I pride myself with not being too easily offended. It’s what I think I will attribute to my long life when I get to the point that I can brag about living to be this old. But a few things really get my nickers in a bunch. Outside of the obvious stupid people, there’s the discussion around negative thoughts on black people and other people of color, and of course, you guessed it. Negative ideas surrounding sex work.
Tonight during a heated discussion around sex work and drug use, I was accused of not only devaluing the experience of other workers, but only caring about debunking stereotypes surrounding workers. As I write I ask myself. Am I offended because it’s true or offended because these people don’t know me and what I stand for?
The conversation came up when someone on my list posted a rather irrational simple minded and trite rant from some unknown person with anti-sex and anti-women ideals. This mindless blabber made astonishing claims such as women don’t know how to value themselves or know what is empowering (or something of the sort). And that we do this work because we think it’s all we know how to do. And the usual, this work is degrading blah blah fuckin blah.
I stepped in with my usual this work is empowering and I should be able to define what that is for me and no one else should! We have minds of our owns and it takes more than spreading our legs to make this a viable career choices and the list goes on.
Somewhere along the line conversation surrounding disenfranchised workers is brought up. And how there is a lack of defense for them and only discussion around those that are privileged. I step in saying that the original post was not about disenfranchised workers, but about tearing down an entire industry because there are persons involved that want to do the work. And why is it every time sex work is discussed we must make sure we delve into discussion surrounding those who are not in this because they want to but because they are forced? (I am not certain if I said that last part in my postings, but as I type I am now thinking about it). It’s not that it isn’t an important part of the discussion. I just want to know why is it that sometimes the discussion cannot just be about the positive aspects of the work and nothing else. And if there is negative discussion surrounding sex work, why can’t we just have that negative discussion then? Does that make sense? It might not.
But before I go into more explanation of that statement, let me continue with what else was said. The conversation around drugs and sex work came up. And I added my two cents on that. It was then that my character as an activist and worker came under attack. I made a statement stating that not only does this discussion need not to be bought up every time sex work is discussed, but just because someone is in the industry doesn’t mean they will use drugs or do use drugs because they are in the industry.
Backtracking a bit. When we talk about how much money many corporations make (the good thing) up until recently, there was rarely the discussion of how these big wig corps rip off their employees with low wages, deliberately keep them from full time status so they can avoid paying out benefits, and care not about the employee as an individual but just another disposable factor in their quest to make more money. When we discuss drug use, unless the conversation is surrounding inner city minorities or hoes, I feel like so much more of the world who is addicted to or uses drugs are neglected from the fact that, many people use drugs regardless of what kind of fuckin work they do.
When we insist, as workers, advocates or outsiders on interlacing certain stereotypes when we are trying to have a discussion on why this work should be decriminalized it’s dangerous, plain and simple. You don’t want to conflate the work to trafficking, as the continued discussion about them both at the same time, ALL THE TIME, reinforces the idea that if someone is in the sex trades, they are trafficked. Which by the way is one of the most biggest bold faced lies ever told about this industry.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we should never discuss disenfranchised bodies in this business when speaking on debunking stereotypes and decriminalizing. But what I am saying is that I’m sick and tired of the conversation on drug use and trafficking being a part of the conversation to make claims against it. When those discussions are brought up it’s never speaking about the upside of the work (obviously) it’s always an attempt to discredit it, and zoom in on what may arguably be a small portion of the people who work in this business. I cannot confirm or deny that those who are disenfranchised in this work, are a bigger or smaller population of those who aren’t. However, to continuously have the conversation in defense of sex work, and insist on bringing up drug use, is akin to speaking about welfare and saying recipients are usually on drugs (or on drugs because they are on welfare), or most recipients are Black. It’s a dangerous statement not only because it isn’t true, but because it perpetuates stereotypes and breeds more ignorance in a world that insists that what is zoomed in on through the media and by first wave, anti-women, anti-sex culture–tends to be true. This then makes earning an honest living by selling sex a very difficult one, which in turns leads to violence that is committed against us by not only clients but law enforcement.
We can talk about sex work without always making sure we add the talk on those who take drugs in the industry. My argument on that (which was clearly missed by people who were so busy trying to focus on their own agenda they couldn’t listen to an original thought on this subject), was that these people who take drugs and are sex workers, are not necessarily drug addicts because of the work. If we have not assessed all the factors leading up to them either becoming sex workers or drug addicts, how can we truly be sure that it’s the work that triggers their drug use?
The idea that workers take drugs and/or alcohol to numb the pain of this work, If think needs to be held with more scrutiny and should undergo further investigation. Why is that a damaging thought? Why can that not be considered to be something we can look into as a way to not only defend the work further, but to understand addiction and how we can help those in and out of the business with their abuse of narcotics?