WE have twitter – https://twitter.com/IOSCOTLAND
We have a new email just for this project – firstname.lastname@example.org so go on – test it out for us?
“Having heard of all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce
(image Natasha 2017)
“To all the girls who wear the mask. I was one of them so when I speak to them, they know they can take off their mask with me.”
From Natasha to all the women who are still inside the sex industry, on their journey outside or have shut that chapter of their lives.
One of the really positive things about Inside Outside has been the ways people have linked in and connected in whatever way they can. Skills and time have been offered and accepted. It has meant a lot to us and I know the women appreciate it all too.
We were contacted on social media by Kerry who has been following the project from early on and supporting from afar but took a step closer. Some of the experiences of the women really resonated with her.
She made this short film a few years ago and offered to share it with us.
Thank you Kerry.
It was lovely to see an email from Natasha this week.
I have been thinking about her a lot and hoping her onward journey is going well.
(photo Natasha 2017)
She is doing well and sunning herself on holiday as I type. She is really pleased to see that lots of things are happening with the project and she is keen to keep supporting it and being involved from a distance.
The fab news is that she may be back in Scotland later in the year for a short visit and we will meet up. I imagine it will be a lengthy catch up and she is one busy and driven women. I am already looking forward to it.
This has been an exciting couple of weeks for Inside Outside.
Katie and Natalia will be helping out with looking after the photos and will be part of the installation teams at 2 of our big exhibitions this month. It will be great to have them on board and see them getting involved in this part of the project. I know Natalia will make sure it is all clean and finger print free as she is much more meticulous than myself!
I have been all over the country talking about the project and planning a schedule of exhibitions. It gonnae be a busy year folks!
I had a great meeting in Perth with lots of exciting plans. we will keep you up to date as they progress and I have no doubt #insideoutsideperth will have an impact in that area with the committed and skilled women who want to take it forward. when we looked through the photos, the whole atmosphere changed. There is something incredibly powerful about actually seeing the photos and being able to focus on them, look closely and notice new things that you don’t always pick up when seeing them online.
I also travelled down to the borders, arriving somewhat late. A combination of making the mistake of going into the office first thing, getting lost in the swamp of emails and scotrail running off schedule. As I scurried through Glasgow in the vain attempt to catch the 7.45 train, I passed this mural. A flash of colour in a side street.
My train journey passed as I listened to the recording of the conversation I had with Wendy. As I listened to her, I could see her sat curled on the sofa with a mug of tea in her hands. I could recall her gestures and body language and how certain parts of her story pushed her down whilst others lifted her. I could remember her bright eyes with flashes of anger and narrowing with confusion. It seemed right to be sitting on my own, giving her that undivided time. Wendy and Kathryn are meeting to take her photos. How exciting is it to be waiting to see what this clever, funny and warm woman will come up with! She loves butterflies so Wendy – this photo is for you as you open up and find another voice.
My delayed journey worked out well though as I met a wonderful taxi driver and told her all about the project – she is now an ally in the borders and it proved the power of connections! It really strikes me through this project that whilst the women live with and have to somehow manage the stigma they can feel and experience, many many many other people are completely on their side.
When I arrived into the meeting – there was a buzz in the room and they had been hard at the chatting with pages of ideas for #insideoutsideborders. It felt like Kathryn was present in the room 🙂 It was really exciting to be part of it and the warmth and positivity around doing credit to the work of the women was inspiring. There was a sense that whatever was planned in the Borders area had to be of quality and value. Yet again – no half measures for Levi, Natalia, Natasha, Katie, Sarah Jane, Joanne and Wendy.
Yesterday was another day and yet another discussion about #insideoutsidestrathclyde. We will be bringing the women’s voices to Glasgow on the 22nd and 23rd of June. There will be a lot happening over the 2 days and whilst I am filled with excitement, there are also nerves as we want to make sure everything is thought of and considered. Kathryn wont be with the project over those 2 days as she will be minding the Exhibition in Dundee so this will be a new experience. There are people coming forward to volunteer to help out so a whole new set of people connecting with us. Who knows all that will be added by their skills and experiences but that is the nature of this project – opening doors and building links.
The overflowing email inbox has also taken a hit this week with more requests for the women’s work and stories to go to festivals, conferences and events across Scotland and the UK.
