Aug 042011
 

For those of you who are unaware, one of the MANY issues with Google+ (in addition to having the big “male/female/other” requirement, and being SUPER hostile to adult content, including links to adult content marked NSFW) is that they are requiring you to use your legal name. If it is found that you are not using your legal name, your account can be deleted. If your Google+ account is deleted, that includes the Gmail account to which it is attached, which at least for me, would delete over 6 years of emails, files, etc and would really suck.

Why is this such an issue? Well, let’s start.

*Many trans folks have not had a legal name change (some states have VERY stringent requirements involving hormones, surgery, doctor’s letters, etc) based on their circumstances, whether it is a transition thing, a medical thing, a family/rights thing, a money/cost thing, etc. Requiring them to use their legal name rather than their real name is forcing them to out themselves. This can be dangerous.

*Adult stars and sex workers usually don’t use their legal names for a myriad of reasons. Requiring them to do so not only outs them, but puts them in danger from stalkers, being outed to their family, etc, not to mention legal repercussions if it is sex work that can be prosecuted (and keep in mind, not all sex work is illegal).

*Women often use different names online to keep themselves and families safe. Perhaps they’ve gotten out of an abusive relationship, or perhaps they have a more unique name, and don’t ant every asshole on a social network googling their home address.

*Lots of sex educators work under other names.  I did when I started out. Why? Because even now, my partner and I worry about people showing up on my door step. I get harassing phone calls sometimes. Luckily, most of my family is supportive, but not everyone has that privilege. Many great sexuality educators work under not their legal name; Midori, Ayden Fire, Sir Top and slave bonnie, Madison Young, etc. There are many others, but I don’t want to out them as not using their legal names.

*Most sex bloggers (and bloggers in general) blog under other names. Why? Safety; not just the physical danger issue, but losing their jobs, custody of their kids, their partners, and more. Has this happened when they’ve been outed? Absolutely.

*Many people just don’t go by their legal names. If your name is Katherine and you go by Katie, could Google+ delete you? Possibly. What about if you go by your middle name instead of your first name? Or you use your partner’s last name, but haven’t legally changed it?

The list goes on and on and on. Folks with disabilities. Celebrities (local, national and international). Whistleblowers. Authors. Gamers. There are so many incredible reasons someone would choose not to use their LEGAL name on a social media site, or on the internet in general, so how dare we force them to do so, at risk of losing their gmail and other google centric accounts if google deems their name not real?  Luckily, a group is creating a site with real people sharing their stories about why they choose not to use their legal name (you can use any name you want to post on the site), and they are looking for submissions. If you’re a person who would be affected by using your legal name online, or part of a group for whom you can speak, they’d love to hear from you. Their info is below.

Thank you for your help and understand on this issue, and sharing it with others so that they can understand why in fact this is a pretty big deal,

Shanna

From http://my.nameis.me/make-a-statement/:

Make a statement

We’re looking for more people to write for us about why they support the freedom to choose your own name online.

While we appreciate that thousands upon thousands of people worldwide feel strongly about this issue, the most valuable statements come from those who are famous or prominent in their fields, or those who can speak on behalf of populations who need to choose their own names.

So, we’re particularly looking for individuals like:

  • Performance artists (musicians, actors, etc), especially those who use stage names
  • Authors, journalists and other writers, especially those who use pen names
  • Politicians and prominent political activists
  • Sex educators and sex workers
  • Religious leaders
  • … and any other notable or famous person who supports people’s freedom to choose their own name online.

Or people who represent organisations like:

  • Domestic violence support groups
  • LGBT advocacy groups
  • Civil rights groups
  • Groups working with children at risk
  • Disability advocacy groups
  • … and any other organization working with people who commonly want the freedom to choose their own name online

If you fit the above descriptions, or can introduce us to someone who does, please get in touch with us!

Dec 172010
 

Much of this is taken from the Sex Worker Outreach Project. Let me tell you that sex workers are people. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, offspring. They are friends, lovers, scared, excited, in love, loving, caring, hurting, sharing, and much more. I have been a sex worker, and often consider myself one as I work as a sex coach and a sex educator, teaching hands on workshops, and making my living by helping to improve others sex lives. Sex workers are people, like you, and her, and him. You probably know at least one sex worker, whether or not they are out to you. They are escorts and porn stars and phone sex operators and pro-dommes and street workers and sex surrogates and more. And sadly, sex workers have an incredibly high incidence of violence against them. Today, we need to think about what is it we can do to protect these members of OUR communities. Please, stand up and do your part.

-Shanna

Read Stopping the Terror: A Day to End Violence Against Prostitutes by Annie Sprinkle from On The Issues Magazine.

December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe. Originally thought of by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and started by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from over cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence. During the week of December 17th, sex worker rights organizations will be staging actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws has made violence against us acceptable. Please join with sex workers around the world and stand against criminalization and violence committed against prostitutes.

TEN WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS

(EVERYONE IS INVITED)

  1. Organize a vigil/memorial/gathering in your town. Simply choose a place and time. Invite people to bring their stories, writings, thoughts, related news items, poems, lists of victims, performances, and memories. Take turns sharing.
  2. Organize or attend a candlelight vigil in a public place.
  3. Do something at home alone which has personal meaning, such as a memorial bath, or light a candle.
  4. Call a friend and discuss the topic.
  5. Send a donation to a group that helps sex workers stay safer. Some teach self-defense or host web sites that caution workers about bad Johns. Donate to Sex Worker Outreach Project.
  6. Read the Sex Workers Outreach Project’s web site, www.swop-usa.org, Do let others know about any planned Dec. 17 events by listing them on the site. (Although sadly this site is not current and I’m not sure if someone is following through on this.) There is also a wikipedia entry about Dec. 17 which you can read.
  7. Spread the word about the Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and the issues it raises; blog, email, send a press release, forward this text to others.
  8. Attend a Dec. 17th Day to End Violence event/action/memorial. Everyone is welcome.
  9. Organize a panel discussion about violence towards sex workers. Procure a community space and invite speakers like sex workers, police, and families of victims.
  10. Create your own way to participate. People have done celebrations, Xmas caroling, protests at jails, lobbying at City Halls, naked women reading whore writings, performance art, visual art projects, and other creative, fun and moving things.
Nov 232010
 

Re-posted from Audacia Ray.

The Red Umbrella Project (http://redumbrellaproject.com/ or on FB as http://facebook.com/redumbrelladiaries) is looking for a Blog Carnival Curator for our monthly sex worker blog carnival. Check out what we’ve been doing with the Carnival so far here: http://www.redumbrellaproject.com/category/blog-carnival/

(this is also posted here: http://www.redumbrellaproject.com/were-hiring-blog-carnival-curator/)

Duties:

  • Write and circulate a monthly announcement about the theme of the blog carnival
  • Curate pieces for monthly thematic blog carnival – curation may include targeted outreach like emailing bloggers, doing blog searches for posts that match the theme, other online outreach and research
  • Outreach to online sex worker communities to promote the Red Umbrella Project blog carnival and podcast
  • Stay updated on sex worker blogger communities
  • Make recommendations for potential performers for live events in NYC
  • Actively work to expand the representation of sex workers’ voices, ensuring industry diversity, and diversity along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, and ability

Qualifications:

  • Commitment to and excitement about sex worker storytelling
  • Familiarity with the sex worker blogosphere – ideally, you are a sex worker blogger who participates in online communities
  • Daily internet access, ability to respond to emails in a timely way. You can live anywhere to do this job.
  • Familiarity with WordPress and social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Fetlife (please mention all you are active on in your application)
  • Commitment to actively work on expanding the representation of sex workers’ voices, ensuring industry diversity, and diversity along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, and other points of diversity
  • Priority for this position is given to a sex worker or former sex worker (self-identified) who is already actively engaged with sex workers online. Allies who have demonstrated commitment to sex worker rights are also eligible. You do not have to be out as a sex worker to apply; all disclosures in your application will remain confidential.

Time commitment: 5-10 hours per month, completely flexible – blog carnival needs to be posted by the last week of the month.

Compensation: $50 per month. Payable when blog carnival is posted.

To Apply: Email stories@redumbrellaproject.com with an introductory note that has links to online profiles and writings, as well as links to any special projects of which you have been a part. Also, please tell us who your three favorite sex worker bloggers are and why.

