respect and rights for sex workers everywhere

(I’m not good at serious. I got my start writing professionally at an alternative weekly newspaper, and sometimes I still think that writing style shows through: flip and slightly detached. But I’m going to give it a try here, just for a second.)

When I tell people that I’m a phone sex operator, I get some looks, believe me. Acquaintances lift eyebrows. Friends grin big. The bouncer at the club where I was fliering, he got this speculative look in his eyes. The least response I got–and so therefore the most gratifying–was when I was applying for food stamps; the intake worker there just nodded her head, put a check mark on the form, and said, “That’d be self-employed, then.”

As tired as I get of the looks and the questions, though, I have to remember: What I do is not illegal in Massachusetts, or indeed, in most of the United States. I am not going to have my door busted down for my work. (Although I did almost lose my room last summer over it…) I am not endangering my life every time I sit down in my easy chair for a cosy little 10-minute erotic chat.

This all puts me in a special category of sex worker: someone who can be really open about my work, but also has the option of not talking about it, of not thinking about it, of ignoring the other people in the allied sex trades who HAVE to go face to face with their clients, who are constantly harassed by law enforcement, who bear the brunt of the stigma (all those hooker and whore jokes still get laughs!), who are beaten and robbed and raped and murdered because our culture is so fucked-up about sex that selling it makes you a negligible, disposable quantity.

I could ignore all that, but I choose not to. I’m choosing to use my privilege and throw down on the side of other sex workers everywhere. Join me on Thursday, December 17, to remember International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. If you’re in Boston, I’ll be at the SWOP-Boston memorial service that night. If you’re not here, go to the SWOP-USA site to see if there are any events near you. If there’s nothing nearby, read Annie Sprinkle’s list of 10 things that you can do to participate.

Only rights can prevent wrongs.

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