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Seeking button stories for a new zine

Date: July 20, 2015

Friends! Have you bought/worn my buttons? Do you have funny, heartwarming, infuriating, etc. stories about them? Any good conversations or hookups my buttons facilitated? I want to make a zine of button stories. All contributors who are accepted will receive a free copy of the upcoming zine and maybe some special buttons.

Here’s my own example of a (true) button story: I was wearing a button that says “I (heart) MY CUNT” when I was shopping at a convenience store. A South Asian man at the register saw my button, and asked, “what does your button say?” “It says I LOVE MY CUNT,” I replied. “I love my country?” “No no, it says I LOVE MY CUNT.” “What does ‘cunt’ mean?” he asked. Realizing that he may not be familiar with the American vulgarity, I gave him a definition of the word that might have come from some scientific dictionary. “Oh,” he said, totally embarrassed, handing me the change without looking my direction. But as I walked out of the automatic door, he said “it’s good to love yourself.” So while he seemed very embarrassed, he got the message completely correctly.

I’m interested in hearing what sort of conversations my buttons sparked! I’ve been making buttons for 15 years, so I’m sure that there are many other stories that need to be shared. If you have any stories, please do email me at emi at eminism dot org. Please don’t feel intimidated: contact me if you are not sure if it’s worth printing. Thanks!

A note about trans exclusion at New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic in 2009

Date: March 30, 2015

Back in June 2009, I saw a post on now-defunct Questioning Transphobia blog that called attention the website of New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic, which read, in part, “We are currently not able to provide care to trans people who were male assigned at birth or who have had genital sex reassignment surgery. Please call for referrals.” The poster, a white trans woman who had recently relocated to New Orleans and was looking for health resources, was outraged to read the outright discrimination against trans women. When the post went up, many people were also outraged, and it ignited a firestorm of criticisms against NOWHC’s transphobia.

I agreed that NOWHC’s statement was deeply problematic and offensive, but I was also concerned how an army of mostly white trans women and allies initiated a campaign of full-on attacks on NOWHC, a small reproductive health clinic (which was at the time on hiatus due to lack of resources) established by (mostly) Black women affiliated with Incite! Women of Color (now “Women and Trans People of Color”) Against Violence after Hurricane Katrina left many women completely devastated and without needed services such as this. Yes, NOWHC’s exclusion of trans women must be addressed and corrected, but I felt that there was a better way to achieve that.

So I told folks on the blog that I was contacting someone I knew from Incite! New Orleans to get it addressed, and asked them to give me a little time to do so. For this, I was viciously attacked for a prolonged period of time for supposedly attempting to “silence” trans women’s righteous anger over the statement, but I was simply asking white trans women to take a step back and let me, a trans-ish woman of color with existing ties to Incite!, work things out with the women I knew from Incite! New Orleans.

After several email and phone conversations, NOWHC publicly apologized to trans women and had a statement posted on Questioning Transphobia blog. The original poster also apologized to NOWHC for rushing to publish the article attacking the clinic only an hour after sending them an email questioning the statement instead of waiting for their response.

Questioning Transphobia blog has since disappeared, as did many other blogs and websites that discussed the incident, so it has become difficult to learn what happened and how it got resolved. An unfortunate result of this is that it left a vague memory that Incite! has done something transphobic in the past, with no knowledge or awareness of a resolution, which continues to give the impression that Incite! might still be a trans women exclusionary institution.

I cannot find any web archive of NOWHC’s statement or Questioning Transphobia blog, but I was able to find email exchanges from 2009 that included the statement. With the permission of the Incite!, I am publishing an excerpt from the statement below.

We agree that the questions and concerns you raise are very important. The priorities we hold in providing safe, accessible, and unbiased care to women regardless of their race, income, sexuality, gender identity, body type, citizenship status, work sector, legal history, ability, age, language, and family size and status are often regarded as a “risk” and “liability” by many medical professionals. This reality has delayed our efforts to hire a new Medical Director and created many barriers for many members of our community, including you, in seeking safe, quality, and respectful services.

