“Nothing About Us Without Us”: A Sex Worker-Made PSA

August 15, 2010

People who have done sex work or been involved in the sex trades -- and their experiences and their expertise -- are all too often shut out of the places where the quality of their lives and their rights are up for debate. Even among those working for public health, including sexual/reproductive health and rights, sex workers can be regarded as "vulnerable" populations, not leaders in their own health and in the well-being of our communities. Want a tool to share the concerns of sex workers with people who care about health, rights, and justice? Participants in Speak Up!, a video advocacy training conducted by Sex Work Awareness, produced a video to educate harm reduction practitioners and community health care providers about the goals that sex workers share with them. The PSA features Naomi Akers, executive director of Third Wave grant partner St. James Infirmary, the first occupational health and safety clinic in the United States run by and for sex workers. St. James Infirmary has been a leader in opposing the police practice of confiscating condoms as evidence from sex workers. In the video, Naomi asks:

If you are a service provider or health official concerned with disease prevention, we encourage you to work with sex workers to end these police practices.
The Speak Up participants have also created a toolkit for harm reduction practitioners who want to learn how to work with sex workers -- not just as a "target" population, but as critical allies in health and justice.

Posted in: d.i.y., Media, Movement Building

The Future of Feminist Blogging

April 7, 2010

Melissa recently pointed me towards a post titled “The fabulous future of feminism and social media” where the author of the post, Ronak Ghorbani, asks a panel of community-feminist workers about their opinions of feminist blogs and their inclusiveness. Jessica Yee (the executive director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network) hosted the panel, which had of members of the Miss G Project as well as the YMCA Girls’ Council. Ronak asked the panel about their view of feminist blogs and whether they think the blogs are inclusive enough. The panelists did not shy away from expressing their views about the shortfalls of the feminist blogosphere. Jessica felt that feminist bloggers only speak to the same audience, which is problematic. Laurel Mitchel of the Miss G Project noted the “barriers and privileges” that leads to some blogs being more popular than others. However, all the opinions were not negative. Jessica also had something positive to say about blogging that she thinks is often overlooked. She said, “often people who read blogs or write blogs are people who do have privilege to do something.” Sheetal Rawal of the Miss G Project shared how finding Feministingthrough Google was integral to her shift into a “new feminist conscience.” Despite the shortfalls of feminist blogging, it is crucial to remember its benefits. Jessica and Sheetal brought up two important positive aspects that show that feminist social media can and does contribute to social justice. Personally my engagement in feminist blogs have given me amazing insight into many issues of which I was not aware and introduced me to an amazing community of people who are passionate about similar issues. While most feminist blog readers are most likely feminists, I think it is still important to highlight that not all are. I know current feminists who came to to identify as such because of feminist social media. As a result, they, too, joined the community of people who actively work towards social justice. Working towards social justice can feel like a daunting task, but social media can serve as a form of encouragement through fostering a sense of community. Social media also is a great tool in generating awareness. It introduces stories and issues often ignored by the mainstream media and offers alternative views. Through expanding the reach of certain topics, more people who have the resources and privileges to make change learn where and how they can put their efforts. It is unfortunate that feminist blogging excludes those without internet access, but  it does help the community online and off. And due to the community engagement that it fosters, I do believe that its power to create change reaches far from the computer screen. So while I don’t know whether feminist blogging is here to stay, I definitely think it can be an important part to the social justice movement for years to come.

Posted in: d.i.y., Media