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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bored Activist Needs A Life: Open to Suggestions

Yes…this blog still exists, and it appears that I am still alive. All within the last two months, I dropped out of the doctorate program that I had been in for almost two years, left an amazing practicum, applied to a PhD program thousands of miles away, and moved to South Florida. Things feel quite surreal right now, and if it weren’t for the fact that my dog vomited right into my hand earlier today, it may not seem real. The act of cleaning vomit has an interesting way of jolting one back to reality.

It’s no wonder that I have writer’s block right now.

For the most part, life is good. I never wake up before noon, I go to the beach or pool every day, and I live in one the gayest cities that I’ve EVER been to; I am surrounded by rainbow flags and palm trees. I’m ridiculously tanned, and have no idea what month it is. I work part time, and I finally have time to do some pleasure reading! You know what else? I’m getting sort of bored. Vacations are great, but all of a sudden, I’m living on vacation. I’m beginning to feel like moss growing on a rock (if moss were bright pink and covered in glitter). I went from one extreme to another; overworked doctoral student/therapist/research assistant/activist/crazy lady who drinks too much Red Bull to……………beach bum? 

Okay, so I need a happy medium. I need something to do…something to keep me from clawing my eyes out while I wait to hear from PhD programs. Something to do in the event that I don’t get into a program this year (ugh, don’t think about it…don’t think about it…distract, distract, DIVERSIONS!) This is the PERFECT time for me to get more involved in sex worker’s rights/activism in a “hands on” way. I’ve done a lot of reading, writing, teaching, lecturing, ranting, ranting, ranting on the topic. I want to do more. Now that I have the free time, I want to do something, but what!? Suggestions welcomed; that’s actually the main point of this self-absorbed article. I want ideas! I want advice! What can a bored sex worker activist with too much time on her hands who lives in South Florida do to help the sex work community? This much free time is a luxury, and I don’t want to just piss it away on lounging and hopping from one happy hour to the next.

All responses are welcome. However, constructive and helpful responses will be favored, versus the typical “You can go to hell in your free time” response.

I’ve signed on to volunteer with organizing the 2013 Desiree Alliance conference. That was the first suggestion that I got, and a fantastic one at that! So, what else?

Here’s another problem; there is NO sex work activism in South Florida. Or, if there is, I have not found it. There are no SWOP chapters; I’ve considered starting one, but if I get into the program of my choice, I’ll be moving out of South Florida in 6 months. Even if I were to stay, it seems that getting a network of people together would be very difficult. I’ve also played with the idea of starting some sort of support group for women in the industry, and not necessarily just women who want to exit. What about women who love their jobs, but feel isolated by the community, by societal stigma? What about women (and shit, what about men and trans individuals too!) who need resources such as condoms, STI testing, and tips on safe screening? I’ve located a ministry in Miami that supposedly “rescues” and “saves” sex workers, but do they offer any actual services, or do they just preach? Stay tuned for that answer. I am having coffee with the woman who runs the ministry next week. I plan to arrive with an open mind and a list of ideas, much like the ones above.

So, I’m open to suggestions. It’s nice to post in this old dusty blog again, even if it’s just an article filled with fluff and whining. I’m even open to suggestions for topics that people would like to see researched/written about.

Since we’re on the topic of writing, I have a 30-page undefended dissertation proposal on the topic of exotic dancers & rape myths. It’s basically a literature review of the topic, and a plan for a future study (which at this point, is obviously on hold). Perhaps I should do SOMETHING with that. Oh boy, scattered life fragments everywhere…suggestions welcomed. 


  1. Minutes after posting this article, I heard from Jessie Nicole; here is what the message said:

    Hi everyone,

    Yesterday a sex worker I'm acquainted with was sexually assaulted by a client and put out a call for support. Sadly, there's a dearth of resources and services available for her in this situation. But what we have seen are some amazing shows of support from the community.

    One of the added struggles she's facing is financial stress as she has had to cancel with other clients as she recovers. She mentioned offhand that she's also spending more, and more than she can really afford, having food delivered as she doesn't feel up to preparing her own meals right now. I thought it would be a nice gesture of support and solidarity to pull together and give her a grubhub gift certificate to offset some of that stress.

    I know that as compassionate people most of us are frequently bombarded with requests for donations, and most of us are financially stressed ourselves. But if many of us are able to put in $2-$10 she will be able to get quite a few meals.

    If you're able, please send a couple bucks via PayPal to and I'll purchase the gift certificate and let you know the total raised tomorrow.

    Thank you SO much!!

    With love,

    Just donated, and now I'm tweeting about it and getting the word out. Please spread the word and donate if you can!

