DECRIMNOW June Week of Action

Sex work is work. 

DECRIMNOW invites you to join in our June Week of Action, a series of events where you can learn, connect with community, and take action to support sex workers and the efforts to decriminalize sex work in DC.

This action comes at a critical time, as sex workers in DC are facing dire safety risks due to recently passed federal legislation, FOSTA and SESTA, which criminalize the strategies many sex workers use to to work safely. Through this week of action, you'll learn more about the realities of sex work in DC, bust some sex work myths, and show that you support sex workers’ agency, access to housing, and reclamation of safety. 

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2018 DECRIMNOW Week of Action: Events

Sex Workers Rise Up for Safety
When: Saturday, June 2, 2 PM - 4 PM
Where: Eastern Market station 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
Why: On International Whores Day, reclaim safety with sex workers and allies. 

Gallery Pop Up for Sex Work
When:Wednesday, June 6 at 6 PM - 9 PM
Where: 624 Rhode Island Ave NE, Washington, DC
Why: Enter an art space with works created for and by sex workers.

2018 DECRIMNOW Week of Action: Social Media

Debunking Sex Work Myths
When: Saturday, June 2
Where: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Sex Work + Housing
When: Sunday, June 3
Where: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Sex Work + Immigration
When: Monday, June 4
Where: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Sex Work + Policing of Black and Queer Youth
When: Tuesday, June 5
Where: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Sex Work + Trans Liberation
When: Wednesday, June 6
Where: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Want to engage? Get some tips at our June Week of Action social media toolkit, and use the hashtag #decrimnow.

 

Resources, not handcuffs.

— Tahirah Green
Organizer with BYP100 DC

Honor Black Sex Workers

As DECRIMNOW enters our June Week of Action to fight for sex work decriminalization in the District, we think it’s about time we acknowledge, uplift, and celebrate the many Black people you may or may not have known participated in sex work. Check out these bad mama jamas below:
 

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Maya Angelou

As a young mother struggling to make ends meet, Maya Angelou wrote openly about her experience as a sex worker and brothel manager. But how many of us really knew this? Writer Peechington Marie poses a great question: “If her work had been talked about as much as her dancing with James Baldwin or even her considerable, commanding, and lovely height of six feet, what would the sex work community look like today? If we had talked about her wonderful compassion for sex workers, how she never looked down on them, and her refusal to be intimidated by invasive and obnoxious questioning about her sex working past, what would sex workers around the world be saying today in memory of her life?” (Source: Tits and Sass)

 

Source:  Vibe

Source: Vibe

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was an influential Black nationalist and freedom fighter during the 1950s and 1960s Black freedom struggle. After being introduced to the Nation of Islam community in prison, Malcolm X engaged community members in discussions of demanding and fighting for the rights we deserve. Malcolm X often had sex with men, sometimes for pay, though his status as a sex worker is often left out of the history books. (Source: The Atlantic)

 

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was an activist and entertainer whose prize act in the 1920s was performing topless in a banana skirt as she manipulated the white male gaze. Baker was one of the first African American entertainers to have fame internationally, and she eventually moved to Paris to fight for the French Resistance. (Source: Ebony)

 

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Janet Mock

Janet Mock is a writer, editor, television host, and transgender rights activist who started engaging in sex work at 16 years old to pay for medical care, which her family could not pay for. "I know sex work to be work," Mock writes, "It's not something I need to tiptoe around. It's not a radical statement. It's a fact." Janet Mock's written several books, including the critically-acclaimed memoir Redefining Realness. (Source: Janet Mock)

 

 

Cardi B

Owwww. If anyone can show us what it means to be unapologetically yourself it’s Cardi B. Cardi rose to notoriety around 2013 after winning people’s hearts with her hilarious and candid posts on Instagram about her work as a stripper. Instagram fame launched her onto the set of Love and Hip Hop which gave her the platform to grow her brand and become a rap icon. Cardi B speaks openly about her past as a stripper to give the profession the respect it deserves. In her words, “Just because somebody was a stripper don’t mean they don’t have no brain.” This is obvious as she’s already had a debut album that's gone gold. (Source: TeenVogue)

 

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Gabourey Sidibe

Before making her big break as an actress, Gabourey Sidibe spent 3 years working as a phone sex operator, which she credits for building up her acting chops. In an interview with NPR, Sidibe talked about how she had to make herself sound white to keep her callers on the phone since the job paid per minute. How many of us have had to break out our Inner Sally to get the job? Though the company she worked for was run by around 95% plus-size Black women, the callers wanted the illusion of talking to a thin white woman. Being able to evoke that illusion helped further Sidibe’s acting career. (Source: National Public Radio)

 

Billie Holiday

Lady sings the blues, and Billie Holiday was a lady of and ahead of her time. Before the iconic Jazz singer made it big, she spent time as a sex worker. In her 1956 autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, the singer discussed how she started off housekeeping and then ventured into sex work. Having experienced the physical and emotional challenges of domestic work, at the age of 14 from 1929-1930 Holiday began working for the biggest madame in Harlem as a strictly $20 call girl. (Source: Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners)

 

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Guardian

Roxane Gay  

Roxane Gay is an author, writer, and professor who worked as a phone sex operator. Roxane Gay fights for gay, Black, and fat women. She has published several books, both fiction and nonfiction, and explores her journey and experience with sex work in her highly praised memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body(Source: The Guardian)

 

These are just a few notable people who’ve held jobs in sex work. There's so many more (which we'll explore in future posts!), and the bottom line is that the lives of these powerful people reveal that sex work is work. Like any other job, people turn to sex work for various reasons. Sometimes it’s in pursuit of a passion, other times it’s out of a need to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. What’s certain is that more people are sex workers than we know. Ask yourself this: how do you sell your labor?

 

— Darya Nicol, Becca Berry
Organizers with BYP100 DC