This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

How Much I Donate to Charity

I’ve updated my personal budget since the last time I shared it. One of my goals in tweaking how I allocate money was to donate more to charity. My specific intent was to financially support causes that I care about deeply. Now I’m sharing the organizations I picked, and my rationale for each, because I think my choices might be interesting to other people. Despite Thanksgiving’s brutal colonialist origins, it’s a time when we reflect on our own good fortune, which is a great prompt to redistribute some personal economic luck.

Charitable giving is a hard thing to write about without coming across as self-congratulatory, but rest assured that I don’t think that I’m ~saving the world~ or even doing enough. I’m still only donating $110 total per month, which is roughly 3.6% of my after-tax income. [Edit: I did the math wrong — it actually added up to $135.] The church traditionally reaped a tithe of 10%, so I can at least double my contributions. I may choose to add other nonprofits to my roster, or I may increase the amounts I give to the organizations I’ve already chosen.

So here’s the lineup of monthly donations:

  • $25 for the American Civil Liberties Union. I’m not especially patriotic, but I do care about constitutional rights, and the ACLU fights the big, tricky, important cases in court.
  • $15 for Bay Area Legal Aid. If you’re forced to navigate the courts without money — or the education and cultural capital necessary to fight successfully — it’s the same as having no opportunity to seek justice at all.
  • $25 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Being able to share information without structural or systemic fetters is crucial, and the EFF advocates for things like encryption that governments seem incapable of understanding.
  • $50 for Planned Parenthood. Medical agency is important! I’ve always had access to birth control and the like through my health insurance, but not everyone does.
  • $10 for the Saint James Infirmary. This is definitely an amount I should increase, especially since they just got booted from their space in San Francisco. Healthcare and harm-reduction led by sex workers for other sex workers = yes.
  • $10 for The Marshall Project. The prison-industrial complex is abominable and we need vigorous reporting to keep the industry in check and inform the public of the heinous treatment prisoners endure.

Considering these additions:

  • Compass Family Services doesn’t provide an option for donating monthly, which is my preferred format, but I might give them a lump sum in the future.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center carries out potent anti-hate activism and has a long history of enraging racists.

Any suggestions? I’m particular interested in helping homeless people and prisoners, since those are the most resource- and power-deprived demographics. Comment below, hit me up on Twitter, or email me.

Update: I now also give $23 to the Tor Project every month, for the same reason that I support the EFF.

Advocacy = Elation + Exhaustion

We need to fully decriminalize prostitution.

I wrote a short essay responding to the whorephobic Marshall Project interview that I called out last week, and they published it. Please read my argument for decriminalizing sex work, because it’s very important to me personally and many stigmatized laborers globally.

“Most sex workers do it for the reason that anyone does any job: they need money to live or to support their family. Punishing consenting participants in an exchange of money and pleasure does nothing but limit the economic options of someone who likely had few to begin with.”

Mostly this is a positive incident — I’m glad that I contacted TMP and I’m glad that editor-in-chief Bill Keller solicited a more developed version of my opinion. But it was an emotionally draining process. Getting worked up in the first place was scary and triggering and felt horrible. It wrenched to put my reasoning into words — I kept trying to intellectually shy away from the process. Debating whether to go ahead and be “out” entirely was painful. You get the idea.

I mostly avoid media pertaining to sex work or feminism, because the general experience is so upsetting. I resent having to write about these issues over and over again, having to rehash the same thoughts and memories. The world should go ahead and improve now.

Leave Johns Alone! (Because Criminalizing Any Part Of Sex Work Is Harmful)

sex work is real work
I don’t think the activists will mind this photo being republished.

I just emailed The Marshall Project. If/when they respond, I’ll add their reply at the end. Update: scroll to the bottom for editor-in-chief Bill Keller’s response.

Dear Marshall Project,

As a monthly donator to The Marshall Project and a former escort, I was profoundly disappointed to see Rachel Moran’s policy suggestions presented so credulously, with nothing more than an offhand mention of other sex workers’ passionate advocacy in favor of true decriminalization. It is especially galling given that this is your first dedicated coverage of sex work. The conflation of sex work — which is undertaken by adults absent coercion — with sex trafficking is lazy. It does a disservice to sex workers and victims of trafficking alike.

I understand that this is a complex issue and people have many different viewpoints. However, I find it troubling that you chose to devote attention to one woman’s self-sensationalized experience rather than the broad international movement that encompasses sex-industry laborers across the globe. It’s telling that you didn’t report on Amnesty International’s recommendation that sex work be decriminalized, and yet Moran’s book tour merits an article. I am sorry that Moran had horrible experiences as a prostitute, but I find it reprehensible that she has the hubris to assume that her experiences are universal.

As a future resource, Open Society Foundations has a good primer on this topic.

Sonya Mann

decriminalize sex work
Thank you, SWAAY!

Bill Keller replied: “We anticipated, when we decided to do the Q&A with Rachel Moran, that it would provoke some strong responses. It was not meant to be our last word on the subject. We will be engaging the issue with our own reporting, and we will invite people with contrary views to make their case.” Then he invited me to write about my own, obviously vehement perspective — we’ll see if anything comes of it.

Update: The Marshall Project published my (lengthened) response. More on that here.

“Most sex workers do it for the reason that anyone does any job: they need money to live or to support their family. Punishing consenting participants in an exchange of money and pleasure does nothing but limit the economic options of someone who likely had few to begin with.”

Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of my new writing and projects.

I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on an Amazon link from this site and subsequently buy something, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).