In making the statements “we are currently not able to provide care to trans people who were male assigned at birth or who have had genital sex reassignment surgery. Please call for referrals,” we were referencing the lack of experience and training that our former medical staff had in providing trans affirmative care to all women regardless of their body types, and gender identities and expressions. We recognize that the current language on our website marginalizes trans women in particular, even though it says elsewhere that we provide services to “all women.” Although “services” provided at the Clinic are not restricted to our medical programs, we recognize that the way it is written implies that we offer no services at all to trans women, which is marginalizing and confusing. It would be more accurate to say that our goal is to provide medical services to all women, though we are having a difficult time reaching it. We take responsibility for this inaccurate representation, and for the ways in which the language is disrespectful, and we sincerely apologize.

Collectively and organizationally, we are committed to creating institutions and environments that challenge gender-policing and trans and homophobia by dismantling racist, heterosexist, patriarchal, classist, and xenophobic ideologies of exclusion, discrimination, hatred, and violence, which creates barriers for many members of our community, particularly those persons who are women of color, poor, LGBTQ, immigrant, differently-abled, homeless, heads of households, disabled, sex workers, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, young, and living in racially and economically segregated communities. Our website doesn’t reflect this politic effectively and we are currently in the process of modifying it.

Besides language, we share the concern about the core issue of offering safe, quality, and respectful services to all women. Since our founding, we have struggled to hire medical staff who don’t pathologize, demonize, and criminalize the bodies of undocumented women, women with disabilities, l/b/t/q/i women, women of color, low-income women, homeless women, and women working in the sex industry because of our sexuality, reproductive decisions, and gender expressions. Currently, we are evaluating if we can realistically find medical staff that meet this expectation, particularly given the current conditions of the city.

In the future, I think it would help to post such statements to Incite!’s own website/blog in addition to where the firestorm originated from so that memories of the organization’s mistakes and growth can survive the forgetfulness (except in the NSA database) of the internet.

I will not deal with “consumers” anymore.

Date: February 20, 2015

I make and sell buttons and zines, and I enjoy how they spread awareness and start conversations. But it has never been a major source of income, and I cannot prioritize filling orders promptly like a business would. So I give this disclaimer on my online store:

Please understand that this is not a real business per se; it’s just one girl manufacturing and distributing her stuff on her spare time. Thus, it may take a while before your order can be shipped. If you are worried that I might have forgotten your order, feel free to check the status of your order by email.

On January 18th, someone from Fargo, North Dakota ordered some buttons through my website. I usually dedicate one or two days per month to filling orders that came during the interval, but I had just made a shipment so I held the order for the next “shipping day.”

Then in about ten days, this individual filed a complaint to Paypal alleging non-receipt of the buttons, triggering Paypal to withhold his payment. I replied citing my shipping policy, and promised to ship the next week. No response. Then on February 2nd, I did ship his order, and sent him a photo of the U.S. Postal Service receipt that shows a shipment to Fargo, ND. Again, no response. I waited for a little while to allow the delivery to take place, and once again I sent him a message asking him if he had received the package, and if so please withdraw the complaint. No response.

Finally, without any response whatsoever from him, and despite the fact I sent them the photo of the Fargo, ND receipt, Paypal ruled in his favor “after careful consideration” and took my money and gave it back to him.

The payment was small, so the financial loss is not that great. But it left me regretting that I did not simply cancel his order when he first filed a complaint with Paypal without any discussion. I sell buttons because I want to connect with other activists, artists, and scholars who share my values, not because I want to run a business. If this guy does not understand that, he is just a consumer rather than a colleague/friend/fellow activists and I have no desire to deal with consumers of my “products.”

