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Upcoming events and current media coverage relating to sex work and sex workers.

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Park Street gangrape: TMC MP accuses woman of being sex worker »

Mississippi authorities work on leads in stripper case »

The stripper fighting for life after falling off balcony while attempting tricky lap dance move »

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Licensing hearing for Consett lap dance club »

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'P.O.P.' Documentary Strips Down Stripper Stereotypes »

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Stripper: Club Manager Demanded Sexual Favors »

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Stripper who fell from balcony at Christie's Cabaret dies »

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Adult Entertainment Industry Files Suit Challenging Measure B »

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Consett lap dancing club may be closed down »

Ex-stripper defiant over ruling she was self-employed »

Playboy Fined in U.K. for Failing to Block Children From Hardcore Pornography »

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Murdered sex worker for burial today »

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Before a hushed audience of over 2000 women’s rights advocates from 140 countries stood Kthi Win, a sex worker and leader of a national organization of female, male, and transgender sex workers in Burma.  With quiet confidence she bravely stated:

“The key demand of the sex workers’ movement in Burma, in Asia and all around the world is simple.  We demand that sex work is recognized as work. But we have one other key demand, specific to certain parts of the women’s movement. We demand that we are not treated as victims.” 

This defiant rejection of victimhood by a sex worker, speaking on behalf of the global sex workers’ rights movement, took place at the recent AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, one of the largest gatherings of women’s rights activists in the world.  It was an extraordinary moment because there’s a tendency by some in the women’s movement to reject sex workers like Kthi because they dispute the monolithic narrative that all people in prostitution seek rescue.

Read more here

Feminist Porn Awards results are in!

For complete list of the 2012 winners of the Feminist Porn Awards click here

As the one who organizes the international chapter of the Ladies High Tea and Pornography Society, and as a feminist sex worker generally, I am often asked how I can support pornography when it is clearly and inherently violence of men toward women -- as Gail Dines says, "To think that so many men hate women to the degree that they can get aroused by such vile images is quite profound." The idea that porn is harmful pops up in the news here and there, usually when a politician is caught with his pants down as a consumer, or when a serial killer or rapist is arrested and a search of his house reveals some nudie mags or adult DVDs. Some feminists and evangelical Christians alike have linked arms to rail against the social harms of X-rated material, with many studies either supporting and challenging that idea.

Of course, we can't forget the cultural bias within which we live. Even the way the media frames the studies tends to focus on the harms of pornography, the negative, rather than the neutral effects of porn, or, a step further, the potential benefits.

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Selling out for the first time since moving into its basement home at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Friday night's Feminism & Co.: Sex Work lecture had to turn many people away at the door. The expertly curated lecture series seeks out artists, scholars and women of all trades to speak about women's roles in art, sex and politics.

Each year has included an installment on women in the workforce, and this particular edition focused on the topic of sex work.

Feminism & Co.'s co-director Elissa Auther began with some history on erotic performance and legal, consensual forms of prostitution -- explaining that the term "sex work" was coined in the 1970s by prostitutes advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution. Auther's great primer shared a handful of stories about women of prominence in the field -- sex worker and performance artist Annie Sprinkle, musician and provocative poet Lydia Lunch, and artists like Catherine Opie and Nikki S. Lee among them.

The full panel then tackled the topic, with former prostitute and stripper, now exotic performer Cassandra talking about her thirteen years as a sex worker. "It all started with feminism," Cassandra said, speaking of a gender studies class in college where her peers suggested that strip clubs were inherently terrible places. On a mission to discover how she felt about sex work herself, Cassandra began stripping.

TRISTAN Taormino has received a lot of fan mail for her pornographic films - and for one scene in particular.

''People love the bit where the guy goes, 'I'm not ready for that [sex toy], let's pick the smaller one instead','' Taormino says. ''In my movies, the characters don't all just know what to do because that's not how sex works in real life. I love showing lots of talking and negotiation.''

One of the best-known US sex educators, Taormino is in Melbourne this week to host a talk about her work and a seminar on open relationships. As a self-described ''feminist pornographer'', she's also here to promote her craft and counter some misconceptions. ''These anti-porn feminists who say that 99 per cent of porn is violent and misogynist … clearly, they haven't watched enough porn,'' she says. ''I'm not denying that stuff is out there but to claim it represents the entire industry is a lie.''

Melbourne, she adds, has a reputation among her peers as ''a hotbed of radical sexuality''. Thanks to the efforts of local women such as Gala Vanting, Anna Brownfield and Liandra Dahl, it's also considered a leader in ''feminist porn''.

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