I made a public FB post on my personal account to this effect already but I’ve now seen screenshots of Inbar claiming that I kicked them out of the Lysistrata group for being Jewish so it appears as though a more detailed explanation is in order. To address the post specifically, Inbar claims that we are a “Leftist group” without mentioning that we are supposed to be an action oriented sex worker collective, specifically only mentions my reasoning being for their pro-Israel posts when I mention that I have been hearing a number of troubling things from other community members over the past few months and ask for accountability within the group. I did mention them seeing themselves out as an option after this and it is ultimately the choice they made. In this post they also make it sound like they are an active member when they have not been active in organizing or leadership capacities for well over a year and a half out of the two years that we have existed (I can back all of this up with screenshots if anyone is interested in seeing them).
As the only founding member who has remained an active organizer beyond the first few months of Lysistrata, it’s unfortunately become very clear that the early days of Lysistrata have become more of matter of accountability than pride as I’ve seen the way that much of this has played out within the SW community over the past few years. I have always been very upfront about the fact that even though I have spent most of my adult life working in the sex industry that as a white, cis, able-bodied, conventionally attractive woman with access to financial help from my partner and family that I have had an exceptional level of choice and privilege in my experience of doing this work which is why through my own personal journey of doing activism I have increasingly sought to find productive ways to leverage my privilege in ways that benefit other workers without these institutional advantages.
Part of why the idea of a collective for folks of all experiences in the industry coming together to care for each other appealed to me is because I didn’t feel that taking up space in more traditional activist spaces was appropriate for me to do and because I really wanted to be able to use the resources I had to be able to partner with and help make the visions of some of the more activism oriented workers I knew a reality. And Inbar, who identified as a trans POC survival sex worker at the time we started discussing this seemed like a good person to lead the way. Over the next few months Inbar started informally collecting money through their personal venmo for the emergency fund, and amid worsening chronic health conditions and concerns that collecting money might affect their benefits they stepped back from an active leadership role and I started a separate Lysistrata specific venmo. The history from this point on tends to be better known since it involved another early member, Lily Fury, catfishing us by masquerading as a black woman to scam money out of people and the fundraising campaign going viral, at which point the majority of our other more privileged members dropped off from being involved (as well as a whole lot of other community accountability dodging).
Other tensions began to arise as Inbar, who continued to deny wanting to resume leadership duties kept pushing the collective publicly at times that we didn’t have enough participants to be considered a collective while I was trying to find other people who wanted to fill in leadership roles since for a few months we kept getting funds/fundraising requests and I was the only person doing anything. Around this same time, it came to light that Inbar had been in a number of groups that were supposed to be exclusively for POC, and that many of the people in these groups did not consider an ethnic Jewish identity to qualify someone as a POC (a distinction which I was not aware of previously and felt uncomfortable commenting on at the time). They had also continued to stay in a number of SW groups that had very specific guidelines about being for active workers after very publicly saying they had retired, which accumulated into no small amount of internal community upheaval. This is also when many of our current leaders began coming into more active leadership roles (this all happened fall of 2017).
Since then, Inbar has continued to be a member of the Lysistrata group but over the past year it has become increasingly apparent that they do not see themselves as having done anything wrong by being involved in these POC and SW spaces, their involvement has been an ongoing source of tension and mistrust between our collective and POC community, especially trans individuals and groups (and we have leaders who have specifically asked us to take a more active role in finding ways to handle this type of appropriative behavior by white trans women to save trans POC the labor of having to engage with them). There have also been other allegations that Inbar has lied about both the amount and type of sex work they have actually done, and named me as a person to vouch for them even though the only time they were supposed to use my incall the client never showed, and that Inbar has much more financial privilege than they had said they did. Their continued activity with the group has largely consisted of publicly calling out issues with events organized by one of our black trans leaders (which in one case included valid points about accessibility but, again, put us at odds with organizing POC) and to post their own personal fundraiser to our social media after never having posted anything else there before and immediately after the community upheaval around their inclusion in POC spaces. In many ways it seems like they are more invested in undermining continued organizing without them even though they stepped down from leadership early on and under their own motivation, engaging in community drama that is ongoing and harmful to more marginalized workers and POC and using their own marginalization to avoid being accountable for harm that they are doing to more marginalized people than they are in addressing the reality of what participating in a collective means and ways to do that while making safe space for folks experiencing greater difficulties than they are.
At this point this seems to be a repeated pattern of behavior that they are not interested in changing and it jeopardizes the work that our other leaders and I are trying to do to make Lysistrata a healthy community and the emergency fund a sustainable ongoing resource to have available to poor, trans and brown sex workers. I will admit that I lost my temper and should have initially handled this conversation with them better upon having seen the screenshot of their post (which, for the record, the main problem that people have with what they’re saying currently is how it offensively conflates the organizing and struggle for Jewish people to the organizing and struggle of Black, Brown and Indigenous folks) but ultimately, unless Inbar wants to take actual steps to address these allegations and chronic problematic behaviors the few months of organizing that they did as a founding member does not entitle them to ongoing inclusion in this collective if this is how they are going to continue to respond when being confronted with the consequences of their actions. Again, I’m happy to provide any receipts needed or to discuss this further with anyone who has more questions or concerns.
I am not making this call for accountability under the assumption that I am without problematic acts and behaviors myself, and part of the way we’ve been organizing is so that we have a stable and sustainable working collective and that I can be passing many of the aspects of managing the fund over to other folks as we are able to open business accounts and figure out the details of filing for taxes etc.. because I do believe that services centering more marginalized workers should be led by people with the lived experiences that it takes to do the best, most effective work possible. I am making this call because I feel that myself and many other community members have felt unsure how to address these mounting concerns that have now been brought up by multiple people, and with the hope that as a proponent of transformative justice themselves Inbar will choose to engage with community healing rather than continuing to entirely blame others for how this situation is escalating.
Our Director of Creative Growth and Organization, Jenna Torres, has some amazing plans in the works for ways we can try to collectively take accountability within our community and break many of the harmful patterns of call out culture and punishment based justice that our communities often center around and are ultimately divided and harmed by (which she discusses more in her own blog post). This is a process I look forward to participating in and I welcome any of our other SW community members and allies to join us in this process of learning and growing as well.