For every action, an over-reaction

As the past week unfolded, one could not help but notice that several sex work bloggers had taken down their blogs, removed posts, or indicated they would not be writing for a bit. The sudden attention, while a boon to advocates and for blog stats, was a bane to many who just wished to go about their business quietly.

Those that have chosen to lay low, really cannot be blamed for their sudden concern and caution. Reading the News Bits from SWOP East for the past few weeks certainly gives the impression we are amidst one of those periodic spasms of law enforcement activity that climax with a series of high profile arrests. One can only hope we have reached the point where our societal protectors have become exhausted and spent, and now turn, slumber and snore their way through their dreams of judicial heroism, while the rest of us get back to reality.

Yet, even if the prosecutors and police still have in them a youthful excitement and stamina over their pursuit of sex workers, their attention should not be the primary worry of any sex worker or sex work blogger. Reality is, while the legal environment in the United States remains stupidly and perversely interested in what consenting adults do behind closed doors, unless a sex worker does things to draw attention to his or herself, our vaunted Police Forces have more important things to worry about. Keep in mind that the investigation into Eliot Spitzer’s liaison with Kristen was not initially about prostitution, but over misuse of funds. Nothing pisses the Government off more than some one messing with money it thinks it should have.

As far as the more annoying attentions of the News Media, much like a child with acute ADHD, they fixate on what the story is of the moment, as only what is new and exciting they can sell as “news”. What happened last week is old, and no longer what matters to them. They are already off looking for the next shiny trinket that grabs their eye.

Yet, this blog is on the record for encouraging the adoption of, and being somewhat frustrated by, rather simple and easy steps seemingly few Sex Workers on-line have taken to ensure their own safety and security. All Sex Workers, be they dancers, performers, or companions, even those where sex work is legal, are likely to have to deal with a stalker or fixated individual at some point. An obsessed on-line troll can spawn into a creature whose constant harassment may force you to change your life. This does not have to be the case.

Emilie Dice, author of the Compartments blog, has two self-contained pages that every Sex Worker should read. The first, on Anonymous Blogging, outlines the basic tactics Sex Work bloggers should take and recommends some tools to use in order to ensure their on-line privacy. The second, “Hooker 101: Screening Johns” is valuable not just for safety reasons, but as Emilie makes clear, it is not cost-effective (i.e., it wastes money) to spend time on those who are not serious about your time.

There are several other sites, articles, and books that address these topics, to greater and lesser degrees of detail. However, these two pages provide in clear, direct words, the reasons why these steps are necessary, and how to accomplish them. They are worth through and repeated reads.

Emilie has several more articles on her site that also discuss other issues around sex work, a few of which some Sex Workers may find offensive or object to. Emilie remains somewhat controversial with many bloggers. Her honest, and sometimes angry writing, coupled with unapologetic and assertive positions that clearly are at odds with and challenge the behavior and beliefs of many clients, providers, and advocates, has not won her many friends. Yet she has remained steadfast in sharing what saw and experienced, and is upfront that she speaks for no one except herself.  Her story is one that poignant and powerful.  Regardless over how you feel about her blog’s point of view, the information she has provided is of very high quality and value.

What What have we learned?

Has it only been a week? It seems as if it was month shoved into a day. Last Monday morning was just another start to the work week till around lunch time and the news came on. With all that happened, perhaps now is the time to go over the high (and low) points as Eliot makes his Exit.

So, we have learned the following:


Melissa Gira Grant and Audacia Ray give great interview.

Now don’t you two get too evil about what you bring when you are invited on Bill O’Reilly.


Reason Magazine gets it.

They may be a bunch of compassion-challenged Objectivists over there, but we love them anyway.


Melissa Farley unfortunately still does not.

I’m sorry Dr. Farley, but the entire world cannot be shoe-horned into your own personal religion, no matter how hard you try.


Sex in the Public Square rocks.

Don’t you just love it when some one lives in the real world and talks sense?


MSNBC and The Dallas Observer are about as classy as a drunk pimp.

Maybe less.


For a great deal of the media, there is distinct sub-human species, referred to as , “hookers”, “escorts” or “call-girls” that does not have the same rights or value as “men” and “women”.

Pardon me Mr. Reporter, but have you looked in the mirror lately? You might see something rather ugly.


