by Furry Girl
I've re-worked this a few times, trying to not come across bitchy and divisive, but I suspect that some will interpret it that way no matter how many times I rearrange sentences, so I've given up on fussing at it.
Audacia Ray recently posted a noteworthy piece, Sex Worker Storytelling, Activism, and Dominant Narratives. Short on time? Here's (what I consider to be) the meat of the post:
Especially because I run a monthly event in which sex workers are exposing their stories in public, I’ve become hyperaware of the fact that the public performance of sex worker experiences in the United States is very much about the personal adventures of middle class, white, cis women.
I myself am someone who is, in most ways, the stereotype of a sex worker who speaks out. I'm white, cisgender, and middle class. But, there's another crucial element to the typical portrait of an Out-And-Proud Teller of Sex Work Tales that I think Dacia missed, the fourth elephant in the room.
In terms of dominant narratives, a lot of them are from people unlike me in that they did sex work for a short period of time as a means to a specific end, most notably women paying for college. It can feel like there's an overall message of sex work being something a person only does while they're waiting for their real lives to begin.
I started thinking about sex work when I was 17, and mulled over the options in my head until porn seemed like a good fit. At 18, I tried the mainstream porn world once, didn't care for it, and started my own company. It's been almost 8 years since I crossed over into the world of sex work, and I have no exit strategy. This is my real life and my real job.
I don't say that as any sort of judgement against sex workers who were in the business for a short period of time, as plenty of friends and people I admire fit that description, nor do I think that they don't have worthwhile things to say. I genuinely don't want to discount their histories and their experiences, but I think it deserves mention that much of the public face of sex worker experience is in the form of a history, a memoir, a past-tense tale of a person's more experimental youth.
Of course, there are vocal exceptions to this - Mistress Matisse being the first to spring to mind. Tasty Trixie and Seska are politically-inclined pornographers who have both been writing about their lives in the business for some time. There are an increasing number of blogs written by sex workers, but when I mentally take stock of a Who's Who of people blogging/talking/touring the country with their book about sex work, many/most of the people on the list are retired.
It's hard to think of another profession or hobby where its culture's public face is so strongly defined by people who are no longer engaging in it. (Sports commentary from former athletes, perhaps?)
Why is this? I'm not sure.
Is the popularity of the voices of the retired just an accurate representation - do few people do sex work for more than a couple of years? Are career or long-term sex workers that rare? Is it easier for people to talk about something once they've gotten some distance from it? Are the educated folk who used sex work as a means to obtain a degree more likely to be compelled to write about it all? Is it an overblown fear of prosecution that makes some people not want to talk about sex work while they're still engaged in it? Is it because there are fewer available options in the sex industry as one gets older, so people are limited - or opt out over self-consciousness - to stints in the business while young-ish? Is it because these are the voices the general public and mainstream media most wants - stories with titillating adventures that still tacitly assure them, "but don't worry, I'm not a bad girl any more"?
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna