To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Most sex worker gatherings are either celebratory (such as our conventions and June 2nd events) or vehement (such as our protests and March 3rd events); many partake of both. But on this one day a year they are more solemn, for it is the day we honor our dead. Whether we would like to or not it is something we must do, because in places which would prefer to pretend we don’t exist, or places (like the US) where our very existence is criminalized, there is no one else to do it; were whores to fail to remember our dead, they would be forgotten entirely…and we refuse to let that happen. Some prohibitionists say we bring violence upon ourselves by our choice to live outside of the sexual restrictions that repressive cultural norms have imposed on women for the past several millennia; others try to rob us of our agency, claiming that the violence comes from imaginary “pimps” and demonized clients. But the truth these would-be social engineers don’t want you to know is that the majority of violence against whores is inflicted by the police, either with the blessings of the state (in the name of “fighting prostitution” or “rescuing victims”) or in the shadow created by the state’s definition of harlots as creatures outside the bounds of humane treatment. The state, Western religions, and carceral “feminists” teach that a woman who has sex for practical reasons rather than emotional ones is robbed of her “purity”, and that an “impure” woman would be better off dead. Furthermore, since they only value women for our sexual characteristics, they teach that a woman who sells sex “sells her body” or even “sells herself”; a person without a body is a ghost, and a person without a self is nothing at all. Given these beliefs, is it any wonder those who adhere to them think dead hookers are of no great import? As far as they’re concerned we were dead already, or worse than dead. And if we are, is it any surprise that violent, weak-minded thugs in or out of uniform believe they can rape, rob, brutalize or even kill us with impunity?
Exactly one month ago tonight, I sat in a room with three of my sisters; we ate together, talked about our lives, swapped war stories, laughed and hugged and shared a kind of intimacy I’ve never felt with any group of amateur women. That intimacy was itself one of the topics of conversation, and we understood that one of the reasons for its existence is that, in the eyes of the state, we are all outlaws – career criminals – fallen women whom the state has to use violence to cage lest we infect others with our dangerous notions about freedom, independence and self-ownership. That was a night of celebration and joy, but I wish that tonight I could be with that same group again to mourn others who were not as fortunate in escaping doom as we have been. Just as nobody else can understand our bonds of camaraderie in life, so too can they not understand how we can care so deeply for departed sisters we never met while they were still alive. The answer to both is the same: we must love and care for each other so, because none of the “good”, “righteous”, “upstanding” members of “law-abiding” society will.