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Saturday, August 1, 2015

REBIRTH OF PROSTITUTES ANONYMOUS - VERSION 2.0 FOR 2015

There has been an increasing uproar about our name of "Sex Workers Anonymous". Each year this uproar and hostility gets worse and worst from people who are not members of our program simply over our name coming to me saying basically "I have no problem with you.  I have no problem with your program.  BUT I do have a BIG problem with the name of your program." .

I need to state we started with the name of "Prostitutes Anonymous" in 1987.  I chose that name because of my belief that all sex workers - whether strippers, porn performers, porn models, or even dominatrix's, and women who rented by the month instead of by the hour all shared the common bond of prostitution.  Even our male members and yes even pimps because the pimps I'd known had started out as prostitutes - then upon getting older became pimps.

But at our first meeting - we had male "hustlers" there from Hollywood and Santa Monica Blvd.  We had transgenders coming to meetings. Also, at our 3rd meeting we had a madam show up.   Then about a year into the process we had our first pimp show up.  These members argued they did not "identify" as a prostitute and didn't like having to use it in the meetings.  Despite this - we could get everyone to agree that we all shared "spiritual prostitution" among ourselves.  So we kept the name.

Now I'd like to point out that most of our members would not be classified as a 'trafficking victim".  I make a distinction between a "pimp" and a "trafficker".  To me, a pimp is a man or woman who is in an emotional relationship (it may not always be sexual but it is always emotional) with the prostitute.  I'm working on a case now where the women is being pimped by her sister, brother and her mother.  So she's in an "emotional" relationship with her pimps multiple - but not a sexual one.

They may, or may not, take their money against the prostitutes' will.  They may not even take any money per se.  I've seen people married to their pimps that are genuinely in love with that pimp.  Not all pimps are violent.  Not all pimps "turn out" their prostitutes.  Some are in non-violent, non-coercive romantic relationships.  I know that's difficult for some of you to hear - but I just feel that a pimp is someone in an emotional relationship with one or more people and they are different than a trafficker.

Now a madam I feel in most cases is a business relationship. This is where the madam provides the client, provides the transportation or the house, provides security and screening, as well as serves as a buffer for confidentiality in most cases.  However, I have seen female pimps as well who don't fit that definition.  So I believe in most cases a madam is not a pimp nor a trafficker.

A "trafficker' to me on the other hand is someone who sells people like they're cattle or like dogs at the dog breeder.  They treat their prostitutes, or strippers, or porn models like they're objects not people.  They rarely also sell just one person - but as many as they possibly can.  They are acting against the prostitute's will, and in most cases are deceptive and using force of some kind.  I do not feel any "trafficking" situation is "voluntary" or "romantic".

So when I first started the Prostitutes Anonymous program - I'd say about 90 percent of our members were just sex workers without pimps and also were not trafficking victims.  These were people who were working in the sex industry, who were not drug or sex addicts, who simply wanted, or needed, to go through the exit and recovery process and why they were in our program.

I'd then see maybe seven percent of our members had pimps we had to help them get away from, with the remaining three percent being a trafficking victim.  Many of our trafficking victim members had been sold by traffickers as children.  Then pimped when they became teens - evolving into an independent sex worker by the time they were an adult.  So many of our members had been "all of the above" actually.

I also myself have been "pimped" but I do not feel I was "trafficked".  I did however witness trafficking first hand.  I saw trafficking in many forms also.  I saw the "coyotes" who would bring people over from other countries as traffickers.  I saw men in our own government loading women who had been knocked out onto diplomat planes where I knew they would not be seen nor heard from again.  I had helped people escape both trafficking and pimping.  So I've seen the broad range here.  Also remember, the actual term "trafficking" wasn't really coined until the year 2000 with the "Trafficking Act of 2000".

But still, our adult members are very comfortable with that name of "Prostitutes Anonymous.  We have many members who are not "prostitutes' by the definition of sex for money - that are in fact recovering from the sex industry.  Those who were trafficked against their will also don't feel they should identify as a "prostitute" when what they did was not by choice.  Generally however those coming to us were coming as adults so our members were making decisions for themselves when they first came to us.

We lived with the name until the internet was born.  Now we had webcam models and performers.  These people were truly in sex work but were not engaging in prostitution - or intercourse for money.  So they started coming in saying "no I'm not a prostitute" and it was causing some issues of putting a square peg into a round hole.  "My" story isn't "everyone's" story so we had to be able to work for "everyone" so we had to start thinking about the language again.

Then we really had problems because of the internet.  Adult filters started blocking us from being found by people who were looking on search engines on computers which were blocking us because of the word "prostitute".  I was having computerized directories block our name because of the word "prostitute".  I was finding college computers were blocking people from finding us because of the word "prostitute".  As we started getting more and more webcam performers into our program - we did have to seriously analyze if this issue was about "sex for money" or something deeper and more complex.

