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Posts Tagged ‘archeofeminism’

I notice that a lot of escorts whine about criminalization, yet don’t want to do anything about it.  How are we ever to evolve change if we attack each other, or if we won’t speak up, or at least get behind someone who is out on the front line fighting for our rights?

It has been said that trying to organize sex workers is like herding cats.  I’ve always found it darkly amusing that prohibitionists paint us as meek, passive, spineless creatures at the mercy of anything with a penis, when in actuality sex workers in general are the most stubborn, willful, independent and even defiant women I know.  In fact, if you look at anti-sex worker rhetoric from prior to about a century ago, you’ll notice that these exact characteristics were used to support the claim that we are “bad” women, because the Establishment likes women meek, passive and spineless and we’re the opposite.  We like to do things our own way, on our own schedule, by our own rules, and we’ve been well-known since Biblical times for rebelling against authority and refusing to jump when told to or speak only when spoken to.  I’m sure you see where this is going: the very characteristics that drive women toward sex work in the first place, the same characteristics which enable us to succeed in a profession without structure, bosses or trade unions, are the very traits that make us difficult to organize.

There is hope, of course.  The submissive or weak-minded are easily driven from the rear by “leaders” who don’t actually lead, but rather stay in safety and shout orders while others take the risks.  But the ornery and self-motivated can only be led from the front, by those willing to take the risks and model the behavior they’d like others to adopt.  Nor can these leaders be motivated by the desire for power, glory or adulation; most sex workers are keen judges of human behavior and can smell hypocrisy and manipulation a mile off.  The only way we’re ever going to win our rights is by ceaselessly fighting the lies prohibitionists tell about us, and relentlessly opposing the police state’s desire to control us.  The best way to do that is by speaking up and being out, by refusing to hide our light under a bushel, by fearlessly living our lives no matter who tries to threaten and terrorize us into submission.  If we do a good job of that, others will follow our examples, and those gifted with the ability to organize will take on those roles.  It won’t be a fast process, but it’s already well underway; there are strong sex worker organizations in many countries, and though criminalization makes that harder in the US it’s gradually happening here as well (albeit at a maddeningly-slow pace).  In her book The Love Project, Arleen Lorrance wrote, “Be the change you want to see happen instead of trying to change anyone else.”  This quote is usually shortened to “Be the change you want to see in the world” and misattributed to Gandhi, but I prefer the original phrasing and try my best to live by it.  I don’t have the power to change anyone else, and I wouldn’t want it; however, I do have the power to behave in the way – independently, fearlessly, honestly and ethically – that I’d like others to behave.  And I can only hope that by so doing, others will like what they see and want to do it as well…not because anyone forced them to, but because they want to in order to win rights for themselves, their friends and all their sisters.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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On Monday evening I sent out this tweet, quoting an article someone else had tweeted (CAUTION: loud & obnoxious autoplay video):
People who follow me are mostly used to my hyperbole, but I reckon I touched a nerve because a couple of male internet friends took exception, asking whether I was passing judgment on women who have sex with men because they like them, and questioning whether I thought there was anything wrong with doing things for free that one could charge for, out of principle or affection, such as pro bono legal work or favors for friends.  I think my answer deserves a little expansion, and presentation in a more permanent medium than Twitter.

Like most people, I also do things for others I care about or whom I think it’s right to do things for, without asking for direct monetary compensation; however, I don’t deceive myself that those things aren’t labor.  I sometimes do have sex with men without cash changing hands, but those guys (or their wives or girlfriends) pay me in other ways; currency is not the only form of payment.  The problem isn’t when sexual labor is uncompensated by money, it’s when women buy into the male lie that sexual labor isn’t labor at all, because “mutuality”.  Oh, please.  I cook for people I love; I give them rides all over the place; I help them do manual labor; I wait on them when they’re sick.  And nobody pretends those things aren’t work just because I’m doing them for people I care about; that’s why we have expressions like “labor of love”.  But suddenly, when the work is sexual, everybody wants women to buy into the lie of “mutuality” even though I can sell my sexual labor & few men can; because so many men are willing to stick their dicks into anything warm (alive or not), dick is abundant and of low value.  It is not in any way an equal or fair trade for pussy, no matter what many men like to believe.  Expressed in economic terms, my sexual labor has value & his does not (except to other men); it’s a simple case of supply & demand.  So I’ll give sex for “free” (where that means “no direct cash exchange”) if and only if the recipient (note that word, which designates the one who receives a thing of value) recognizes that what I give him is a gift, a precious thing of high value that I choose to bestow upon him for some reason of my own, and not a thing he’s “owed” or, even worse, a thing that his own low-value participation constitutes “payment in kind” for.  In the case of a physical gift like jewelry, or a gift of labor like cooking a meal or helping a friend with some task, the recipient recognizes that the gift so conferred has value and expresses gratitude (unless he’s a semi-savage without proper manners).  But in the case of sex, men want to pretend that what was given wasn’t a gift but a “mutual experience”, and a woman who disagrees and demands recognition of her value is stigmatized & punished with insults, the threat or infliction of violence and, in barbaric regimes like the United States, organized state persecution, police violence and ostracism.  If that last weren’t true, this would be an academic discussion; however, it is true, and the recognition of the value of female sexual labor is not a mere intellectual exercise, but rather a matter of life and death for millions of women all over the world.

