[image of the white dood in the fucked up racist/misogynist "über-white with black lettering" t-shirt is from here. One wonders... if we panned the camera up, would he be LHSWAO? (Laughing his sorry white ass off?)]
Many white het men, and het men, and non-het men, and some white women, especially people in the very privileged West, take for granted that referring to women of color, particularly Black women, as "ho"s is acceptable, harmless, and hilarious. From what's written at the Urban Dictionary [GRAPHIC MISOGYNY AND RACISM IS THERE], to Don Imus's FUCKED UP RACIST-MISOGYNIST (and homophobic) publicly declared CRAP on the airwaves, to daily "cat-calls" and other degrading harassment by men against women on the street (including, of course, women working or trafficked or enslaved inside systems of street prostitution who don't welcome this or any other street misogyny, racist, and harassment from men, to women in leisure clothes talking on their cell phones, to women in corporate-style business suits who are also not welcoming it), to men across the globe who use this English-language term to denigrate women of all colors, in a specifically racist-misogynist way, we see that misogynist-racist terms, or "only" misogynist terms that target white women, are finding their ways increasingly into popular society, as a way to reinforce both white and male supremacy.
What follows was sent to me by a radical feminist colleague, a Black woman who opposes "sex work" as in any way anti-oppressive, and as being part of the problem, not part of the solution, including by even calling it "sex work". This is not a critique of women IN systems of prostitution, AT ALL. This isn't an assumption that all women who are in those systems are slaves or do not make choices about what they are doing. It is a critique which holds that institutions and systems which make white het male supremacy STRONGER, do not empower women in the radical feminist sense. This is a perspective, and it is one which I agree with.
I thank her for sending this to me, and for highlighting one extremely f*cked up aspect of this call for submission(s) as follows. At first I was SURE the line in bold just below was her own form of poignantly criticising what follows... until I got to the line that actually says this--* Ask a Ho: Do you have questions about navigating the sex industry/sex trades as a person of color? Send in your questions! Write "Ask a Ho" in the subject line.
I am posting this in support of my colleagues and activist friends who are women of color around the world who are being grossly exploited, trafficked, terrorised, and enslaved by those who control the cultural and social legitimisation of racism and misogyny, which imperils their lives quite significantly and horrendously. While I do not believe $pread magazine is part of this particular privileged power base, I don't see what follows as helpful to the women of color I know who are suffering and enduring racist misogyny, daily. (Unless $pread is owned and operated by some white het men somewhere. It appears to be controlled and operated by NYC-based Western whites, at least. This means they are not structurally or directly accountable to poor women of color around the world whose lives are at risk the more this kind of CRAP is promoted and sold.)
If anyone in non-white-majority countries or communities of color is reading this, and is an activist against the sexual exploitation, prostitution, trafficking, and sexual enslavement of women, please consider writing in to the email address provided below, if you find this to be an issue of concern. It is my strong sense that U.S. people are not accountable to women of color globally, especially women of color in what is termed "The Third World", and that what follows is a glaring, if unexceptional example of that. And, let's not forget: women of color, whether or not they support "sex work", are NOT EVER the oppressors who need to most be challenged on matters of WHM supremacy. The ones who most need to be challenged MOST are white heterosexual men.
The above cover of $pread, found here, seeks to legitimise as socially acceptable the marketing of gay men for sexxx. As a gay man who has been sexually exploited and abused by white het men, I oppose this effort, and many other things this magazine exists to do. To me, this magazine is unequivocally pro-capitalism, pro-sexual exploitation, pro-racism, and pro-male supremacy. In the bottom left corner, please note the "Ask a Ho" feature's wording. See also this Western magazine's feature called "Migrants in Mumbai" in the top right corner. For me, this one cover says a lot about what this magazine is seeking to accomplish for women of color's freedom from white male supremacy: nothing except reinforcing WHM supremacy's right to exist with plenty of defenders and apologists. I, personally and politically, reject calls for submission. And I stand with others who do as well. Below is $pread's outreach effort to women of color.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: RACE, RACISM AND THE SEX INDUSTRY/SEX TRADES
For our summer issue, $pread is proud to host a guest editorial collective of US-based sex workers and allies of color. The issue will explore race and racism within the sex industry/sex trades in the United States. How do you feel your racial identity affects your experience in the sex industry/sex trades or in sex worker rights movements? We are seeking articles from people of color of all backgrounds, including people identifying as part of immigrant communities.
