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Informal, Criminalized, Precarious: Sex Workers Organizing Against Barriers

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This event series centers the experience and expertise of Informal, Criminalized, Precarious Sex Workers Organizing Against Barriers.

About this Event

Join us for a week of events on sex workers organizing against barriers.

*Please note that registering for one of the dates will register you for the entire conference. You do not need to register more than once!

**If you are trying to register and see that community tickets are sold out, please try registering for another date. You will still get all of the log in information!

Anti-whore stigma is deeply ingrained into society, and by extension, the Internet. It is readily found in policy, code, and automated decision-making. But a global movement of sex workers is striking back to resist the stigma-fueled ways that big tech understands and regulates sex and to imagine alternative ethical frameworks for sex, work, and sex work on the Internet.

Sex worker organizers have instituted numerous resistance strategies in order to build movements. Sex workers and survivor organizers face categorical criminalization and stigmatization that dramatically impede access to funding, digital platforms, and physical space. Worker-survivor organizers often organize under surveillance by police, by clients and other members of the public, and by private corporations and institutions, making secrecy and identity-obscuring tactics a requirement of the work. These tactics in turn make base building and information-sharing difficult and sometimes even impossible. Added to that difficulty is the difficulty of organizing with a cohort that is chronically deprived of financial and social support, making precarity and trauma the norm. Nonetheless, sex workers persist, as they have for at least a century in the United States, in building movements, pursuing policy goals, and advocating against our own marginalization and exclusion.

This event series brings sex workers into conversation with designers, academics, policy-makers, regulators, media, and tech companies to draw attention to issues plaguing sex workers online, including: content moderation, deplatforming, algorithmic profiling, surveillance, discrimination, data security, access barriers, and design justice. By centering sex workers and sex worker organizers as a critical perspective in labor organizing, this series developed out of community learning circles to a) develop shared political agendas across sectors; b) build organization and network capacity; and c) connect sex workers and survivors in broader coalition.

Featured Speakers and facilitators include: Sinnamon Love, Daisy Ducati, Yin Q., Melissa Gira Grant, Chibundo Egwuatu, Gabriella Garcia, Zahra Stardust, Danielle Blunt, Lorelei Lee, Melissa Gira Grant, Milcah, Maitresse Madeline and femi babylon, and speakers from Whose Corner is It Anyway?

More to come!


*Live closed captioning and streaming to Youtube will be available during the event. Recording and transcripts will be available afterwards at hackinghustling.org.

*If you have additional language translation, childcare, or access needs, please email hackinghustling@gmail.com for specific events you're planning to attend and we will do our best to accommodate.

*Please use whatever name / alias works for you when signing up for the event.

*Please note that registering for one of the dates will register you for the entire conference. You do not need to register more than once! You will receive links to the events via email the day of each event and a website with all of the conference schedule and information

Event Schedule:

Sex Work as Work and Sex Work as Anti-Work

Saturday April 3, 4 - 5:30 pm EST

This panel begins from the question: Why “sex work?” rather than some other framing in fighting for the liberation of people in the sex trades? Why is trading sex called work and not, for example, anti-work? This panel will take a disability-centered approach and will feature members of the Disabled Sex Workers’ Coalition . Speakers include Maitresse Madeline, femi babylon, Kitty Milford, and Jaylanee; moderated by Lorelei Lee.

Sexual Gentrification: An Internet Sex Workers Built

Tuesday, April 6, 12 - 1:30 pm EST

Sex workers were early adopters of new technologies, pioneering and spearheading the use of new advertising mechanisms and financial technologies, populating platforms and building up their commercial user bases. Despite the integral part sex workers played in constituting the Internet, sex workers are now being deliberately excluded from services, platforms, and economies as part of widescale digital gentrification, sexual sanitization, and displacement. This panel explores the proactive and unique role of sex workers as digital innovators and the grave consequences of sexual gentrification on sex worker safety and livelihood. Speakers include Sinnamon Love, Daisy Ducati, and Melissa Gira Grant. Moderated by Danielle Blunt.

Sex Worker Activism: Barriers, Exclusion, and Organizing

Wednesday, April 7, 12 - 1 pm EST

Access to online space is a significant part of sex worker organizing, serving as an important site for community building, social support, and safety information. And yet sex workers face systemic exclusion from platforms and services through discriminatory Terms of Use, whorephobic community standards, algorithmic profiling, and the global impact of laws such as FOSTA/SESTA. Sex workers who work and organize online face risks like: stalking, doxxing, the sale of personally identifiable information, and the misuse of data among law enforcement for the purposes of criminalization or deportation. This panel explores how sex worker activists navigate hostile tech policies and continue to fight for labor rights, decriminalization, and community survival. Speakers include Milcah, Whose Corner is it Anyway, and PLAPERTS Ecuador, moderated by Lorelei Lee.

Decoding Stigma: Designing for Sex Worker Liberatory Futures

Thursday April 8, 12 - 1 pm EST

What would the Internet look like if it was designed by sex workers? Taking a sex worker lens to tech ethics envisions a radically different online space. Sex workers hold unique insights into the real world impacts of platform capitalism, carceral politics, digital surveillance, and sexual gentrification. Yet sex workers face significant structural barriers to inclusion in both tech and academic spaces. This panel elevates sex worker expertise and offers new ways for regulators, ethicists, policy-makers, and technologists to think about community standards, technologies of violence, data privacy, online safety, and virtual intimacies. We will explore how we might code sex worker ethics into future design. Speakers include Chibundo Egwuatu, Yin Q, Gabriella Garcia, moderated by Zahra Stardust.

Sex Work and Migration

Thursday, April 8, 6 - 7:30 pm EST

A conversation about sex work and migration, the association of migrant sex work with human trafficking, the racialized tropes inherent in that association, and the increased likelihood of migrant sex work in the face of climate crisis. This panel features Elene Lam (Butterfly), Cecilia Gentili, Aneiry Zapata (BLMP), Karina Bravo (PLAPERTS), and will be moderated by TD Tso.

Sex Work in a Transnational Context

Monday, April 12, 10 am - 11:30 am EST

Sex worker organizers from North America and the Global South will join in conversation across four different continents to discuss our separate and overlapping issues, and how our movement goals are and must be transnational. This panel includes speakers from India, Kenya, the Netherlands, and the U.S.: Bharati Dey (AINSW + DMSC), Grace Kamau (ASWA), Carolyne Njoroge (KESWA), and Alexis Briggs (Red Umbrella Fund). Moderated by TD Tso.

Decriminalization Campaigns in the U.S.

Thursday, April 15, 6 - 7:30pm EST

This panel will be comprised of organizers from sex work decriminalization campaigns from across the country. Speakers include representatives from Decrim MA, Women With a Vision (WWAV) New Orleans, GLITS, and more.

The conference is facilitated by:

The Disabled Sex Workers’ Coalition


Cornell Law School Gender Justice Clinic

Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society

Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill

And is co-sponsored by: The Berger International Legal Studies Program, The Cornell Labor Law Clinic, The Dorothea S. Clarke Program in Feminist Jurisprudence, Justice Catalyst, the Cornell student chapters of Outlaw, National Lawyers Guild, the Black Law Students Association, the Women's Law Coalition, and the Asian American Feminist Collective.

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