Realize sexual addiction was also in the process of being recognized as a valid addiction then.  So we were also trying to make sure people understood we were not about sex.  We saw Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsive s Anonymous,  Sex Addicts Anonymous, etc.  We even saw Sex Industry Survivors Anonymous.   So we really didn't want to use the word "sex" at all actually in our name for a long time so people didn't confuse us with these other groups.

Now the internet came about in about 1995.  Remember this started out as a bunch of professors and military people so there was a huge "ban" on the word "prostitute" then that doesn't exist now online.  AOL was also big in 1995.  The chat rooms were also huge and that was the last straw.  Any mention of the word "prostitute" and we got ourselves shut down for "violations of terms of service".  If I said "I'm a member of Prostitutes Anonymous" they'd ban me from talking online for 24 hours is what used to happen.

We couldn't even get a domain name of "prostitutes" anonymous when we tried to register for our URL name.  So that was the last straw - we had to change our name to not only get a domain name for our website - but we also needed to get our phone listed in the phone books which were all computerized by then.  No one was "thinking" - these systems were computerized and just blocking anything with the word "prostitute" in it.  Not unlike the debate I would imagine Narcotics Anonymous had over the fact they didn't make a distinction between prescribed drugs vs. street drugs.  Ours was kind of the same debacle.  

The real "last straw" hit when it came to public service announcements.  Radio, TV stations, programs, etc. all said they would run commercials for us - but they would absolutely NOT use the word "prostitute" when running commercials on their TV stations especially at 2:00 a.m.  So to get national public service announcements we really knew that's when we had to change the name to Sex Workers Anonymous.

We took a "group conscience" of all our our groups.  Only two chapters objected to the name change.  Chicago and Phoenix had said "we've been running as Prostitutes Anonymous so long - we don't want to change our name".

So to compromise and accommodate - what we did was we officially changed our legal name to Sex Workers Anonymous.  However, "each group is autonomous" so we told the two groups who did not want to change their name this - that they could subtitle their groups "Prostitutes Anonymous" as long as they understood the program's name was changing.  This is how like for an example Pacific Group operates as a sub-group of Alcoholics Anonymous.  So these two groups would be the "Prostitutes Anonymous groups of Sex Workers Anonymous".  They agreed to that.  Meaning they could not change our literature - but they could call their MEETING by the old name as we moved forward into the future.  Meaning they were still a part of us obviously, but they could continue to use the name for the one "meeting".  They could not start up any other new meetings unless they used the new name - but the existing meetings could keep their name.

But things changed in 2007.  The first sign of an issue was when Melissa Farley asked me at the press conference we gave if I would make a public statement about "abolishing" the sex industry, and also that "all prostitution was rape" as an official statement out of SWA.  Of course I could not make a statement like that on behalf of our members because that's not true for their reality.  I refused and that's where her, and the groups she was a part of, split.  No madam for example was going to stand up and say "I was raped".  It just didn't work for our membership.  The same went for the pimps' who have come into our program for help also over the years.  They aren't going to say they were "rape victims" as pimps.  This is when her and I parted ways.  She couldn't wrap her head around the concept that for some of our members - no they were not being "raped".

Keep in mind however, the program I'm running is for adults.  Because there are many laws in place concerning minors - we don't have children in our groups.  I refer anyone that's not legal age or emancipated to other programs.  Especially since we get into confusing issues with children such as over "statutory rape".  Meaning of course any sex with a minor aged child is rape automatically.

I say "minor age" child instead of "over 18 years of age" for a reason.  Not everyone under 18 years of age is under "legal" age.  For example, in Nevada one becomes of "legal" age at 16 years of age.  According to the laws in Nevada, one can even get a work permit at a legal brothel at 16 years old granted they are not sick and don't have a criminal history because the legal age of consent for sex in the state is 16 years old.  Doubt me?  Read the laws here carefully - https://www.storeycounty.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/03172015-587

So if I'm dealing with an emancipated minor, or a child who is say 17 years of age in Nevada who may be working a legal brothel - I can't say that every client she's seeing is "raping" her.  Further, if she has a pimp that pimp may not be having sex with her.  Most pimps DON'T have sex with their victims.  So pimps also aren't always rapists either.  Nor if that same 17 year old is working at a strip club.  Which we have members of SWA who have worked at 17 years old in strip clubs in Nevada.  There are other states also where it's legal to strip at an age less than 18 years old.  They just don't serve alcohol at these clubs and it's all "legal".  Now if they confine their work to stripping, and not prostitution - then I can't say that person was a "rape" victim then can I?  

