Advocacy

Sex and the State panel Tokyo

In 2015 I was the International Spokesperson for Scarlet Alliance, representing the organisaiton at the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.

In 2014 I was an invited panellist to speak on the criminalisation of sexual behaviour at the International Bar Association Annual Conference in Tokyo. This panel, with a keynote by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover, covered the dangers of criminalisation of sex work, including police corruption, entrapment, and displacement of sex workers and use of condoms as evidence, advocating for decriminalisation as the UN-recognised best practice approach to sex work legislation.

The same year I presented on the regulation of pornography through classification and criminal laws at the Feminist Porn Conference at the University of Toronto, advocating for the inclusion of queer, fetish and BDSM sexualities in Australia’s X18+ category and an end to the criminalisation of the production, sale, possession and screening of adult content.

Also in 2014 I co-presented evidence to support the human rights of sex workers at the Amnesty International Human Rights Forum at Victorian Parliament House. Decriminalisation of sex work is supported by UNAIDS, UN Population Fund, UN Development Program and the World Health Organisation.

In 2013 I presented the New South Wales experience of decriminalisation at the Sex Worker Open University in Glasgow, including the low rates of STIs/HIV (Kirby Institute), better access to occupational health and safety standards (including WorkCover’s Health and Safety Guidelines for Brothels), little to no amenity impacts (Crofts and Prior), improved access to justice (Wood Royal Commission previously showed systemic police corruption) and no evidence of organised crime (Land and Environment Court).

I have guest lectured at the Law Faculty University of New South Wales on ‘Intersectionality and the Criminal Justice System’, including how criminal and licensing laws disproportionately affect street-based sex workers, sex workers living with HIV and migrant sex workers, posing barriers to accessing justice, industrial rights mechanisms, health services and occupational health and safety.

In 2012 I spoke at the National ASSERT (Society of Australian Sexologists) Conference in Melbourne on peer education amongst sex workers, including the ways in which sex workers make up for the deficiencies of the state by acting as pivotal agents in health promotion and sex education. Despite stringent and discriminatory legislative environments that actively hinder health promotion, sex workers share information, advice, skills and strategies and act as safer sex educators to themselves and clients, contributing to high rates of condom use, high rates of testing, and lower rates of STIs and HIV than the general population.

In 2013 I presented results from my Masters research project at Chester University in the UK for a conference on Talking Bodies: Sexuality, Representation and Identity. The research found that readings of erotic performers as objectified, degraded, passive and fake did not fit with their own understandings and material practices. Instead, performers blur boundaries between 'subject' and 'object'; defy readings of objectification, commodification or passivity; see women and queers as consumers, participants and directors of erotic material; experiment with both artifice and authenticity; employ the stage/screen/session as a political platform; and utilise/share a working knowledge of gender politics and sexual health.

In 2012 I presented ‘Feminist Strippers and Pleasure Activists’ at the Sexual Cultures Conference at Brunel University, London, on backstage sex industry spaces as sites of networking, mentoring, camaraderie and consciousness-raising, and on displays of strength, skill and athleticism among strippers can disrupt gendered assumptions of female passivity.

In 2011 at Macquarie University I presented at The Unacceptable on ‘Resistance and Re-appropriation in Erotic Performance’, about the role of class, age, body shape and skin colour in (determining) who was represented as desirable subjects, what they were permitted to do with their bodies, and where they were allowed to perform.

At the ‘F’ (Conference) in 2010 I co-presented a workshop on Feminist Perspectives on Pornography, outlining feminist debates on pornography and facilitating group discussion.

I have had the pleasure of being a Guest Speaker alongside Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick for a panel on Gender Rights and Equality at the UN Youth Summit at the University of Technology in 2010, as well as a Guest Speaker for other UN Women events on gender-based violence for White Ribbon Day and International Women’s Day. I have presented at a UN Women information session to brief delegates attending the Commission on the Status of Women at the Australian Institute of International Affairs. In 2011 I was a speaker at Sydney Slut Walk for the Australian Sex Party, speaking out against victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault.