The need for community (i.e. sex working) centered and created protections and experience-informed tech is urgent. On November 7th, in collaboration with the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society hosted by the Initiative for a Representative First Amendment we’re inviting researchers, sex workers, legal aid practitioners, accomplices, and tech makers (many of whom embody each of the above categories) to join us for a day long convening, skill and knowledge share.
Technology has the ability to shape public discourse and policy; technologies are not simply used as tools—rather tech has the capacity to profoundly and fundamentally alter social norms and political structures. As technology evolves, it can impose specific values, alter society, and restructure life — specifically, affecting who has access to resources and who does not. Modern surveillance and social technologies should be contextualized in a history of older forms of policing and technology of colonial control. With new technology comes new regulation and legislation, like FOSTA-SESTA (The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), now referred to as Public Law 115-164.
Of course, barring marginalized communities access to resources and technologies is nothing new; FOSTA-SESTA created an infrastructural precedent to expedite the process. This has lead to a massive over-response from social and financial technologies. Companies like Square Cash, Paypal, Venmo, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr already included anti-sex work clauses in their Terms of Service (TOS), but after FOSTA-SESTA, sex workers face increased discrimination and erasure. In the wake of this erasure, we see a discourse emerging that ignores the complexities of marginalized communities’ lived experiences and puts them at greater risk for labor exploitation and trafficking by preventing them from accessing equitable resources, traditional banking, and wealth accruement. In these examples, interventions in the name of public health and safety have an opposite effect when they make resources less accessible to those most vulnerable to violence.
Hacking//Husting – November 7th Schedule – @ Harvard
11AM – 12:00PM – Opening + Welcome
12PM – 12:45PM – Catered Lunch Talk: “Prison Surveillance/Communication Technology & Inside/Outside Organizing”
12:45PM – 1:00PM – Videos from Movement & Community Leaders
1:00PM – 2:00PM – Part 1 of Big Tech is Watching: “Censorship & Navigating Multiple Identities”
2:00-2:15PM – Account Shutdown Infographic
2:15PM – 3:30PM – Part 2: “Lack of Tech & Building Mutual Care” (not recorded)
3:30PM – 3:45PM – Break! Decompress, check-in with one another, hydrate!
3:45PM – 4:15PM – Community Research & Data Analysis: “The Impact of FOSTA/SESTA and the Removal of Backpage on Sex Worker Health”
4:15PM – 4:30PM – “Mobilization via Threat: Sex Worker Resistance in a Post-SESTA/FOSTA Era”
4:30PM – 4:45PM – FOSTA-SESTA Legal Explainer Update
4:45PM – 5:45PM – “Rescue Industry Woes: Policy & Advocacy Addressing Savorism”
5:45PM – 6:00PM – Closing Remarks
6:00PM – 6:30PM – Break! Decompress, check-in with one another, hydrate!
6:30PM-8PM- Community Conversation (not recorded)
Featured Participants Include:
Jessica Raven (she/her), organizer with Decrim NY and previously DecrimNow DC. Jessica is a queer mama and prison abolitionist who traded sex as a teenager, and now works to build connections between the movements against state violence, gendered violence, and homelessness. She seeks to shift public narratives about the sex trade through public outreach efforts like canvassing, art, and public demonstrations.
Leo, Kela and Naomi (all use she/her pronouns) will be presenting and taking questions on security and privacy concerns specific to low income sex workers, based on their work as organizers with Whose Corner Is it Anyway. WCIIA is a mutual aid, harm reduction, political education, and organizing group in western Massachusetts led by stimulant and opioid using low-income, survival, or street-based sex workers. All members are current or former low income sex workers. All members either inject drugs, are/have been homeless, or work/ have worked outside.
Raani Begum (she/her) is a queer South Asian full service sex worker. In her research and writing, she focuses on culture, labor, and State suppression from a gendered lens. Her community organizing work focuses on community outreach in femme-centered street economies, anti-police work, harm reduction, and community oriented, restorative justice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Kate Zen (she/her) is a coder, artist, and organizer. She is the Interim Director and co-founder of Red Canary Song, organizing with Asian and migrant sex workers through a transnational and intergenerational lens. Previously, she organized with Butterfly and the Migrant Sex Worker Project in Toronto, Streetwise and Safe, Red Umbrella Project, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, and served on the Board of SWOP-USA and Maggie’s in Toronto.
Lorelei Lee (she/her) is a sex worker, writer, and activist. You can find her writing in The Establishment, $pread Magazine, n+1, Hustling Verse, The Feminist Porn Book, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, and elsewhere. She was a founding member of Survivors Against SESTA and serves on the board of Red Canary Song.
Melissa Gira Grant (she/her) is a staff writer covering justice at The New Republic. She is the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso). Her feature reporting and commentary on sex work has been published by The Village Voice, BuzzFeed News the Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among many others.
Tamika Spellman (she/her) Working with HIPS in Washington DC, representing as the policy and advocacy department. I work with and for LGBTQ, Black and Brown people, drug users, those experiencing mental health issues and homelessness as well as Sex Workers and others based in street economies. We believe everyone deserves to live self determined lives free from stigma or shame, and that all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Brit Schulte (they/them) is an educator, curator, community organizer, and underemployed sex working art historian. They coordinate the Justice for Alisha Walker Defense Campaign alongside fellow members of the Support Ho(s)e Collective, are a member of Survived & Punished NY, and serve as the resident archivist and community art historian for Hacking//Hustling. They are formerly an organizer with Survivors Against SESTA (which sunset active organizing in July 2018), and Red Canary Song. Their writing may be found at Tits & Sass, In These Times, Monthly Review, The Appeal, and Truthout.
Alisha “LeLe” Walker (she/her) is a poet, visual artist, criminalized survivor, and inside organizer with the Support Ho(s)e Collective. She is a queer, mixed, Black, unapologetic former sex worker, who has contributed to art shows, zines, and published works. Her story has been amplified by Survived & Punished, Love & Protect and Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration. She’s currently incarcerated for an act of self-defense at Decatur Correctional, in Illinois.
Danielle Blunt (she/her) is a NYC-based Dominatrix, a full-spectrum doula and sex worker rights activist. She studies power dynamics and researches the intersection of public health, sex work and equitable access to tech. She has her Masters in Public Health. She is the former care coordinator of PERSIST Health Project. She enjoys watching her community thrive and making men cry.
Yin Q (they/she) is a kink ritualist, educator, and writer of Mercy Mistress, a web series about a queer, Asian American dominatrix. Q is a core member of Red Canary Song and the founder/director of Kink Out events.
Daly Barnett (she/her) is a software engineer and privacy advocate. She is the founder of t4tech, an organization that facilitates free tech education workshops for trans and gender-nonconforming people.
Emily Dall’Ora Warfield (she/her) is a sex worker and social work grad student based in the New York City area. She’s also an occasional writer and can be found on Twitter at @EmilyDWarfield
Emily (they/them) is a grassroots organizer and researcher based in Las Vegas. Their work investigates the impact of increasing surveillance and changing digital landscapes on movements and mobilization. Emily previously worked as the North American Regional Correspondent to the NSWP (Global Network of Sex Work Projects) and is currently a PhD student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Ariel Wolf (she/her) is a writer, researcher, and former sex worker from New York City. She previously served as the community organizer for the Red Umbrella Project a nonprofit organization that amplified the voices of those in the sex trades, and as a research assistant for the Center for Court Innovation where she has worked on studies on sex work, human trafficking, gun violence, and procedural justice. Her first solo academic paper entitled Stigma in the Sex Trades was published earlier this year in the journal of Sexuality and Relationship Therapy.
More to be announced!