The Platform 101 is a shoe designed for sex work – in particular, with the safety of the workers in mind. The shoes come equipped with a built in audible alarm system, hidden safety compartment for stashing keys, cash, condoms, etc., and a customized version of Rave Guardian, a wireless emergency signal and GPS locator allowing the wearer to send a call for help and give their location through GPS.
There is also an online component of Platforms — a website that will provide sex workers with a basic email client, calendar, “problem client” blog, chat rooms and an area for downloading audio and video for the shoes. There will also be a link on the website to track the user's shoes (and other registered sex workers with transmitters) using Rave Guardian technology. This will be a secure community network that protects the privacy of its users. As with the university systems and APRS, tracking is voluntary and can be turned on or off at any time. Each sex worker will have their own login to program their shoes, access email, and post information on problem customers. Workers can also track customers, set up appointments, create schedules, and access health and other resources.
The shoe has been created by the Aphrodite Project to re-examine the role of consumer design in marginalizing the experiences of women and question moral attitudes and value judgments about sex work. The project is also examining surveillance technology — What are the ethics of surveillance and tracking? Is it possible to ensure that this information will empower and not endanger sex workers? Is it ever possible to guarantee that knowledge will stay within the hands of those who it is intended for?
In the artists’s words: “The shoes address creativity and artmaking as well as practical issues of design and marketability. It is our hope that in addition to creating beautifully crafted objects, the project will contribute to the current international debate over the regulation, decriminalization, and legalization of prostitution.”
Check out the Aphrodite Project’s website for more info.
Thanks to Valentina Culatti at Neural.