Local blogs fumble story of sex worker activist named legislative aide

Pub date December 12, 2012
SectionSex Blog

We were thrilled to bits at the Guardian when St. James Infirmary’s longtime program director and former Harvey Milk Club president Stephany Joy Ashley was named Supervisor David Campos’ new legislative aide. Ashley was a speaker on our “Feminism in the Bay Area Today” panel discussion and worked on a number of political campaigns, from John Avalos’ bid for mayor to Rafael Mandleman’s 2010 run for District 8 supervisor. 

However, local blogs read her primarily as a former stripper. “Lusty Activist is the New Campos Aide,” read Misson Loc@l’s headline. “David Campos’ New Aide Is a Former Lusty Lady Dancer,” read the headline on SFist. Way to focus on the important stuff, guys.

Of course, Ashley was a stripper at SF’s amazing worker-owned strip club — six years ago. And we think it’s awesome that we live in a town that doesn’t separate sex workers from the political world. And actually, the Mission Loc@l headline isn’t really indicative of the article’s content, which does focus on Ashley’s impressive qualifications.

But, the fact of the matter is that “Lusty activist” and “former Lusty Lady dancer” are really insufficient descriptors for someone who has continued to play really important roles in the community since her days at the Lusty. It’s hardly the most unique thing about Ashley either, given her achievements since. 

We get it local bloggers, we’re all looking for clicks. But let’s not sensationalize sex work — not to mention completly legal sex work — anymore. This story was already awesome without it.