Why SWOP? – Ashley Nicole

1 Jun

When I first thought of titling this article, I thought of, “Why SWOP Is Important To You?” or “Why You Are Important To SWOP?”.  Well, since the case is both, I decided on the short title.

First, you need to know what SWOP is.  SWOP itself stands for Sex Workers Outreach Project.  We are the chapter that represents the Los Angeles area.  Our mission is a social justice organisation, part of a national network, dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.

Second, SWOP is composed of current and former Sex Workers, those in other adult occupations and their allies.  Our membership is made of all genders and sexual orientations, as well as races, colours, creeds and religions.  Yes, religions!  The stereotype of sex workers as godless heathens is just that.  Although, we do have our share of proud Heathens, Pagans, Wiccans, Goddess worshippers and Goddess worshipping Christians besides the standard faiths.

Our most basic work, and why SWOP is important to you, is our anti-violence efforts.  Our multi-state network of sex workers and advocates address on a local and national level the violence that sex workers experience due to the criminal status of their work.

From the SWOP-USA Mission Statement:

Operating in one of the most prominently violent societies today, sex workers in America experience this phenomenon pointedly in the context of their criminal status. Yet, sex workers are seldom afforded protection or recourse from violent acts committed against them because of the precarious, often graft-ridden relationship between sex work and law enforcement. Society tolerates violence against sex workers because of the stigma and myths that surround prostitution. Only until these falsehoods are corrected and sex workers are legitimized will we be able to effectively prevent and minimize the structural and occupational challenges of sex work.

We also advocate for sex work to be recognized as real work, legitimate work.  This puts an end to sex workers being vulnerable to police abuse and discrimination in the wider community.  Also, it will allow sex workers to develop occupational safety and health to protect themselves in the workplace and resist police abuse.

The goals of SWOP should also be important to the LGBTIQ community, as well.  For one, generally, the two communities share the pain of violence afflicted against them.  Secondly, many sex workers are queer, particularly transwomen, and they receive a heavy share of the occurrences of the violence, rape and murder among sex workers due to transphobia and hate.  We should work arm-in-arm for anti-violence and tolerance.

These issues should also be of concern to those in the BDSM scene, and especially women who work as professional dominatrices.  While Pro-Dommes are not sex workers, many jurisdictions have written legislation that treats them as such, thereby making it difficult for them to work, as well as subject to police harassment.  Also, clubs, public or private, can run afoul of either the law or the police because they don’t understand the nature of the BDSM scene.  Pro-Dommes can also be the victims of violence as well, making advocacy and protection important for them, too.

So, why are YOU important to SWOP?  Like with any other activist or advocacy group, the number of people in the group, the efforts of those people in the group, the funding of the group, influence the effectiveness of the group.  The more you increase the effectiveness of the group, the better chance there is to achieve the change that you are advocating.  If you are someone who has experienced the violence and discrimination written about, you should indeed get involved.  If you are someone who believes in human rights and human dignity, you should get involved.  If you are someone who believes in freedom of choice in work and lifestyle as fundamental, natural rights, you should get involved and join SWOP today!

Ashley Nicole

Filmmaker

Queer Activist

Gynarchist

Libertarian

Sex Worker Ally

2000 Republican Nominee for State Assembly

Political Rebel/Social Revolutionary

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