RUJ exists to fill a gap in Milwaukee where there are a lack of resources and spaces dedicated to sex workers’ rights that don’t simultaneously view sex workers as trafficked, exploited, victims of society, or as needing to be rescued.
RUJ aims to decrease the stigma, discrimination, and other manifestations of oppression towards folks in the sex industry in Milwaukee through community education and anti-stigma work, harm reduction and self-care education for sex workers, legal education and outreach, and most importantly direct action where needed.
● RUJ makes the very clear distinction between sex work and sex trafficking. RUJ also recognizes that people engage in the sex industry for various reasons ranging from choice to circumstance to survival to coercion, and that the reasons a person is engaged in the sex industry can vary over time. RUJ believes that people currently in, or who have been in, the sex industry are the best people to lead the conversation, always. The only way to understand the nuanced needs of people in the sex industry is to listen to them directly.
● RUJ believes that people have the right to remain in and to exit the sex industry. We recognize that there are many barriers, including arrest and incarceration records, a lack of adequate resources, societal and internalized stigma, and career gaps on resumes that make it harder for people who want to exit the industry.
● RUJ recognizes that not all sex workers identify with that term, nor do they necessarily think of themselves as someone who is in the sex industry. RUJ is concerned with the needs, rights, and liberation of any person who exchanges sex/sexual services for favors, shelter, drugs, or anything of monetary value.
● RUJ, always putting a sex worker’s safety first, works to end and actively call out various forms of mistreatment by the government, medical and mental health systems, housing systems, non-profits, and any other body that treats a person negatively simply because of their involvement (or perceived involvement) in the sex industry. These forms of mistreatment include “outing”. Outing has the potential to get sex workers fired from their jobs, deported, can lose them custody of their children, or can get them disowned, beaten, sexually assaulted, or murdered.
● RUJ works towards justice within the sex industry, as well as justice between the community at large and people in the industry, that addresses patriarchy, misogyny/misogynoir, queerphobia, transphobia, gender inequity, and gender-based violence as well as the ways that gender oppression intersects with racism, colorism, xenophobia, ableism, classism, and criminalization.
● RUJ works to battle hierarchies that exist within the sex industry. One type of sex work or sex worker does not hold more value or prestige than another. Escorts are equal to street-based sex workers are equal to cammers are equal to “sugar babies” are equal to exotic dancers. And those who exchange sex or sexual services for money are equal to those who exchange those services for drugs are equal to those who exchange those services for housing, food, clothing, etc.
● RUJ holds itself accountable to sex workers in the community, making sure to always put their needs and voices first.
● As an advocacy and civil rights group RUJ strives to ensure inclusivity, centering, and safety for all marginalized members of our communities. This includes all drug users. Anyone who uses drugs either for self medication, recreation, or to cope with addiction has a home here. We do not place judgement on anyone for their drug use and believe in harm reduction models to ensure the safety of everyone regardless of how they may cope with society.