Be Nice To Sex Workers

"A lot of times people are out there sayin' sex workers are trashy, dirty people, but they need to realize that's somebody's mother or brother, daughter, or sister, you know they are still human beings and a lot of times they're out there for survival." -Film Participant


BE NICE TO SEX WORKERS is a documentary about street-based survival sex work in Washington D.C. The film uses an intersectional analysis to show the many barriers sex workers face that affect their abilities to survive and live healthy lives. The women's personal stories are at the center of this analysis as a way to lift up their voices and acknowledge that sex workers are the experts of their own experiences-not the police, government or policy makers.

The film highlights the services that a unique local non-profit, HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), provides to the sex worker community. HIPS tireless social justice efforts to meet sex workers where they're at and provide a safe, judgment free environment has enabled their clients to empower themselves and make healthy decisions in their own lives and communities.


Discussion Guide*

This guide is provided to engage audience members in meaningful discussion about the issues surrounding survival street-based sex work.


  • Drug Use
  • Harm Reduction
  • HIV Prevention

Discussion Questions 

  • What stood out to you the most in the film and why?

Think about how sex workers, HIV, and crack use are generally portrayed in the media.

  • How do you think the media's portrayal affects people's views on sex work?
  • How has this film provided a different perspective?
  • How do you think media influence policies and the political attitudes surrounding se work and what should be done?
  • What are examples from the film of the social conditions that constrain these women's choices and affect their ability to survive?

Women of color represent less than half of the sex worker population, but they comprise 85% of women incarcerated for prostitution.

  • Why do you think that is?
  • What societal factors are at play?
  • HIPS works with female, male, and transgender sex workers. How might these populations experience sex work differently? 

In the opening Cheryl states, "I could come up here, wash up, change my clothes, and go back and do the same thing again ... ."

    • How does this relate to a harm reduction philosophy?
    • Can you describe the harm reduction model?
    • How has this model built trust and relationships between HIPS and their clients?

    Cyndee Clay, Executive Director of HIPS, suggests that sex workers can be at theforefront of a movement to stop the spread of HIV.

      • How do you feel about this statement?
      • Is comprehensive sex education a possible solution to the prevention of HIV/AIDS?
      • How might you as a community member advocate for social change around HIV prevention and adequate health services for sex workers? 



      Harm Reduction Coalition: Promoting Health and Dignity of those Impacted by 
      Drug Use 
      (212) 213-6376

      Prostitutes Education Network

      Sex Workers and Civil Rights by K. Lydersen, AlterNet. Posted July 18, 2003.

      The Sex Worker's Project: A Project of The Urban Justice Center 
      (646) 602-5617

      National AIDS Fund 
      (202) 408-4848

      General Resources:


      Meet the Filmmakers

      WESTON GREEN explores his passion for social issues in his first documentary, Be Nice To Sex Workers. The Salinas, California native emerged on the scene in 2002 with his award winning and critically acclaimed debut films about Monterey Bay folklore.  In what would become known as "The Mania Trilogy," Weston explored the nuances of being a teenager in suburban America at the beginning of the new millennium.  A San Francisco State University graduate with a degree in Cinema Production and Marketing, Weston does not aspire to become the next Steven Spielberg, but the first Weston Green.

      FRANCIS MEAD is a firm believer in the use of artistic expression to fight for social justice. As an artist and activist she has been organizing women and youth of color in her community for over five years. In her native home of Sacramento she has worked with other women and organizations around issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, breast cancer awareness, and reproductive rights. Since moving to San Francisco she has become involved in anti-prison work and advocating for domestic violence victims as a crisis counselor. Her studies in film production and Women Studies has inspired her to use cinema as a tool for the people to create social change. When she is not involved in dismantling racist, sexist, and classist structures she enjoys Indian food, good hip hop records and anything by Alice Walker.

      LINDSEY R WATERS has worked directly with producers on the post-production/distributionstage of several Bay Area documentaries including the ITVS-funded Goingon 13, The Tribe, and Meditate and Destroy.  She is currently in post-production on her documentary directorial debut, Take My Picture, about the Bay Area punk rock photographer Larry Wolfley.  She is also Assistant Director on The Last Days of Beijing's Hutongs, a documentary about modernization in Beijing for the Olympics. Her mission is to incorporate various mediums such as documentary film, installation art, and new technologies to provide opportunities for the voices of people that often go unheard in society.  By producing work by and about women, youth, communities of color, and under-represented stories, she strives to inspire and foster social change.


      View the high-quality version of this film


      *The information on these pages is provided by the student film makers and does not represent an endorsement or verification of statements from the Health Equity Institute