reactions iii

fun with language

From Laura Agustin’s Twitter: “You are living in the kind of world in which there are digital harems of prostitutes, available and pushed upon every single population”

It wouldn’t be much fun to push unavailable prostitutes on every single population, now would it? “Every single population” is not defined and I wish it were. There are so many populations that prostitutes aren’t interested in (children, prison inmates, the sick, the homeless, Congress).

Laura has a series of Tweets exploring the zealous anti-prostitution rhetoric and its very creative usage of language. I would have never come up “digital harems” no matter how long I write about sex work (yes, I’m jealous). Even better, the sermon she quotes was delivered by a preacher in Ft. Worth! Eros Dallas has a new slogan in the bag.

ban freebies

I missed this on Twitter but really enjoyed the recap. Sex workers discuss the concept of giving it away with the same arguments tossed at us because we charge for it. While people can always say “It’s smart to charge for it,” when have you ever heard someone say “It’s smart to give it away.” An entire self-help genre is built on the very idea of not giving it away! These books encourage women to hold out for something, whether it’s a wedding ring, gifts or whatever. But the end result is always offering sex in exchange for something the woman wants. Technically, that’s not giving it away! Which begs the question, is there anyone who really gives it away? Or are they just deluded? Is “giving it away” actually part of the old joke to which the punchline is “Now we’re just negotiating on price.”

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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.

sympathy for the she-devil

Years before I ever self-identified as an activist (I usually considered myself “an army of one”), I emailed Michael Connelly complaining about his book Chasing the Dime. A client had given me a Harry Bosch book and I really enjoyed it. When I discovered Connelly had written a book about the murder of a callgirl, I bought it immediately. I finished the book only because I’m a stubborn cuss. Then I hurled it across the room, with great force; and dug up his email address.

I complained because the callgirl who was the driving force behind the entire book was dead before page 1. She was murdered by an advertising mall that reminded me of CityVibe. (I’ll assume Connelly’s research led him to create a company that was a combination of CityVibe and Eros with a whole lot of stereotyping thrown in. Believe me, I don’t think the CityVibe folks go around murdering their Verified Escorts, no matter how flaky the girls are.) The girl even did some BDSM scenes for online consumption, which included the horrors of having hot wax dripped onto her torso by her female modeling partner and the obvious faking of facial expressions for money. I asked Connelly why he felt the need to murder his callgirl, why couldn’t she have been alive at some point in the book, why did she have to be such a victim?

His assistant replied that Connelly was building sympathy for the character. I immediately shot back, commenting that not only was that lazy writing, people are capable of being sympathetic while alive, even callgirls. I never heard back and honestly did not expect to. Why would his assistant waste time arguing about a fictional dead callgirl with some partially-fictional blonde escort in Dallas?

That exchange has always stuck in my mind. Connelly has obvious fictional talents; I enjoyed his Harry Bosch book and millions of other people have enjoyed that entire series. The main character in Chasing the Dime wasn’t very sympathetic, should he have been killed too? On the other hand, this character was so intrigued by the callgirl that he solved her murder. That doesn’t happen too often in real life. Obviously the cops were less than concerned, which reflects reality precisely.

That the only way an experienced crime-writer like Connelly felt a sex worker could ever possibly be a “good girl” is to be a dead girl is profoundly disturbing to me. Millions of people read his books and they’re absorbing his message: the only good hooker is a dead one. The only way they can feel sorry for us is if we’ve paid for our sins with death. Even the mundane details of the girl’s life (she drank milk! she has a good credit rating! a cute little house! a pet! a family who misses her!) are presented as exotica. As if she is somehow completely removed from all normal human existence, as though she was created, lived and worked in a vacuum. Her murder was her only connection to the “real” world in the book.

For Connelly, the problem is that he could not have sympathy for her as a normal, living human being.

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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the american tube sock theory

I have an Aussie flatmate in Singapore. Sometimes we really get rolling on a topic. I usually degrade into discussing sex, he often just talks about work and people, though he’ll certainly join in a sex discussion. One of our discussions spawned an example to illustrate a theory American men seem to hold about women/sex. (Different countries/men have different theories.)

This blog has gotten some rather negative comments from men, including my recent sex and the single escort post (that was predictable — these types loathe escorts so they come all the way over to my blog just to tell me how they feel so I’ll respond and pay attention to them). Anyhow…

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