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February 12, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-12

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 5A

Sex workers'praA
Continued from Page 1A
the idea that women can't make decisions for them-
selves," she said. "The charge that women are degrad-
ing themselves is classist and racist, and often made by
upper-class feminists who will never have to make the
decision (to enter sex work) for themselves."
When asked about the relevance of sex work to the
University community, Oakley said, "I think college-
age people are pretty politically active. I hope that they
can incorporate sex work positivity into their under-
standing of feminism."
One of the performers, Carol Leigh, also known as
Scarlot Harlot, called for a greater acceptance of sex
workers and the decriminalization of prostitution.
"Culture itself defines us as 'whores' or 'sluts,' but
we as sex workers also need to be recognized as cultur-
al identities, not just as workers," she said. "Decrimi-
nalization is not the solution to all the problems of
prostitution. It's merely a beginning."
In her book "Unrepentant Whore: Collected Works of
Scarlot Harlot," Leigh mentioned that in 1992 her
video "Outlaw Poverty, not Prostitutes" was part of an

e student support
exhibit censored by the University's Law School. Since
then, Leigh says she has seen society's opinion of sex
workers improve.
"At this school there is vast support to hear the voic-
es of sex workers," she said.
Audience members held a variety of opinions about
the issues addressed in the show.
First-year Rackham student Carla Pfeffer expressed
her interest in the topic of sex work and the room for
improvement in current laws. "I came to the show
because I wanted to learn more about sex work and see
it given a voice in a public place. It's one of the few
professions where women make more (money) than
men," she said.
She added that the conditions governing sex work in the
United States are much more problematic than they need to
be. "That's because in the U.S., sex work is criminalized and
there aren't the same protections for sex work,' she said.
Dearborn resident Cristy Smaidy, who attended the
event, said she feels tolerance for sex workers is a
greatly needed commodity in today's world.
"I think we are a society that is very quick to judge.
People tend to make themselves look better by putting
others down. I don't judge. I just observe," she said.

Community members and University students await the beginning of the Sex Workers Art Show in the Michigan Union
Pendleton Room last night. The show highlighted what organizers describe as a negative stigma applied to the sex industry by
American society and sought to break down stereotypes.

Sex Art Worker Blake Martinez plays guitar to open the Sex Workers Art Show held last night in the Pendleton Room of the
Michigan Union. The show featured demonstrations by strippers and narratives by sex workers.

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