Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Redefining Words: Sex Workers Are People Too

While reading the HelloGiggles Misogynist Soup blog post I found the last ingredient to the soup (the topping) to be very interesting. Blogger Filleosophy writes briefly about the Halifax non-profit organization, Stepping Stones, who focuses on sex work advocacy and their recent ad campaign. In response to recent media coverage of the brutalization of a prostitute and murdered women, Stepping Stones hopes to humanize sex workers with their new advertisements. The ads remind people that women, men, and transgender people who are sex workers are people too. They have families and friends, responsibilities, and issues in their lives. The last thing they need is to be dismissed or looked down on because of their work.

According to the National Post interview with Rene Ross, Stepping Stone's executive director, the ads don't promote sex work or prostitution. Ross says, "We're promoting people. We want to send the message that this is a campaign about people and...that these [sex workers] are in fact people with families and with lives and that they also deserve the same human rights and access to justice as the rest of the Canadian population."

Three ads make up the campaign. If you can't read them, the text over the ad of the grandmother reads "I'm proud of my tramp, raising two kids on her own" and in the lower corner it says "sex workers are daughters too." The text of the middle ad with the man on it reads "At my wedding, my younger hooker gave the funniest speech" and "sex workers are brothers too." And the last ad reads "I'm glad my prostitute made me finish school" and "sex workers are mothers too." By exchanging the words "mother," "daughter," and "brother" for terms that label sex workers the ads redefine the labels. Ross makes the point that words like "prostitute" or "hooker" are used in the media in such negative ways that people forget that sex workers are people too. These labels focus attention on the victim and victimize them in a way that suggest they are responsible for the violence against them; and it enforces that violence against women is okay if they are a sex worker, as if it were part of the job. Ross and Stepping Stone's argument is that such a thought process is not acceptable. Sex workers are human beings and their job should not be justification for violence against them.

Hopefully these ads will change the dehumanizing perception sex workers face in Canada and the US.

~Katie, Oakland County NOW intern

Friday, July 1, 2011

Planned Parenthood, All the Fun Facts.

In light of the recent news of Planned Parenthood (PP) locally and across the country, I thought it appropriate to have a little lesson about its origin and current action. Contrary to popular belief, PP does more then provide abortions. They are a medical organization focused on women’s and reproductive health. According to Nineteen Percent’s video less then 3% of Planned Parenthood’s provided services are abortions. “That means NINETY-SEVEN PERCENT of these services are NOT abortions. They’re things like: Birth Control and emergency contraception, STD testing and treatment, Cancer screenings, Pregnancy tests, Prenatal care and all manner of other important things that people need to maintain their health, reproductive and otherwise.”

(Thank you feministing.com for that brilliant video link).

Planned Parenthood in blogs:

Kansas Eliminating PP

Kansas Update

Victory for PP in South Dakota

Planned Parenthood Advocates (blog)

Brief History

Planned Parenthood Federation of America was founded in 1923 by Margaret Sanger who merged the Birth Control Clinic Bureau and the American Birth Control League, two organizations that she had previously founded. Their mission, as outlined on their webpage (click here!), is to provide comprehensive reproductive and health care services in settings that protect privacy and the rights of individuals; to advocate public policies that guarantee these rights and ensure access to services; to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality; and to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care. (Thanks PP website).

Fun Facts (Planned Parenthood At A Glance):

PP is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider.

84 independent local affiliates operate more than 800 health centers throughout the US.

PP provides various sexual and reproductive health care services to more then 5 MILLLION women, men, and adolescents worldwide each year.

79% of PP clients in the US are of the age 20 and older.

1 in 5 women in the US has visited a PP health center once in her life.

83% of PP clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy.

PP services help prevent more than 612,000 unintended pregnancies each year.

PP provides nearly one million Pap tests and more than 830,000 breast exams each year. They also provide nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

3% of all PP health services are abortion services.


Planned Parenthood has been attempting to open a health center in Auburn Hills, but is facing a great deal of backlash. There are currently no health centers in Oakland County; there are a total of 15 PP health centers in the state. Find one here!

In support of the Planned Parenthood of Auburn Hills a rally will be taking place outside the Crofoot in Pontiac on Saturday July 9th at 5pm. Following the rally, Lizz Winstead will be kicking off her Planned Parenthood, I Am Here For You tour at the Historic Eagle Theatre (next to the Crofoot).

“Join us in the fight for commonsense policies that foster the sexual and reproductive health and rights of individuals, families, and communities.” PP website

~Katie, Oakland County NOW intern