Dirty Doctors, double entendres, and the moral left

I feel such urgency when reading this blog. Things that must be said, in order to sleep. But I have a few quick additions to this already fiery volley…I was reading Kitten’s post about how people just assume that clients are predators, and many things rang true. I often find myself defensive, and fiercely protective of my clients when I am talking to a non-worker about sex work. It is only because in my heart I equate the judgment of THEM with a judgment of ME. Which only makes sense. I cannot berate my clients, but simultaneously want support. Tricks and Hos have to be mutually supportive, but like women, we are all too often pitted against each other. We are thrown to the wolves, with nothing to feed them but each other.

I dig many of my clients. I dislike just as many more. But ultimately, that shouldn’t matter. It’s a job. Is it the business of the ringmaster whether or not the lion tamer likes all the lions? No. It is the business of the ringmaster to make sure that no lions or trainers get hurt, and the audience is happy, and the money keeps flowing, and people keep throwing those peanut shells on the ground.

The Fundichristianright is on the offensive here, and as with many issues, they do a very good job at getting us to aim at each other. There are several overlapping arguments. Classic Polysci 101 stuff. Moral, Ethical, Secular, Legislative, and Economic debates. This is the same issue that has been coming up for ages, and when related to fundamentalism, hotly debated in the post 9-11 world. We are confused as to the parameters of government, corporation, and religion. What rights does the government have to dictate our behaviour? What are the grounds for determining what is acceptable behaviour within the social contract, and what is not? What happens when someone breaks this social contract? Are we a punishment based society? Or equal consequences? Who controls the code of ethics? How far does freedom of speech really go? Do we believe in heresy anymore? And where does the free-market come into all of this? Is the all mighty dollar the most holy of all?

I think it is. If this weren’t a bazillion dollar industry, nobody would give a fuck. Or not a bazillion dollars worth of a fuck.

I have no guilt about what I do. I am not a recovering catholic. I am not shaking off the shackles of original sin. I am not compelled to self-flagellation, other than for purely transcendent reasons. Wink. I am however, a deeply religious person. And my religion does not prevent my participation in something that I believe is well and fine with my gods. I have examined thoroughly the personal and compounded effects of my participation in sex work, and while I have my criticisms, I do believe that what I do is ultimately good.

Clients lie all the time. To us, to their partners, to their jobs, children, etc. But people lie all the time, and I do not believe in the sanctity of monogamy. I do believe in the sanctity of honesty, but all I can do is encourage my clients to gradually move toward a more honest approach to their own sexual needs. To gradually shed their repression, and help their partners to do the same. I often see couples, and it makes me happy that this trend is increasing.

The economic argument is interesting, and less addressed than other bits. I do not believe that capitalism is the best form of economic distribution. So I build and maintain the shadow economy. I am grateful for the immense privilege that the money I have made from sex work has afforded me. z

The secular/legislative piece of the argument is simple in my mind. I do not believe that you can legislate human perfection. But I do believe that you can teach social responsibility and autonomy. Therefore, sex in exchange for compensation should be the choice of the individuals involved. THE INDIVIDUALS. Not their pimps or partners or partriarchs. Child-labor, trafficking, etc = BAD. This choice should be an informed choice. Sex work is labor. And like any other labor, the same rights should apply. Right to organize, right to protection under the law, right to practice.

thinking of you,

Surgeon

Sex Work and the Spectrum of Empowerment

(This is an excerpt from a longer article. See link at bottom for full article)

An empowered sex worker is a sexual educator, a cultural advocate, and a healer. An empowered sex worker educates their clients on safer sex practices, thereby preventing disease transmission. They also facilitates safe sexual play, be it in the realm of BDSM or beyond, educating their clients in safe, consensual enactments of their fantasies. An empowered sex worker heals by providing safe physical, emotional and spiritual exploration. By making the space for education and healing, an empowered sex worker advocates for societal change for the better. An empowered sex worker brings great gifts not just to their own communities, but to the greater society.

We must support this.

Sex work has been around since the beginning of human history. It has existed regardless of what governmental system has been in place, and it has existed in many forms. Historically, regardless of whether, sex workers were honored and given a place in the spiritual temples, or if they were banished to the streets or outskirts of town, they have existed. When they were honored and respected, their work happened safely – and safety was therefore secured for the the worker and for the client, and for the client and for the community. When they were banished, and stigmatized, everyone was endangered. Without safe physical and emotional space, they operated at higher risks of all sorts.

An oppressed and disempowered sex worker, though strong, and fighting, is put at great risk. This risk extends to the clients, and to the entire community. When a sex worker has to hide, or live in fear, risky behavior happens. When a sex worker is not respected, violence against them is permitted. This harms the sex worker, the client, and the community at large.

We must prevent this.

