March 5, 2017 | Dollie J.
We are publishing the following piece on the Red Light Legal website in response to the failure of a sex worker media publication to make their platform accessible to marginalized sex workers organizing against ICE in a radical action in the San Francisco Bay Area. We feel that sex worker media platforms have an ethical obligation to reduce the barriers to sex worker voices being heard, especially those sex workers who do not come with higher education backgrounds and academic notoriety.
I’m a Sex Worker and I’m Participating in the International Women’s (Gender) Strike!
In Oakland and San Francisco, women, queers and gender-non-conforming people have called for a GENDER STRIKE “against all forms of exploitation and domination” on March 8th. We will target the ICE headquarters in San Francisco in solidarity with Immigrants who–much like sex workers who face violent consequences of criminalized labor–are steadfastly under attack throughout the U.S. while seeking sanctuary.
Sex workers have an amazing opportunity to organize on this day against the exploitation of labor under capitalism and state violence. Not necessarily toward spectacular ideals of a “worker’s” or “women’s” “strike,” but as people who work in gendered and infantilized industries or black markets.
The January 21st Women’s March in D.C. against Trump straight up un-included sex workers from their political platform. Mainstream feminism reduces us down to people who are exploited for sex, instead of acknowledging that ALL work is exploitative, and therefor all of it needs to be abolished (not just the really explicit kind that makes the Tina Fey’s of the world gasp to think of.) We know the majority of sexual labor in the U.S. is no more coerced than the labor performed by our friends who work at Starbucks or as nannies. Whether or not white, liberal feminism will ever accept us is not the question. The real questions are: what can we offer each other? How can we better fight our oppressors to make our jobs easier and our quality of life stronger!?
Sex workers of all genders, races, sexualities and ages are not an anomaly. We should NOT be an afterthought in “women’s right’s” movements. We are integral to “women’s right’s” movements, facing hella violence—especially those most vulnerable to white supremacy, xenophobia, and classism—within patriarchal society. Whether you work for explicit survival or work on the side, whether you identify as a woman, man, trans, gay, queer, or gender-non-conforming, whether you are undocumented, a felon, a struggling parent, living on the streets, grappling with addiction(s), in an abusive relationship or any other daily-life struggle that many sex workers face—the “International Women’s Strike” IS OUR DAY!
ON MARCH 8TH – Let’s call for a Sex Workers bloc at our local demonstrations! We can dress up or dress down and cover our faces for safety if desired! Bring glitter, literature, propaganda, banners, condoms — whatever you wish! Bring your friends and loved ones and let the world know that sex workers will fight oppressive institutions like I.C.E. because sex worker’s struggles are deeply tied to, and often overlap with, the struggles of undocumented people.
Here are a few recent sex worker struggles to help inspire our actions on March 8th and beyond.
In Amsterdam (2015) prostitutes pushed back against gentrification and protested the closing of window brothels.
In Seoul (2013) red light district workers militantly fought city officials when police began harassing, arresting and shuttering prostitutes places of work and livelihoods.
In New Orleans (2016-ongoing) strippers are organizing against the city’s plans to shut down more than half of French Quarter’s strip clubs.
In Spain (2012, during the Occupy Movement) “High end” escorts went on strike against greedy bankers.
In Mexico City (for over a decade, ongoing) prostitutes have self-organized their own homes where elders may retire after a lifetime of work in the sex industry.
“The history of the resistance of gender-variant misfits and rebels is incomplete without understanding the central role of hooker networks that united hustlers, queens, hair fairies, and radicals during the 1950s and ’60s, a pivotal era that led to the first gay riots that had the police fleeing the streets in San Francisco and New York. Yet most published accounts of “transgender” history neglect a thorough examination of street queen and hustler culture. We know vaguely about the admirable radical exploits of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, yet few authors have situated their projects (opening houses for trans kids on the street, hustling for rent and for raising funds for the radical wing of Gay Liberation) within a history in which these practices were regular occurrences among the informal networks of queens and hustlers turning tricks and defending each other from violence in many urban areas across the United States.”
– Queens, hookers, and hustlers: Organizing for survival and revolt amongst gender-variant sex workers, 1950-1970
With love & solidarity,