"Speak Up 2010" - Application Online Now

arvan's picture

“Speak Up! Media Skills for the Empowered Sex Worker” is a weekend-long seminar offered by Sex Work Awareness (SWA) in New York City. 

Speak Up is taught by Audacia Ray and Eliyanna Kaiser, two former executive editors of $pread magazine who have worked with mainstream and independent media as part of the sex worker rights movement for many years.  The 2010 training will kick off with an evening seminar on Friday, April 9th and consist of two full days of workshop on April 10 & 11.  They are able to train 10 people.

They will be accepting applications until February 17, 2010.  Accepted applicants will be informed no later than March 1.

The inaugural training in 2009 yielded:

  • A video public service announcement, I Am A Sex Worker, which has been viewed 30,000 times online and has screened at events and film festivals in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and other cities;
  • Workshop participant Megan Andelloux has used her training to assist her in many media appearances debating her right to open her Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Watch her on ABC News;
  • Read What Speak Up Did For Me by participant Calico Lane

The impetus for developing Speak Up is based on a real need expressed by members of the sex worker community for more resources and skills training on how to (a) respond to media requests effectively and safely, (b) engage with the mainstream media in order to get a particular message out, and (c) create our own media products.  Sex workers, like many other marginalized communities, find the mainstream media a crucial site of resistance due to the harmful misrepresentations and stereotypes that it promulgates.  This is especially true when the job the sex worker does is illegal and becomes further compounded by factors such as race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, relative poverty, drug use, family status, immigration status, and age.  All too often, sex workers simply choose not to engage with the media due to potential social and legal repercussions or sex workers get in over their heads and are unwittingly exploited by the media without getting anything out of it.

The seminar teaches sex workers how to evaluate media requests and to formulate strategic responses to the media in a variety of formats.  Sex worker participants learn to write press releases, op-ed pieces, and letters to the editor, build a press list, pitch a story to a reporter, and pitch their own freelance journalism to an editor.  Attendees also get a crash course on how to start their own podcast, blog, or video podcast.  Additionally, seminars will contain practical hands-on activities and role plays (like video taping a simulated interview with a television reporter).  The event will also have participants look to already existing nationally-focused sex worker media and talk about how sex workers can contribute to these and other national efforts.

In addition to the training and skills, workshop participants will get:

  • A $50 stipend
  • Dinner on April 9th, breakfast and lunch on April 10 & 11th
  • The opportunity to apply for a $500 grant to continue their media advocacy work

The workshop is limited to ten participants on the basis of a submitted application (below).  Only self-identified current and former sex workers are invited to apply, to ensure that all feel comfortable during the seminar.  The workshop is lead by two English speakers, so participants must be fluent in English. The current budget does not include funds for travel stipends and housing for those coming from out of town, however, they will do their best to accommodate the travel/housing needs of all successful applicants.

Speak Up is funded by sponsorships and sales from the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar.

Questions?  Email them at info@sexworkawareness.org

Please visit the website to apply or email them to request the application as a word document.

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