Features pitches (a short 250-word write-up of your idea for an article of 2000-3000 words) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the heading labeled by the section in which your piece might fit. Also listed below are some ideas for the regularly featured columns in $pread; if you would like to submit content for any of these, please send us a short pitch with details. Our deadline for pitches is April 15 at the latest, so please send your paragraph-length pitch in ASAP. The content deadline for full articles will be May 10, 2010.
**Are you a new/inexperienced writer but have a great story idea and want help developing it? Send in your idea and add a note indicating that you want support.
* Features: Features can talk about any aspect of race, racism and the sex industry/sex trades. While you don't have to limit yourself to the suggestions, here are some ideas we had for feature pieces (2000-3000 words):
- There are many grassroots organizing efforts and resistance struggles among communities of color engaged in the sex industry/sex trades around the country. Let us know what you're doing!
- Who controls how people of color in the sex industry/sex trades are represented in the media? We are looking for an article that analyzes media representations of people of color in the sex industry and offers suggestions for change.
* Hot Topic: Is sex work empowering for you as a person of color in the sex industry/sex trades? (200-300 words)
* Positions: This is a “for” and “against” piece. Should sex workers play into racial stereotypes, either their own or that of another race; or mute their racial identity upon request? We're looking for someone to argue "yes" and someone to argue "no." Each angle is allotted 400 words to explain why sex workers should or should not either play into a racial stereotype or play down a racial identity at a client's request.
* Healthy Hooker: Have you been discriminated against while trying to access health care because of both your racial identity and sex worker status? Want some advice? Write in!
* Reviews: Reviews on a recent sex work related book/film/performance/etc. that deals with race. Please inquire about available items or suggest material before submitting a full piece as we may already have someone covering it. Specify your location in your reply if you do not already have the item for review. (400-600 words)
* Scene Report: What's it like to work where you live as a person of color in the sex industry/sex trades? How are working conditions with clients, law enforcement, other workers, activists, outreach teams and your communit(ies)? Although this piece can be framed as a personal essay, it should contain information useful to working visitors and not seem entirely unique to the writer. (500 words)
* Heroes: What worker(s) from racially oppressed groups have inspired you? We're hoping to use this space to acknowledge women, men and transgender people of color who work to undo stereotypes, to call attention to issues that affect the sex industry and increase access and visibility for people of color both in the sex workers' rights movement and in the sex industry/sex trades. (300 words)
* Indecent Proposal: Details don't need to be graphic or wild as much as you need to convey why the situation unsettled or surprised you. (500 words)
* News Report: News Reports should be on a timely topic, ideally an issue relevant to sex workers outside of North America. This is not space for a personal essay or op-ed; the approach is decidedly journalistic and should include important dates, names, places and quotes. (150-300 words)
* Ask a Ho: Do you have questions about navigating the sex industry/sex trades as a person of color? Send in your questions! Write "Ask a Ho" in the subject line. [put in bold by me, Julian]
* Resources: This issue of $pread will feature an additional section of resources specifically for addressing racial oppression, including in the context of organizing and activism. Please send in resources.
* Art, Photos: Send in art for this issue on race and racism! Comics, Photos, Drawings, etc.
* Focus Groups/ Interviews: We welcome interviews, and transcripts from focus group discussions. Feel free to send in interviews or let us know if you’d like to be interviewed.
For any women of color who wish to critique this project, please visit http://spreadmagazine.org/