When the Sexual is Political: A Reflective Analysis of Feminist Non-Profit Organizing Around the Issue of Prostitution
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From January of 1995 until March 22, 1995, I worked with PROMISE Program for Women and Girls, a new San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to combating sexual exploitation. During this time, I interned as Program Planning Assistant and Coordinator, a role akin to a more formal planning and development position in an established nonprofit. Though initially I thought I that I would merely be an intern, my experience developed into an intense learning experience and an immersion into the realm of feminist activism and non-profit organizing. My work with PROMISE marked my departure from purely academic undergraduate feminism and my entrance into what I believe is a feminist vanguard: working with young women in a radical organization infused with the belief that women and girls deserve an alternative to the exploitative, abusive and ultimately misogynist world of prostitution. Like sister organizations WHISPER (Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt) and CPA (Council on Prostitution Alternatives), PROMISE is not solely concerned with problematizing the abuse of women in prostitution.! Rather, PROMISE is committed to both recognizing prostitution as oppressive, and to offering women a way out of it via advocacy and practical services. This Senior Individualized Project is an organizational description and analysis of PROMISE, as well a look at my role in the organization. Because of the highly charged political nature of prostitution, I wish to forgo a dry internship write-up and analysis. Instead, I will weave the thoughts, experiences and frustrations which consumed me while working with PROMISE into the paper. The ensuing work is intended to read both as a guide to the textual work I completed for PROMISE (grant proposals, a needs assessment, inquiry letters and a 1995 prospectus) and as a journal of a young feminist experiencing activism and organization building for the first time.