Why January 25th Still Matters Today
On January 25, 1917, over 300 sex workers in San Francisco marched to protest the imminent closure of their brothels. This was the first sex worker led protest in the United States.
The history of January 25th and why it still matters today
On January 25, 1917, sex workers rallied at Methodist Church to meet with Rev. Paul Smith, a historical whorephobe who had a personal vendetta against sex workers and was on a mission to convince people that prostitution was the cause of everything wrong with society.
Rev. Paul Smith caused a lot of harm by trying to rid the world of sex workers, and unfortunately his ideology lives on today, in society and in policy. The criminalization of sex work exists in most countries and is widely believed to be morally correct.
But we, and you, and sex workers, and our allies, and advocates all around the globe know that handcuffs do not help people. Policing and penalizing people for what they consensually do with their bodies and lives only causes harm. The sex workers who protested on January 25th in 1917 knew that the criminalization of sex work needed to end, and we at Old Pros know that now. The sex workers who protested on January 25th in 1917 knew that the criminalization of sex work needed to end, and we at Old Pros know that now. Use our Sex Worker Rights Resource Guides to talk to your people so that they know these facts, too.
At Old Pros, we seek the decrimalization of sex work, where individuals participating in sex work are not arrested and cannot be evicted, fired, or lose custody of their children because of their participation in sex work. All people, whether they have ever participated in sex work or not, should have access to services and support to avoid exploitation, stay safe, and make choices about their own lives. We aspire to live in a healthy, free society where everyone has access to rights and opportunities to determine their own future.
January 25th: Resources to learn more
- Read this article from the Daily Beast, written by Old Pros Founder & Executive Director, Kaytlin Bailey
- Watch this conversation with Ivy Anderson and Devon Angus, authors of Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute, sharing Alice’s letters that inspired the January 25th march in 1917.
Dr. Charlene J. Fletcher is a historian, womanist, activist, and lover of most things Kentucky, Charlene holds a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University, specializing in 19th century United States and African American history and gender studies. Prior to attending IU, Charlene led a domestic violence/sexual assault program as well as a large reentry initiative in New York City, assisting women and men in their transition from incarceration to society. She also served as a lecturer of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College and an adjunct lecturer in Global and Historical Studies at Butler University. Keep reading…