It may be the world’s oldest profession, but sex work and its modern practitioners may also be the least understood. A five day conference in Seattle is attempting to turn that around and elevate the voices and concerns of people with “sexy professions.”
The second annual Seattle Annual Sex Worker Symposium will take place this week with private and public events held on and around Capitol Hill. Admission for most events is donation based. The conference kicks off Wednesday night at 8th and Seneca’s Town Hall where a panel of sex workers and activists will take “a hard look at the history of prostitution prohibition, and the effects that criminalization has had on people and communities who engage in the sex trade by choice, circumstance, or force.”
SASS is put on by the Sex Workers Out Reach Project, a national sex workers advocacy organization founded in 2002. Seattle-based president Savannah Sly said this week’s conference seeks to break the stereotype that sex work is only about human trafficking and high-end escorts.
SWOP casts a wide net when it comes to defining sex work. Sexy jobs may include “escorting, stripping, professional domination and submission, porn performing, peep show dancing, sacred intimacy, phone sex, and web camming, and more.”
A downtown rally and march for sex workers’ rights is planned for Thursday and a community health fair will be held Friday at Capitol Hill’s Gay City. On Sunday, SASS will screen a series of short films by sex workers at Central Cinema.
And while the conference will address sex work’s serious political and social issues, SASS organizers are also tapping into the fun side of the trade. The Harlot’s Ball will feature DJs, kinky performers, face painting, and a safe sex kissing booth at The Lo-Fi.