Category Archives: Uncategorized

Get out your red umbrella

SWOP Boston will be having an event for “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers” on December 17 at the Lucy Parson’s Center.

It is believed that 200 sex workers have been murdered this year.  The most notable victim is Julissa Brisman.  Brisman, victim of the “Craigslist Killer”, was an erotic masseuse and became a victim of arm robbery, kidnapping, and murder.

Speakers will begin the event (starting at 7pm), then the names of all sex workers murdered this year will be read, followed by a little walk with our red umbrellas around the neighborhood.

Pawtucket doesn’t want “Education”

Last night I went to the Zoning Board hearing on the CPSH.  I got there at 6:00, and watched 5 people go before the board for variances.  (One was for Regal Reptile, a cool pet shop that wants to move to Pawtucket.  I have been to their Providence location a bunch of times, and the owner does shows for elementary schools and this past summer gave a demo on a campground that my sister was visiting.  Hopefully they will get approval)

But I was not there for the zoning variances, I was there for the hearing to repeal a zoning decision for CSHP.  Unfortunately  that hearing was moved to last on the docket.  I wanted to testify (since I am a Pawtucket resident I hoped it would help) but I left a little after 10:00 p.m..  I got to watch the beginning of the hearing, and the main argument from the city official was the Grant building was not zoned for education.  The official agreed that there were people in this “multi-use” building that were doing education, like the Chess Club, and said he had fined them.  I had to wonder, as a resident of Pawtucket, why are  we trying to fine and or close down businesses that are keeping the downtown area open?  Downtown has been a ghost town for years, is it really prudent to fine a chess club and not allow the opening of CSPH?  Is Pawtucket that anti-education they can’t even see a commercial or even a taxable value to these businesses?

It was obvious that CSPH was targeted for what they were teaching…Sex.  The zoning official was very upset that he was portrayed as using the zoning codes to keep out a business that he disagrees with.  It was also obvious that the board was using zoning codes to keep out this business out.  Repeatedly the official said this has nothing to do with sex, but I wonder how many businesses that go for a license have the zoning board call the police? (Police were testifying as I left).  This particular zone allows counseling and reproductive centers, but officials say that they will not allow for education.

I wonder, as a tax payer, how much this war on semantics is going to cost me?   Steve Brown of the ACLU was there, and it is obvious that if the board does not allow for this Center to open, a lengthy legal battle will begin.

This whole battle began when Donna Hughes sent an email to the members of Pawtucket’s city council.  Donna Hughes is anti-sex (mostly anti-heterosexual sex, you can draw your own conclusions on that).  It is sad that one woman’s radical agenda is costing the tax payers money to fight this in court, and she doesn’t even live in Pawtucket.  For a brief moment I thought she would show up to the hearing, but she didn’t.  It looks like she might be basking in the glory of passing a prostitution law (albeit so far unenforced prostitution law), and leaving the mess she caused to unfold at it’s own pace and direction.  I guess it doesn’t really matter if she was there or not, I am sure she will have to testify if and when this goes to court.  I wonder if Hughes thinks it was worth it?  I guess this is one of those “cutting off the nose to spite your face” deals.  Who is this really hurting?  I know the publicity that the CSPH has received is probably worth the aggravation.  There were many media outlets there last night; tv, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers, you can’t pay for publicity like that!

CSPH Hearing Tonight. Press Release Follows:

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health Appeals Pawtucket Zoning Decision

Contact Person: Megan Andelloux @ 401-345-8685

Pawtucket, RI November 30th, 2009 – The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH), the first non-profit sexuality resource and information center on the East Coast, is set to go before the Pawtucekt appeal board tonight, November 30th at 6:30 pm to challenge a zoning decision that prevented it from opening in September.

The CSPH was not permitted to open as planned in September when a Pawtucket zoning officer cited a lack of zoning clause for “education” in The Grant Building, the CSPH’s would-be home. Ostensibly, the educational focus of the CSPH, not the focus on sexuality, has caused it to be the target of the zoning board.

Harvey Goulet, the City’s director of administration, was quoted as objecting to “this type of business” as “not really something we feel is appropriate for our city.” The American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in on the battle regarding adult sex education stating in a press release “the city’s intent is to suppress the speech that would occur at the Center.  Such content-based discrimination raises serious constitutional concerns.”

Liberal, conservative, moderate and libertarian news media have all supportive of the existence of the CSPH; they agree that the location and the presentation are appropriate for the environment it is currently housed in. Neighbors of The CSPH have housed petitions requesting the center to be able to open. Providence Journal writer Bob Kerr and popular conservative talk radio host Dan Yorke have both voiced support for The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health.

Megan Andelloux, the director of the non-profit Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is a board certified sexologist and sexuality educator who wants to provide the adult community with a safe place to access information about sexuality issues. She will go before The Appeal Board to plead the case that, “consenting adults should have the right to access medically accurate sex education resources”.

The Appeal Board meeting will take place in the Monday, November 30th, at the Pawtucket City Hall on the 3rd floor in the City Council Chambers at 6:30pm.  The meeting is open to interested members of the public.

