how my personal choices affect everyone else who isn’t me

I should have Storified this but didn’t because I only have so much time and energy.

A question was posed on Twitter about not seeing guys of a certain race. I gave a flip, but honest answer, about why I no longer see Indian clients (even though Indians aren’t actually a race, they’re an ethnicity). And I don’t. I made that decision a year ago, after months of soul-searching and debate.

All of that debate was with two friends who would hear about my complaints after each and every appointment with Indian guys and they would pose the obvious solution: “Stop seeing Indian clients.” I would argue back with all the arguments I got on Twitter, plus my worry about it affecting my finances.

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dec 17 — survival

Tomorrow is December 17: the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. You can find the 2012 list of names here, and events here (there are less events than some years).

I don’t think anything is going on in Dallas this year, so as usual, I’ll be doing my own thing.

Michael (Mike) Meisenbach

A friend of mine was brutally assaulted by Michael Meisenbach. She found out he had done the same to others — after the fact. Naturally, she put him on the National Blacklist and other bad client lists because at the time he wasn’t on any that she used. Yet he keeps on raping and/or beating escorts. He does not hide who he is — it seems that girls aren’t doing their screening. His violence is escalating and at some point he will kill an escort, either deliberately or accidentally.

Avoiding violence is better than trying to pick up the pieces afterward. For your own sake: SCREEN. Use Google if nothing else. If you have a friend who doesn’t bother to screen, volunteer to Google her client info or be her safety call. No, this isn’t going to suddenly stop all predators but it could very well reduce your chances of being hurt. The life you save may be your own.

Survive this work.

Not every sex worker is going to retire with a huge nest egg or some other safety net. Neither do you have to exit this work harmed beyond recovery. Take care of yourself. It’s very obvious in this society that no one else will.

ps: the invisible majority

A few afterthoughts and reactions to my post.

I don’t have a problem with the awareness and understanding of privilege. Being aware of one’s advantages (luck, earned, given) is what’s known as “counting your blessings” where I grew up. It’s something every person should do at regular intervals. Counting one’s blessings is a private moment of personal reflection and it’s not necessary to be beaten over the head and/or ostracized if others don’t think you’re doing it right. There are ways of educating others about the concept of privilege and pointing out ways in which one may have an advantage. Then it’s time to move onto something else of greater importance: like changing laws that affect everyone regardless of any supposed privilege.

I apparently confused some [white] people by using the words “KKK” and “prejudice.” The KKK itself (or those who follow its value-system) hates quite a lot of people for a wide variety of reasons. It’s not all about skin color, folks. Prejudice and racism are different words, which is why I used “prejudice.” There is some overlap in concept (racism being a form of prejudice) but they do not actually mean the exact same thing. I wrote this post as clearly and simply as I could and it still confused people with too much schooling. Sigh. One activist who should know me better reacted as though I was a pet who pooped on the rug. No I’m not, and no I did not.

The UK seems to have some similar issues as the US. If you would like to take a look at thoughts from UK sex workers, please go over and enjoy the musings of Elrond and Douglas Fox — who made the most brilliant statement on the whole issue: “Activism groups have to understand that sex workers have many voices and many political allegiances and many experiences. Our diversity is our strength but instead it is being made our weakness.”

Furry Girl was inspired to bring the issue to a head. She is absolutely right in that it’s a (literal) working class issue. She boiled it down to 4 important points. I look forward to the start of her new project. Changing minds is changing minds. It needs to be done. Period.

the invisible majority and the PC exclusion factor

When I was 15, a stunning article in Allure magazine introduced me to luminaries Veronica Monet, Tracy Quan and the irrepressible Norma Jean Almodovar. All three women talked about sex worker rights and changing the law. That article was the only bright spot in the next eight years of reading about sex workers.

By the time I began stripping, I knew what a sex worker activist was: a lesbian vegan living in San Francisco who didn’t shave (let alone wax) and was often very overweight. She had a useless degree in philosophy or women’s studies from Berkeley (unlike my highly-useful photography degree!). Sex worker activists were overly-represented in my readings about sex work and they never, ever described me or any other strippers that I knew. I remember emailing Jill Nagle and complaining that Whores and Other Feminists was not representative of all sex workers, I wanted stories from sex workers who looked and sounded like me and my co-workers, workers who walked in our shoes too. I never heard back from her.

Maybe because I and the sex workers I knew looked mainstream. Veronica Monet and Tracy Quan were the only two public sex workers who looked normal to me (I did not find other interviews with Norma Jean, sadly). I was so happy to discover the books of Dolores French, Lily Burana and Heidi Mattson because I could identify with them, though Lily and Heidi weren’t “activists.”

Everything I read told me activists discounted you if you looked mainstream sexy, as though they believed a sex worker with implants or blonde hair has nothing of value to add (just like everyone else in society).

There is a deep prejudice permeating the sex worker rights movement in the US. Just because some of us have a mainstream appearance doesn’t mean we don’t deal with the same stigma that every other sex worker does, that we somehow work under a different set of laws. Just because we look much like the “pretty” depictions of sex workers in mainstream media doesn’t mean we’re not “real,” it means we’re making money (most sex workers are in sex work to make money). Does the movement think that because mainstream media depicts a certain look that it’s somehow representing or speaking for those who have that look?

Just because we’re hetero doesn’t mean our sexuality should be ignored or dismissed — it’s as meaningful to us as it is to LGBTs. Whore Stigma is based on fear and hatred of female sexuality in any form. Just because we’re female doesn’t mean our “female-centric” views should be automatically discounted. Women have made up the vast majority of sex workers ever since women were invented. The majority of the issues sex workers face are parallel with women’s issues, and sometimes parallel with issues confronting those who identify as women.

“Inclusiveness” and “diversity” are such huge preoccupations in the movement that they often derail energy and focus on the real-world issues staring all of us in the face. In the stampede to be inclusive and make sure that all ethnic/gender/occupation/whatever boxes are ticked and that a token representative is present, a huge majority go unnoticed and unwelcome. Many in the movement seem to think that because a certain type of sex worker are a majority, that somehow their concerns are being met or they don’t face serious, often universal, issues. Because they are a natural majority, they are punished by being given no voice.

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words for he-man hooker-haters

There isn’t a lot of hating on my blog; I don’t get the traffic to draw the haters or I scare them off or something. Or else the bulk of their comments get auto-moderated (I have set my spam filter with some key words for a reason). But then someone posts something completely innocent online and here come the haters.

Specifically, I’m referring to Tracy Quan’s light and engaging piece on talking to a call girl. You can sure disagree with what she says. Or you can think it’s a fluff-piece. Or you think it’s a brilliant little butterfly of a post. Whatever you fancy. Then you scroll down and find the hater comments all out of proportion to her piece.

Apparently, they’re not aware of the irony that they are talking to a call girl by responding to an article she wrote. I see the same things over and over again at a number of places online. So I decided to offer some suggestions and thoughts for the haters to consider.

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