2011-February 2013

Sex Work, Organizing, and the Academy: Tenuous Relationships Between Scholarship and the Sex Industries
Panel Facilitator and Presenter
“Framing Sex Work: The Limits of Feminist Theory in Sex Work Activism”
National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Feminism Unbound: Imagining a Feminist Future
November 10, 2012

“Sex Workers Outreach Project: The Struggle for Rights in a Violent Structure”
Women’s History Month Conference – The Naked Truth: Women’s Education and Empowerment
University of Texas El Paso, March 28, 2012

“Sex, Work, and Community: How Sex Workers Outreach Project Works Towards Social Justice”
Young People For, West Regional Training, August 13, 2011