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Happy Turkey Day

For the past 4 years, one of the spas I was familiar with gave Turkeys and the fixings to RI’s food bank.  The women working there liked Thanksgiving, it was novel to them.  In 2005 they gave 10 turkeys, 10 stuffing mixes, 10 cranberry cans, basically they gave the whole setup for dinners for 10 families in Rhode Island.

The donation changed in 2006-2008, where they donated just turkeys.  Probably about $300 worth of turkeys.  RI Food bank said they needed the turkeys more, so that is what they got.

This year the RI Food bank will not be getting any donations.  It is sad because the need for food is up dramatically in 2009 due to the economy.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank says from September 2008 to August 2009, emergency food programs served more than 13 million meals, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year.

The report said 11.7 percent of Rhode Island households are considered food insecure, which means they’ve had to reduce food intake or skip meals. It says 4.2 percent of households have run out of food or experienced hunger.  (See the full article here)

It is not like the spas do not want to donate anymore, it is because they do not have money to give.  Since the change in the law, there has been a decrease in customers.  The RI Food bank is just part of the domino effect. Lets hope it doesn’t get any worse for the women in these spas.

 

 

CSPH Hearing on Monday

Date: 11/30/09

Time: 6:30 PM

Location: City Hall, 134 Roosevelt Pawucket RI (3rd Floor City Council Chambers)

Attention: Your community is being denied access to medically accurate sex information.  Let your voice be heard on this issue, We think adults should be able to access medically accurate sex information. The City of Pawtucket is blocking the opening of a safe, educational environment for adults to learn about themselves, their bodies, and their relationships. Megan Andelloux is a nationally recognized specialist in the area of human sexuality, and not the scary person others want you to think she is. Tell the City your opinion on this issue!

I live in Pawtucket and will be there showing support for the opening of this facility.  If you live in Pawtucket and can’t go, call (401) 728-0500 and leave messages to show your support.   If you are interested about why the CSHP is even having to jump through hoops to open, you can read the background here.

The Other side of the camera…

The Other Side of the CameraI hate being on the other side of the camera.  It is mostly based on vanity.  I hate seeing myself.  (But I must admit, I love hearing myself! God bless Talk Radio!)  I love being the one making the films, but I hate to be the one in it.  With that said, I put my vanity aside and agreed to be part of 2 new documentaries on the subject of RI’s prostitution law.

Two groups of law students are currently making documentaries on the subject I covered in “Happy Endings?”.  I was interviewed by one of the groups (Suffolk Law Students) yesterday, and I will be interviewed by another group of students today.

Also interviewed yesterday was Mimi Budnick of D.A.R.E. (who also appears in Happy Endings?) and Marc from Citizens Against Criminalization and Matthew from Providence Daily Dose (both of whom I met after finishing the film)

The students were interviewing all the people involved in the recent legislative battle.  During the interview they said they could only find people who were for the law.  They wanted to hear why we were against it.  One thing I realized while being interviewed: Does my opinion even matter?

I don’t think it should matter what I think, just like it really shouldn’t matter what Donna Hughes or Citizens against Prostitution Trafficking think.  I am not a sex worker, as far as I know Donna Hughes is or was not a prostitute, so why does it matter what outsiders think of the industry? (I am talking about prostitution not human trafficking, it is unfortunate I have to keep reenforcing that point)

Why is it when the government debates healthcare the loudest voices are from the insurance company and health care industry.  Yet when the debate on prostitution, we don’t hear the voices of those in the industry?   If they are brave enough to speak, they are often attacked by those who claim to want the law because it “helps women”.

To me, it all goes back to privacy issues.  Why should anyone (including government) have a point of view on what two consenting adults do behind closed doors?   When you strip away all the propaganda, that is what this law is all about.  Actually if you look even closer you see that essentially all the time and energy spent on this is moronic when this is a response on 40 or so Korean women who were giving massages and hand jobs, very few of these places are “full service”. (The new law even has specific language for hand jobs)

I do think it is interesting that so many homosexuals were fighting for this law.  Actually, with the exception of Providence’s openly gay mayor, the majority of this anti-prostitution push comes from lesbians.  Yes, I am a lesbian too, one of the few who fought against it.  Why does it really matter to all these homos?  I would think they would be more focused on legislative efforts for gay marriage in Rhode Island instead of working on a law against commercial heterosexual sex, especially when the law will have disproportionate effect on women.  Where is the sisterhood?

And then there were…

GoodbyeActually I don’t know how many there were to begin with, but I know that many of them are leaving at a record pace.  I know they are not all going to Nevada, so I think they are most likely either getting out of the business or going to hawk their wears in other states where it is also illegal (but no media an police pressure on the women).

The Providence Journal reported

Word that Rhode Island’s governor signed legislation Tuesday afternoon to outlaw indoor prostitution traveled quickly through the state’s community of sex workers, leaving many of the women who work at Asian “spas” on edge and their employers angry and without customers.

Neon signs outside some spas went dark; employees at others said they were open, but many of the women, fearing a police crackdown, had refused to come to work.

