Sex workers across California will be doing banner drops — aka “freeway blogging” — on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in observance of International Whores Day.
International Whores Day commemorates the occupation of Église Saint-Nizier church in Lyon, France, by more than a hundred sex workers on June 2, 1975 to draw attention to inhumane working conditions and police violence against them. That event, in the same era as Stonewall and the Compton’s Cafeteria riot, marked the starting point of the international movement for sex work rights.
International Whores Day is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with protesting whores who reject poor working conditions that result from government-enforced criminalization of sex work.
The banner drops during commute hours in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento are meant to raise awareness about the rights of sex workers will be documented using the hashtag #InternationalWhoresDay2021.
The banners will feature messages including:
The action is open to all sex workers and supporters and is endorsed by ESPLERP, SWOP Sacramento, US PROStitutes Collective, the Sidewalk Project, the Decriminalize Meetup, and the Libertarian Party of San Francisco.
Banner Drop Locations (5:45AM – 8:30PM)
San Francisco / Berkeley Bay Area:
University Avenue Footbridge Over Interstate 80)
Beaudry & Wilshire Foot Bridge (over intersection of Interstates 110, 101 & 105)
Occidental overpass (over Interstate 50)
Howe Ave overpass (over Interstate 50)
59th street overpass (over Interstate 50)
Earlier this year, Margo St James, a mother of the contemporary sex workers rights movement, sadly passed away. She reminded us that the word ‘whore’ was used against any woman who didn’t fit the State’s criteria of a good girl. That it was used against any woman who didn’t comply with social pressure to be married and stay at home, to be thin, act right and bow down to men. That the word was used to stigmatize and silence women who dared to live their own lives on their own terms. That’s why, on June 2, we reclaim the word ‘whore’ and observe this day.
Today we are proud to be whores of all genders. We take pride in who we are, our lives, and our work as sex workers which includes not only being erotic service providers, but often roles as healers, therapists, companions, and more. Our lives have value, and our work makes valuable contributions to society. We stand up as part of a historic tradition of sex workers resisting bad laws — of which there are many. For example…
- Laws against French sex workers passed in the mid-1970s
- The SESTA-FOSTA passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump in 2018, pushing sex workers offline and endangering their lives (see ESPLERP’s statement on SESTA-FOSTA)
- Racist loitering laws that allow law enforcement to arrest and harass people on the pretext that they appear to be sex workers
- Ordinances that harass and punish massage parlors and their workers
About Our Hashtags
We will be drawing commuters’ attention to the awful impacts of over a century of bad laws criminalizing sex workers and our clients. And hopeful signs that the tide is turning, including…
- The passing of California SB 233 protects sex workers, who can now report being victims or witnesses to serious crimes, including sexual battery, assault, domestic violence, extortion and human trafficking, without being arrested for prostitution. SB233 also prevents police using possession of condoms as evidence of sex work.
- The introduction of California SB 357 which would repeal the law against “loitering for purpose of prostitution”. Current law allows police to arbitrarily decide what constitutes violation of this law, a form of discretion that is overwhelmingly used against black, brown and trans sex workers.
FOSTA-SESTA, passed in 2018, is a federal law that makes it a crime for websites to enable or facilitate sex commerce. This has resulted in advertising platforms for erotic service providers of all kinds being shut down, and has forced many of us out of relatively safe online spaces into riskier street work. A number of resource and advocacy organizations have also shuttered.
This law has made it more difficult for clients to safely connect with sex workers, impacting our ability to make a living, and has created dangerous working conditions, while silencing our free speech ability to communicate — a ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ scenario for sex workers.
At the front of our minds are the lives lost in the recent Atlanta massage parlor shootings. Say their names: Delaina Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue. As part of this action, we will be reminding everyone that we support massage parlor workers as part of our community, and ask that justice be done.
Unfortunately, the Sacramento City Council recently passed an ordinance against massage parlor workers that will force Asian and other migrant workers into poor work conditions, and expose them to violence. Remarkably, even after the violence in Atlanta, this ordinance was adopted without consulting the very people who will be impacted. Instead, ‘anti-trafficking” non-profits and the police helped steer the ordinance through a closed-door process.
#StopRacistLoiteringLaw California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced Senate Bill 357, repealing provisions of California law that currently criminalize loitering for the intent to engage in sex work — and allows arrests based on an officer’s subjective perception of whether a person is “acting like” they intend to engage in sex work. In practice, this vague standard has resulted in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, black and brown people, perpetuating state violence toward sex workers.
SB 357 does not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in sex work. Rather, it simply eliminates an anti-loitering offense that leads to misreatment of people for simply “appearing” to be a sex worker.
Criminalizing sex work does not make sex workers or our communities safer. Most criminal penalties, loitering laws included, do nothing to stop sex crimes against sex workers or human trafficking. People engaged in sex work deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Times: Sunrise to Sunset 5:45 am-8:30pm
San Francisco / Berkeley Bay Area:
University Avenue Footbridge Over I80
Occidental overpass over Interstate 50 – Park on Occidental and walk to overpass.
Howe Ave overpass over Interstate 50
Use Denny’s/ Motel 6 parking lot at corner of La Riveria and College town
59th street overpass over Interstate 50
Park at Corti Brothers on 59th street and Folsom
The Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) formed in the aftermath of 2008’s San Francisco ballot initiative, Proposition K, which would have decriminalized prostitution in San Francisco. ESPLERP is a not for profit 501(c) community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through impact policy, legal advocacy, education, and research, and fights for the decriminalization of sex work as a sexual privacy issue. https://esplerp.org
The Sex Workers Outreach Project – Sacramento is a California State social justice network dedicated to reducing harm, improving healthcare, and upholding both civil, human, and labor rights of sex workers and their communities. Our focus is on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy, while addressing the health and well being of trafficking victims, those who engage in survival sex, and consensual sex workers. https://sacramentoswop.com/
US PROS was central to efforts to win California bill SB 233, which prohibits police from arresting sex workers reporting violence, and campaigns to win changes to compensation regulations giving sex workers and formerly incarcerated people more rights. US PROS supports the work of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders in Los Angeles. https://uspros.net/
The Sidewalk Project is first and foremost, a community-building organization. Our paramount goal is to empower marginalized people, individually and as a community while creating a sense of wellbeing. Sex work is work, and we believe in decriminalization! We are committed to empowering sex workers with resources, public health access and education. We believe in support, not salvation. https://www.thesidewalkproject.org/
Libertarian Party of San Francisco
The LPSF is the San Francisco chapter of the Libertarian Party of California. The Libertarian Party is the leading opposition party in the United States that is not part of the 2-party Demopublican duopoly cartel. Libertarians seek a consent-based society in which each person is free to use their time, body, money, and property as they choose so long as it does not violate the rights of others, and have opposed the criminalization of prostitution since our party’s founding in 1971. https://lpsf.org
We’re a Bay Area based group of sex workers, clients, taxpayers, freedom lovers, and people from all walks of life working together to stop the immoral, wasteful, and futile practice of arresting and prosecuting people for consensual sex acts. https://www.Meetup.com/Decriminalize