From Brothel by Alexa Albert:

“…society blamed prostitutes’ recklessness on ignorance, poverty, and disregard for personal responsibility, but I knew plenty of people who were more educated and affluent who failed to properly protect themselves sexually…my own friends neglected to use rubbers regularly with new partners.”

Ok, this quote definitely sums it up succinctly enough. This is a point brought up often enough by sex work activists, that is that, though popularly portrayed disease vectors, as sex workers we are often more educated about and responsible about protecting ourselves, our partners, and our clients than the general populace. And I bring this up enough myself, but I’m still often concerned, when talking to coworkers, and even calling upon my knowledge of safer sex practices, that we have far to go. For example, at one parlor where I only worked one shift, I asked the other girl working if the massage lotion provided in the rooms was water based. She said it was normal (therefore oil based) massage lotion. I said then that it was risky to be using oil based lubes on clients when they degrade the latex in condoms.She replied, a bit harshly,

“Well, I’ve been here 3 years and had no problems with it.”

I almost said it was because she was lucky, but held my tongue. There’s other concerning misinformation that doesn’t come to mind right now, but it’s out there. what to do, what to do? It’s a fine line to walk to, often with a strong push, get good information out there, and to not condemn someone for acting on false info….

I went down to the planned parenthood a few days ago to get tested, and ended up having a conversation with one of the women working there about sex work/ers in town. She gave me a few pamphlets in a series put together by Health Canada in conjunction with a few of the bigger SW organizations in the country. I’m really glad this information is out there, and I did learn a few things I didn’t know from it. BUT as a highly critical jerk I have to say, these pamphlets read as if a few university student researchers asked a bunch of sex workers some simple questions and put together all the answers as bullet points, and then did very little additional research. The information is SO much just common knowledge it’s almost insulting. And points like “take time for yourself,” “have a friend you can talk to about work,” “look up local laws” with a provincial legal line number attached. DUHHHH. I know this might be new information to some people, and I definitely have a lot of educational, social, and class privileges that make some of this information more obvious to me, BUT I’ve also been working for a short time and know a lot less than a lot of more experiences SWs.

If you’re going to make a pamphlet about laws, LOOK UP THE PROVINCIAL LAWS. If you’re going to say “learn techniques like how to put a condom on with your mouth,” look up how to do it and put it in the pamphlet, cause a lot of SWs work alone. What really bugged me, deep down, was that at the end of reading these I didn’t feel that much more informed, but I did feel like shit. Why? Cause I’ve done some unsafe things in my life, during work and outside of it. One slogan I really like that made me feel a bit better, and therefore more empowered was

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Which seems like the most proactive way of approaching, uh, life. Another thing that irked me about the lady at PP was that she kept interjecting randomly with “if anyone ever hurts you, you know you can call the sexual assault line” and “if you’re doing everything completely safely, then you have nothing to be ashamed of.” That second one, I don’t know what to think about. Does she say this to everyone who has sex? Cause this lady’s definition of “everything safely” includes finger cots and gloves always. Listen lady, I just don’t use finger cots. Sorry. I’m not that worried about it. Like I’d use gloves if I were putting my hands near someones asshole, and I always wash my hands between any sexual anything with antibacterial soap, but c’mon. That said, I have no problem with people using them always and highly encourage it. But back to the conditions places on “nothing to be ashamed of.” On the one hand, I am ashamed of some things I’ve done. I’ve sexually assaulted people, I am NOT proud of that, I regret it more than anything I’ve ever done. But shame? It’s all semantics, I know, but shame don’t get nobody nowhere. Shame is silence, shame is turning away from the things you’ve done and trying to forget them, shame is covering up. Maybe I have regrets, but I have no shame. So, in conclusion.

Dear haters:

I refuse to apologize to you for my personal choices which do not affect you, including but not limited to what I charge for my time, what I do for money, what I do for fun, what turns me on, or what I fantasize about. In accordance with my personal life mission, that is to not be an asshole, I will try my damnedest not to hurt, infect, or be mean to anyone, and I’ll probably fail.

to do: make a new pamphlet for the planned parenthood…