Before I post a bunch of frivolous softcore-in-the-Seattle-snow pics today, I want to at least mention that today's an important one: The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
When the economy is in the shitter (the direction it's headed right now) people are MORE judgmental and resentful about how much other people are paid and for what kind of work; that's a recipe for even more violence against sex workers. Lots of perpetrators of violence against sex workers explain that their crimes are justified because they shouldn't have to pay for sex -- the woman (or sometimes man) and the work s/he's charging him for are not worthy of payment and/or should be punished for thinking she is. Check out this guy who said a prostitute put her head in his plastic bag by mistake when he wanted his $100 back
. For trying to kill her he'll only get a few months in the slammer.
It's not going too far to say that beating, raping, exploiting, infecting, killing, stealing from sex workers and/or refusing to abide by their boundaries is covertly state-sanctioned -- the government says sex workers don't have the right to charge money for their services in most places. Not only do they not have the right to charge money, they are CRIMINALS if they do so. In some places in the United States you can be arrested simply for carrying too many condoms -- it's intent to sell access to your body (which you have no right to do, and if you intend to flout the law in this way you deserve to expose yourself to disease and pregnancy)! You can be charged with a crime in many places just for advising other sex workers ABOUT sex work. The government might not have a bounty on sex workers and we all might SAY that killing them is going too far, but it's a pretty fucking mixed message.
While most of my own work as a webwhore is legal (I say "most" because some of it could easily fall under the nebulous definition of "obscenity" - that and a couple of other things I can think of could land me in prison if the Department of Justice or other unsavory elements chose to target me) and I feel fairly safe doing this work (not just safe for a whore, but even safer relative to women with straight jobs), there are still more than enough people who resent me and women like me for making our livings this way. People who spew hatred and threaten violence that all falls under the category of, "BITCH! YOU DO NOT DESERVE MONEY FOR WHAT YOU DO & YOU DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR EVEN SUGGESTING ANYONE PAY YOU FOR THIS!! I will *take* by force what you deny me for free." I'm willing to bet these messages will only increase and intensify in the months and years to come as people get poorer, hungrier, and angrier.
There's a march in DC going on right now. FurryGirl
is there and taking pictures like this one:
The demand on the banner to "STOP SHAMING US TO DEATH" is powerful, especially in conjunction with the message that "ONLY RIGHTS CAN STOP THE WRONGS". Violence against sex workers is made too easy because of wrongheaded laws that make some people's versions of "immorality" criminal. It's broader than the moral or religious issues, though: it's about class and gender -- specifically denying women (1) ownership of their bodies and (2) the right to charge people to access it (3) within boundaries each woman defines for herself.
Connect the dots in the bigger picture to shaky/compromised abortion rights, our continued unwillingness to recognize parenthood as real work worthy of payment, and our refusal to protect natural resources like WATER (where ownership by one entity should be really fucking hard to claim) from unsustainable corporate exploitation compared to our insistence upon denying individual women opportunities to profit from their own individual bodies (where self-ownership should be pretty fucking OBVIOUS/undeniable, especially when you consider how much money male pro-athletes make abusing their bodies for our entertainment and no laws deny them the RIGHT to exploit their bodies in those damaging ways***) -- it seems pretty obvious that denying rights to sex workers is part of a bigger agenda to deny women opportunities to profit from work that is mostly performed by women because we are at a natural biological ADVANTAGE to perform it. Basically? It's about making sure women are only punished for their gender rather than economically rewarded for it.
It will be a cold day in hell when someone goes violently vigilante on the asses of Wall Street executives and all the corporate fat cats and bankers getting bailed out for fucking us over financially; there are always loopholes to guarantee their "right" to be multi-fucking millionaires at our expense
, but there are sure to be plenty of whores killed by men who get the message loud and clear from our government(s) (and all of us who tell them we LIKE our laws just like this) that there IS no loophole for a woman who thinks she's entitled to earning a few bucks for a blowjob. God forbid we put a cap on the exorbitant amount of ill-gotten money men "make"; instead let's keep making sure the whores don't get out of pocket thinking their dirty pussies are worth a thin fucking dime.
Discriminatory laws against sex work and women's work in general don't just encourage and facilitate physical violence, some people would say those laws and their applications are themselves acts of violence -- when you make it next-to-impossible for someone to work, when you take away her income, when you stigmatize someone by slapping a criminal record or a special stripper/whore license on her that will limit her job opportunities in the future, when you eat up her time in court and behind bars, when you make her pay fines, when you make her vulnerable to blackmail by thieves and rapists both in and out of uniform, that can at LEAST be called a hostile and dangerous violence-breeding atmosphere. Whether or not you believe Deborah Jeane Palfrey's death was a suicide
, you have to recognize that she (and possibly other women connected to her case) would not be dead now if women had the right to do sex work. Who needs the Green River Killer to cleanse the country of garbage as long as we have the government to ruin and destroy the lives of sex workers? And when I say "government", I don't mean that the rest of us have clean hands. Voters are the ones who had an opportunity in San Francisco last month to decriminalize prostitution and guess what? THEY DIDN'T. We're not talking about old laws no one enforces anymore, we're talking about active BULLSHIT that just keeps on trucking.
Yes, it's impossible for me to calmly deliver a moderate, easy-to-understand argument about sex worker rights and reducing violence perpetrated against sex workers. I'm sorry for that. I feel guilty for not doing more for sex workers as a group -- for not being more of an activist, for not staying better informed, for not being a more coherent educator. As with any minority suffering discrimination and persecution, it's a challenge to have time to earn a living in that discriminatory atmosphere AND be an agent of change. That's why discrimination and marginalization WORK SO WELL; when people are underprivileged and denied rights granted to others, they 1) lack the resources to effectively fight for change, and 2) can't be completely honest or open about their own stories without fear of reprisals and punishment.
It's true that I feel relatively safe as a webwhore, but I said RELATIVELY safe, not just-plain-SAFE. I realize I am VERY lucky, but still vulnerable.
I hate that my blog entries on this subject wind up preaching to the choir and are probably ignored or misunderstood by everyone else, but seriously -- this whore needs to spend the rest of the day trying to make money rather than blowing off steam just to hear her head rattle. With the poor economy and my own situation of having gone deeply into credit card debt to finance our business, I do have a heightened awareness of how my own safety and standing in society is threatened even more by the fact that I'm a sex worker and therefore considered disposable and fair game for scapegoating, at the very least. I know from my OWN feelings of jealousy towards people who are economically privileged and resentment towards those protected enough by their gender and class to get away with huge scams that are considered legit ways to fuck people for money that we all can become very, ummmm, mean-spirited when the chips are down.
I wish I could wrap this up with a big Christmas bow that would change the world for sex workers or at least make people WANT to see that happen, but I'm at a loss for how to do that so I will simply say THANK YOU to the people who are out their lobbying for change on behalf of me and other sex workers today.***there are definitely class (and race) issues at work that allow mostly poor men of color to beat each other senseless in boxing rings and suffer tons of injuries in other pro sports with regulations that do very little to protect them; by bringing this up I'm not saying boxing or other sports should be illegal or even necessarily more heavily regulated -- I only mention it as an interesting comparison to sex work. It illustrates the irrationally contradictory double standards when it comes to women's bodies versus men's bodies and what kind of work they can put them to for how much money.
Labels: class, fears, gender issues, money, politics, race, rants, sex work, true crime