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I stayed rather busy last week, from walking with SWOP in the Seattle Pride parade on Sunday (because somebody has to speak up for sex workers, since Gay, Inc won’t), to spending an overnight in Portland with one of my favorite gentlemen (whom I’m going to call Ghost Rider, a nickname that he approves of), to going to see Wonder Woman on Thursday night with Jae.  I wasn’t really planning to see it, because as regular readers know I’ve been a major Wonder Woman fan since childhood and DC has been totally fucking up every single superhero film it has made in this century, from a dark, murderous Superman to a clownish Green Lantern, and I just couldn’t bear to see that done to the Amazon princess.  But Jae asked me to take her to the movie and I wasn’t about to disappoint her; as it turns out, I’m really glad she asked because I was extremely pleased with the film, which may well be the best DC superhero flick ever (including the justly-beloved Christopher Reeve Superman).  I’m not saying it was flawless, but I was easily able to overlook the flaws due to the superlative portrayal of Diana’s personality and character and the skill with which the director depicted her growing from a sheltered princess into a heroic, unstoppable champion of righteousness and compassion.  In the sequence where she truly becomes Wonder Woman, a charge across no man’s land (the film takes place in the First World War rather than the Second of the traditional story) to rescue a village whose plight has moved her heart, I literally cried out loud, sobbing at the beauty and power of the scene.  It was quite an experience, and I highly recommend the picture to anyone who enjoys superheroes or strong female characters, and especially to anyone who has an adolescent daughter to share the experience with.

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As I’ve often said, MRAs and feminists are basically the same critter.  Both groups have a small fraction of thoughtful individuals who are genuinely interested in examining the ways in which society treats their gender unjustly, both have a larger minority who are bat-shit crazy and suffer from delusions of persecution, and both are mostly made up of unhappy individuals looking for something to believe in.  The more unhinged members of both groups are obsessed with kindergarten notions of “fairness”; for feminists this usually looks something like, “Waaaaah, it’s not FAIR that men tend to be bigger and stronger than women, and that women don’t usually make as much money as men merely because we actually want lives and aren’t willing to sell our souls to corporations!  Waaaaaaaaaah!”  And for MRAs it usually looks something like, “Waaaaaaaah, why do I have to pay women to fuck me?  It’s not FAIR that men usually want sex more than women, so women can put conditions on men having sex with them!  I should be able to have all the sex I want without paying or jumping through hoops, Waaaaaaaaaaaah!”  Most of the time, whiny-baby feminists avoid me because I’m a whore and therefore anathema to their weltanschauung, but often whiny-baby MRAs will approach me online because they’re laboring under the serious misapprehension that because the deranged feminists hate me I must be on their side (Republicans and Democrats often make the same Very Stupid Error, but that’s a discussion for another day).  Well, on Wednesday one such individual got on my last nerve, and so I decided to carpet-truth-bomb him thus:

