by Furry Girl
Last week, my state (Washington) became the first in the nation to legalize possession and use of marijuana. Colorado will follow suit next month after a similar measure there won during the November elections. I am happy to live in a state where we have physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill, one legalized recreational drug, marriage equality, oodles of places where one can get an abortion, no death penalty, and state-level open carry of firearms (though Seattle city bans it). Overall, Washington is comparatively more respectful of people's rights and choices than are many other states.
Today on reason.com, Jacob Sullum wrote a short piece on why states like mine are doing well on the gay marriage and pot legalization front, and it underscores why I keep harping on the need for sex workers to be "out" as our most important form of activism.
Just as an individual’s attitude toward gay people depends to a large extent on how many he knows (or, more to the point, realizes he knows), his attitude toward pot smokers (in particular, his opinion about whether they should be treated like criminals) is apt to be influenced by his personal experience with them. Americans younger than 65, even if they have never smoked pot, probably know people who have, and that kind of firsthand knowledge provides an important reality check on the government’s anti-pot propaganda.
For sex workers who aren't out to anyone, the idea of admitting to what they do for a living can be extremely intimidating. What I suggest is to start small.
At the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, I met a woman who was fairly new to escorting. If I recall correctly, either no one in her life or only a couple of trusted friends knew, and the Desiree Alliance conference was her first sex worker event, and she'd traveled from out of state to see what it was all about. A computer security conference was happening the same week as our event, so I had friends from another part of my life who were also in Vegas. One evening, I went out with them to have dinner and hit a few nerd parties, and the new escort joined us. I gently challenged her to try being out for that one evening, with a group of people she'd never have to see again, just to "try on for size" what it's like to be an out sex worker. Rather than inventing stories about herself, she was plainly telling people she's an escort, and discovered it wasn't the end of the world, and she wasn't going to be mocked and shamed by everyone she encountered. Granted, I had already "broken the ice" on the subject of sex work with some of the people we encountered that evening, but I think the woman was still surprised how normally and politely she was treated, and later sent me a very sweet thank you for the evening. We didn't stay in touch and I don't know how things worked out for her, but I hope that one night of being an out sex worker gave her some courage to be out in her own city and with her regular friends and family.
If you're a sex worker still afraid of coming out, start small. Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway. Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes. You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won't be an asshole to you. Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not. The most shocking thing of all may be meeting someone who themselves has done sex work and never told anyone. (Only happened to me once, with a seat neighbor on an airplane, but it was still pretty awesome.)
Furry Girl: legs now closed for business.
- 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 15 years because I don't believe in exploiting and killing others for my own petty amusements.
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
Vaguely similar 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
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Women Against Feminism