Selling Sex on the Streets: Let’s Talk About it



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About Miyuki Baker

Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, nomadic, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist activist and healer, she uses common or discarded objects, personal anecdotes, public spaces and performance to make accessible art that brings non-mainstream identities and ideas into maximum visibility. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she traveled for 14 months as a Watson Fellow to fifteen countries documenting the intersections of art and activism in queer/trans communities in blog posts and self-published magazines while making performance art. The eight magazines Miyuki created on this trip (queerscribe.com) and their strong media following exemplify her illustration/graphic design, storytelling and people skills. Her work has been featured in several magazines such as Hyphen, Broken Pencil and Knik, blogs and radio shows, well-known for their interactive and eye-catching mixed media approach to activism that utilizes both online media and on-site performance and workshops. This fall she will begin the PhD program at UC Berkeley in Performance Studies. You can follow her travels at heymiyuki.wordpress.com and email her at heymiyuki@gmail.com

7 comments

  1. Hm, what do I think? I would also prefer not to see fliers like those plastered everywhere. Like you say, their ubiquity forces people to consume them whether or not they want to, and because they are “intimate” images, I agree with taking them down. On the other hand, there has to be something like a free speech law that would disallow the happy-go-lucky city-wide flier-stripping I might do if I had the time and energy. If the advertisers have a right to put those fliers up, do I have a (similar or different) right to take them down? (Of course, you only took a few, and they were for an art project, and I’m sure the advertisers have thousands more to replace the ones you took.)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Andrew…remember the episode at Swat where people were taking down the Republican posters? I feel like a lot of the same thoughts were being thrown around…a lot about freedom of speech and whether taking posters down is a violation of that…it’s a tough call isn’t it?

    Also, it’s flier, isn’t it? Haha, no spell check when I’m writing by hand ,)

  3. N

    Long time reader, first time commenter!

    Interesting post. I had a similar experience when I visited Las Vegas (with my family of all people). There are sex worker fliers EVERYWHERE and the street flyer guys targeted my aging immigrant father (of all people). My thoughts on the sex industry aren’t particularly well-informed or well-articulated, but I also felt a similar discomfort — what’s unsettling about the fliers isn’t the nudity or the “provocativeness” of what’s being sold. It’s the image of the woman — she is anonymous, and she is entirely powerless. She is an object to be consumed (by men only). And she is everywhere. It kind of reminds me of the images American news outlets use in TV pieces on obesity, only showing their middles or their backs. Disembodied bodies, for us to leer at.

  4. Hey Neena,
    Thanks so much for responding! Oh Las Vegas…and oh no, they gave the fliers to your dad?? AWKWARDDD!

    Exactly, she’s super anonymous.. the face or eyes are always covered! I never made the connection between these bodies and the weight loss ad bodies…you’re so right!

    Hmm anywho, thanks for commenting and reading :))

  5. Hey there,

    I just started following your blog! I hope you might do the same for mee

  6. Thank you for writing this — you put into words and images some of what bothered me about seeing these fliers in Buenos Aires when I was there in March and April. I didn’t notice them much the first couple of times I visited the city; I think I was too overwhelmed to stop and look. When I did, I kept thinking, “Geez, they have an ass fetish in this country! Or is it Latin American culture, or is it just men in general, or is this just a thing with all primates?” It felt like the oddest thing to be thinking on the streets, but you really captured that feeling for me of being a queer feminist taking in all of these images and trying to figure out why it bothered me so much. And now that I’m a middle-aged woman whose body is mostly ignored, it brings up a whole new set of questions.

    Great blog!

    • Thanks so much for your reply and I’m so glad you enjoy the blog… I’d love to hear your thoughts on middle-aged women in our society, especially as a queer-identified woman!

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