New Year’s Day is everyman’s birthday. – Charles Lamb
On three recent occasions (two of which I’ve reported in columns) I’ve been attacked by people who complain that I’m not using the “correct” words, or thinking the “correct” thoughts, or being “inclusive” enough. Clearly, these people are laboring under a severe misapprehension about what I’m trying to do here, and since today is a day for new beginnings I can’t think of a better time to restate it. The complaints seem to proceed from the assumption that this is a “sex worker rights blog,” which it is not; if it were, why would I have done columns on Barbie dolls, historical courtesans, restaurants, funny stories, animal hookers, movies and Santa Claus? I talk about prostitutes’ rights because I’m interested in the subject, but the blog is no more centered on sex worker rights than it is on hagiography. And the sad thing is, if these people had bothered to read my introduction (see the tab right up there between “Filmography” and “Quotes”?) they would already have known that. Here’s an excerpt which spells it out pretty clearly:
What I am here to do is attempt to give my reader a new perspective on how some women make a living, and perhaps to show you that we’re not so different from any other women you might know. That having been said, I’m not trying to tell you that all prostitutes are the same; that would be absurd. We are no more or less like each other than are nurses, or teachers, or housewives, or students…
This site is… about me. Modern critical theory holds that a work of literature cannot be separated from its author; whether you believe that or not, I’m not even going to make the attempt. I cannot speak for any other woman, describe her experiences, or know how she feels about being a prostitute or why she does it. Nor can I speak for any man to tell you why he hires a prostitute and what he thinks about her. All I can tell you is what I feel and felt, what I think, what I observe. I can and will tell you how and why I became a prostitute, what some of my memorable experiences were, and why I don’t do it any more. I can also tell you what I saw other girls do, what they said to me and my impressions of what they felt at the time; furthermore, I can tell you what clients did and said and my opinion as to what they were about and why…
[This blog] is a podium (wits among you might consider “pulpit” a more appropriate term) from which I can talk about how I see the world, through the lens of my experiences as a call girl. I’ll comment on various aspects of the subject of human sexuality as I see it, give a whore’s-eye view on current events (including virtual slaps in the face to girls who violate professional ethics), and point out the bias built in to nearly every mainstream article about prostitutes. Sometimes I may talk about my experiences in “the life”, including how I started and what I did before and since. I may tell you a little about the history of the profession and my philosophy of it, as well as the opinions of other girls I’ve talked to about it. Sometimes I’ll tell you about the men and women I’ve met through the profession, including those I wish I hadn’t met, and what I think and feel about them. I’ll talk about where I think prostitutes fit in society, why men come to us (it’s not always what you think), and how non-professional women can use this knowledge to their advantage. I’ll also make some educated guesses on why Americans have such a weird love/hate relationship with us. Along the way, I’ll also write about a lot of other stuff which is not strictly on the subject but is inextricably bound up with it in my head.
I don’t find that at all confusing, do you? In fact, I think you’ll agree that for the past six months I’ve been doing exactly what I describe there. This blog is highly personal; all subjective information in it comes out of my own head and nobody else’s. I was a call girl and madam in New Orleans, so the only personal experiences I’m qualified to discuss are those pertaining to that sphere. I’ve never been a streetwalker, a massage parlor girl, a big city escort, a legal prostitute, a male prostitute, a transgender prostitute, a party girl, a sugar baby, a client, a porn star, a Nevada brothel worker, a pimp, a politician, a trafficking alarmist, a cop or a crack whore, so I can’t tell you anything about the thoughts that might run through the heads of any of those people except for what I can deduce from their words or behavior; anything more would be mere speculation.
Furthermore, notice the name of my site, The Honest Courtesan, and its subtitle, “Frank Commentary from a Retired Call Girl.” I think that describes the contents of this blog pretty well. Note that it is not called The Politically Correct Sex Worker, subtitled “Approved Rhetoric from a Cisgender Womon”. The very name of my column promises my honest opinions, unfiltered by dogma and undisguised by the latest trendy euphemisms. Though I haven’t worked as a librarian for over 15 years I haven’t lost my love for language and well-constructed writing, and I refuse to replace perfectly good words with ugly, cumbersome, polysyllabic abortions which are designed to obscure the truth with a cloak of vagueness, or to clutter good English sentences with a host of qualifiers, de-intensifiers, weasel-words and apologetics intended to sap the strength of the text like a school of lampreys attached to a shark. I’m not going to encumber my essays with parenthetical comments noting minor exceptions to broad rules in order to support fantasyland notion of “fairness”; neither will I subscribe to common misuses like “their” as a singular pronoun or “homophobia” to mean “opposition to any single thing any gay rights activist proposes”. I also refuse to employ neologisms like “cisgender” unless I’m specifically referring to people who aren’t transgendered. News flash: The vast majority of the human race is “cisgendered”, so it isn’t necessary to specify it. What’s next on the PC agenda, a special word to signify that a person isn’t handicapped? How about one to indicate that a person is of relatively average height and weight? It isn’t necessary to constantly include every adjective describing every way in which a given person isn’t unusual; we assume the usual unless something different is specified, not vice-versa.
Queer activists have forgotten what the word “queer” means. It doesn’t mean “totally normal just like everybody else”; it means strange, weird, odd. Whatever the hell happened to “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it?” Tolerance isn’t about pretending everybody is normal; it’s about accepting people who don’t hurt others even if they ARE abnormal. And before anyone gets incensed about my using the word “abnormal”, consider for a moment how normal you think an exhibitionistic, bisexual, sexually submissive, ex-librarian, retired hooker, witch and writer who lives in a rural part of the Bible Belt might be. I was abnormal long before I entered harlotry; hell, it might be the most normal thing about me! I have never changed myself in order to fit in with any group, and I never will; even as an escort I was always myself. This blog is a vehicle for my personal expression; it belongs to me and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anybody tell me what to say or how to say it. You want a groupthink, lock-step leftist sex worker blog? Write it yourself; you have no right to command my talents to serve your ends. I’ve never let myself be pimped in the past, and I’m not about to start now.