Tag Archives: civil rights

Rhode Island supports Terrorism!

(I quit smoking cigarettes and drinking diet coke, so forgive me if I was a little slow to make this connection and report how Rhode Island supports terrorism.  It is taking me a while to get back into reality with out nicotine and caffeine)

Don’t be so shocked!  Yes, It is a difficult thing to understand.  Rhode Island supports terrorism!  Just recently RI legalized compassion centers for medical marijuana.  I guess the State Legislature didn’t get the memo that drugs fund terrorism.  Yes, in Rhode Island we have financially supported terrorism.

So does that sound a little outrageous to you?  If it does keep reading, if it doesn’t keep drinking the kool aid that the fear mongers love to poor down your throat in buckets.

Everyday for the past week, Rhode Islanders have been inundated with reports about the loophole for both prostitution and underage stripping.  While I do not agree with underage girls dancing in strip clubs, the entire media craze is a hype to push the agenda to change the prostitution law.  How does this relate to the pot funding terrorism link?  Well, the people trying to push the prostitution law are trying to link prostitution with human trafficking and underage stripping.   They call RI’s lack of indoor prostitution law “a human rights disaster” and say things like RI supports slavery?!?

So if you are the type of person that bought into the whole hype that said if you bought a bag of weed you killed an Arab’s grandmother, you are probably the same type of person that would believe that arresting women is the best way to help them.  I hope we don’t have that many  niave people in Rhode Island.  After reading reactions to articles in the Providence Journal, I tend to think that Rhode Islanders are smarter than that.  More importantly I hope the people in the general assembly are as smart as I think they are.


Hoping to stall…

Today the Governor held a press conference on the bills before the Senate to basically put women in prison.  The press conference was at 1:30.  At the same time I was going from spa to spa to ask women who were working in them if they wanted to come and defend themselves to the accusations that were being thrown around in the media.

I went to four spas total, spoke to a bunch of women.  But it is difficult to get women to come forward and say they participate in this work.  It is especially difficult to talk to them when I don’t speak their native language.  But I was able to get five of the actual workers to come to the state house, and one former worker to testify too.

When we got there, a translator was provided by The Family Life Center.  Thank God for that.

Donna Hughes had some propaganda poster of women in 8 stages of their life in prostitution.  I think it sort of worked against her argument, because the women who came to testify did not look like any of the women in the poster.  The reason is because they do not use drugs.  Also because they have not been in prison.  Prison and putting these women in the legal system does not effect these women positively, if any thing it effects them negatively.  If the woman who is doing this work wants to get out and get different job, she will be less likely to be able to if she has a criminal record.

More people testified against the bill than for, The ACLU, NOW, DARE, Family Life Center, “Chris” from my film (who gave his real name and address on the stand) and some local residents all testified against the bill.

One man who shared a building with a spa, Donna Hughes, and 2 Christian women, testified for the bill.

When we got there to testify, the Providence Journal was there and wanted to take pictures of the women from the spa who were there to testify.  I asked them not to take pictures.  I understand she was there to do a job, but I asked to have some compassion for these women.  These women were really putting themselves out on a limb to testify, and exposing their names is one thing but putting their picture out in public is another.  I don’t think that their picture was taken but we will see what happens in the paper tomorrow.  Just the thought of having their picture taken scared away 2 of the women and they didn’t testify at all.

When one of the women did testify did a great job, she testified in English and when she was done many of the people in the audience applauded.

For those who are hoping that the bill doesn’t pass, the only thing to hope for now is that it doesn’t come out of committee.

Todays vote to re-criminalize prostitution

The VoteToday I returned to the state house to watch the vote.  There were a few represenatives who tried to delay the vote and have another hearing.  It seemed reasonable, the bill had changed 3 of 4 times while we were waiting to begin.  The secretary handed out the bill, then came back around and said this is the revisions, after a few times of replacing the bill with new print outs a few people were saying “Is this the ninth version?”

There were a crowd of people, some young women wearing stickers that said “vote no” who represented the Brown Coalition against Human Trafficking.  Steve Brown from the ACLU and Mimi Budnick from D.A.R.E., (both who are in Happy Endings?) were there.

After voting down hearing the bill, the vote went pretty much as expected.  4 people did vote against the bill, but it passed.  Rep. Gianinni was there watching the fruit of her 4 year labor finally make it to the floor.  I went over to speak to her, and she was not happy to see me.  I gave her a card, and invited her to the film, and she said “I don’t know, I am probably represented horribly”.  I don’t know how people always come to the conclusion before they even watch the film.

