Personal and Professional Stories of A Working Human
I actually never thought that sex worker rights would be my fight. I was always much more interested in racial politics and poverty politics. I didn’t even know much about sex worker rights. Often times I find stuff that effects me is hard to get in to, or even hard to see, because I’m immersed in it. I mean not everything, I’ve always been a feminist (now intersectional by name, once I discovered that was a thing) but in a way I’m still blind to a lot of the things going on in my life until they are over. It might be a coping mechanism, or almost definitely is, but it’s just too hard sometimes to examine my life when it’s really been hard already.
I worked as a hooker, escort, prostitute, whore, whatever you want to call the jobs I did, and I did more. Now I’ve done more. But I never thought about my rights. I thought about it maybe the same way the abolitionists frame it, I thought of it as a job I had to do because I was desperate. I had that idea that I had hit rock bottom because I was a sex worker. Part of this is absolutely because of my families religious ideas. I’m lucky because I didn’t grow up with the rest of my family, just my mother, but I still got that residual Catholic guilt and self hatred from my family and also from my mother’s boyfriend who used to torture the hatred of women into me. So by the time I started having sex at all, I already felt disgusting every time I had sex.
I’ve talked briefly about my history but like I said I never thought about being an activist for it. I thought about how awful some things were but I never thought I was allowed to fight back or stand up for myself because I hated myself for being sexual and for being a slut.
It wasn’t until I started listening to Tristan Taormino’s podcast “Sex Out Loud” that I actuallly suddenly had this awakening that I might actually be able to enjoy myself. That I might actually be able to fuck as much as I want and actually feel good about it. I had never heard of sex positivism before and I had never.
My average enjoyable fuck would be like me having a great time, fucking, getting off and then feeling like the worst person in the world. But all of a sudden I was thrown into this world head first where I was allowed to feel good about myself and actually embrace what I enjoyed and it was like a flash of light in my head that illuminated my deepest repressed darkest most fucked up thoughts and told me that not only was sex ok, and enjoying sex ok, but it showed me that I could actually get through some of my old trauma involving sex and rape and abuse, with this new idea that I could take control and enjoy. Or at least take control and work some shit out.
What started my activism was while I was listening to the radio one day, driving through the mountains of California down to San Francisco, I heard this story about how they were arresting women who carried condoms for prostitution and so actual sex workers were resorting to unsafe sex and ever out of desperation sometimes using plastic bags or saran wrap or old wrappers. I had no idea. When I worked on the street I was in London and I definitely got forced into unsafe sex, but that was the clients, not the police. I just couldn’t believe that they were forcing these people into situations where they could actually die, among all the other consequences of unsafe sex. That day, that very moment actually, I bonded with every woman who’s ever been scared into risking her life and I said I wouldn’t fucking let that go. It didn’t effect me, no. It didn’t effect my life as an escort in a different city where I didn’t work on the streets. I suppose it effects the other people like me so I identified but I think that in a way I was more interested because I wasn’t actually a part of it at that point. I get stuck thinking like a victim sometimes which means that when things like that do happen and they directly effect me I think “this sucks, why me” instead of getting out and being like “FUCK YOU, HELLO NO.”
I have learned to stick up for myself better since then, and I have learned to stand up for others better, in fact I’ve learned so much in the past three years that I feel like a fucking knowledge machine these days. Not everything obviously, I’m not a super genius, I just have learned more on my own, from twitter and other activists in person, than I have in years of school. I don’t think even the best feminist studies class could have taught me what I know after three years of all of my lovely activist (and non activist but outspoken) friends. Without them, I would be nothing. I would have started strong, had a message, and then faltered and burned out. When I see other people fighting right along with me, I know that I can take breaks, I don’t have to push and push until I burn out (all though I think we all tend to do that to an extent anyway) I know that I’m not the only person in the world fighting for this. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last, and that is fucking fantastic isn’t it.