So I decided: in the future, it will be my policy that, if someone files a complaint to Paypal without having any conversations with me first and do not respond to me after I explain my shipping practice, I will immediately cancel the order. I am not interested in having a business-to-consumer relationship over my buttons and zines.

Help Emi attend Color of Violence conference and avoid the evil overdraft charge [UPDATE: Goal reached!]

Date: February 11, 2015

[UPDATE February 12th, 2015] Goal reached! In less than 24 hours, I received a total donation exceeding my goal of $400. I will keep some of the surplus for food and printing costs, and contribute some to other women of color I know who are struggling to pay for the trip to attend the conference. Thank you everyone who contributed and/or spread the word! – ek

Original post follows below.


Short version:

I need financial help to get to Color of Violence conference. Please paypal or send check to Emi Koyama, PO Box 40570, Portland OR 97240. You can also support me by ordering my buttons and zines.

Long version:

Hello friends – I am doing two presentations at the upcoming Color of Violence conference in March, and about a month ago I posted a comment on Facebook asking for financial help getting there. But I didn’t set up any crowdfunding page or anything, because at the time I thought I could afford a large part of the cost myself.

Well, things have changed and I have less money now than I did, so I need to get more serious about fundraising to get there. The good news is that I got help with the lodging so that’s taken care of. In other words, I just need to raise enough money for airfare, ground transportation, and food.

The flight from Portland was super expensive (around $600), but it was way cheaper from Seattle so that’s how I’m going to travel. The roundtrip airfare is $362.20 (I’ve already purchased the ticket so it won’t go up, and my bank account is now dangerously close to overdrafting). For ground transportation I use ADA paratransit, which is $3 per ride in Chicago. I plan to go to a grocery store on the first day and stock up in my room to save money. So $400 total would probably work. I have received $40 from my previous facebook request, so my target is $360 which I think is possible.

Just so you know, the two presentations I’m doing are “Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Deputization of Social Service” and “Rejecting Victim/Survivor Dichotomy: From Individual Mandate to Collective Action.” In addition, I’m joining other women of color to do a workshop about critiquing media narratives about sex trade and sex trafficking.

I appreciate support from any of my friends, but I especially want white sex worker activists, anti-violence advocates, and scholars who use my work to support me now. I feel I’ve produced and gave away lots of materials for free that inform and benefit your work, and now is the time that you can help me connect and interact with other women and trans people of color so I can continue to do that.

I can accept Paypal (, Amazon gift card, or check (Emi Koyama, PO Box 40570, Portland OR 97240 – if you send a check, please email and let me know).

There are other ways to support me: you can also order my buttons and zines, or try to get me invited to your college or university if you are affiliated with any.

If I raise more money than I need for the trip, I will spend it on printing more zines and handouts to share at the conference, and/or give it forward to another woman of color who needs money to attend the conference.

Thank you for your help–and for reading the long version!

New Zine: Against Japanese “Comfort Women” Denialism in the U.S.

Date: November 9, 2014

“Against Japanese ‘Comfort Women’ Denialism in the U.S.” was written in response to the recent rise of Japanese right-wing nationalist activities among some of the Japanese residents in Southern California (not Japanese Americans, but Japanese people from Japan), especially their campaign against resolutions, memorials, and other recognitions of Japanese “comfort women” during the WWII by U.S. cities.

This zine analyzes the “talking points” of Japanese right-wing nationalists, and applies the same nuanced approach to the issue of “comfort women” that the author (a co-founder of Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization) has advocated for in the contemporary anti-trafficking movement for many years, pointing out precisely what responsibilities Japanese government bears.

The zine is available for purchase online, or at the upcoming workshop “Confronting Japanese Right-Wing Nationalism in Southern California this Friday, November 14th at UCLA.

