SaneSurvivor

Toughing It Out

What I did this weekend — April 12, 2017

What I did this weekend

I spoke at the 31st annual CLPP conference at Hampshire college this past weekend and I was on several panels speaking through the lens of incarcerated sex workers.  I worked with another colleague on 2 workshops and then spent the Monday and Tuesday with another activist of legendary proportions meeting and greeting people who were accomplishing amazing things in her community.  But one always stands out.

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Mama Dread and her Mission of Love impacted me in a way I hadn’t ever felt before and I want to tell you about her.

Mama Dread was once homeless and – while homeless – she started a community based organization called Mama Dreads Mission of Love and she worked to feed other people in the community who were also homeless.  She developed a following and almost everybody knows her.  Including the commissioner, city council folks and – of course – the police know her pretty well too. They harass her and her crew when they are going around town feeding people and helping them access safe resources, and they threaten her on such a regular basis, she carries around a card in her pocket that has the Homeless Bill of Rights on it.  She’s tried to get a regular place to let her cook and serve her homeless community but the churches and the politicians?  Well they just put up more barriers.

She even won an award for being the BEST COMMUNITY SERVICE PROVIDER TO THE HOMELESS in her town and that award came with a $500 prize.  But the folks who gave her the award told her they couldn’t give her the check because she wasn’t a licensed service provider with a 501c3 non-profit.

Mama Dread and her crew of about 20 other people weren’t swayed by this AT ALL!  They just kept doing what they do, however they can, and you can find them at almost every civil rights action meeting, working to change policies that affect not only them – but their community.  She partners with PRYSM and DARE and Coyote RI as well as many others – and she attends city council meetings and shes in the room with politicians and council members and law enforcement folks every chance she gets – and she is everything we admire in grassroots social justice movements.

Mama Dreads Mission of Love got some unexpected support yesterday from a pretty surprising source and I’m gonna come back and tell you how you can support her activation and her work.  In the meantime – you can follow her activity on Facebook and I think you’ll see why I want to see her work grow.

Love ya Mama Dread.  You all that!

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Rape, Sex Work and Opinions — September 15, 2015

Rape, Sex Work and Opinions

I really dislike bathing my 2 nine-year old golden retrievers.  I can delay it forever and they wouldn’t mind if I never did it again at all, but all of us know it will eventually have to get done and we all look forward to it being over.  I felt similarly about reading an op-ed article regarding the rape of a Sex Worker in Chicago.

Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote an opinion editorial regarding a sex worker who had called the police after being raped by a man who had contacted her from an ad she posted on the adult section of Backpage.  My Twitter feed quickly filled up with links to the article accompanied by condemnations of Mary Mitchel, the Chicago Sun-Times and then later more links to more publications, blogs and posts with both large and small organizations and individuals  calling for apologies and retractions.  My inbox filled up with angry and hurt emails and my Facebook page was deluded with more links and comments.   The intro to the links on both Facebook and Twitter were filled with fury and resentment and I delayed actually reading the article for the better part of two days because I knew this was going to be a trigger for my anxiety to crush any hope I had that the lives of Sex Workers were going to improve any time soon.  So yesterday afternoon over a cup of chamomile tea, I read – and reread – Mary Mitchells opinion piece.

Violence in general, has always been a good way to get me riled up, but violence against women by other women is just unforgivable.  Women have fought too hard for too long to allow any one of us to behave in such a way without concern for consequences.  There is no room for a woman in a place of power as a board member of the editorial staff of the Chicago Sun-Times to voice her opinions about the victimization of another woman.  Particularly one, like this sex worker, who has been violated in such a horrific criminal act and then shamed for her profession in such a public manner.  For Mary Mitchell to say that it was “hard to see her as a victim” and to be “grateful” that the perpetrator hadn’t done this “to an innocent woman on the street” and to have the Chicago Sun-Times rubber stamp their approval and publish it, was like a knife to the heart.

Mary Mitchell has been found guilty in the court of public opinion of violence against women by her op-ed piece and she should have to pay a price for that.  She has nothing to offer the community in Chicago or anywhere else for that matter that will ever makeup for this gross violation of ethics.  Mitchells insinuation that Sex Workers cannot be raped and her own “risky” behavior was just cause for her bad luck at being raped at gunpoint are the verbal equivalent of a hate crime.   Victim blaming, minimizing the act of rape and a complete disregard for the framework of “consent” are all issues that Mary Mitchell completely disregarded, setting us back decades in the Human Rights for Women in general and Sex Workers in particular.

I spent some time looking at other issues that Mitchell has written about and she seems to enjoy controversy and almost appears to have taken this stance in an effort to gain notoriety.  I think she got the notoriety she sought but I’m hoping she loses her job, her place on the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times and is forever considered a pariah in the media.  I also hope that this despicable article reinforces the need for better protection for Sex Workers and the furtherance of the cause for decriminalization of Sex Work as recommended by Amnesty International this past August.

But my greatest hope is that women everywhere will recognize that we MUST unite and force each other to be accountable for our actions.  We could achieve so much if we would simply understand that we are stronger together and find our commonality instead of looking for ways to be divisive and unkind to each other.