There is also interest from very far afield and I mean VERY far away. All I will say at this stage is how exciting would it be to watch #insideoutsidebrazil develop? 😉
As sad as it is, it seems this ‘job’ has damaged more than I thought. As I move on through my life it chips away at me.
I’m away for a few days in my favourite place in Britain and it feels as if I’m grinning and bearing my way through it. Counting my way down till my next flight. It seems easy getting yourself through an hour when you know there’s money’s coming out of it! But a weekend with someone I’m supposed to like is the hardest thing in the world! Why?
What has happened to me?!
As I sit on the transfer coach holding my parking ticket I let out a sigh of relief I seem to have been holding in a while.
Home, no more pretending, the mask is off, a mask I never want to have to put on again and never thought I would. It’s back to just me and my own, such a comfort!
This is the reality of this “job”, the prolonged trauma! Will it ever leave me?!
When I heard Rachel Moran speak the other day something stuck in my head! “We need to stop glamourising this job to people, it’s not all designer heels and red lipstick 💄. ”
It’s true if anyone had told me the reality of this lifestyle, I would have searched every other option. But would I have really believed them?
If I could help stop even one girl from starting I would feel I have achieved something.
“I’m not afraid.
To take a stand.
Come take my hand.
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just letting you know that you’re not alone
Holler if you feel like you’ve been down the same road.”
‘Eminem – Not afraid’
I have recently become involved with the Vice Versa project as a Street Outreach Volunteer which delivers first contact support to women involved in prostitution in targeted areas throughout Dundee. Vice Versa reach out to women with practical support operating on the principles of harm reduction, a non-judgemental approach that ensures women are kept safe as far as possible. Vice Versa provide free safety kits, including condoms, panic alarms, lubricant and further signposting onto other support services including 1-1 counselling and drop-in groups which are all run in partnership with WRASAC (Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre).
With this new experience, I have been exposed to language which I had been unfamiliar with both in my personal and professional life. I have been encouraged to refer to the women we support as women involved in prostitution as opposed to sex workers or those engaged in the sex trade. Despite our careful selection of words, there has been a real acknowledgement from professionals and women who engage with the support services available, who argue that the terms, although used with the best of intentions, dehumanise women and do not adequately portray the reality of life for those who have been, or are currently engaged in prostitution.
As part of my training, I was given the opportunity to attend a networking and information event hosted by the Emcompass Network. There was a real disparity between the language used by Dr. Alison Scott who was responsible for setting up a number of women’s clinics in partnership with NHS Lothian and the honest first-hand account of survivor and campaigning activist, Rachel Moran. Dr. Scott acknowledged that although she was not comfortable using the term sex worker she felt as though this was the language she must use in order to get people to engage in discussion without alienating those not involved in frontline work. Both speakers agreed that although this issue is regularly discussed rarely does this come from the perspective of real lived experience. Rachel Moran describes the term sex-worker as dated, coined by documentary filmmaker Carol Leigh in the 1970s, she informs us that this is a term which she finds deeply offensive as it is not considered to be sex or work for the woman who has been impacted by years of trauma, but rather sex abuse. Rachel Moran adds that we cannot begin to heal this trauma until we have learned to properly identify and name what it is that has caused it.
I have witnessed how language can give out a powerful message that either offers the support or condemnation of people who have been ‘othered’ by society. A community forum which took place in Dundee recently, and was reported on by the press, sent a clear message that this was not something the local community wanted to see on the streets of Dundee, this has served to drive the women indoors and to other parts of the city where we do not have the resources to support them.
Hearing both women speak at the event hosted by the Encompass Network made me realise that whilst we need forums for awareness raising and debate, a safe place must also be created for women to share their experiences and to be listened to as this is where the real capacity for change lies. As both speakers acknowledged, although it is often those with the loudest voices which are heard first, talking about an issue makes it visible. although progress might be slow as long as we listen to what these women have to say and as long as we make a conscious effort to properly name and address prostitution as the mass commercial exploitation and sex abuse of women, can we begin to create an environment more conducive to healing for those effected by prostitution.
Please check out Vice Versa Dundee, https://www.facebook.com/ViceVersaDundee/