Voices from Sex Workers.

I haven’t posted in a while, sometimes I’m afraid to post, sometimes I’m not sure *WHAT* to post, since this site has such a wide range, and sometimes I’m just to busy to post. But mostly, as the only transgendered woman author on this site, and not having the range of writing experiences all the other authors have, I just feel overwhelmed by their awesomeness at writing. I hope to someday be as well written as them! But sometimes my insecurities with my voice get the better of me, and here I am posting again! 🙂

But I’m not posting about me, I’m posting about other people’s voices. I think one of the best parts about this blog, Bound, Not Gagged, is that we shouldn’t feel Gagged, we should be able to share our voice, and talk about the things we need to say. So let’s share some voices!

This is the best fucking job I ever had.

Why can’t we as a society have a rational, meaningful discourse about sex work, embracing all its nuances and contradictions?


These are some of my favorite quotes from Ester’s article on alternet, titled “My Life As a ‘Craigslist Hooker’: Why We Need Smart Policy About Sex Work”.

Also, Alexa has started a new site called “My first professional Sex”, where she’s attempting to share stories from many different Sex Workers, from all walks of life. You can read my story on her site here. I think the site can be summed up by her very words:

Sex workers are human beings, just like everyone else. The stigma associated with their line of work can often be quite dehumanizing. And, sadly, there are a lot of misconceptions about what brings people to sex work. I hope to show that there are a wide variety of reasons people get into sex work – reasons that are unique to each individual, reasons that are just as valid as the reasons anyone gets into any other line of work.


These are but 2 recent examples of Sex Workers taking to heart, we are Bound, Not Gagged. Thanks for speaking up, speaking out, and sharing your stories.

Good Review for Sex Work Books in Qualitative Sociology

Just wanted to make sure people know about a review essay of four books of interest to sex-industry students and activists. Academics AnneMarie Cesario and Lynn Chancer published it in Qualitative Sociology 32:213–220 (March 2009) – which is a mainstream academic journal in the USA. The essay begins:

When Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign as Governor of the State of New York after revelations that he regularly patronized the elite “Elite” agency, conversations among friends, family and colleagues turned for a while to the topic of prostitution. Suddenly sex work—as many women working in the business of selling sex from the ‘80s onward have preferred their occupation, more respectfully, to be deemed-was central to day-to-day discourse on contentious events in the news. Why, people wondered with understandable incredulity, would a man of Spitzer’s prominence risk his career and reputation by seeing prostitutes, high-paid or not? Even more peculiar, why would a prosecutor-turned-governor, well-known for fighting corruption and advocating stricter penalties for johns, indulge so
hypocritically in the very private activities he sought publicly to decry?

Starting with this incident is useful in several respects for a review essay centered on four works recently published about sex work. For one thing, the fact that prostitution can “bring down” high-level politicians—not only here but in other countries (think, for example, of the 1963 high profile case involving British cabinet minister John Profumo’s connection with a high-class prostitute that led to his resignation)—immediately reveals the complexity of this topic in and outside of sociology. Within our discipline the theorist’s antennae may well be stimulated, and a qualitative researcher’s sociological imagination aroused, by situations that blatantly challenge any easy notion that rational choice and utilitarian self-interest are adequate explanations of human behavior. Rather incidents like Spitzer’s, and the interesting issue of whether sociologists can explain them, encourage researchers to focus on several theoretically and empirically intriguing questions. What keeps men (still, it seems, far more than women) patronizing the sex industry—from prostitution to pornography, nationally as well as internationally, in the fearful age of AIDS and often when sex “for free” with girlfriends and wives may be readily available—to the tune of maintaining and sustaining a multi-billion dollar industry? What does their doing so suggest about unconscious and emotional, as much as about conscious and logical, social/ psychic processes? Then, from the “supply” rather than “demand” side of the two-sided calculus prostitution necessarily entails, why do women and men (for here, though less frequently, both genders are often involved) go to work in this industry? While money is a necessary explanation, feminist writers of the ‘80s and ‘90s have hastened to point out that it may not be a sufficient one. Instead, motivations run a complicated gamut from the stark realities of economics to oscillating dynamics of power and powerlessness,  sometimes sadomasochistically tinged. Take a hypothetical example: a girl whom gender has rendered vulnerable as a child may feel thrilled when, as a grown young woman perhaps working as a dominatrix, she can now hold the reins of power over a man whom desire has rendered dependent at least for a while. Last but hardly least, how can the Governor’s fall from grace be understood without considering how sex and government, legality and illegality, are themselves interrelated? Would Spitzer’s apparently schizoid position, at once prosecutor and now prosecuted, police and policed, have been the same in the Netherlands—if prime minister of Holland, might he also, quite possibly, have had to resign? For how it comes to pass, historically and culturally, that some societies criminalize (the U.S., except in Nevada) while others (Belgium, the Netherlands) legalize prostitution likewise begs investigation—not only but also by Foucault-influenced scholars—into sex, society, marriage, economic, family, politics, and their interrelationships.

