Black Market. black mar·ket noun an illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled or scarce commodities. “They planned to sell the meat on the black market” (Google definition).
The term “informatics” broadly describes the study and practice of creating, storing, finding, manipulating and sharing information. (Wikipedia definition).
Did you know? Since the 1990s “Sex Work” v “Sex Trafficking” have been my hot topic/s.
What was a cultural war of sorts, has turned into a heated public debate without any political agency; leading also to a morally disturbing trend in violence against those identifying as sex workers, and also those exploring their gender identities often mistaken for sex workers.
“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say…” – Maggie Kuhn, Activist.
- To determine if it is valid to set up a formal non-profit , or for-profit, for what I have defined over the last twenty plus years as “Information Services”. Information services being the human connection to metrics. That is my area of experiential and academic expertise with focus on: “sex work”, “sex trafficking”, and issues relative to “street based economies”. Because of new trafficking legislation, nonprofits interested in sex worker rights as human rights can not really be funded unless dedicated to harm reduction, rescue intervention or street based outreach. I am not that. I am about data collection, watch dog reporting, law and policy inclusion, efforts to de-escalate violence, and the creation of opportunities that include and empower workers. Currently we are excluded from any and all forward moving opportunities except for maybe poetry slams and story telling venues. Our work – which was always there privately tho visibly parallel to your work – has been under constant attack since 2012. Right now I raise all the revenue and resources for what I do as each effort happens in real time, and have since 2012. My motto: Community working together works! And we will work even better if funded and trained to take on the tasks at hand.
- To connect with compassionate, concerned, and courageous congressional representatives, policy professionals, legal advocates, plus creative and educational outreach projects supporting survivor and worker inclusion to share in learning what private and public systems of support may be especially of benefit in our Commonwealth, and along the Eastern Seaboard; though truly our whole nation is in need of this conversation.
Why? Why do I do this?
Well – Yes! I want to change the world. My world. Maybe your world. So – Originally I wanted to contribute dialogue to “right the wrongs” I witnessed and experienced in the black market as migrant sex worker. Also, I believed a college degree was the golden ticket out of the sex trade. I bought the hyped up concept that I needed to “get my act together”, and “grow up” by going to college to find a career beyond “the life”.
Sadly: College, however noble — especially since dedicating my final products to trafficking and women’s health — has kept me almost $90,000.00 in cyclical debt, with mounting interest compounding daily, for two degrees I can not apply to any specific profession or salaried position, complicated and compounded by the Conscience Clause, the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath, PEPFAR, and the now reauthorized international gag order policies.
Well – In 2014 I chose to “Come Out Under The Red Umbrella”. Since then I’ve been sharing in the public conversations on survival sex, sex work and sex trafficking. There are few jobs, and even less funding, available to actual victims of the sex trade – or active sex workers – who are public about it. Stigma against sex workers is real, and it is a real challenge.
Despite keeping up appearances, I have a unique and challenging personal history. I was from a broken home before divorce laws protected children from predators. I was the victim of child abuse. I was a homeless teen due to domestic violence. I was a transient young adult living in weekly hotels and underground commercial sex locations. I lived at street level for over twenty years. And all those years I was told I “chose” that, so I believed I did make that bad choice.
Now, though, we know that child abuse that leads to youth disenfranchisement and homelessness – especially when survival sex or early entry into the commercial sex industry is involved – is a crime.
It is a form of human trafficking when child abuse leads to the exchange of sex for survival and/or entry into the commercial sex trade. People just didn’t view it as much of an issue back then.
Now? People like me who are defined as “victim/survivors and workers” have been left vulnerable and exposed as result of all the new efforts to “end demand”, along with newly implemented trafficking legislation, yet – we are not offered any services or support. A lot of exposure with no support. WoW. This hurts.
Yet – I am blessed. I am truly blessed that instead of winding up an NHI, I am here with you now, able to share my story with you.
Sadly, it seems not a lot of people want to truly listen to the perspectives of those of us who lived the “torrid” reality, especially if our views differ from those who want to “save” us; or “save” the next generation from being like us.
For most of my adult life I have written about what I experientially knew. The streets. My writing, however, has only recently begun to be published, primarily in Philadelphia, in community anthologies. That is okay. It has just taken the mainstream of the nation all this time to catch up to the conversation. Sex Work. Sex Trafficking. Street Based Economies. Street Level and Sexual Lifestyles.
In the effort to combat actual trafficking, we are all new to learning the best ways to meet each other at a shared point of understanding to work together.
In 1999 – at 29 – I took out the necessary student loans to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. My 2003 senior study is on feminism, sex work, forced prostitution and sex traffic. At the time, it was too early for the public conversation. It was decided the project had to be “privacy locked” due to the painful and controversial content. I went on to complete my masters degree in health communication and women’s health, graduating in January 2006 from Goddard College in Vermont with a Master of Arts in the Health Arts and Sciences. For six years afterward I continued living quietly in Lancaster County as a caregiver and craft artist with much of the sex industry – I thought – behind me.
In 2011 however I received some news which brought my past in place with my future. I lost my home, and everything I thought I’d been working for over a 13 year period. Additionally my phone started ringing with requests to contribute to new Masters and PhD student research and legislative efforts from AK to CA to PA to VT regarding the controversy and confusion over consent and coercion, trafficking and semi legal sex trade.
Over the last five years I traveled thousands of miles across our nation, contributing to many academic and non-profit research projects and legislative efforts. So many I actually almost forgot to contribute to my own. Almost.
Welcome to Black Market Informatics: My name is M. Dante. I am federally defined as a former victim of U.S. domestic minor sex trafficking, a sex trade survivor, a consensual adult worker and ally. I hope you find my perspective valid and of interest. I’ve found that though I am part of the population of vocal survivors, we have the weakest voice in our home states, and in Washington, D.C. In fact, we are often completely ignored. This hurts. In the effort to combat actual trafficking, we are all new to learning the best ways to meet each other at a shared point of understanding to work together.
Without YOUR voice working with us OUR voice – as survivors – simply is not heard. Without OUR voice YOUR efforts are not authentic social justice.
“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — ” I hear you, Maggie. I really do. Let’s do this!