An open letter to the Cupcake Girls

Dear Joy Hoover et al,
I’m writing today on behalf of several community outreach organisations [SWOP, SWOC, as well as many individuals] to express our extreme displeasure and disgust with your organisation’s behaviour yesterday, the culmination of an ongoing pattern of lack of respect for local Portland non-profit organisations, local sex worker organisations, and individual sex workers. 

I received a message yesterday from a SWOC member that CG was trying to get in touch with Godiva or the current representatives of SWOP Portland.  I am one of the current reps, and I responded to the number Haven gave me with Godiva’s information and that update.  The person on the other end told me that CG “wanted to know if we could bring cupcakes and our resource cards to the event tonight?”  I am a rep for SWOP Portland; I was tabling and speaking on behalf of SWOP Portland and am not in charge of who gets to table or have a presence at the benefit, so I gave the number of the actual event planners.

Imagine my surprise when the Cupcake Girl texts me back to tell me that I gave her the wrong number!  Can you imagine what lengths Cynthia, one of the event planners, felt driven to, to have decided the best course of action was to lie, because every response she has so far given your organisation has been completely ignored and disregarded?

I called Cynthia immediately because I felt terrible about having given her information out to a group she obviously had no desire to interact with at all, and to my total chagrin I hear that Cupcake Girls have already been told that they are not welcome in an official capacity at the SWOC benefit: they are welcome to come as paying audience members whose funds will support the organisation, but not as representatives of an group that acts to siphon funds away from legitimate social services groups that do hard and unhip labour with vulnerable, marginalised, and at-risk populations. 

Not only did you not respond to Cynthia’s message, you completely ignored her and tried to get into the event and establish a presence by riding SWOP-PDX’s coattails.  And then, when I politely explained the situation and reiterated the “no” you had already heard, I did not receive an apology or even an explanation either! 

This is so disrespectful on so many levels: it violates the stated boundaries of Cynthia, Nikita, and SWOC; it shows no respect to me and to SWOP-PDX, and involves us in violating these stated boundaries; it creates dischord and suspicion in an already vulnerable community; and it reveals that we absolutely cannot trust Cupcake Girls PDX to listen to and to respect sex workers voices, boundaries, stated needs, and the work that we do amongst ourselves for our community. 

This lack of regard for consent and boundaries is the sort of behaviour I expect from strip club customers; it is behaviour that children are taught is unacceptable by three and four: no means no. Respect other people’s stated boundaries.  My dogs can understand and listen to “no” better than you have shown yourselves willing to.  You are adult women, and you have revealed your interest in sex workers to be no more than voluntourism and the masturbatory self-gratification of working with a transgressive and “hip” population: your interest and respect stops the moment you are denied access to this population. 

SWOP-PDX will not be working with you in the future.  You are not welcome at any of our events: the first annual Portland Sex Workers Art Show, our December 17th event, or next year’s celebration for March 3rd.  SWOC feels the same.  


Red [SWOP-PDX], Cynthia [SWOC], Nikita {SWOC], Adrienne Graf [MSW]