The New York Times can be counted on to uphold the highest standards – in yellow journalism.

I thought Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal? But wait, WSJ actually challenged assumptions, not try to scoop the National Enquirer.


A thousand dollars per session is actually is quite cheap.

If all women were aware of the value of their sexual capital, men would be broke. Which may be why they are so scared of legalized sex work.


Nothing gets your music sold faster than a little scandal.

Britney Spears, meet your new agent, Heidi Fliess


Agencies suck.

“Yes Governor, we can arrange that for you, but can you provide references so we can properly screen you? Perhaps other prosecutors or a judge?”


And lastly, we now know more about the personal sexual desires of Eliot Spitzer than most of us ever wanted to know.

Which has half the country going “eww”, the other half signing up for one of Tristan Taormino‘s workshops, oh, and one in ten singing along to this song …

The Spitzer Twister – Client Number 9

For the best commentary and reporting on the impact and fall out from the Emperor’s Club VIP / Governor Eliot Spitzer scandal, see Bound, not Gagged by the Desiree Alliance.

Those of you in the mainstream media looking for persons willing to make on the record comments about the issues around this incident may find several people willing to be interviewed through that site and through the various branches of the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

Those interested in further reading on the choices and issues men and women in Sex Work face, and wish to go beyond the many blogs listed on this site, may find the book The Internet Escort’s Handbook by Amanda Brooks, as well as $pread Magazine, to be of interest.  There is also an exhaustive sex work book list Amanda Brooks has created on Squidoo.

Feeds for all blogs and sites listed on The Courtesan Connection’s blogroll that have RSS or Atom feeds available for them can be found in a consolidated feed, updated daily via our shared Google Feed Reader page or you can add the feeds to your own feed reader with this link.

Links and Feeds – An Update for the Week (01 March 2008)

A brief note to update you on what has been accomplished this week.

The Link List / Blogroll continues to be updated as I find, verify, and add in what blogs and sites are still valid.  This is slow going as I have to type in or cut-and-paste in each link, the name for the link, and, if available, the RSS feed for the link.  (Those of you that do not put an RSS feed indicator on their site, or who make their entire blog title a graphic, without including the ALT information for Blind and Disabled web browsing, do not realize how difficult you make this.)

Also, though not strictly a Sex Work site or organization, I have added the RSS feed for Sex In The Public Square to feeds highlighted on this blog, as Sex In The Public Square provides a great deal of information on news, events, organizations, and activities of interest to Sex Workers and their supporters.  Please stop by their site and see the plethora of information they have assembled!

The not-apparent-to-the-reader work on format and organization of this site also continues.  I have a general structure that I have sent a draft of to a few people I trust for feedback.  While the goal remains for this blog to be transferred to a group better able to maintain and support it for the long term, I am committed to having it in a structured setup before transferring it, as I think that will be a significant issue for any new maintainer to have to take on.  Please be patient!

From Waking Vixen – Sex Work, Trafficking and Human Rights Week-long Online Forum

From Audacia Ray‘s Waking Vixen Blog

Sex Work, Trafficking, and Human Rights

Ten prominent sex worker advocates, writers, researchers will be publicly discussing the issues of sex work and trafficking from a human rights and harm reduction perspective, February 25 – March 3, on The week-long online conversation begin on February 25 and will conclude with a summary statement on March 3, International Sex Worker Rights Day.

Sex work and trafficking are two issues that must be discussed as distinct yet intersecting, and we’ve invited some of the smartest sex worker advocates we know to help sort out the complexities. “This forum is not about debating whether or not we should be using a harm reduction and human rights approach instead of the more mainstream abolitionist and prohibitionist approach to sex work,” explains Elizabeth Wood, co-founder of Sex In The Public Square and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nassau Community College. “Instead our goal is to create a space for nuanced exploration of the human rights and harm reduction approach so that we can use it more persuasively.”

Wood explains: “The human rights and harm reduction approach seeks to reduce the dangers that sex workers face and to stop human rights abuses involved in the movement of labor across borders, a movement which occurs in the service of so many industries. We want people to be able to learn about this perspective, and to develop and refine it, without having to dilute that conversation by debating the legitimacy of sex work.”