Faces of CW Denialism

Upcoming Workshop on Fighting Japanese Right-Wing Nationalists in Los Angeles

Date: October 29, 2014

Confronting Japanese Right-Wing Organizing in Southern California: A FeND Workshop

WHERE: UCLA Bunche Hall, room 10383
WHEN: Friday, November 14th @ 6-8pm

Emi Koyama, a co-founder of Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND), presents a workshop/seminar on confronting Japanese right-wing nationalist mobilization in Southern California and beyond. This workshop is especially designed for members of Japanese- and other Asian American communities, but is open to all.

Mostly unnoticed by English language media, right-wing nationalist/historical revisionist organizing among some Japanese expats and “shin issei” (new migrants) in Southern California is growing. They have stormed city council chambers of municipalities that have considered resolutions supporting former “comfort women,” the women forced into sexual servitude for the Japanese military during the WWII, and have filed multiple lawsuits against the City of Glendale, which has enacted a memorial dedicated to them. They are closely connected to right-wing nationalist groups and politicians in Japan, and starting to dominate what Japanese people hear about Japanese Americans and Japanese people in the United States.

Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND) was formed in response to this emerging Japanese right-wing organizing in the U.S. by scholars and activists who have been monitoring Japanese right-wing activities for years. FeND works with Japanese and other Asian Americans and allies to confront Japanese nationalists in the U.S. and to oppose Japanese and U.S. militarisms and (settler) colonialisms in Asia and the Pacific.

This workshop provides information about who these right-wing nationalists are, what they believe, and how they are connected to Japanese right-wing groups and even government. It also addresses what we can learn from how Japanese progressives have resisted them in Japan and articulates how best we can confront Japanese right-wing nationalist organizing in the U.S.

For more information about FeND, please see:

If you have any questions, please contact or message us on facebook.

(RSVP isn’t required, but it would help us know how many people are planning to come if those of you who plan to attend send us a note or “join” on facebook.)

Canadian city council candidate Paul Pesach Gray’s intellectual dishonesty [Update: Retracted]

Date: August 15, 2014

London, Ontario city council candidate Paul Pesach Gray just published a blog post in support of Bill C-36 that is aimed at suppressing prostitution by targeting “johns and pimps.” That isn’t particularly newsworthy, but it became relevant to me when he decided to quote me (out of context) and attack me as “un-compassionate and short-sighted.”

Let’s read what Mr. Gray wrote.

According to sex trade activist and opponent of Bill C-36 Emi Koyama, in War on Terror & War on Trafficking:

Many more (sex trade workers) cannot get or keep other jobs because of mental health issues, addictions, criminal record, immigration status, or discrimination (and a severe lack of social resources to help them with these issues).

Basically, what Koyama is saying is that prostitution is the saving grace for people suffering from mental health issues, addiction, discrimination (which must be proven on a case by case basis) and people who might stand to be deported from Canada, or at the very least must clarify their immigration status but haven’t done so for reasons unknown.

Why doesn’t Ms. Koyama and others who share her opinion put more energy into improving the social resources which they say are lacking so severely? Why defer to the “soft bigotry of low expectations”?

First of all, he is wrong to describe me as an “opponent of Bill C-36.” I have not taken a position on the bill at all, as I am not familiar with the Canadian situation and do not want to speak over our Canadian friends that the law would impact, though I am aware that many Canadian progressives, (intersectional) feminists, and sex worker activists and allies oppose the bill. Mr. Gray needs to dialogue with members of Canadian society who oppose the bill, rather than quoting an American who has not even made a single statement about Bill C-36 (until now, that is).

Mr. Gray summarizes my quote as “prostitution is the saving grace for people suffering from” various social and economic circumstances that diminish their ability to find other sources of income. The quote comes from a blog post which was later included in the booklet he mentions.

Here is the concluding paragraph of the blog post/article:

In short, “end demand” campaign is harmful to women because it diminishes their bargaining power, forcing them to do more for less money, with more dangerous johns, under less safe environments. We cannot criminalise our way out of the current situation; we must address social and economic concerns with solutions that aim at achieving social and economic justice. We can begin to do so by funding affordable housing, childcare, treatment programs on-demand (instead of many months’ wait list), and education and job training programs, instead of more jail beds or police cars or some “class” for the johns to take.

