WEAR YOUR VOICE: Black and Brown Sex Workers Keep Getting Pushed to the Margins

Incel is such a strange word to me. It’s not a term I use often. Like, “cock” and “cuck,” the word incel conjures up a “lone wolf” white boy who sits on 4chan counting his colored and gendered enemies, plotting mass destruction.

I returned to Twitter after a light weekend break to see a new hashtag making its rounds—a man who calls himself David Wu started a campaign against camgirls and other cyberthots on Facebook and it made its way over to Twitter. Cisgender, presumably heterosexual incels were reporting “thots” to the IRS because, apparently, “hoes don’t pay taxes.” The main folks being targeted were women who use and advertise SnapChat Premium accounts. Although the word “thot” connotes a Black woman and has been specifically weaponized against Black women and girls’ sexuality, it was cisgender white women who apparently felt the most attacked and were the loudest voices “fighting back” against the incels.

During this social media moment of mass harassment and hysteria, I saw the phrase “this is a war on women” from white and Black women alike, and many were not sex workers or directly related to the community at all. I wondered what each of them meant. Often the category of “women” excludes trans women and nonwhite or Black women. Deviant women, often not considered women at all. But then there are other classes of women within those classes, like women who are sex workers. Sex workers are comprised mostly of cis and trans women but there are men in this profession as well. However, this campaign solely targeted women, and used a racialized word to further drive home their point: to target working class and poor women, mostly women of color.

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Black and Brown Sex Workers Keep Getting Pushed to the Margins by Suprihmbe

November 29, 2018


PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Is Kink a Leisure Activity or a Sexual Orientation?

What does it reveal about you if you’re into kinky or BDSM sex? Is it a serious leisure activity, or is it an innate aspect of your sexuality? Could the answer be different for different people? A recent article published in the journal Current Sexual Health Reports grapples with these fascinating and important questions [1].

On the one hand, it could be argued that kink/BDSM is a form of serious leisure, one that requires a lot of time, that necessitates a certain level of skill and expertise, and that may even affect self-identification. Research has found that kink/BDSM often fits this bill and that it overlaps with a lot of the characteristics of the concept of leisure more generally.

For example, as the authors of this paper report: In a study of hundreds of BDSM practitioners, the ”general properties of leisure were overwhelmingly endorsed by participants, including the following items reported being present most or nearly always by 90 percent or more of the total sample: positive emotions, a sense of freedom, pleasure and/or enjoyment, sense of adventure, stress relief and/or relaxation, self-expression, and BDSM enjoyed for itself (intrinsic motivation).”

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Is Kink a leisure activity or a sexual orientation? by Justin J Lehmiller Ph.D

May 20th, 2019


CNN: Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage in historic first for Asia

Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.

The vote came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law -- which said marriage was between a man and a woman -- was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island's parliament two years to amend or enact new laws.
On Friday -- only a week off the two-year deadline -- lawmakers in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality. It will go into effect on May 24.
Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage.
In recent months conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform, pushing for a law that would see gay marriages redefined as something closer to same-sex unions.
Tens of thousands of people braved pouring rain Friday to demonstrate in favor of same-sex marriage outside the parliament, as lawmakers began voting on three draft bills, one tabled by the island's Cabinet -- which would ultimately prove successful -- and two watered-down rival bills tabled by conservative groups.
The successful Cabinet bill was the only one to use the word "marriage." It was backed by LGBTQ groups, despite the fact it could see same-sex couples denied rights enjoyed by hetrosexual couples, such as adoption and cross-national marriage.
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May 17th, 2019

COUNTER PUNCH: Florida’s Sex Wars: the Battle to Decriminalize Sex Work

On May 3rd, the Florida legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 540 that extends the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database to include “johns” and “pimps” as well as sex trafficking victims and sex workers.

In a follow-up press release, the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars warned state legislators, the “registry will be open to the public & aims to name & shame adults in the sex industry.”  Going further, it argued: “Every member of the Florida House and Senate has now shown how little regard each member has for the brave sex workers and victims of sex trafficking who testified about the unavoidable harm this bill will create in their communities.”

Speaking with the desperate voice of those who know what they are talking about, SWOT warned:

When we are killed because our names are placed on a registry, we will hold the Florida legislators responsible. When our kids are taken away from our safe homes, put into Florida’s dangerous foster-care system, perhaps cruelly beaten or sexually molested, we will also hold Florida legislators responsible.

It concluded, “Listen to sex workers and stop these arrests.”

Sex workers have been persecuted since the nation was founded. Today, while sex work is legal in only a handful of rural counties in Nevada, it is estimated to be a $14.5 billion enterprise.  Many men — from Presidents Trump and Kennedy, to tycoons like Jeffrey Epstein and Robert Kraft, to celebrities, sportsmen and all-too-many ordinary men — have been customers of sex workers.  The Fondation Scelles estimated that in 2012 there were one million prostitutes operating across the country.   Who knows how many sex workers there are as the economy tightens.

