Sex Worker Rights and Sex Workers Wronged
I’m going to try and not throw my computer out the window in a fit of unmitigated rage at this. Ugggh.
The NWC 2013 is, at present, being protested by every fucking sex worker who knows about it. Why? Because they are inside, discussing women’s issues, and sex work, and have refused the participation of sex worker organizations – and are presently denying sex workers access to the conference, keeping them outside in the parking area.
My input (which has been posted on twitter in an abbreviated fashion): No conversation without representation! We should sex-worker-version of the Boston Tea Party your organization. You dumb fucks know jack shit about us and are most certainly not invited to discuss the particulars of our lives in a supposedly public (but obviously fucking privileged elitist) forum, without our voice.
It just so happens that this fucking disaster is a great lead-in to my planned post about my wonderful afternoon a couple days ago, celebrating Constitution Day. (Did you even know there is a Constitution Day? There is. You should do awesome things for it.)
I went to see a lecture given by Lorraine Baumgardner on Celebrating X-Rated Movies, Profanities, and the Controversial. Now, Ms. Baumgardner is presently involved in this case: Free Speech Coalition vs. Attorney General of U.S. , which is a pretty fucking important case for anyone reading this, most likely. (You may see some names in that list that you recognize; Carol Queen, Nina Hartley, Betty Dodson…) I drove two-and-a-half hours to hear her speak and it was totally worth it.
The general theme of her lecture was that the First Amendment was written, pretty specifically, to combat censorship. The idea is to foster discussion and give the opportunity to examine fallacies etc, not to just redact everything controversial. It is the MOST important when something is a hot-button topic.
She went on to give some examples of people being jailed for (mailing, not even writing, just mailing) essays about non-monogamous sex, books being banned, and the absolute fucking silliness of the discussions in state legislature (especially Ohio) about how to exactly, technically define nudity to limit nude dancing. (Hint: they literally put the word “pasties” in the law. What the fuck?)
I spoke to Ms. Baumgardner after her lecture and she admitted that she would really have rather gotten more into the nitty gritty of it all, but the audience was perhaps a little conservative-academic-y, so she gave an abbreviated version of her still-racy talk. Either way, I was happy to hear it, and believe she gave a marvelous and compelling presentation.
And now we enter the full-circle part of this…
Anti-sexwork feminists are allowed their opinions. Now, I would say that the fundamental flaw in their philosophy is their belief that when *they* say “Don’t worry little lady, I know what’s best for you,” it is somehow different from some misogynist guy saying it. You don’t fucking know what’s best for us. We do, all of us, individually. And statements like this (from their lectern, right now): “I’ve never met an educated prostitute ever. We need to educate women that it is not ok to use your body…” are hilariously prejudiced and ignorant.
But why is this discussion happening in this fashion? Because this group of mainstream feminists is opposed to the open discussion of what they consider controversial and disagree with, yet have a strong inclination to discuss without the presence of the people it affects. … How’s that cigar-smoke-filled room at the Old Boy’s Club you delusional idiots are chillin’ in? Are you afraid we will taint the minds of impressionable, vulnerable attendees and turn them all into hookers? Are you seriously lacking such faith in your audience to determine their own opinion about a topic, and are thus tailoring one you think is palatable and appropriate for them? Who are you to decide what is and is not appropriate for any woman to hear? Or for which women have a right to speak about themselves?
Yet again: Fuck. You.