I guess this is the first impact of the law, the human impact.  I am going to pick up the Phoenix tomorrow and see if any of them stopped advertising, the first indicator of the economic impact.

Governor Signs law making prostitution illegal in Rhode Island

Governor Donald Carcieri @ Press Conference about to sign prostitution lawToday in the State Room of the Rhode Island State House, a press conference was held before Governor Donald Carcieri signed a bill that closed the nearly 30 year old loophole.  Governor Carcieri, Joanne Giannini, Senator Paul Jabour, Attorney General Patrick Lynch, and RI State Police Col. Brendan Doherty all spoke about how this law will help new law will “end a blemish” on the image that Rhode Island had over the last 29+ years.

After sitting and watching this press conference, I thought to myself, all this fan fair and the governor is just signing one bill.  The governor did not use this photo op to sign the human trafficking bill, and isn’t that what all the citizens of RI were worried about??

It is not difficult to realize that the real target, of the media, politicians, and police will be prostitution.  When the target is prostitution, the target will be the prostitute or sex worker.  The police say they will wait until they get complaints before raiding.

A few years while I was making “Happy Endings?” the police did raid the spas, and arrest the women for “massage with out a license”.

01:00 AM EST on Friday, November 4, 2005

BY ELIZABETH GUDRAIS
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — The detective arrived, complaining of pain in his lower back and asking for a massage. He got one — but he also got an offer of sex for $200, the police said.

Detectives arrested two women yesterday at separate businesses  for permitting massages to be given without a license.

The arrested women for giving “permitting massages to be given without a license”.  Does anyone believe they received a complaint about “illegal massages” before the raids??  This was in 2005 when prostitution was legal.  If they were arresting women when they didn’t have a law, how can anyone actually believe that having a law will help these women?

But the police say they will wait until they get complaints.  I am sure some of these “complaints” will come from Donna Hughes.  Although Hughes does not live near any spas, she has registered complaints sent “information” closing another business that didn’t even do massages or employ Asians. At this point I don’t know who Hughes hates more, men or women or just heterosexuals in general.  (Living life with that much hatred can only be described as sad)

The People who Changed the "Loophole"

State Col. Brendan Doherty, Donna Hughes, Rep. JoAnne Gianinni, First Lady Carcieri, Governor Donald Carcieri

What is sad is what I saw in some spas this morning before the press conference.  Most spas have only one women left working besides the Imo who does the cooking and cleaning.  There has been a mass exodus, women are scared.  They are petrified of raids.  They are afraid a cop will be setting them up, and make an example out of them.  I saw one woman crying as I left to go and watch the signing.

Before today, I have never seen any woman in any spa that I thought was a victim of anything.  Today, they all looked liked victims.

 

 


Tomorrow ends 29+ years of decriminalized prostitution in RI

Tomorrow RI Governor  Carcieri will sign h5044B into law.  As the projo reports:

The governor, who is scheduled to sign the legislation at a ceremony in the State Room, will be joined by State Attorney General Patrick Lynch, State Police Colonel Brendan P. Doherty, and the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Joanne M. Giannini, D-Providence, and Sen. Paul V. Jabour, D-Providence.

I will be at the signing too, as it is a public event.  As the Grateful Dead said it best “What a long strange trip it’s been”.  I started this project in August of 2005 after leaving my pursuit of a graduate degree in Gender and Ethnic Studies.  Now, it is over.

Skeletons from the ClosetInterestingly enough, I have owned this cd.  With the invention of mp3 players, I don’t play cds to often, but how ironic the title is “Skeletons from the Closet”.  I wonder how many skeletons will be exposed once this legislation is signed and enforced?

Sunday’s meeting

On Sunday, October 25th, over 30 women from spas through out Rhode Island met to discuss the pending legislation on prostitution in Rhode Island.  You can read about it in the Projo, and at the Huffington Post.  The article on the Huffingston Post was written by Rep. David Segal who was at the meeting.

I was also at the meeting.  Rep. Edith Ajello told the women: “This is a huge rock you are looking to push up a very steep hill,” encouraging the women to attend a State House committee hearing Tuesday at 4 p.m. where the prostitution bill could be amended. “I think you should try. The most positive thing would be to put a human face on the issue.”

Some women did try, not by showing  up but by the old American way…getting a lawyer.  The Providence Journal seems like it is coming around against the legislation.  Bob Kerr wrote about the meeting, stating:

One woman talked of how it will interfere with her ability to send her daughter to college. Another suggested that the work she does is better than stealing.

But they will lose their jobs. The Rhode Island legislature will end its slow crawl to the moral high ground this week by eliminating the legal loophole that has allowed indoor prostitution to flourish.

At this time the bill has passed the house, and will shortly be voted on in the Senate.  It looks like indoor prostitution will be illegal by this weekend or early next week.

Here is audio from the meeting.  Listen to these soon to be “criminals” and ask yourself the question, Are you going to feel safer when these women are in prison?

  1. Clips from the meeting
  2. Interview 1 and 2
  3. Interview 3 and 4