I have gotten emails from Johns, berating me for “trying to shut down the massage parlors”.  I don’t know why people jump to conclusions before even seeing the film.  I may sound opinionated on the topic now, but while I was making the film I was just trying to get the truth.  I don’t portrayed or represented anyone.  Everyone represents themselves.

Gianinni being interviewed When I did the film, I got everyone from the police, legislators, johns, women working in the massage parlors.  The person who I identified with the most was Nancy, who had been involved in the human trafficking coalition and then testified against the prostitution bill.  I felt like she was a kindred spirit, I would have been her if I didn’t have a camera in my hand.  She was one of the first people who is in the film who I let watch it.  She even reviewed the film.  Today she blogged about her experience.  I think everyone who has been involved in passing this law, either on moral grounds or “human trafficking” grounds should take a few minutes to see what a Rhode Island resident and woman has to say.  Here is an excerpt.

I never wanted to be a part of a moral crusade using law as a weapon. All I cared about was legal protection for people who are trafficked, and punishment for the traffickers.

To fight immorality, I would use other weapons– reason, persuasion and example. Laws against immorality have never been very effective, and have often been cover for worse crimes. Remember the Scarlet Letter?

Morality, like patriotism, provides a convenient cover for other agendas.

Can a movie become a movement?

In just less than a week now I will have my world premier.  I have a ton of things going through my mind about the film.  There were so many issues we could have focused on.  There were issues with immigration laws, sex trade, discrimination, perceived human trafficking, civil rights, and media representation to name a few.

When you are filming for three years you become entangled in all the issues and it becomes hard to decide how to use each of the eighty minutes of the film, what issue should be the most important?

Yesterday I was visited by Maxine Doogan who is involved with the Erotic Service Provider’s Union.  She worked on Prop K in California to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco. (A proposition that ultimately lost) Maxine knew everyone involved in and everything about the history of prostitution in the US, but until my film had never heard about RI’s law.  She was visiting Yale for a forum on sex work and took the trip to RI to search out all the legal briefs.

She is hoping to follow the success C.O.Y.O.T.E had in RI and bring the same strategy to other states.  I always wondered if this is possible and why hasn’t anyone tried it before?

The one thing I did realize in making the film is that only the women are arrested in most cases.  That is the reason why they had the class action suit that changed the law in RI, and not much has changed since 1980.  You can see that in the famous cases like Eliot Spitzer.  Spitzer got off and the madame got six months.

If there is one thing I would like to see (and if you told me that I would be saying this when I started this film I would have thought you were crazy) I would love for some lawyer and/or sex worker to see the film and start a class action suit in their state.  How can you create or continue a law that is known to be applied unequally?

FILM FESTIVALS

I thought I would have been in a festival by now.  I don’t know why I want to get into a festival, but now that I haven’t gotten into one I want to get in one bad.  I wasn’t really thinking about it when I started this whole thing.  Funny thing is I tried to get into my local film festival RI International Film festival.  That was a joke.  Half of the people in my film are sponsoring the festival.  The City of Providence, The Pheonix, the director of the festival even has pictures of him and the mayor all over the festival web site.  The funniest thing about the whole process was when I asked why I was not selected I was told that the film was homophobic.

I wouldn’t consider myself homophobic, or the film for a few reasons.  Besides the fact that I myself am a lesbian, I have done many filming projects for my community.  If things are said in the film that are anti-gay, that does not make the film or the director homophobic.  The film is a cinema verite film.  If I were to edit out everything I disagreed with I would have a very short film.

Basically the way I see it is like this.  I am fat.  Every morning I look for a shirt that doesn’t make me look fat.  But I realize that it isn’t the shirt that makes me look fat, it is the fat that makes me look fat.  Same logic with the film, it is not the film that is homophobic, it is some of the people in the film who make some anti-gay or shall I say anti-gay mayor comments.

The oddest thing is while I was being rejected by RIFF I was dealing with RI Housing and a member of their staff was discriminating against me for being gay and saying the same things that were in the film, so homophobia does exist and to edit it out would force me to be unreal to the film especially when I faced it.

On the good side of things we were asked to submit to the Traverse City Film Festival.  That is Micheal Moore’s film festival.  We made it down to the final 50 or so films but didn’t make it to the final cut.  As usual he took a bunch of anti-Bush films and anti-war films.  I am sure we will find some place to show it, and it will blow up.  It deserves to.

Second trailer released on youtube!


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“happy endings” Website Launched


http://www.happyendingsdocumentary.com
The official website to happy endings? documentary has launched.
Visit the website to get an sneak preview of the “characters” of this underground documentary.
Sign the mailing list to get updates on where and when the film will be shown.
http://www.happyendingsdocumentary.com