    Questions and themes include:

Defining our terms: Is the way that we define “porn” clear? “Prostitution”? “Sex work” in general? What happens when we say “porn” and mean all sexually explicit imagery made for the purpose of generating arousal and others hear “porn” as indicating just the “bad stuff” while reserving “erotica” for everything they find acceptable? When we say sex work is it clear what kinds of jobs we’re including?

Understanding our differences: How do inequalities of race, class and gender affect the sex worker rights movement? Are we effective in organizing across those differences?

Identifying common ground: What are the areas of agreement between the abolitionist/prohibitionist perspective and the human rights/harm reduction perspective? For example, we all agree that forced labor is wrong. We all agree that nonconsensual sex is wrong. Is it a helpful strategic move to by highlighting our areas of agreement and then demonstrating why a harm reduction/human rights perspective is better suited to addressing those shared concerns, or are we better served by distancing ourselves from the abolition/prohibition-oriented thinkers?

Evaluating research: What do we think of the actual research generated by prominent abolitionist/prohibitionist scholars like Melissa Farley, Gail Dines, and Robert Jensen? Can we comment on the methods they use to generate the data on which they base their analysis, and then can we comment on the logic of their conclusions based on the data they have?

Framing the issues: What are our biggest frustrations with the way that the human rights/harm reduction perspective is characterized by the abolitionist/prohibitionist folks? How can we effectively respond to or reframe this misrepresentations? What happens when “I oppose human trafficking” becomes a political shield that deflects focus away from issues of migration, labor and human rights?

Exploring broader economic questions: How does the demand for cheap labor undermine human rights-based solutions to exploitation in all industries, including the sex industry?

    Confirmed participants include:

Melissa Gira is a co-founder of the sex worker blog Bound, Not Gagged, the editor of, and reports on sex for Gawker Media’s Valleywag.

Chris Hall is co-founder of Sex In The Public Square and also writes the blog Literate Perversions.

Kerwin Kay has written about the history and present of male street prostitution, and about the politics of sex trafficking. He has been active in the sex workers rights movement for some 10 years. He also edited the anthology Male Lust: Pleasure, Power and Transformation (Haworth Press, 2000) and is finishing a Ph.D. in American Studies at NYU.

Anthony Kennerson blogs on race, class, gender, politics and culture at SmackDog Chronicles, and is a regular contributor to the Blog for Pro-Porn Activism.

Antonia Levy co-chaired the international “Sex Work Matters: Beyond Divides” conference in 2006 and the 2nd Annual Feminist Pedagogy Conference in 2007. She teaches at Brooklyn College, Queens College, and is finishing her Ph.D. at the Graduate Center at CUNY.

Audacia Ray is the author of Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads and Cashing In On Internet Sexploration (Seal Press, 2007), and the writer/producer/director of The Bi Apple. She blogs at hosts and edits Live Girl Review and was longtime executive editor of $pread Magazine.

Amber Rhea is a sex worker advocate, blogger, and organizer of the Sex 2.0 conference on feminism, sexuality and social media and co-founder of the Georgia Podcast Network. Her blog is Being Amber Rhea.

Ren is a sex worker advocate, a stripper, Internet porn performer, swinger, gonzo fan, BDSM tourist, blogger, history buff, feminist expatriate who blogs at Renegade Evolution. She is a founder of the Blog for Pro-porn Activism and a contributor to Bound, Not Gagged and Sex Worker Outreach Project – East.

Stacey Swimme has worked in the sex industry for 10 years. She is a vocal sex worker advocate and is a founding member of Desiree Alliance and Sex Workers Outreach Project USA.

Elizabeth Wood is co-founder of Sex In The Public Square, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nassau Community College. She has written about gender, power and interaction in strip clubs, about labor organization at the Lusty Lady Theater, and she blogs regularly about sex and society.

To read or participate in the forum log on to
For more information contact Elizabeth Wood at elizabeth (at) sexinthepublicsquare (dot) org.

For other events and activities related to the International Sex Worker Rights Day please see the sites of Desiree Alliance, SWOP USA, International Network of Sex Work Projects, and other sites and blogs of Sex Work Organizations. This list will be expanded as time allows and information is updated.

Cleaned up and ready to go…

Okay, has cleaned out the crud, and we have uploaded all the old posts and comments. The Courtesan Connection has a lot of work to be done, but you should start seeing over the next few days most of the links re-entered, and hopefully this time, organized in a way that makes sense to all.

Thank you for your patience!