But I can say they are a "sex worker" if they were of legal age, JUST stripped, and did not have sex with their clients.  Please check this chart out and see for yourself there is in fact more than one state where legal age is under 18 -




Now I think this is where some of the confusion is happening.  When people are attacking us saying "sex work is not a career it's rape" -  they're talking about children.  I also don't think they realize there are jobs in the sex industry that do not involve sex automatically such as porn.  There is a very famous video by the way of a woman who made over a $1,000,000 off one clip of her taking off her clothes in a room by herself.  She also claims to not have a pimp and she made the video herself supposedly.  Supposedly she set up the website with her video on it herself also.  So I don't see the rape when looking as cases like hers for example.

I also think we need to put together some kind of national group together to get it together on laws regarding child rape, child sexual abuse, as well as child prostitution and even child discipline.   Know one main reason?  My daughter for a few years we thought was bipolar.  It turned out to be a hormonal imbalance from a tumor on her ovary pumping her full of hormones - but at the time she was very emotional and even hallucinated sometimes.

One day she just went nuts.  I couldn't calm her.  I'd seen the movies where you calmed someone by slapping them lightly so I hate to admit this but I did.  I did slap her lightly with an open hand to "snap" her out of it.  Good girl she is/was she called the cops on me.  The officer came into the house and then informed HER that what I did wasn't illegal especially since I hadn't left a cut or bruise on her face.  The officer then informed both of us that I could hit, slap and even kick her legally as "long as I didn't leave a mark".

Now I have dealt with more than one pimp, in Nevada especially, where they are pimping their own child.  Under many of these trafficking laws - if you restrain and/or slip, hit or kick your victim you can also be charged with domestic violence or even assault as well as trafficking ONLY if you're not the parent of this victim.  Think of this like how wives had to fight to have marital rape acknowledged after women got rape on the law books.

Because right now the way I see it - a Nevada parent could up and force their blood child over the age of 16 years of age to go and work in a legal brothel in Nevada by the use of physical force, and even threatening to kick them out of the house since they aren't legally responsible to care for them any longer financially.  Meaning they could also theoretically avoid being prosecuted criminally for trafficking by taking that child done to get them licensed to work in a legal brothel. http://time.com/3379862/child-abuse/

I also think we need to address these gender issues.  Look at this case where the 16 year old boy is not only called a "pimp" and might be charged as an adult being demonized by the press - while the 15 year old female is being called a "victim"  http://calcoastnews.com/2015/07/alleged-16-year-old-pimp-identified/

So I think we need to get some kind of universal agreement going here on the meaning of our terms.  Now keep in mind however, our program wasn't designed for children is what I say when we get attacked about our name.  Then these people counter that just our name "sends a bad message that it is a job".  Well I can't help that a rose is called a rose.  I mean it is what it is.

If anything, I've seen some "personal" relationships I think are more "rape" than some sex industry workers.  For example, this porn model.  She made the video herself, built the website herself, promoted herself - so she's a "sex worker".  On the flip side, I've seen married couples where the women does not have  a job and the husband threatens to throw her out in the street with the kids if she doesn't have sex with him.  Now THAT I call rape.

I think the confusion comes in because I think people think our program is for teens or children.  It's not.  It's not designed for children either.   I can't ask a child to "take responsibility for their part" in something of which they had no control.  Children aren't in control of their lives to make adult decisions.  Children don't even have a frontal lobe yet to make non-impulsive decisions yet like an adult can.  I also don't know of any children who go out and stand on a corner or make an adult film without someone behind them leading them.  It's not a "natural" behavior.

So maybe I need to make a clear statement that our program is NOT for minors.  Any sex with a minor is statutory rape.  Now from that perspective then yes I agree that of course prostitution would be rape with a child under age of consent because all sex with a child is rape.

So on that ground yes I can say that in the case of a child then ALL prostitution is rape.  I just can't make that same statement with respect to adults.  I've tried telling people our program is not for adults and that our views behind our program only apply to adults - but the message doesn't seem to be getting through on both ends.

While I can agree that all sex with a minor is rape - I'm not going to therefore say all sex with anyone is rape.  That's nuts.  But that's what these people are essentially asking me to do.  They want me to say ALL sex work is rape.  It's not all rape anymore than all sex is rape.  So let's be very clear here about something - Sex Workers Anonymous is for ADULTS of legal age.  Our views are for adults of legal age.

But what's been happening is these people objecting to our names are not listing us in their directories or hotlines.  I'm now having some social workers not give out our name to clients of theirs who are of legal age but under 18 years of age.  I've had some children's groups literally refuse to list our contact information in their newsletters because they say our name 'legitimizes the sex industry" which is "rape of our children" so I have a problem here.

I've also been seeing something else develop I hadn't planned on over the years.  When I started our program in 1987 - I only saw Children of the Night.  I then found out about Boys Town and Covenant House after that.  Then I saw a St. Jude's Ranch pope up.  Then in 1991 I saw GEMS get launched back east.  So I'm seeing more and more programs pop up.

