Symposium puts Seattle sex workers front and center

3Ei3yWH0It 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.

HalfFliers“We see a constant need to have sex workers speak from their own platforms,” Sly said. “(SASS) allows people from all over the sex industry to present their own reality in their own words.”

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.

Tickets are still available online and many events are free or cost flexible. Here is the schedule of events.

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2 thoughts on “Symposium puts Seattle sex workers front and center

  1. This sounds like a fantastic conference. Thanks for reporting on this. There’s still so much ignorance about sex workers, and so much anti-sex worker violence. The people doing this work need all the awareness and support they can get.

  2. It’s so great that you’re doing this. I only just heard about it just now. I wish I had heard about it sooner, I might have been able to show up for it. Maybe next year. I love to hang out and get to know my sister providers. Maybe next year. I would be traveling from northern California so I have to plan.