Celebrating Sex Workers

How taboo is that, really? Saying sex work is work? Or good work? Step back, or step up, because I want to take this day, the day proclaimed by some UNLV students as a Day of No Prostitution, as a day to celebrate sex workers.

What I loved about sex work: that I could retire from a whole career in my life before thirty. I loved retiring, it’s true. I felt powerful after having organized my life so that I could participate in society on my own terms. There were times when sex work felt beneficial in its own right, but more so, sex work let me have my cake and eat it, too — how sinful, to be able to be an activist, budding journalist, go to college, and not have to hide.

For everyone who has claimed there’s some cottage industry of sex worker activists who come fully-formed from women’s studies programs, who do sex work just for “credibility” in order to sell a book, or defend “pimp culture,” or whatever supposed spoils of war we get for being whores? Really? Sure, whore stigma is leveraged differently across race and class and gender lines, and it’s usually the already-pretty-privileged workers who get airtime. Can we just call that what it is — social injustice, and not evidence of some huge pro-prostitution contingent in the media, government, and politics — and fight it together, please?

Sex work has funded a movement. (Maybe if we got more government grants…)

Sex work was good because we made it good: we, the workers. We are there for each other when we need to scrape together rent, take care of our kids, deal with our parents, finish our degrees, need a place to sleep. This is why we can wear boas to protests. This is why we still have a sense of humor. This is why we can write and make crazy art and still make a living. We’re fierce like queens and strong from fighting and we have each other’s back because not many other people do.

We take care of each other.

If you’ll accept it, I want to give up some honor to the sex workers here who have been my community, and say, hey, who do you want to celebrate? How do you want to celebrate each other? Write on today.

6 Responses

  1. A Sex Workers Day of Apreciation/Love/Respect- i like it! very nicely written, melissa.

    and remember we’ve got lots of UNLV students who are allies or workers themselves, too!

  2. As a sex worker myself that left the industry for 2 years and missed it. Now I am back, although I wish I hadn’t left since now I am starting at the bottom again.🙂 I would love to celebrate the happiness and fulfillment I get daily from my job. Daily I know that the work I did was interesting, although sometimes boring.

    I am a webcam girl, amateur model, and adult web designer. In the past I have ran a phone sex service, worked as a prostitute, and performed in movies. Now I am back and dam happy about it. I left for 2 years and went to school and obtained an AA degree and decided that I didn’t want to stay in that world. It was time for me to come back to the adult industry.

    So I celebrate myself… even if my mother is ashamed!! And I celebrate my partner, even if she is in the “sex worker” closet.🙂

  3. Okay, this is being argumentative, but if sex workers are doing it only for the “credbility” to sell a book, what about books written about sex work from those who haven’t done sex work?

    How to celebrate? By not being silent.

    XX

  4. On the ‘Day of No Prostitution’ I had two clients.

    One is an older man who lives with diabetes. Half way through our meeting he had to check his blood sugar and give himself a shot. Diabetics may experience abnormal sexual functioning, so they need somebody very patient and understanding. He has had diabetes his entire life and cites it as a reason that he has never pursued marriage, he doesn’t think any women would want to live the the burden of his condition.

    The other man that I saw was probably in his late 30’s. Also single, he has been obese his entire life, he currently weights nearly 400 lbs. He says he’s never been lucky with women and has never even considered seeking a relationship. He has experienced rejection in so many areas of his life. All that I can offer him is a non-judgmental hour of kindness and attention, all that he can offer me is assistance with the rent. The thank you letters that he sends later let me know how significant my kindness has been in his life.

    And the financial compensation that they provide me for rent/tuition/food/travel/recreation/etc I will be forever grateful for.

    I love my work. It calls on me to be compassionate, understanding and brave. I am never bored and new challenges are always around the corner. I have control of my schedule and can therefor invest my time in a number of passions and interests and I have the freedom to work to make the world a better place on a number of fronts.

    Please stop trying to put me out of work! Without this work I will be just another poor white woman who can’t access services, can’t complete my education and can’t use my time improving the world and embracing feminist principles. Putting me and my colleagues out of work sets back the feminist movement 200 years, when women were jailed or worse, for being women, being poor or being out-casted and the rest could only aspire to being wives.

  5. […] Celebrating Sex Workers « Bound, Not Gagged “Can we just call that what it is — social injustice, and not evidence of some huge pro-prostitution contingent in the media, government, and politics — and fight it together, please?” (tags: sexwork important rights class socialjustice society feminism) […]

  6. I think sex workers definitely deserve to be celebrated and not castigated. The role that sex workers play in people with disability circles was a real eye opener for me with regards to how deserving they are of respect.

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