I think it is clear that I am in fact arguing that we must “put more energy into improving the social resources which they are lacking so severely,” as Mr. Gray says, rather than merely accepting the status quo, as Mr. Gray alleges.

Even after (supposedly) reading my article, however, Mr. Gray does not respond to my argument that “end demand” strategy is harmful to women; he simply ignores my main argument, or the fact that I have not even made a single statement about Bill C-36 until now, and quotes me out of context to paint opponents of Bill C-36 as “un-compassionate and short-sighted,” when in reality he is the one promoting un-compassionate and short-sighted approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.

I don’t know much about Canadian politics, but this kind of intellectual dishonesty (more than any political disagreements) would put me off as a voter if he were running for an office in my city.


I received the following email from Mr. Gray’s campaign manager.

Dear Emi Koyama:

Paul is sincerely sorry for mischaracterizing your work and important message.
He is currently in the processes of removing your name from the post and is putting together a public statement of apology to you.
Basically, Paul had received the information he posted to the web from this source:
In the future, Paul plans to do further research and even contact those he quotes.
Again, Paul is sorry and will publish the public apology/retraction by the end of today.

Brian Moskowitz

Sent from my iPhone


Brian Moskowitz: Campaign Manager

Ward 4 City Council Candidate:
Paul Pesach Gray

Thank you, Mr. Gray, for acknowledging the mistake. So it appears that Mr. Gray saw my quote second-hand in a University of Manitoba student newspaper, and did not do further research to find out the context (and assumed the worst).

Given that, I realize now that calling Mr. Gray’s writing “intellectual dishonesty” was a bit too harsh. However, it was intellectually lazy for sure, and I appreciate his retraction.


Mr. Gray issued a public apology over his mischaracterisation of my work. Thank you for your prompt response!

Meanwhile, a pro-criminalization activist insists that it was okay for Mr. Gray to defame me because I “align with the ‘sex work’ lobby,” whatever that is.

Natasha Falle tweets

Cited and Quoted—”Knowing Victim: Feminism, Agency, and Victim Politics in Neoliberal Times” by Rebecca Stinger

Date: July 25, 2014

I came across an interesting new book, “Knowing Victims: Feminism, agency and victim politics in neoliberal times” by Rebecca Stringer of University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand), which seems to have just come out last month. I was surprised to find that the book cites and quotes from my blog post, “Reclaiming ‘Victim’: Exploring alternatives to the heteronormative ‘victim to survivor’ discourse” in its concluding chapter. Here’s what she wrote:

In a powerful example of this kind of victim talk, feminist blogger Emi Koyama has recently framed contra- or post- neoliberal feminism as beginning with an anti-ascetic gesture of reclaiming the notion of ‘victim’.

Instead of moving to avoid victim identity and erase disadvantage and adversity,
Koyama’s piece ‘Reclaiming”Victim”and”Victimhood'” (2011) provides a robust critique of the neoliberal expectation that she should participate in such avoidance and erasure. Koyama critiques what she sees as neoliberal capitalism’s ‘trauma recovery industry’, which – in a familiar resignification of feminist conceptions of survivorship – is dominantly characterized not by compassion for victims, but by the withdrawal of compassion for victims who do not make the prescribed progression from ‘victimhood’ to ‘survivorship’ , framed as a celebration of human resilience. In its resignifications of ‘victimhood’ and ‘survivorship’, neoliberalism has situated victimbood as ‘something to be overcome’. In the neoliberal capitalist climate of ‘forced optimism’ and ‘mandatory healing’, those suffering the effects of social subordination are urged to ‘quickly transition out of victimhood into survivorship, so that we can return to our previous positions in the heteronormative and capitalist social and economic arrangements’. Rather than invalidate the knowledge and perspectives that arise from experiences of victimization, and in order to mark resistance to the imposition of ‘compulsory hopefulness and optimism in the service of neoliberal capitalist production’, Koyama argues that feminists need to reclaim the language of victimhood, which she frames as a gesture of embracing vulnerability as a source of strength, instead of ‘blaming and invalidating victims’. She writes:

