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Wodka

13 Feb

When I first saw this ad for Wodka Vodka via Audacia Ray I was pretty irritated. For those uninterested in clicking over, the ad reads “Escort Quality. Hooker Pricing.” and for some reason has a lamb wearing a sombrero on it. But I took it in stride, reminded myself that I can’t in fact police all of the internet or pop culture for anti-sex worker messaging. Really, that’s not our job as activists either. Because it’s impossible. I was going to Re-tweet Dacia’s post and leave it at that.

But then I saw this retweet from the official Wodka twitter account:

Earlier this year they had another billboard that read “Christmas Quality. Hanukkah Pricing.” After coming under pressure from the ADL and general public for anti-Semitism they quickly took down the ad but the marketing company explained that they didn’t MEAN to be offensive and people just misunderstood the message behind it.

I’m incredibly happy that they responded to the criticism, and proud of everyone who called them on their anti-Semitism. I’m impressed with how quickly it was organized, and how quick the subsequent response was. But I am utterly baffled as to why a company would publicly post “christ, jews r touchy!” right after such public criticism for their offensive language. Aside from being grossly insensitive, it’s just stupid. It would be difficult for Wodka to appear any less apologetic. They’re flimsy reasoning behind the ad was bad enough, but in case there was any doubt of their anti-Semetic sentiments as a company I think they cleared that up nicely for everyone.

It was also motivation to get up in arms. I’m not the first sex worker to complain, and neither was Audacia Ray for that matter. But Wodka clearly doesn’t listen to sex worker voices. They believe that it’s OK to offend sex workers while it’s not ok to offend the Jewish community. The implication that sex workers, like vodka, are consumable products is disturbing. But what is even more disturbing to me is the casual classism, judging the “value” and “quality” of a sex worker based on their socio-economic status. Billboard advertisements rarely use nuanced or thoughtful language, let alone about sex work (with one obvious exception I can think of). But this strongly implies that escorts are people of a better quality than hookers. It plays into the language of selling yourself that is so prevalent and so problematic when discussing sex work. And it suggests that AS PEOPLE escorts have quality, while hookers have low prices. And that is disgusting on many levels to me.

Putting the lamb in a sombrero was both a racist and absurd addition that seems to have even less of a connection to the quality of their product. I can’t decide if they’re inferring that people who drink vodka and party in Mexico or predominantly Mexican areas are more likely to visit prostitutes or if they’re so out of touch that they don’t realize sombreros actually have cultural resonance and are not just party accessories that white people use as a racist joke. Either way it’s unacceptable.

I’m sure Wodka didn’t mean to be offensive. I’m sure they only meant to be irreverent and hilarious. But oppression isn’t funny. Poverty isn’t funny. Racial stereotypes are not funny. They are simply oppressive and racist. Wodka needs to learn that.

Please, reblog, repost, steal these graphics, improve upon them, and bug the shit out of Wodka. We may not have the influence that ADL does (yet!), but we can let them know that this was not only in extremely poor taste, but horribly offensive on a number of levels.

To reach their marketing:

Twitter – @RealWodkaVodka

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/farmerbobwodka

Email: farmerbob@welovewodka.com

-Jessie Nicole

 

Update:

For those who are curious, here’s the entirety of Wodka’s response to the criticisms via their twitter, including a conversation with the poster they retweeted above:

Gross.

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Village Voice vs. Ashton Kutcher

1 Jul

In case you missed it over the past few days, the Village Voice has written an article attacking Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s numbers that they use in their campaign against child trafficking. Here’s the article. It’s long, but well worth the read, especially because of all the attention it’s getting now. But if you’re looking for a more accessible, and I think more thorough, examination of the same issue I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Emi Koyama’s zine : War on Terror and War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activists Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement. You can read it online, but please support this amazing work and buy a copy too!

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have a more official response in the coming days, but I wanted to give people who don’t have time to delve through all the twitter nonsense and all the articles a quick roundup of what I found to be the most helpful information and viewpoints that I think need to be taken into consideration. Since people are both still watching, researching, and writing, this will be updated throughout the next week or so, but here’s a start.

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SEX WORKERS CALL FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT DURING PORN WIKILEAKS CRISIS

18 Apr

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SEX WORKERS CALL FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT DURING PORN WIKILEAKS CRISIS

Last week it was discovered that the website Porn Wikileaks, in an egregious breach of privacy, published the full legal names and other personal information of over 13,000 people they claim to be performers in the porn industry. The information was taken at least partially from the database of the AIM Medical Associates P.C. This deplorable publication not only names current and former porn performers, but others who had been tested at AIM facilities as well.