The books are:

Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. Laura MarĂ­a AgustĂ­n. London: Zed Books, 2007. ISBN 1842778609, $31.95 (paper), 224 pp.

Temporarily Yours. Elizabeth Bernstein. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 0226044580, $24.00 (paper), 288 pp.

Male Sex Work: A Business Doing Pleasure. Todd G. Morrison and Bruce W. Whitehead (Eds.). Binghamton: Haworth Press, 2007. ISBN 1560237279, $32.00 (paper), 354 pp.

Sex Work: A Risky Business. Teela Sanders. Portland: Willan Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1843920824, $26.95 (paper), 256 pp.

Sorry but copyright law prohibits quoting the whole thing, which anyway occupies seven pages. You must have access to an academic library to get the essay, which I don’t, which is one reason why I didn’t know about this review until now. If you don’t have a friend who can help, contact me via the form in the right-hand column at Border Thinking, where you’ll also find the concluding words from the essay.

Proposition K on RH Reality Check

SF’s Proposition K: Changing the Landscape for Sex Workers

Sienna Baskin and Melissa Ditmore on October 28, 2008 – 8:00am
Next week, San Francisco voters will vote on Proposition K, which would prohibit the use of public funds to enforce laws criminalizing prostitution, and mandate that police investigate crimes against sex workers. The passage of Proposition K would change the landscape for sex workers in San Francisco in critical ways. First, by removing police officers’ power to arrest sex workers, it would reduce sex workers’ vulnerability to all of the abuses of that power sex workers currently experience: police profiling and harassment, sexual harassment and assault, rape, and extortion of sexual favors under threat of arrest by police officers, and entrapment.

Continue reading

Calling All Lesbian Writers!

(Re-posting from an email):
Below is an announcement for this year’s Lesbian Writers Fund. The deadline for application is Monday, June 30th. Please feel free to forward this widely to anyone you think may be interested.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at grants@astraeafoundation.org, or call me at 212-529-8021ext22.

Warmly,
Lorraine Ramirez
Program Associate
********************

$10,000 to Lesbian Writers! Deadline: Monday, June 30, 2008 (for receipt in Astraea’s office)

The Lesbian Writers Fund of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

For emerging lesbian poets and fiction writers within the U.S. First place awardees and two runners-up in the poetry and fiction categories will receive cash awards ($10,000 for awardee, $1,500 for runners-up). Thanks to Skip’s Sappho Fund, at least one grant will be awarded to a lesbian writer who is based west of the Mississippi River. Please note that the application is in two documents – please read both thoroughly before compiling and sending in your application. Please make sure to read the guidelines thoroughly for eligibility criteria and submission instructions. There will not be an ID number on your application. Please call the Astraea office, or email us, for an ID number prior to applying.

For more information, or a copy of guidelines and application for the above grants, please contact us at: 212-529-8021, ext. 22 or via email at: grants@astraeafoundation.org. Guidelines and application forms are also available online at: http://www.astraeafoundation.org/PHP/Grants/DeadlinesAllGrants.php4

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice works for social, racial and economic justice in the U.S. and internationally. Our grantmaking and philanthropic advocacy programs help lesbians and allied communities challenge oppression and claim their human rights.

Submit for Best Sex Writing 2008

An open call for submissions of personal essays and reporting for the 2009 edition of the Cleis Press series Best Sex Writing, which will hit stores in November 2008. For submission details, click here.

Writing About the Oldest Profession

A friend sent me a link to this magazine who currently has a call for submissions (poetry/prose) on “the oldest profession.” Due date March 15.

One thing that jumped out at me: “Poems and stories do not have to be written by sex workers or even from the perspective of a sex worker.” Well, I think it helps. At least, if this magazine wants some honesty, instead of glorified stereotypes from someone who has had no contact with sex workers except through the media and college lectures. They do try to be broad and inclusive, so I’ll give them credit for that.

BnG readers/writers, submit something.

Strippers: Contribute to a book for free!

I’m glad I caught this from CraigsList Curmudgeon. Someone wants to collect stripper stories for a book. Not only that, but this person has the gall to charge an “editing” fee once the story is approved to be in the book.

No profit-sharing.

Thanks CC for finding this. Oh what an ass this is!