Month: September 2021

Episode 62: Policing Pleasure — The Intersection of Sex Work and Drug Use with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon

Sex work is work, just like coal mining, professional sports and literally any job that involves physical labor. So why is a show about drugs interested in sex work? For starters, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of harm reduction services that help people who use drugs and sex workers. Unfortunately, these services can be criminalized and weaponized against both communities.

One analogy is condoms and syringes: Syringes can be, and sadly often are, considered paraphernalia and evidence of illegal drug use. Believe it or not, police can, and do, consider condoms as evidence of engaging in sex work. Policing actively counteracts harm reduction services. Thus, there’s real reasons for solidarity among sex workers and drug users. And, as this episode will spell out, there are amazing activists who have bridged these communities together.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Troy Farah and Chris Moraff speak with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon. Tamika is the Policy and Community Engagement Manager of HIPS, Honoring Individual Power and Strength, a Washington D.C. based organization advocating for the rights and health of people impacted by drug use and sex work since 1993.

Caty is a leadership team member and sex worker liaison for Urban Survivors Union, the American national drug users union, founding-co-organizer/executive director of Whose Corner Is It Anyway, a harm reduction, mutual aid, political education, and organizing group by and for low-income, street, and survival sex workers who use opioids and/or stimulants and/or experience housing insecurity.

Follow Caty on Instagram @marginalutilite and Tamika on Twitter @tamikahs66

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If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 26: Housing As Harm Reduction
Episode 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service
Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Juno Mac Flickr edit: Troy Farah