Sex worker march in Washington DC

Today I went into DC to work at a Cosi, as I’ve become particularly fond of their Tomato Basil soup. YUM. I hopped off the stop at McPherson only to find the beginnings of a sex worker march in the park that I was walking through. Excited, I got off my cell phone, hung around, talked to the women and men (both sex workers and their friends and allies) and joined in the march to advocate for sexual rights of sex workers.

The group of women and men in attendance were from all over: Washington DC, North Carolina, Australia, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities. They were well-organized, passionate, interesting and took turns speaking on behalf of their cause before the march began. I stayed with them, in total, for about an hour before my hunger pangs took over (and my work ethic, as I had much work to do today) and I fled for a Cosi for lunch and work time on my laptop. Here are some photos I snapped with my iPhone throughout the afternoon. (If you use these on another site, please give credit to MSP and link back to this post – thanks!)

The above photo is of The Scalet Harlot, a world-famous sex worker and performance artist (she’s the one in all red) talking to the crowd.

I took this photo as we were passing a different Cosi and I had to choose to stay or go. I stayed with the march for the time being, as they shouted as chants such as “2-4-6-8, prostitutes are really great”.

Sex workers spoke publicly about their experiences:
- being raped by police (and unable to press charges)
- being threatened with guns by people on the street (and getting a deaf ear at the police station as the police threatened them from being on the street in the first place)
- dealing with the challenges faced as transgender individuals who may feel as though they have no other job options as they faced employment discrimination in (legal) jobs
- being STI-free and yet assumed that they have infections or are “dirty”
- being smart, intelligent, educated women and men who are treated like “bimbos” by many people in society

To learn more about the Sex Workers Outreach Project, visit their web site.

Learn more about the sex workers’ March on Washington on the Bound, Not Gagged web site.

You can also learn about the DC-based organization Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) on their site.

I also met a woman from the group Ubunto, which you can learn about here.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.