However, our program as it's written now isn't helpful to these kids.  Because it's not a career for them - but something else entirely.  Because they didn't make a choice to enter the arena as most adults do - and honestly they don't even look at it like a career either.   No - to a child prostitution is rape in any form.  Stripping is just as emotionally violating on a child as porn would be.  I understand this - that all commercial sex for a child is rape and abuse and a violation of their spirit.  I also understand they don't do this alone - that there's some adult somewhere behind a child in sex work.

Now as these programs start growing - they need a 12 step program also.  Yet no one has stepped up to form one yet.  Now - I've looked over to our forefathers who have always had the same problems we've going through in their history.  I realize that Alcoholics Anonymous DID form Ala-teen for teens and Ala-tot for children.

BUT alcoholism is a disease that's present from birth.  So someone who is five years old can be an alcoholic with the disease of alcoholism.  So too can a teenager obviously have the disease from birth.  Since it's a lifelong disease yes they identify as an alcoholic so they will remember for the rest of their lives they can not drink.

Now the legal definition of "prostitution" can be an emotional exchange where you literally do "sell your soul" and are violated against your will.   I do have the legal rights, copyrights, trademarks, etc. not only to the name of Prostitutes Anonymous - but I've gathered together stories from our members who were "turned out" as young children.  Recently, we got an interview with a member who was "turned out" at age four by her grandfather in fact.  I also see these groups do need some kind of structured program - and there's also the need for something for the parents like how Alcoholics Anonymous also has "Alanon" for the wives.

So here's what we're going to do as part of the evolution of the movement and our program.  We are going to turn our program into TWO programs.  The first is Sex Workers Anonymous for adults as we've been doing for a while now.  Nothing is going to change there.

However, we're also going to convert Prostitutes Anonymous into a program that the young can attend.  Now I don't like the idea of calling it "trafficking anonymous" for two reasons.  First I don't want to mix someone who was a trafficked farm hand or a maid in with someone who was forced to work in a brothel.  Second, I don't want them to raise their hand and say "my name is Judy and I'm a victim".  Don't like that idea.

Nor do I like the idea of them calling themselves a "prostitute' either to be honest.  So the members of Prostitutes Anonymous are going to identify as "survivors" or this way "my name is Judy and I'm in recovery now".  I am clearly going to have to make some changes and accommodations for this to work.

To do this - I've put together a review board of our members who were in fact trafficked as small children.  They will write out their stories about what happened to them for the Recovery Guide and they will adapt our literature to acknowledge that all sex with a person under legal age is in fact "rape".

Now this is going to take a while and it's also going to cost money.  So we will not be able to "give away for free" the books to newcomers as we do with adults.  Since our adult members don't have money coming in but they also don't have a parent or guardian - we do give away the first book free to new members in pdf format.  But for this book we're going to have to insist on charging until we raise the money to compensate for the new expenses that are gong to be incurred like creating a new logo, printing up new key-tags, t-shirts, etc.  Plus we're going to also have a counselor, therapist, social worker, etc. on hand to lead any meetings held of PA in any city so the kids aren't gathering on their own without supervision.

We're still hammering out the ideas and concepts for the parental fellowship we are tenatively giving a working name of SWAN.  We have a site up for them at www.swanfellowship.webs.com

But we now also have a separate site up for www.prostitutesanonymous.com too.  This is our announcement that we are creating a sister-group of Sex Workers Anonymous, called Prostitutes Anonymous, for those under legal age of consent whereby all sex work is in fact rape.  The literature will understand that difference.

Now we also know that these children/teens will have a parent or guardian making medical decisions for them.  So we will take no official stance on issues such as abortion, birth control, condoms, etc.  Those are to be decided upon between the child/teen and their parent and/or legal guardian.   Meaning we will not do "outreach" for "Prostitutes Anonymous" by doing things like condom distribution, HIV testing and education, etc. as we do for adult members of Sex Workers Anonymous.

Because the members will share the common bond of child sexual abuse and rape however - we will incorporate that - as well as domestic abuse and domestic violence into the program so the children understand how these patterns carried over into their adult lives are "not okay".  Whereas in Sex Workers Anonymous we do not invite any involvement from "outside professionals" because we are dealing with adults - I am gong to acknowledge that for the Prostitutes Anonymous program are going to have to work closely with treatment professionals for those reasons.  Those trained to work with child abuse, rape, and domestic violence.

It's going to take a little more time to fully develop the website, the literature, get some keytags, etc.  But this is an announcement that as everything in life, and recovery, evolves - so too must we in the spirit of our 10th, 11th and 12th step.  So welcome to the first announcement of the formation of "Prostitutes Anonymous 2.0" for those who are under legal age of consent.

www.prostitutesanonymous.com

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