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Florida's Sex Wars: the Battle to decriminalize Sex Work by David Rosen

May 17th, 2019


NPR: Demystifying Kink

Before we jump in today, a warning - the next eight minutes we'll be having a frank discussion about sex that might not be suitable for all listeners. Over the last few weeks, we have been bringing you stories about sex - the conversations we have about sex, the ones we don't and how those conversations shape society. We have heard about LGBTQ sex education, waiting for marriage, and porn literacy. Today, my co-host Ailsa Chang brings us a story about a community we rarely hear about on public radio or otherwise.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: The kink community - kinksters, as they're known. Specifically, we're looking at what the rest of the world can learn from kinksters about sex and communication. And again, we're going to be spending the next seven minutes talking frankly about sex, which might not be suitable for all listeners. And NPR's Mallory Yu recently sat down with a group of these folks. She joins me now. Hey, Mallory.

MALLORY YU, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right. I just want to get some terms out of the way first, starting with the word kink.

YU: I'm going to let Evan, who is part of my roundtable, handle this one. We didn't use last names of several of the people at this roundtable because they were worried about current or future employment. Anyway, here's Evan.

EVAN: Kinky is anything that is outside of the, you know, fictional narrative that we have of the norm of sexuality.

CHANG: Outside the norm.

YU: Exactly. So we're talking about things like BDSM, which is a subset of kink. And people might be familiar with some of those terms from the movie "Fifty Shades Of Grey," which was very controversial in the kink community.

CHANG: Because they felt it misportrayed a lot of things in that community.

YU: Exactly. But it was a lot of people's introductions to that kind of sex. And then there's vanilla, which is sex that's not kinky.

CHANG: Wait. Vanilla - is that like a put-down, like anybody who's vanilla is boring?

YU: No, not necessarily. It's more just a way to differentiate between what is kinky versus not kinky.

CHANG: All right. So a lot of our series is about how we talk about sex, how we don't communicate enough about sex, or when we do communicate, we do it very badly. And that is exactly why you and I wanted to focus on the kink community here.

YU: So something that I heard a lot in my reporting was this idea that everyone is a little bit kinky, right? And I think that's supported in the research because there's this guy, Dr. Justin Lehmiller. He's with the Kinsey Institute. He interviewed 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies. And what he found was that a vast majority of them, both men and women, had fantasized about some form of BDSM.

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Demystifying Kink by All Things Considered

May 17th, 2019


ALLURE: A Beginner's Guide to Golden Showers and Piss Play Fetishes

While to some, golden showers are the butt of a Donald Trump joke, to others, they are an extremely erotic experience. Golden showers are one form of piss play, which is exactly what it sounds like: sexual play involving piss. Though they may seem easy to make fun of because most of us grew up with bathroom humor, we should probably be nicer when it comes to the topic of golden showers because a lot of people are into them, and kink-shaming isn't cool.

Some people engage in golden showers as part of BDSM. BDSM involves a power exchange in which one partner is submissive and the other partner is dominant. In this particular scenario, the dominant partner typically pees on the submissive. Other people just try them out because they're horny and bored. Let's talk about all the reasons people love golden showers and what you should know if you're interested in trying out this particular kink.

This particular kink is actually incredibly ordinary, according to the experts. "Urophilia — golden showers, piss play, and the like — is such a common kink that there are piss parties full of folks who want to explore this," says New York sex therapist and relationship counselor Michael DeMarco. New York City-based professional and lifestyle dominatrix Goddess Aviva adds, "It’s so common! People love to be peed on. And quite a few of them also like to drink it." In fact, an Australian survey says that around four percent of men have a piss play fetish, and Pornhub stats show that searches for "golden shower" (along with related terms) increased exponentially in 2017 after it was alleged that Donald Trump enjoyed watersports.

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A beginner's guide to golden showers and piss play fetishes by Sophie Saint Thomas

May 16th, 2019


THE GUARDIAN: Indian sex workers lobby for pensions and healthcare

Sex workers across India are lobbying candidates in the country’s general election to support their demands for better health and welfare services in return for votes.

“We wanted to see which party accepts sex workers as part of the community,” said Kusum (who goes by only one name), president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW), which is coordinating efforts. “Some express support for us behind closed doors, but never in public.”

The network has 5 million members, who between them have 20 million dependents – yet sex workers have little influence. Indian society and politics are too conservative to discuss sex work openly, much less debate or acknowledge their rights as citizens, said Kusum.

“That is why we are making a special effort in this election to get some visibility and get our voices heard. Our vote is important because we all come to a consensus and collectively decide which party to vote for,” said Kusum, who is based in New Delhi.

