October 18, 2012
Redefining Sex Work
Ellen Cushing has written an extensive and nuanced essay in East Bay Express discussing, among other things, worker activism in San Francisco's sex industry. Here's an excerpt; the entire essay is worth reading.
If the East Bay's new sex-work community has a nucleus, it's probably the legendary downtown San Francisco peep-show The Lusty Lady, which unionized in 1996, became a cooperative in 2003, and is still the only business of its kind in the world to be fully unionized and worker-owned. That's where [Jolene] Parton said she "found female community for the first time," and where many people I spoke to said they first become steeped in the sex-positive, activist-oriented, third-wave-feminist ethos that underpins the local sex-workers' movement.
It's also a symbol just how long activism and sex work have been linked in the Bay Area. San Francisco was where the American sex-workers' rights movement first got started, according to activist and sex worker Carol Leigh; it was in fact Leigh herself who first coined the term "sex worker."
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My sister (Boalt Hall class of 2011) was one of the Lusty Ladies involved in the unionization push and was a shop steward after they joined SEIU. A great story.
Posted by: Brian Clarke | Oct 18, 2012 9:29:45 AM