Deadline for applications is December 10, 2010 at 7 pm EST.

INFO ABOUT THE PROJECTThe Red Umbrella Project (http://redumbrellaproject.com/) iwas founded by activist and former sex worker Audacia Ray on the belief that storytelling is a building block of movement building and solidarity. People who have spent time in the sex industries know all too well the social and legal stigmas that prevent us from being treated with the dignity and respect we deserve. While researchers, the media, and myriad others fill up page after page with stories about the sex trade, the voices of people who have lived this reality are consistently denied and erased.

Everyone has a story, and the people who are best equipped to tell the stories of people in the sex trade are the people who have personal experiences in the industry.

The Red Umbrella Project has several elements:

  • The Red Umbrella Diaries is a monthly storytelling series in New York, where people who’ve tangled with the sex industry tell personal stories about the complications that arise when you mix sex and money. The event takes place the first Thursday of every month at Happy Ending in NYC.
  • Podcast: New episodes, featuring recordings of stories told by performers at the monthly series and occasional guest stories, are released every Sunday. The free audio podcast is available on the website as well as on iTunes.
  • The Red Umbrella Diaries Blog Carnival is a way for people who can’t attend the events in New York to share their stories, or for people who are too shy to share their stories onstage. Every month, host Audacia Ray selects a piece from the carnival and reads it at the event.
  • Workshops: Trainings for communities that are interested in storytelling, media advocacy and messaging, and media production.
Jun 222010
 

4 years ago, I emailed Audacia Ray and Jamye Waxman.  I’m sure the letter was slightly more eloquently written, but each of them boiled down to:

“Hi. You are a sex-positive feminist who works with adults, sex workers, people in the adult industry, and more. I want to grow up to be like you — how do I do it?”

I’d never met them or contacted them before; however, I’d seen their movies they’d directed, read their blogs, and I knew that I wanted to go that direction. Now, it helped that I was already working on my Master’s of Human Sexuality Education and was working at HotMoviesForHer.com. However, I wanted more. I wanted to help people, to change lives, to educate adults outside of the traditional setting.

And not only did they write back, but they agreed to have dinner with me when Dacia was in Philly for a book reading. They are now people I count as my friends. Both have given me countless pieces of advice, both have put me in contact with amazing people, and both are just sweet, kind hearted people themselves.

Last fall, Tristan Taromino met with me in Phoenix for dinner with her partner (and mine), and we chatted. Again, more advice, more inspiration, more support. But even more, she introduced me to the marketing director of Fascinations, who is now my boss at my full time dream job, being a sexuality educator almost 24-7. A reference from Tristan is worth its weight in gold.

Of course, there is my favorite North-Easterner, Megan Andelloux, another fierce and sassy sexuality educator who I’ve gotten to know more and more the past few months, and who dispenses advice and support to me right and left.

And Always Aroused Girl, who designed this whole site for me, graphics and all.

Why mention them? Well, first and foremost, to thank them for helping me figure out who I am, what I should do, and supporting me in following my dreams. But also, as an example of our responsibility to our community.

I get letters weekly from college students and bloggers (and others) wanting to become sex educators. To each person, I take the time to find out their background, their education, their passions, their dreams, and I write long letters back and forth with them, supporting them how I can.  At Fascinations, I fly out sex educators to Denver, Arizona and Portland, having never even heard many of them talk, but in hopes of providing them a leg up while also providing sexuality education to the masses. I’ve helped people with marketing their blogs, their small indie companies, writing press releases and more.

Why? Because this community grows upon itself. We must help each other. Foster new educators, new bloggers, new authors, as well as support each other as established ones. Without this support, the community becomes weaker, more diluted.  Often times, I think we get nervous; if I help someone else, what if they become more famous than me? What if they take my classes/my places I present?

To this, I say that I would much rather have more sexuality educators who are strong and care about each other, than few who are snippy and angry, and unable to work with others. I’d rather lose a little traffic to help out a new blogger who may have amazing things to say that we haven’t heard yet.

Our responsibility as we learn and grow is to continue to give back. I thank those from whom I’ve received support, and I hope to continue to give it back as much as I can.

-Shanna