I argue that feminist anti-violence movements and communities must embrace unproductive whining and complaining as legitimate means of survival in a world that cannot be made just by simply changing our individual mentalities. We must acknowledge that weakness, vulnerability, and passivity are every bit as creative and resilient as strength and activeness.

More than being a legitimate means of survival, I interpret complaint such as Koyama’s as marking a significant disaffiliation from neoliberal victim theory. Koyama refuses to refuse ‘victimhood’, and this activity of ‘reclaiming’ victimhood is not a mere reversal. It is ‘minor’, or combining elements of contamination and political rebellion: Koyama speaks the ‘major’ language of victimhood (for example, opposing weakness and strength) but reiterates it rebelliously, critiquing the erasure of structural oppression in the reduction of ‘victimhood’ to individual mentality, and affirming the legitimacy of complaint. Koyama argues that a robust feminist critique of neoliberal capitalism ‘begins’ with the gesture of reclaiming victimhood, suggesting that this gesture is an opening rather than a resolution – an opening onto new avenues of politicization rather than an end in itself. In other words, the gesture of reclaiming victimhood is necessary but not sufficient.

Further information about the book can be found on publisher’s site as well as on Amazon.

Operation Cross Country VIII: Roundup and Comments

Date: July 3, 2014

Operation Cross Country VIII Roundup and Comments

There was yet another round of FBI Operation Cross Country in the end of June, making it the eighth nationwide prostitution sweep (supposedly) intended to “rescue” “children” who are in the sex trade (see my article, “Rescue is for Kittens: Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know about “Rescues” of Youth in the Sex Trade” for why this framework is problematic). As with the last few times, I’ve combed through hundreds of local news articles to uncover the full impact of the nationwide sweep on people in the sex trade, since FBI does not release a comprehensive national data.

Below, you will see an updated summary of all Operation Cross Country sweeps.

Spotty Data from FBI’s Operation Cross Country sweeps
Source: FBI press releases; last updated in July 2014

  Date Cities “Rescues” “Pimps” Other Arrest
1 06/25/2008 16 21 unk 389
2 10/27/2008 29 49 73 642 (518 adult sw)
3 02/23/2009 29 48 unk 571
4 10/26/2009 36 52 60 700
5 11/08/2010 40 69 99 885
6 06/25/2012 57 79 104 unk
7 07/29/2013 76 105 159 unk
8 06/23/2014 106 168 281 unk

Here is a chart showing what local news media are reporting about OCC-VIII. Let me know if I am missing any news stories with additional data.

City-by-City Roundup of Media Reports on Operation Cross Country VIII
Source: FBI press release unless otherwise specified; last updated in July 2014