    1. UPDATE- over 300 bucks was raised tonight, in just a couple of hours! AMAZING!

  2. Maybe try exploring health and sex work advocacy route- HIV prevention, for one, including reducing stigma and discrimination among women working in a high risk environment. Encouraging voluntary testing and care/support/treatment will inevitably reduce discrimination many sex workers face and boost human rights among this population.

  3. 1.) Volunteer at an organization that serves some individuals in the sex trade: GLBT Center / homeless shelter rape crisis center / DV shelter ... um, like, anywhere.

    2.) Volunteer with an advocacy organization that advocates for a group that includes sex workers, and make it more sex-work-positive. (i.e. National Organization of Women). Just don't be super-obnoxious about it).

    3.) I <3 the idea of turning your 30-pg thesis proposal into something... maybe a Lit Review for a journal?

    1. These are fantastic ideas- thank you! I am working on #2, getting in touch with some people in the area next week. I've also been thinking about #3 and reading up on journals that publish review articles. I think that's my best bet as far as that goes. Thank you!!! :)

  4. I'm inspired by your inspiration. The sex worker rights movement has been relatively new to my awareness.

    -My first thoughts would include building awareness of the history of sex work and the role such work plays in our own, American, culture and global society at large. Maybe from a companionship perspective, or whatever has been found to be the case. I know my military family utilized sex workers while away at sea or at war, maybe that played a role in keeping them sane and compliant in their duties. (Been done before?)

    -Maybe awareness building could take on a visual component; flyers, memes, posters, with a side-by-side comparison of sex work of yesterday to sex work of today. Include where it is illegal to where it is legal comparisons. Include perspectives from countries that do not demonize the work, if there are any.

    I suspect part of building a collection of such visual messages would help seep the cause into the awareness of the general population. This may also build a support source awareness that could help sex workers, in your area, become increasingly willing to participate in whatever form your advocacy takes on.

    -Building on the last, is some form of gorilla artists participation in the cause.

    People seem to be very statistic driven lately. It may be good to include statistics we already have available to all of these pieces.

    -Legal Advocacy and resource building; find lawyers or women's legal centers that may already offer resources. Build connections and consider collaborating on creating resources, if none are currently available. (A statistical analysis

    -Consider becoming a collaborative partner with an existing organization, where you head up efforts toward building reach-around services; medical, mental, legal. (Review grants and funding sources available toward those?)

    -Mobilize sex workers that would be willing to participate in the cause.

    -I've stuffed Safe Sex zip-lock baggies for an HIV/AIDS organization, that got passed out in bars and high risk areas.

    The baggies included:
    -a small insert with resource numbers, bullet-points on safety measures for preventing disease, etc.
    -a non-latex glove (I think?)
    -other items that had been donated along those lines

    You could build a similar resource for sex workers, if that's not available already.

    Anyway, this post is probably long enough! I hope something meaningful will happen for you.

  5. While I know there are many services needed for sex workers, I know you can't create them with funding, its like this all over the USA, we have no services in most cities. I think if you can get over your writers block, that you write in behalf of sex workers regularly. You are talented writer, and you would do great getting the Huffington post, and some alternative newspapers to run your stories. Not only are you a brilliant writer, you have the knowledge and have studies the topic and you know who all the players and haters are. I think we need to get into the media, and change society thinking, that "these women get what they deserve". I would also think SAFETY + SCREENING workshops are much more important that SERVICES, as sex workers know who to make money, but many of them do not have a clue how to keep themselves safe. Ironically sex workers are only offered services if they CLAIM they are a VICTIM of TRAFFICKING, it doesn't seem to matter if we are victims of rape, or have been beaten or exploited by law enforcement. Write, write, wrote, your VOICE is the strongest assets you have. I am so proud of you and all you do for our cause, and I know we will see BRILLIANT things from you in the future. We can always use writers here at

  6. Maybe the dearth of support is a vacuum you can fill ... there's great ideas already suggested that you can build on.

    - print up a Know Your Rights card for sex workers, in addition to the client screening workshop
    - round up people who have been 'rescued' whose stories don't fit into the victim profile; get their stories and publish them in your blog; use this as evidence of the harm inflicted on the sex industry; make noise about who is funding these ill-conceived trafficking rescue orgs
    - there are a ton of dancers in South Florida; maybe some are willing research subjects for your dissertation
    - compiling a list of resources/referrals for sex workers (mental health, legal, social services/safehouses).

    You are a good writer with a great online presence. Organize!

    Maybe South Florida will soon have its first SWOP chapter, thanks to you :)