Yeah, That’s What She Said presents: Norene Leddy’s Aphrodite Project
Gaze for Days: Screening & Panel
7:45 p.m. March 30
Specials on C at 195 Ave. C in New York City
GoFundMe // Facebook event
Where did the idea for The Aphrodite Project come from?
The idea came from research I was doing in Cyprus on Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the patron goddess of sex workers (some of the earliest archeological finds are brothels, and contain sacrifices to Aphrodite) which led to more research on prostitution in antiquity. Some of the earliest sex workers that would walk the streets, the pornai, wore sandals with tacks in the bottom that spelled out “follow me” to advertise themselves to clients.
I wanted to make a contemporary version of these shoes, so I started thinking about sex work and other kinds of shoe hacks that would make sense in the 21st century. Part of the process was interviewing sex workers, formally and informally, to talk about what they do and what modifications we could put into shoes that would help them to do their jobs. All of the hacks we included were based on these interviews.
Tell us about the platforms!
There are now 6 versions of the shoes, each has different modifications and some you can make yourself.
- An audible alarm system, which makes an incredibly loud noise and can be set off by hitting one shoe against the other
- A GPS system for tracking the wearer’s location
- Secret compartments for holding keys, money, condoms
- Video screens for advertising
These modifications evolved out of interviews and discussions with current and former sex workers. People didn’t want knives or guns or mace for example, because those things routinely get used against them; instead they just wanted something that would make a really loud noise. The secret compartments are because they get robbed, and can’t go to the police for help; this way they can at least get home and back into their house.
How can the feminist movement do more to stand in solidarity with sex workers?
Stop conflating human trafficking with sex work. Claiming, like Gloria Steinem did recently, that all sex work is rape is patently untrue and deprives sex workers of any agency in their own lives. People make decisions they need to survive. Some of the most intelligent and empowered people I know have done sex work (everyone should read Melissa Gira Grant’s new book “Playing the Whore”), and the Duke porn star Belle Knox is not the only one doing sex work to pay for college. There is also a lot of trans-phobia in feminist circles. I was so happy to see that you included anyone who self identifies as a woman in the language of the workshop posters!