Division “Rescue” “Pimp” Adult SWs Notes Source(s)
Albany 0 0 unk    
Albuquerque 0 0 unk    
Anchorage 0 3 unk    
Atlanta 11 15 47 arrested women are age 18-38 (median 23) FBI Atlanta; WMAZ
Baltimore 2 5 33 WBAL reports three “rescues,” contradicting FBI figure WBAL; WMAR
Birmingham 1 3 14 arrested women are age 19-34; “6-week old baby was also rescued”–is this one of the women’s child? FBI Birmingham; WHNT; WAFF; WZDX
Boston 0 0 unk    
Buffalo 2 0 unk    
Charlotte 0 3 unk    
Chicago 13 4 unk    
Cincinnati 0 1 unk    
Cleveland 16 12 at least 49 12 sw arrested in Boardman (ages 19-36, avg 25.67, median 25.5); 2 in Elyria (ages 19 and 20); 35 in Toledo. 4 minors “rescued” in Toledo are ages 15, 16 (x2), and 17. WYTV; WFMJ; Chronicle-Telegram; Vindicator
Columbia 1 2 unk   FBI Columbia
Dallas 2 2 unk    
Denver 18 11 64 “38 adults cited/arrested for prostitution, 26 adult victims/prostitutes contacted”; one minor identified as 16yo; two in Colorado Springs as 15yo boy and 17yo girl; boy “was trading se for a place to stay using an online website”; 13 women arrested in Pueblo, 4 more as “accomplices” FBI Denver; KCSR; Colorado Springs Gazette; Billings Gazette; KXRM
Detroit 5 6 unk    
El Paso 0 1 unk El Paso Times reports 2 pimp arrests and 8 rescues, contradicting FBI; one victim identified as 16yo El Paso Times
Houston 4 4 unk    
Indianapolis 4 3 at least 10 10 sw arrested in Fort Wayne WANE; WLFI; WISH
Jackson 2 19 up to 53 12 sw and 3 drivers arrested in Rankin County FBI Jackson; WDAM; Sun Herald; WAPT
Jacksonville 0 1 26   FBI Jacksonville; Florida Times-Union
Kansas City 2 7 at least 4 4 sw in Springfield alone KOLR
Knoxville 0 1 at least 8 Eight women were arrested for prostitution, four women were arrested for promoting prostitution, two women were arrested for human trafficking, and three men were cited for solicitation. FBI Knoxville; Times Free Press; WBIR
Las Vegas 7 2 at least 30 30 sw in Reno alone Reno Gazette-Journal
Little Rock 2 5 36   Associted Press; KFSM
Los Angeles 10 12 at least 54 total of 60 arrests in Long Beach alone FBI Los Angeles; Orange County Breeze
Louisville 0 4 unk    
Memphis 2 5 unk    
Miami 3 4 unk    
Milwaukee 6 12 at least 13 13 sw in Racine County alone FBI Milwaukee; WITI
Minneapolis 1 9 unk    
Mobile 0 0 unk    
Newark 1 8 37 minor was age 14; “45 pimps and prostitutes” arrested FBI Newark; Shore News Today
New Haven 1 1 44   FBI New Haven
New Orleans 3 17 75 5 sw in Alexandria, 17 in Baton Rouge, 10 in Lake Charles, 3 in Monroe, 17 in New Orleans, 23 in Shreveport The Town Talk; Gannett Louisiana; KTBS; Bayou Buzz; WDSU
New York 3 3 unk   FBI New York
Norfolk 0 1 unk    
Oklahoma City 2 14 27   KFOR; JohnTV; The Oklahoman
Omaha 1 2 unk    
Philadelphia 0 2 unk    
Phoenix 5 21 52 Yuma Sun reports 52 sw “rescued,” while FBI reports 42. Yuma Sun has further detail (breakdown by location), so I tend to believe it. FBI Phoenix; Yuma Sun; KTVK
Pittsburgh 0 3 25 “30 arrests on state charges, including three pimps and two adults that traveled for sex with a minor” leaving 25 arrests for adult women FBI Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Portland 1 2 20   FBI Portland; KOIN
Richmond 0 2 26   FBI Richmond; News & Advance
Sacramento 9 7 unk   FBI Sacramento
Salt Lake City 0 0 unk    
San Antonio 6 3 at least 6 6 women arrested in Austin for prostitution (ages 20-30, avg 26.67); 22yo woman arrested for “human trafficking” for “prostituting a 17-year-old girl”; the 22yo and 17yo were working together according to TWC News FBI San Antonio; KVUE; Austin American-Statesman; KXAN; TWC News
San Diego 2 6 35 5 sw arrested in Oceanside alone; “rescues of 37 victims, including two minors” FBI San Diego; The Coast News; KPBS
San Francisco 6 13 57   Point Reyes Light; Marin Independent Journal; KTVU
Seattle 4 13 56   FBI Seattle
Springfield 2 1 unk   FBI Springfield
St. Louis 0 1 at least 2 2 sw (ages 19 and 20) in Columbia alone FBI St. Louis; Columbia Tribune
Tampa 8 3 up to 82 Total 85 arrests, including 2 sw in Sarasota FBI Tampa
Washington 0 2 unk    
Total 168 281 (1000+?)    

