Tag Archives: craigslist

Craigslist Criticism–Am I being too harsh?

23 May

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Craigslist Xes out sex ads
Without the erotic services section, where will sex workers turn for

Tracy Clark-Flory

May. 14, 2009 |

The World Wide Web’s most infamous red light district, and its array
of virtual window girls and purposefully miZspellD cuuum onZ, is being
shuttered. After relentless pressure by a team of state attorneys
general — not to mention the recent high-profile case of the
“Craigslist Killer,” who allegedly used the site to lure a woman to
her death — the classified service is eliminating its erotic services
section across all U.S. sites within one week. Its replacement will be
an “adult” area, where ads cost $10 a pop and are strictly screened
for illegal services. Until now, the site’s been the go-to advertising
channel for agencies that promote sex workers, and independent
prostitutes, especially those in the lower tiers. The question that
has to be asked is: Where will these women find johns?

“The streets,” says Robyn Few, co-director of San Francisco’s Sex
Worker Outreach Project. “The Internet took a lot of sex workers off
the street and created the entrepreneurial age of sex work. Now, it’ll
drive them right back to where they came from.” This is a terrifying
possibility for many providers: Screening clients from behind a
computer screen is inherently safer than working the corner. It also
allows workers to negotiate the “what, when, where and how much” of
the transaction without having to rush to avoid being spotted by cops.

Mariko Passion, who calls herself an “educated whore, urban geisha,”
predicts that some sex workers will take to the streets, but she
doesn’t expect a mass exodus. “Sex workers are smart” and will turn to
alternative free online services like Backpage and Redbook — but
those don’t command even a fraction of Craigslist’s audience size, not
to mention diversity. Scores of sites offer adult services
classifieds, but posting on many of them, like Eros Guide, costs a
pretty penny. In a number of ways, Craigslist was able to lessen the
class divide found in nearly every other shadowy corner of the sex

Passion, who lives in Los Angeles, advertises her services on
Craigslist and through agencies that also advertise for her on
Craigslist. (Anything to reach a larger audience and compete for
attention.) At $85, advertising in the L.A. Weekly is prohibitively
expensive, so she’s partnered with two agencies that spam the erotic
services section with ads featuring stock images of sexy girls. When a
client calls, the agency refers them to whomever is on-call and
available — no matter whether the girl in the original photo has
drastically different measurements, hair or even skin color — and
later takes a cut of the profits. As it is, she says, “you don’t have
control over how many calls you take and they throw you into dangerous
situations.” Agencies just might become increasingly reckless as they
become more desperate for business.

Workers are rattled by this seismic shift in the landscape, but there
isn’t a consensus on whether Craigslist — or, more specifically,
founder Craig Newmark — is the good guy (for resisting for so long)
or the bad guy (for ultimately buckling). Passion sneers that the
company has simply “caved once again,” while Tracy Quan, former sex
worker-turned-Salon columnist and author of “Diary of a Jetsetting
Call Girl,” is more sympathetic. “My heart goes out to the people at
CL who are being harassed by these cynical public officials. The
Craigslist witch hunt isn’t fueled by concern for the safety of sex
workers,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The way I see it, a cynical AG is
exploiting the death of a working woman to enhance his career. It’s a
cheap, easy way to add some sex to your political CV without taking
any of the risks associated with selling erotic services.” On a
similar note, Fews says that she doesn’t blame Newmark for giving up
the fight — after all, the “Craigslist Killer” coverage has “got to
be weighing heavily” on him.

Of course, there’s the irony: The campaign against the erotic services
section was buoyed by those frightening tabloid headlines — but, if
workers are forced from the virtual to the literal street corner,
it’ll only expose them to more danger.

— Tracy Clark-Flory

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