This is a very black and white way of examining the circumstances around sex work, and we do not live in black and white world. The sex work experience is not easily lumped into one place along this spectrum of empowerment. Many forces fail to recognize this, many forces refuse to recognize this. Some sex work is tolerated when convenient, and most sex work is not tolerated as is convenient. This means that sex work happens on some sort of complicated spectrum between the empowered sex worker and the disempowered sex worker.

This is definitely the case in the United States.

Check out the full article here:

http://wendyvinaigrette.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/the-empowered-sex-worker/

I left my heart…

It is hard to concentrate. The constant speakeasy that tours around in a rented mini-van, occasionally spilling onto the steps of city hall and federal buildings, keeps the discussions simultaneously focused and insane. How this group manages to throw issues around the weight of my luggage without flinching is an art we refine over time. Each year, to be specific.

These women are amazing. Amazing and lovely and tough and articulate and thoughtful and driven and sexy. Late and loud and sometimes even cruel, but damn are they sexy. I am honored to be a sister. I am proud to be a sex worker.

Prostitutes say “Don’t take the pledge!”

On Tuesday, July 17th at noon sex workers from around the United States will converge on the San Francisco federal building at 450 Golden Gate. Prostitutes, escorts, massage parlour workers, BDSM workers and phone sex operators will be among the participants asking federal authorities to rescind the anti prostitution oath that has been inflicted upon non-governmental aids organizations around the world. Current U.S. law requires organizations receiving U.S. global HIV/AIDS and anti-trafficking funds to adopt specific organization-wide positions opposing prostitution. Health and human rights organizations are deeply concerned that this restriction will preclude recipients of U.S. funds from using the best practices at their disposal to prevent HIV/AIDS among these populations and to promote the fundamental human rights of all persons. In fact, evidence exists that these restrictions are already undermining promising interventions.

A video was created by the Network of Sex Work Projects on the effects of the pledge and will be shown throughout the rally. http://www.nswp.org/

Who- Sex Workers Outreach Project
What- Rally and showing of “Taking the Pledge” video
When- July 17th 12 NOON
Where- 450 Golden Gate Federal Building

San Francisco Sex Workers’ Convergence, Insomnia, and the fog

Everytime I travel I hate leaving home.  I ask myself why I make these decisions, why I commit myself to things that I won’t even quite understand until I get there, and then I get there.  And it’s amazing.  As is San Francisco.  Is it possible to so deeply miss a place I’ve never called home?  Cities.  Sf. New Orleans.  NY.  San Cristobal.  Places that I crave.  Would it be different if I lived here?  Certainly.  But now, the chance encounters, the processes, the people all surprise me.  Only in San Francisco can these things happen.  Only in SF can I post an ad on craigslist, and have forty valuable replies in 10 minutes.  Only in SF can I do a gallery show, and get the audience naked.  Only in SF is being a queer sex worker POC tattooed single mama not only accepted, but common.

Got into Oakland on Saturday, went straight to the gallery for the opening show “Asian Prostitute Sensitivity Training”  with Mariko Passion.  Amazing.  Parked in front of the gallery and realized, right across the street are a leather shop, a thrift store, and Indian restaurant, and a photo printer.  What else does a ho on the go need?  Not much.

Last nights show was so good.  Mariko and I, we pulled it all off.  In spite of chaos, she’s the same kind of artist I am.  You got tricks up your sleeve, and you’ll use them when neccessary.  It was good.  I did reverse lap dances and stripped the audience.  I caned a willing slaveboy, just for kicks.  I read a piece, and had the best time in ages.  Thank you, San Francisco.  The “We, Asian Sex Workers” show is stunning.  It’s one of those conversations I didn’t even know I needed to have, but has become so essential to my experience here.

I want to be closer to the bay.  California…vessel of my need and imagination.

Today, lead an Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression training for SWOP sex workers and allies.  So much work needs to be done in this community.  We have so many complicated identitites, and so many things that need to be laid out on the table.  It was such a different experience than trainings I’ve been a part of in the past.  It is a markedly different perspective that we have, a markedly different rhetoric that we espouse.

Here’s a question:  What is choice when it comes to sex workers protecting themselves?  When you have survived certain encounters, had certain experiences, and developed prejudices against certain demographics based on those encounters…how can we address the experience of race on such a visceral level, how can we confront oppression in intimate relations?  How can we change the dynamic of sex workers forced to make decisions about who they see, and who they do not based on a quick phone conversation, leaning your head in the car window, an email, in which your gut instinct is all you have, in which it can be a matter of life or death?  Decisions where every detail matters?  How do we dismantle racism when it comes to sex, intimacy, eroticism, and arousal?  What is different about this discussion, versus community, organizing, institutions?  Where do we begin?

Thinking of you,
Surgeon