Please note that I am counting the number of adults in the sex trade who were subjected to some form of police intervention as part of OCC-VIII, and not necessarily only those who were arrested or charged with prostitution. Many news stories disguise what actually took place (for example, writing “liberated from prostitution” when women are arrested), and some law enforcement officers seem to intentionally mislead the media (Portland Police Bureau reportedly told a reporter that they “did not arrest” any women, which is technically true, but left out the crucial fact that the women were given citations instead). I hope that someone would file FOIA requests with each FBI division to find out what happened to all these people.

While each Operation Cross Country campaign becomes bigger than the last, the overall patterns remain the same: large number of adult women in the sex trade are subjected to intervention by the law enforcement (most, though not all, are arrested or cited for prostitution or other related crimes); young people who are trading sex in order to escape from violence at home or in child welfare system and those who have safe home to go back to are lumped up together and involuntarily “rescued” back into the systems that they ran away from in the first place; young women and others who work with or alongside other young people are unfairly targeted as “pimps” even when there is no sign of any abuse or exploitation; Black and Brown men and women are profiled as “gang members” and “pimps” while the professionalized white rescue industry employ force, fraud or coercion to tell young people how they should live.

For more analysis on the “rescue” operations, please read the following articles:

Elite white feminism fail: Barnard president’s disastrous attempt at viral marketing

Date: February 22, 2014

I received this email this week:

Barnard spam

When I saw the title “Great post!” I thought of two possibilities: it could be someone who really liked one of my blog posts, or it could be a spam. But I didn’t think that it was an email from an Ivy league college promoting its president’s new book and podcast, asking for me as a “feminist thought leader” to provide free platform without offering any reciprocity. It might make sense if I was running a big mainstream feminist site, but it feels arrogant and entitled that they would approach me this way.

I posted the screencap on facebook, and quickly found out that a couple of my friends who are also radical Asian women writers have been contacted by this Barnard College person. So it wasn’t a fluke that they contacted me; they are actively seeking non-mainstream, radical women of color writers to promote the work of Barnard College president, a highly successful white woman.

I decided to investigate further: I looked to see if anyone has accommodated their request to publicize the book and podcast on their blog, but found something more interesting. Not only is Barnard sending emails to its chosen “feminist thought leaders,” they are also posting unsolicited, unrelated comments on dozens of other people’s blogs that is indistinguishable from spam comments.

In one of the pages Barnard spammed, Feminist Forte, author Molly responded to Barnard’s spam comment:

From what I have gleaned online, Debora Spar seems to be aligned with mainstream, white, NYC-centric feminism. In other words, her feminism isn’t my feminism, so I’m going to decline.

That was exactly my thought when I saw the email, but Barnard had no response.

They even posted the same spam comment on The TERFs, a site dedicated to opposing a version of radical feminism that discriminates against trans people, but apparently the moderator did not approve their post. So they tried again (it says “I do apologize – this is my second attempt to comment”), and was approved.

Barnard is obviously trying to tap the power of viral marketing, but they are failing miserably: despite many spam comments and emails, very few blogs seem to have accommodated their request to publicize the book and podcast. Of course, part of the problem is the idea of the book itself: we are just not interested in hearing a highly privileged woman’s view of what “young women today” need or want. But it is also about how they chose to promote the book, attempting to exploit other women’s platform for their own gain without offering anything meaningful in return.

(Hey, by the way Barnard, thank you for the great idea for my blog!)

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