In Kolkata, sex workers are taking their demands directly to candidates for the first time. Sex workers have lobbied two-thirds of the 150-plus candidates standing in West Bengal, where Kolkata is located, to sign declarations of support for their demands. Election results are expected on 23 May.

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Indian Sex Workers lobby for pensions and healthcare by Amrit Dhillon

May 16th, 2019


REUTERS: No sewing please, we're sex workers: Thai prostitutes battle stigma

A group of women sit around a table making dreamcatchers with colorful bits of yarn, chatting about their families, work and the thick smog enveloping Chiang Mai city in northern Thailand.

Just another workplace scene, except the women are all sex workers who meet their clients at Can Do Bar, which they own as a collective, benefitting from health insurance, fixed hours and time off - which are typically denied to sex workers.

The bar was set up in 2006 by Empower Foundation, a non-profit founded in Bangkok’s Patpong red-light district for sex workers who are still stigmatized despite widespread tolerance of Thailand’s thriving sex industry.

Thousands of Thai and migrant sex workers have learned from Empower to negotiate with bar and massage parlor owners for better conditions, and to lobby the government to decriminalize their work to improve their incomes, safety and wellbeing.

“People say we should stop doing what we do, and sew or bake cookies instead - but why are only those jobs considered appropriate?” said Mai Chanta, a 30-something native of Chiang Mai, who has been a sex worker for about eight years.

“This is what we choose to do, and we feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that we are just like other workers,” said Mai, dressed in a calf-length skirt and a t-shirt that reads “United Sex Workers Nations”.

Millions of women across the world choose sex work to make an income. Yet only a few countries - including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Senegal and Peru - recognize it as legal, leaving prostitutes elsewhere vulnerable to abuse.

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No sewing please, we're Sex Workers: Thai prostitution battle stigma by Rina Chandran

May 15th, 2019


ALLURE: Introducing Ferly, a Tech Startup Creating a Sex-Positive Space for Women

Even if you're aware of your sexual desires, becoming confident with your kinks and needs can take work. As many of us were raised with sexual shame or stigma, even if we logically know that our wants are normal, getting to a place where we freely share our desires with our partner(s) can take time and effort. You may use a meditation app; now there's a mindfulness app specifically created to embrace your sexuality.

Ferly is a sex-positive app that aims to create a digital space for female-identifying folks to get in touch with their sexuality and what pleasure means to them. "We describe Ferly as your audio guide to mindful sex," co-founder and CEO Billie Quinlan tells Allure. "Ferly is a space for womxn to bring awareness into their sexuality so they can explore their beliefs, unpack narratives, and discover pleasure in new and exciting ways. It's a shame-free, accessible and fun way for womxn to invest in their sexual well-being."

Ferly is not a dating app, but rather a resource of podcast episodes on the science of sex, guided meditations, and body-mapping, and sensual stories created by London-based Billie Quinlan and Anna Hushlak. The app is available starting in June of 2019 on iOS, with Android to follow, and costs £10 per month or £60 a year, or roughly $12 USD per month or $78 a year.

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Introducing Ferly, a Tech startup creating a sex-positive space for woman by Sophie Saint Thomas

May 14th, 2019


ADVOCATE: Special's Ryan O'Connell Wants to 'Show the Humanity in Sex Work'

With Special, the Netflix show he created and stars in, Ryan O'Connell has redefined how gay sex is portrayed on TV. Sex is "awkward, funny, humiliating, affirming, all within the span of, like, five minutes," he says. O'Connell set out to depict onscreen sex in an authentic way, something rarely shown with LGBTQ people, and that includes having his character lose his virginity to a sex worker.

Like O'Connell, the character he's based on is gay and has cerebral palsy. To show a character with a disability who has a sex life adds to the groundbreaking nature of the show and it puts the onscreen character in a group with very few others.

On this week's episode of LGBTQ&AO'Connell discusses creating Special, why we shouldn't be afraid to talk about sex work, and the queer community's "garden variety self-loathing."

Jeffrey Masters: After your car crash, you didn't correct anyone who assumed you had a limp because of the crash and not your cerebral palsy. Why was that easier for people to accept and relate to?
Ryan O'Connell: There's a lot of ignorance around what cerebral palsy is, and honestly, it's not entirely their fault because, truly, cerebral palsy looks different on everybody.

Whenever I had to explain to someone that I had cerebral palsy, it always was met with confusion and I hated it. So then, with an accident, you're just like, "Oh, I got hit by a car." And people are like, "Oh my God, that's so sad. It could have happened to me."

And I think that just made me feel like much, much more digestible to everyone else.

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Special's Ryan O'Connell wants to 'Show the humanity in Sex Work' by Jeffery Masters

May 14th, 2019