The cruel shock to those who find themselves on Porn Wikileaks is intensified by the language used on the site. Each entry begins with: “[performer name] born Real Name [legal name] is a pornographic whore, and Hooker.” In the forums members encourage each other to add to the growing list of ID cards and to contact family members and employers to “give those cunts what they deserve.” The site is aggressively homophobic, sexist, transphobic, and offensive on many other levels. This is especially threatening in an environment where sex workers are already frequently targeted as victims of violence.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this story has been AIM’s response. While quick to defend their own organization, calling themselves victims of a security breach comparable to the hacking of the Pentagon and virulently noting that not all the information on the site came from them specifically, there has been no discernible effort made to notify the victims that their information has been made public. A current sex worker, who wishes to remain anonymous after having already been outed on the site, believes that “AIM has either lost sight of or is indifferent to the victimhood of the thousands who have been viciously outed and left vulnerable to the harsh consequences of anti-sex worker sentiments.”

The actions of those who manage and contribute to Porn Wikileaks are reprehensible, but this does not excuse AIM’s responsibility to protect the privacy of their patients.

“We’ve had to set up a quiet network of people personally informing anyone they know that could be affected” says Jessie Nicole, director of Sex Workers Outreach Project – Los Angeles. “We are extremely disappointed in AIM’s response, and feel they need to do more to address the needs of the community they serve.”

Sex workers want a medical center tailored to the specific needs of the sex industry, including protection of anonymity. When sex workers are outed, not only are any future jobs outside of the sex industry threatened, but so is their physical safety. SWOP-LA encourages anyone who has been affected by this atrocity to contact their local sex workers rights organization. Jessie Nicole emphasizes “we can address this crisis together as a community, and come up with a viable model for a medical center that could prevent this type of threat from reoccurring in the future.”

To contact SWOP-LA:

swopla@swoplosangeles.org

http://www.swoplosangeles.org

Sex Workers Outreach Project – Los Angeles

5042 Wilshire Blvd. #202

Los Angeles, CA 90036

swopla@swoplosangeles.org

Director

Jessie Nicole

(424) 253-6223

jessie.nicole@swoplosangeles.org

###

Whore-A-Palooza Fest featuring SWOP-LA members

17 Jun

Mommy Fiercest and Mariko Passion takin over El Rio SF for Whore a palooza.  Camera work by Honeybuns Candy!

PRESS RELEASE on Craigslist

14 May

Can the erotic service providers please speak?

Since the arrest of alleged Craigslist Killer Philip Markoff,  erotic service providers, their agencies, pimps, and clients are all going to, as of May 20, 2009 deal with the fact that “business as usual”, means to the erotic service provider and his or her related community, that the erotic service that one provides is not really a bona fide service (like being a party clown, which would be posted in the event gigs section, for example) is not and should not be treated like the business that many an erotic service provider owns, operates and/or manages and does not deserve the same civic engagement that other Craigslist community members are afforded.

The elimination of erotic services ads on Craigslist is most insulting because it is absolutely counter to the mission statement of their non profit, The Craigslist Foundation “is looking at building a platform for civic engagement. Imagine a place to learn, share ideas and connect with like-minded individuals. Whether through localized needs matching or taking the pulse of policy at any level, we want to help inspire and connect people and communities on all levels to become active and engaged.’

“If CL was to be true to their mission, they would be working with as many sex worker outreach organizations that they possibly could, possibly making a donation page to the victims of the recent murders and their families, using the $5.00 fees for the last 7 days to create a donation pool for December 17th “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers” which was started by Sex Workers Outreach Project in San Francisco the same place that Craigslist was born.  But, it’s not likely that this will happen unless at least HALF of all the guys and girls who have ever used Craigslist demanding that more be done to respect and protect our safety than just shut down the erotic section.  This does not help our safety, this cripples many of our already economically compromised livelihood.  The Erotic service providers section will be shut down and people will think that the problem is solved.  So far, I am not very impressed with Craigslist.orgs decisions, and I am not convinced that Craig Numark really cares about violence against sex workers as much as he is covering his ass.” Says Mariko Passion, founder and director of Sex Workers Project-LA.

Craigslist is the internet stroll for many, and those workers will now have to scramble for new sources of revenue.  Some will find the few other free to post internet outlets, others will be able to afford the average $125/mo fee that higher end website portals like Eros.com charge, others will have to return to the streets, or to their pimps, or to the pimp agencies that they tried so hard to leave.

SEX WORKERS PROJECT LOS ANGELES can provide at least 3 different sex workers who have used Craigslist and some who have always stayed away from it for your radio or print story on this topic.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mariko Passion at 1-877-776-2004 x 606 and leave a message

Or email swopla2006@gmail.com