More on Moms

I told my mom I am a sex worker. It went something like this:

(scene) Eating sushi downtown on a Tuesday night

Me: I got the check

Mom: No, honey, you aren’t working right now…

Me: Actually, I am.

Mom: (long silence) Are you doing THAT again?

Me: Yeah.

Another long silence

Mom: I am worried about your safety.

Me: Don’t Mom. My clients aren’t crackheads or misogynists. Some own multi-million dollar corporations and serve on the boards of museums and the symphony.

Mom: Oh. (heads to the bathroom for like, ten minutes)

Half hour later, some idle gossip about family members at Starbucks, and then left field….

Mom: Is what you do illegal?

Me: Only if I don’t pay taxes.

Mom: I just love this mocha latte. (sip)

Ten minutes later after talk of Christmas plans….

Mom: I better get a top notch nursing home.

Me: Sure, mom, you will.

Mom: Let’s go shopping.

Me: Let’s.

So there you have it folks. I LOVE YOU MOM!!!

Podcast with Kimberlee Cline at Red Light District

SerpentLibertine and Kimberlee Cline talk about dealing with disabled clients, Kimberlee’s new blog Intimate Healing, the concept of “feminist porn”, and the upcoming Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago in the newest podcast on RedLightDistrictChicago.

Um, if you want to use my story….

Yesterday I posted a very sincere post about a conversation that I had with my mother. Later, Jessica at Jezebel posted this:

Karly Kirchner of sex-worker site Bound, Not Gagged recounts a similarly accepting response from her mom, but adds that she wants her mother to start reading her posts on the blog.

She goes on to quote Morgan Winters, whose bio at Utne Reader says:

Morgan Winters graduated from the University of Minnesota. He enjoys writing about media, food, and uncomfortable social situations—but never a combination of the three. With confidence and authority, Morgan does his best to convince his two children to listen to him. He rarely succeeds.

Wow. This guy sounds like an expert on the sex industry. Jezebel continues:

Perhaps those posts will lead Ms. Kirchner’s mother to a deeper understanding of the oldest profession and her daughter’s reasons for choosing it. But, says Morgan Winter on the Utne Reader‘s website, “There seems to be two basic motivations for writing about one’s tenure as a hooker, neither educational. The prostitute either wants to glorify or vilify the industry and its consumers. Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous. After all, not only are we talking about the oldest profession, we’re also trying to understand arguably the most complicated physiological aspect of nature—sex—through books about themes that, if authored by anybody other than former prostitutes, would fall under the ‘teen’ section in the local library.” Even with a more nuanced view of prostitution, I can’t imagine any mother would be particularly thrilled to discover that her daughter was a hooker. I got an awkwardly scolding phone call from my mother when I wrote about foreskins. I can’t even imagine what she’d say if I told her I touched them for a living!

I am sorry for (correction) Jessica that her family is so uncomfortable with the human body that she would be scolded, as an adult, for writing about a simple part of the male anatomy. It’s no wonder that Winters would simplify a sex worker’s desire to tell her own story as either glorifying or vilifying the industry. Of course. We are either rabid, angry victims who are shameful and resentful of our past, or we are deluded gold-diggers.

When Diane Sawyer and Brian Ross pull this kind of shit, I’m not surprised. But if gossip blogs want to be taken seriously, you may want to actually re-post material available in the wealth of writing available on the ‘net by actual sex workers, we are the ‘experts.’

And Mr. Winters, you may want to stick to writing about food and socially-awkward situations that you’ve actually experienced yourself. It’s sad that a writer from Utne, who gave $pread Magazine an award for best new publication in 2005 (or 2006?) a publication that we thought supported the voices of sex workers, would over-simplify and minimize the experience and writing of sex workers.

His quote really does summarize his own as well as Jessica’s posts:

Either of these seems simplistic and disingenuous.

Panel discussion at William and Mary, ending the misrepresentations with facts

There are a series of blog posts circulating the internet of this nature, which, are presented as fact when in fact they are opinions of Sam Berg, opinions that are based upon her presumptions, which are often absolutely incorrect false and unacceptable. Thus, to me, it is imperative to put out a statement of fact about the William & Mary College events, about the organizer, Constance, members of the panel, SWOP staff that have been egregiously misrepresented and what truly transpired. While Sam Berg is certainly entitled to her opinion and perceptions, they remain just that opinions and perceptions not fact based, nor realistic analysis of the events.

Sam Berg’s factual misrepresentation

First, what did actually happen at the April 21, 2008 Conference on pornography. It was a three person debate with two moderators. The panelists were Karla Mantilla, Renegade Evolution and myself. It started late due to my late arrival as a result of major traffic delays caused by severe weather and a wrong turn which ironically lead me and my colleague Jessica Land being on a dirt road with sheep. The dirt road seemed to be a good indicator that I had gone the wrong way. For me the sheep confirmed this wasn’t the correct road to the college. It wasn’t. Correct assumption. Very cute sheep, even a mama feeding her babies.

I am very glad to have met Karla. I knew of her peripherally and respected her work and commitment to social justice from what I had seen of her work in the past. Meeting her in person and speaking with her both in the debate and afterward only further enhanced my respect for her. While we did not always agree, there were many times in which we did, many times in which all three of us did. Karla’s arguments were presented very well, she was respectful, civil, kind, and it was clear that she was there to debate issues not personalities which was completely consistent with the hopes and aspirations that Ren, I and other SWOP East members had. At no time did the discussion become heated, each person was given ample and equal opportunity to speak uninterrupted. And even when we disagreed it was respectful. I have no doubt that Karla is very dedicated to social justice and she is an articulate, approachable spokesperson for social justice. I was honored to debate with her, hope that we work together in the future as there is more than way to achieve social justice and the world is a better place when people are given different viewpoints toward that process and allowed to judge for themselves the best way to work for a better world. I don’t have all the answers and never claimed to, the world is a better place when many views are expressed and when differing views and diversity are respected we grow together and become stronger in our fight for social change. Karla’s presentation helped facilitate an event which brought people together despite differences of opinion rather than divide. Which in my opinion is what social justice movements should be focused on.

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Closets

Karly’s post got me thinking about a topic Amanda Brooks mentioned to me a couple of months ago: Sex Worker Coming Out Day.

If someone has covered this before, or was planning to in the future, forgive me, but I just can’t get it out of my mind. Part of what has kept this at the forefront of my mind is The Closet Project, “a collaborative community arts project that includes portraits of queer activists and coming out stories painted onto actual closet doors”.

I have viewed doors from the Closet Project twice now. First, on March 3rd when SWOP East hosted a movie night at a community space where many doors were housed. I was blown away at first sight. That had a lot to do with the beauty of the doors, but more to do with the fact that it was International Sex Workers Rights Day. I was painfully aware that many sex workers were unable to openly commemorate our biggest holiday, that they were forced to hide a part of themselves, that they would be forced to lie by omission.

I got a chance to view the doors again last Friday. Although the intensity of feelings was quite changed. It still had a powerful effect on me. And it still caused me to wonder if there will ever be a day when we can clean out our closets, when sex workers will be seen as average as Jane down the block, when we can gather in plain view and discuss our experience without fear of injury.

It is spring, the time where one is supposed to air things out. How many of us are hiding the best parts about ourselves, things we are immeasurably proud of, things that give definition to our lives?

Will there be a day when we can confidently display our own Closet Project?

What would that look like?

How would you decorate your door?