Frequently Asked Questions: Organization
How do organizations and individuals become members of the Coalition?
Organizations and individuals become members of the Coalition by agreeing to the Mission Statement and the Values/Principles Statement. Beyond that, members are not expected to agree with or support every campaign or specific policy position of the Coalition. We intentionally chose this format because we want to build a broad coalition that includes community groups that may not hold the same view on everything or are unable to take a public position on certain issues due to their funding restrictions.
What is expected of members of the Coalition?
Once your organization become a member of the Coalition, we will list you on our website and other materials as a member, add you to the email list, invite you to our meetings and events, and occasionally ask you to support campaigns or give feedbacks. We will also ask you to help spread our message through your newsletter, website, or social media. There is nothing that you will have to do as a member of the Coalition, though we would like it if you become an active member because we need all the voices and resources/connections we can get. We do not (for now) plan to publicize names of individual members.
What is an example of “campaigns”?
As an example: the first campaign we are launching is to establish immunity from prosecution for sex workers and people in the sex trade who call 911 for medical or police assistance. While there are many reasons someone might hesitate to call 911, fear of prosecution under prostitution laws should not be one of them. There is already a state law that protects people experiencing drug overdose and those who call for medical assistance on their behalf from being charged with possession, and we want to pass a parallel legislation that protects people in the sex trade similarly.
Can someone participate in the Coalition without becoming a member?
Yes! We invite everyone who supports rights and safety for people in the sex trade to attend our meetings, join our email list, and endorse specific campaigns even if your organization is not ready to formally join the Coalition for whatever reason.
How public or private will my participation in the meetings be?
At the beginning of the meeting, in addition to introductions we pass around a sign-in sheet. Please identify yourself (name, organizational affiliation, etc.) however you feel comfortable for the meeting notes. We welcome sex workers and people in the sex trade to sign in under pseudonym or anonymously to protect their identity. That said, the meeting is held at a public library which is technically open to the public, and as such we cannot guarantee complete anonymity.
Is the Coalition a project of SWOP Seattle?
Aside from providing the initial funding to hire the coalition coordinator, SWOP Seattle is a member of the Coalition like any other. The Coalition sets its own agenda, while of course staying true to its commitment to centering the voices of sex workers and people in the sex trade.
Frequently Asked Questions: Language
Who are “sex workers”?
“Sex worker” refers to anyone who performs sexual labor in exchange for money or other things of value, such as housing, food, and drugs. People often use the term “sex worker” to emphasize the importance of protecting sex workers’ rights as workers and to challenge stigmatization of sex workers. It is also useful to describe people performing different types of sexual labor, such as prostitution, escorting, dancing, porn acting/modeling, and others. That said, not everyone who fits this description identifies with the term “sex worker,” so it is important to respect what words each person uses to describe what s/he does or who s/he is.
What do you mean by “sex trade”?
Compared to “sex work,” which involves a value judgment (i.e. sex work is work), we use the phrase “sex trade” as a neutral, descriptive term for what we do when we perform sexual labor, especially (but not necessarily limited to) those involving direct physical contact with the client. This term is useful in policy discussions because it can include those who do not identify with the term “sex work,” as well as minors who trade sex and people who are under coercive environment with little choice or agency. We hope to advocate for everyone who is in the sex trade regardless of how one identifies or what circumstances compelled them to engage in it.
What is criminalization?
We understand criminalization not just as the prohibition of specific illegal actions, but also as a social process by which certain communities (people of color, immigrants, homeless people, etc.) are marked as criminals and criminal suspects and targeted for intensified policing, surveillance, and prosecution. Therefore, in addressing the criminalization of people in the sex trade, we will not just focus on laws specifically criminalizing sex trade, but also question other laws and policing patterns that target these communities disproportionately, as members of targeted communities are overrepresented among people in the sex trade.
What is harm reduction?
Harm reduction is an approach to addressing risks or harms associated with human behaviors that are often viewed as (but are not necessarily inherently) socially undesirable, such as drug use and sex trade. It recognizes complex social, economic, cultural, and historical contexts that influence choices individuals make, and promotes non-judgmental, practical strategies that reduce negative consequences resulting from them. Harm reduction suggests that policy interventions must reflect the needs and wishes of individuals and communities they impact, rather than prescribing how they should live or directing them what to do.
What is intersectionality?
Intersectionality, a term that originated from the discussion of/within Black feminism, describes the complex interaction of multiple social identities and systems of oppressions such as racism, sexism, classism, and ableism that result in experiences that cannot be accounted for by applying a single analytical lens (such as anti-racism) or by treating them simply as the sum of each independent layer of oppression. By “committing to an intersectional analysis,” we intend to address various systems of oppressions as an amalgam of mutually interacting mechanisms, paying particular attention to how they impact those who experience multiple intersecting oppressions and supporting their leadership.