It’s been months, my loves! Months of family stress (we have a new baby in the family, the lead up and delivery of said baby took over almost everyone’s reason and analytical minds), months of haunted household appliances, (in order, a ghostly knocking refrigerator, a churning, noxious dishwasher, and a demon-possessed, plastic smoke-spewing washing machine), months of hellos and goodbyes, (the roster on my studio share has flipped about a bit, and I’ve welcomed new ladies and said goodbye to a few, too), and months of Ms. Magdalene Hart turning herself in Ms. June Cleaver-Crocker, with the baking and the roasting and the broiling and the rest (I created an entire Thanksgiving dinner with trimmings, roasted two turkeys, baked four kinds of pie, and now is the mad dash for Christmas cookies to be sent out to loved ones near and far, as well as the new tradition I’m starting of sending twelve dozen cookies overseas to the soldiers, airmen, Marines and seamen who can’t be here for the holidays). My adorable Winter Yuletide bush is up and decorated with lights and wreaths of origami stars, Christmas carols are on my lips and my studio smells absolutely intoxicating with clove, cinnamon, lemon and apples for cider.
So, my loves, that’s how I’ve spent my last few months! But what I’m sure is more intriguing is the New Business I’m up to. This past weekend was the first Seattle’s Annual Sex Worker Symposium (SASS, because we whores love a good joke) put on with Sex Worker Outreach Project, Seattle (SWOP-NW, an amazing advocacy and information organization that I become more and more enamored with the longer I associate with them), sponsored by The Whore Cast, which is a podcast put on by sex workers and allies based in San Francisco. They are hilarious and really care about the rights of sex workers. Wow that was a long lead in! ANYWAY, part of this Symposium was a couple of panels that was recorded for the Whore Cast.
One was Rights Not Rescue, discussing the anti-trafficking movements around the globe and how they help or hinder sex workers as people. My biggest take away was (obviously) many anti-trafficking groups do not listen to sex workers when they try to ‘help’ them, and they are either forced into slave labor for pennies, jailed, deported, or forced to undergo a ‘program’ to get them out of the life. There was also a great discussion about how prostitution is dealt with, legally, across the US and in other countries, and if there is ever a legal model that can benefit sex workers without creating another class of marginalized people. I confess, I was a fan of legalization until this workshop, but there were some salient points made that decriminalization is the only real model that keeps sex workers safe, keeps clients safe, and allows the government to target the true victims of sex trafficking. I urge anyone curious to check out The Whore Cast podcast when they air this piece.
The second panel was much more light hearted, titled Provider’s Perspectives, it was a semi-open forum for local providers (they were able to get female, male, and one trans provider, though it was duly pointed out in panel that they, as white, educated people, had to acknowledge their privilege that allowed them to be sitting there today and that their opinions were not meant to stand in for all sex workers) and the moderator began by asking each of them in turn questions on personal stigmas, if they have support systems in place, how do they ‘come out’ to loved ones, if they ever do, what does a “typical” client look like, and so on. After about 30 minutes of that they opened it up to the floor to ask questions, which I always find interesting. I’ve noticed that the crowd allows for a certain level of anonymity when asking questions. I myself asked a question that I am always curious about, “What is your opinion, if any, of prostitution and escorting as it is portrayed in the media,” and had I been given a follow up question, I would have asked how their personal perspectives on escorting and prostitution had been shaped by media, and if those perspectives were changed when they became a sex worker. We are such a media-driven society that it is almost impossible to resist it’s influence. One provider offered up what I thought was an astute (and succinct) opinion, and I’m paraphrasing but she basically said, “Well, they used to kill us off in the beginning, and now they don’t kill us as often anymore.” Ain’t that the fucking truth. [editor note: I have planned, in my brain, an article that discusses exactly this, media portrayals of prostitution, and how my personal views had been shaped by it, and how my experiences have changed my perspectives.] What was most interesting to me were the perspectives of the male providers, whom see exclusively women clients (I don’t think that was sought out, just what happened to be). Seeing the other side of the coin, as it were, is fascinating to me. Knowing that there are women out there needing exactly the same things (well, maybe not exactly) as my male clients really speaks to me and speaks to my art, that everyone has a need for touch, love, and the freedom to express who they are.
After that lovely afternoon, I was able to attend a fundraiser for SWOP at the Highway 99 Blues Lounge, selling kisses and spankings to those curious about it. There were multiple burlesque performers donating their dollars to the fundraiser, and two blues bands that really got the crowd up and dancing. It was during this time and I realized how important activism has become to me in the last few years, and I want to continue that. The education is going to be a steep hill to climb (there is some much of it) but hopefully you will all come with me on this journey of knowledge and caring for sex worker rights.
I am very excited to have made so many new and wonderful contacts within the greater sex worker rights community, and I hope that I don’t inundate this blog too much with articles in that vein, but I do look forward to writing a bit more on my own personal perspectives.
So in the next few months I’ll be re-invigorating this blog, making Twitter more a priority, and I’ve done something called a Tumblr, which everyone assures me is the better alternative to Instagram for pictures and small updates like that. I’ve set up the Tumblr at thechastewhore.tumblr.com and my twitter handle has changed to @thechastewhore. The switch is mostly to have a ‘title’ of sorts, rather than just my name everywhere, and I hope its not too off putting. I’m very much looking forward to the new direction I’m moving in, and hopefully it will be all for the good!