Can a client be an ally? A sex worker recently told me, “An ally who is not a client is a time-waster. Self-interest is irrelevant. The more people on our side, the better.” But I worry that the people I’m supporting will like me less if they believe I support their struggle out of self-interest. If you knew two male allies who were equally good at being allies, all things being equal, toward whom would you feel more warmly? The ally who is or has been a client, or the one who never has been? Or is the question truly irrelevant?
As a pragmatist, I don’t give a flying fuck why anyone supports decriminalization, just as long as he or she does. If a billionaire software developer is an ally because he has some software he hopes to sell to decriminalized sex workers, or a politician backs decrim because it will save huge amounts of money wasted on law enforcement, or a celebrity backs it because she thinks it will attract sex workers to buy her albums or see her movies, what difference does that make to me? Activists who demand ideological purity tests aren’t really interested in winning the War on Whores; they want a secret handshake club.
That having been said, an ally who has no “skin in the game” might be useful for a time, but what happens if his circumstances change? If he’s not invested in the outcome, it’s just a hobby to him. If anything, I think that allies who act out of enlightened self-interest are probably more trustworthy, because humans are humans and we all act out of self-interest at least to some degree. People who pretend otherwise aren’t “pure”; they’re just hiding their real motives, and that makes me wonder what those real motives might be. So while I welcome all allies, temporary or long-term, all things being equal I would prefer one who’s got as much to lose as I do if the prohibitionists aren’t stopped.