Oh man, I have officially participated in an internet-age-old practice that I have mostly sought to avoid:

The flame war.

Ok, it wasn’t that bad. Really what happened was yesterday I worked a shitty, fruitless shift. That is immediately after a typically painful pap smear from a humorless woman who I swear elbowed me extra hard in the uterus, all for $35, not including the lab fee ($100+?). So I spent 6 hours on the internet in a bad mood. I called some names, I got mad and remembered that there are dumbasses on the internet who say really awful things about sex workers. But it’s ok. Why?

Cause there’s literally billions of people who don’t agree with me, and that’s just fine cause I wouldn’t want them to. The rage that I sometimes feel in response to bullshit on the internet a shallow one. It’s petty and easy because I can target it towards people who just don’t matter in my life. It is not the deep, emotionally charged rage I feel when betrayed by friends, family, or lovers, or oppressed by the powers that be. That is the rage that I can harness and turn into creative energy. And this is why I’m so wary of this blogging thing- I’m afraid of my own susceptibility to internet addiction and what it will take out of me. It’s a great format for me, because I type faster (and way more legibly) than I write, and can use a very specific voice- that is informative as opposed to a “journaling” style. It takes effort for me to avoid the bullshit, and say no to trying to fight unwinnable fights that no matter what the outcome, lead to no specific positive change. What, I won an arguement on the internet? Good for me, there’s still sex workers being murdered, harassed, and assaulted everywhere.

Regarding this actual story (read the link for a synopsis), that of a young woman auctioning off her virginity for 3.7 mil to pay for her women’s studies’ degree:

What I’ve written in comments on the story is just one side of how I really feel about it. Obviously I will jump to the defense of any person engaging willingly in sex work. It their fucking choice! And any real feminist who doesn’t have their head stuck up their ass should recognize that it is NOT the job of anyone, ESPECIALLY those claiming to fight for the rights of women, to claim they know what’s best for another woman. Duhhhh. However, it’s not a choice I would make. And I would do a lot of things for money. It’s not a choice I can make now, obviously. But just because it makes me uncomfortable does not make it my right to insult, degrade, or accuse this woman of “betraying” feminism. And it’s fucking rad that she’s getting a womens’ studies degree. I really like Womanist Musings, but these comments by the author particularly got my goat, for obvious reasons:

Radical feminists in particular would take issue with the idea that women can find sexual freedom, autonomy, or agency, in prostitution. The fact that her area of studies is women’s studies would be viewed by some as highly problematic. In the end, declared feminist or not, patriarchy survives because just like any other institution women support it. As feminists we like to believe that we are continually working to end patriarchal domination; however each day in small ways, we betray our principles thus allowing patriarchy to prosper on.

Anyways, it’s not a battle I need to fight, I’ve got plenty of those in real life.

In other news, AB-WG submitted a (particularly relevant) question to Ask A Whore:

Any advice for non-johns on how to be better allies to sex-workers? besides “don’t be a moralizing asshole?”

Good question! Well, number one is, like with any identity group you’re trying to be an ally to, do your research. There are a wealth of books and anthologies of sex workers’ writings, websites, blogs, and articles to learn from. I don’t agree with all of them, but Bound not Gagged has a pretty awesome portal to online resources, as well as a great news reel. You hit on number two, which is don’t judge. This is a hard one. I’m not saying police your own thoughts or anything, cause the first time I found out a friend was a sex worker it totally shocked me and took a while to process as a reality. What I mean by don’t judge is be aware of your judgements and figure out why you’re making them. And don’t try to make a sex worker your teacher or get them to validate your judgements. We don’t got time. Some typical judgements which should not be spoken to a sex worker are:

“Woah your price is really (high/low)” This is insulting either way. Whenever anyone’s told me my price is too low, I feel like a cheap whore. It’s a horrible feeling.
Too high doesn’t feel quite as bad, but it’s still insulting. Asking price is general is a faux pas.

“I would never do sex work because I respect my body” The implicit judgement being that sex workers don’t respect their bodies. First of all not true, many sex workers take far more safer sex precautions than non-sex workers. I love my body, and in many ways sex work has let me love it even more. My body is not the “human toilet” some would call it. No more than any other safe, promiscuous person’s is. I don’t feel much affection towards my clients, but I do see each client as a person fulfilling a human need, and paying me well to assist them in it. This is as opposed to expecting their partner to for free.

Just remember that there is a difference between not being comfortable making the same choice as someone else (eg. to do sex work) and there being something inherently wrong with that choice. Everyone is unique, and some of us are more comfortable with sex work than others. Many people who do sex work really don’t want to be doing it and have to in order to survive. But telling them that they are morally corrupt/betraying women/need to stop doing sex work will not stop them. It will in fact degrade their self esteem, and make them unlikely to trust you if they are in need of support. I’d say that most sex workers at some point have problems with the work, whether it’s shitty clients or police harassment or other personal problems. Don’t put us in the position of having to defend sex work so strongly that there’s no room to complain about the shitty parts.

Oh yeah and support sex worker activism! Do cop watch when you see a street worker being harassed (unless they tell you to fuck off). Support decriminalization and make links between your activism and that of sex workers, because there is a lot of overlap!

There’s a lot more, but I think the main thing is listen to sex workers. Talk to us, read what we write, don’t accept it all as gospel cause it’s not, but the feelings I express are as true if not truer than any government report.

And now, back to the real world. I had an awesome day, saw some great music. Now I’m gonna go practice some new tangoes on my accordion, and go play tin whistle with friends at the pub session. January rules!

Advertisements