Hi, welcome to this place called “physical reality”.  Here, matter is organized into many different forms with varying degrees of scarcity.  Naturally, scarcer resources are more prized.  So there’s a field of study called “economics”, which studies how sentient beings interact with each other in order to get the resources they need by trading other resources they have more of.  Resources are not distributed “evenly” or “fairly”; for example, the sun has a whopping huge supply of helium (it’s a waste product there), while on Earth it’s scarce and getting scarcer.  This isn’t because of “capitalism” or “patriarchy” or “privilege” or anything else; it’s just the nature of physical existence.  I as a sentient being found something I have a lot of, namely sex appeal, and I trade on that to get things I otherwise have a lot of trouble getting & holding on to, such as money.  If you don’t have anything you can trade, sell or negotiate with to get something I want or need, you won’t be able to get what you might want from me, just like if I can’t get the money the grocery store wants, I won’t be able to get the groceries I want from it.  This is reality.  Learn it.  What you need to do is stop bitching about life being “unfair” (no shit) and find something you have that others want & will pay you for, such as labor.  That’s all.  Everybody is in that boat.  Sex is a resource, and so is money.  One can be traded to get the other, just like any resource can be traded to get other things.  The end.

I honestly can’t comprehend how anyone over the age of 8 can fail to comprehend that the world isn’t “fair” and can never be; the only way it could be would be for everything to be reduced to a thin haze of hydrogen spread evenly through a static universe.  Some people have more of one resource and some of another; that’s why commerce was invented.  And even though some individuals do have more resources and advantages than others, most individuals are still lacking in other areas (which is, of course, why commerce works in the first place).  Yes, I have more than my “fair share” of sex appeal, intelligence, personality force and general health…and far less than my fair share of other nice things, such as emotional stability, consistent orgasmicity, the ability to navigate formal systems, the ability to sleep more than three hours without sedation and the ability to move around and position my body any way I like without becoming violently ill (and that’s by no means a complete list).  Money can’t make up for any of those defects, but it can purchase workarounds for many of them, and my sex appeal can get me money.  And that to me seems like a far more adult, realistic and practical life-strategy than sitting around whining that it isn’t “fair” that I can’t enjoy air travel, vibrators and many other things large numbers of people take for granted.

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inannaMost of you probably already follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, you should).  But while Twitter is a very powerful tool for publicity and activism, tweets are intrinsically ephemeral; though they do actually continue to exist indefinitely, they’re very difficult to find after a few days.  Therefore, I hope you’ll forgive me if, when I write a string of tweets that I think are particularly important, I republish them here for more attention ad greater permanence.  On January 14th, in response to the widespread fear in our community due to the Backpage takedown, I tweeted out the following message; it isn’t long, but it expresses a truth I think it’s very important that whores remember in these trying times.

Our profession truly is the oldest one on Earth.  Older than the pyramids, older than cities.  Older even than Homo Sapiens.  The US as an institution is just a toddler, albeit one of those toddlers we read about that gets ahold of a gun and kills their parents.  We have survived the fall of empires and the disappearance of whole peoples. We have survived fire, flood, famine, pestilence, war and every other disaster.  We have survived persecution, pogroms, confinement in brothels, literal slavery, mutilation & even burnings.  We will survive this too.  Read what the ancients wrote about us. We are the mothers of human civilization; it couldn’t exist without us.  And these so-called “leaders” know it.  They’re petulant children who resent their debt to us and are acting out violently.  But like all children they have a short attention span, and when some new shiny toy or victim to torture catches their attention they’ll leave us alone.  What we need to do is to survive until then, and to keep fighting to be heard and recognized by good people who will stand with us.  But no matter what, we WILL survive.  And our tribe will exist when The USA is nothing but a thing kids learn about in history, then forget.

We are as eternal as the sea; our enemies are mere insects, who annoy for a season and are then gone.  In order for them to win, they would have to completely destroy human sexuality; in order for us to win, all we need do is practice the patience and courage which we have in abundance.  And though it’s difficult to remember that in trying times, it doesn’t even matter if we do or not because even if we as individuals forget, we as a group will survive and triumph nonetheless.

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None of woman born, coward or brave, can shun his destiny.  –  Homer, Iliad (III, 120-121)

If you’re unfamiliar with Aella, I strongly suggest you read the previous chapters in her story before proceeding with this one; they’re listed & linked in the introduction to last year’s episode.

Since I live alone, it was both startling and disorienting to be roused roughly from sleep by someone shaking me.  But when in response to my groggy queries, I heard a less-than-familiar voice say, “Wake up girl, for I have need of thee,” I sat bolt upright and strained my eyes to make out the figure looming over my bed in the dark.  The meager light filtering in from the front windows glinted upon metal, and I soon realized my nocturnal visitor was clad in ornate armor; she carried a helm under her arm and a sword with jeweled hilt hung at her side.

“Aella?” I asked.

“Show some respect, child,” she said gently.  “Though I am not wont to stand on ceremony, it would behoove thee to address an honored ancestor with something more than her common name.”

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled; “you did wake me up from a rather sound sleep.  Would ‘grandmother’ do?  We’ll be here all night if I have to list all the ‘greats’ which should precede it.”

She laughed, a strong but weary laugh that seemed to come from someplace deep inside her.  “Aye, it will do.  Dost thou always awaken so sluggishly?  What if enemies attacked in the night?”

“It would make little difference; my enemies are cowards who always attack with overwhelming force.  They fear a fair fight.”

She was not impressed.  “Any descendant of mine should be ready to at least give a good account of herself in battle.  Her enemies should long remember how dear a price they paid for their victory over her.”

“I’m sorry, honored grandmother.  Though I am a warrior in my own right, I’m afraid you would not recognize my battlefield as such.”

“So I am told.  Yet thou hast shown tremendous courage.”

“Well, that’s what some people call it.  It’s really just tremendous stubbornness.”

She laughed again.  “Then it is certain thou art of my blood, for my excess of pigheadedness was also lauded as courage both in my day and after it.”

“I’ve wanted to ask you about that for some time, but you’re not exactly easy to reach.  I’m guessing the legends about Amazons and Scythians settling in Galicia have a basis in fact?”

“Aye.  My son and his wife were unable to adapt to Amazon culture, and I was unwilling to let them return to Crete knowing full well I might never see them again.  So I recruited a group of colonists, Amazons and Scythians both, and we sailed toward the setting sun and settled north of Tartessos.”

“I seem to remember that you hated sailing.”

She shrugged.  “One does what one must.”

“Yes.  We all need to do things we hate and fear to accomplish the goals that are important to us.”

“Aye, child, that we do.  But make not the foolish error I did, of thinking that thy destiny is thine to command.  Thou hast a task to perform, and thy course was charted for thee by the blessed goddesses long before thy birth, even as mine was.  We are but the tools by which they accomplish their goals, which are not for the likes of us to divine.”

I replied quietly, “I like to think I have free will.”

She laughed once more, a soft chuckle tinged with pain.  “I, too, enjoyed that belief.”

“And what of Phaedra?” I asked, trying to change the subject.  “Did you ever see her again?”

“Nothing could have stopped me save the goddesses themselves; had I been told she was dead I would have battled my way down to the Styx to find her.  Her ships carried our colonists forth, and kept us supplied until my death.”

“I reckon loyalty runs in our bloodline, too.”  She nodded.  “Honored Grandmother, you said you were here tonight because you had need of me.”mounted Amazon

“Ah, that.  Well, truth be told, child, I’m here because thou hast need of me.”

“Oh.  Will the coming years be that difficult?”

“I am no soothsayer, granddaughter; I know not what lies in store for thee.  I know only that I was sent to remind thee of who and what thou art, to admonish thee not to forget the warrior blood that runs strong in thy veins, and to tell thee that though I lack the wisdom and learning to understand thy struggle, I am filled with pride for thy steadfastness and refusal to surrender. Thou hast done well, and I am certain thou wilt continue to do so.  Because if thou should dishonor my legacy by cowardice, I swear by our common ancestresses that I will return and beat thee to within a hairsbreadth of thy life.”

“Thank you, grandmother.  I think.”  She smiled, and laid her hand upon my shoulder, and then she was gone, leaving behind nothing but the weight of her millennia-long shadow upon me.

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For the love of money/A woman will sell her precious body.  –   The O’Jays

It’s been a while since I’ve done a whore songs column, so I figured there was no time like the present.  Let’s start out with a blues classic, featuring a lady who only has seven informal clients…though she sees them very regularly!

A Man for Every Day in the Week (Sippie Wallace)

I am feeling mean and blue,
Evil as can be,
‘Cause me and my seven men,
We all can’t agree.

They keep me bothered night and day,
Right down to the end.
But the money I get from all of my men,
Is money I’m proud to spend.

Now my Monday man, he works on 4th and Main
My Tuesday man gives me my spendin’ change
My Wednesday man buys my hats and shoes
My Thursday man don’t care what I do

Now, my Friday man he buys my home-brewed beer
My Saturday man (unintelligible)
My Sunday man he’s dressed so nice and neat
He’s a nice, clean man I’m always eager to meet.

I got a regular man for each morn I rise
Bring me so much money every day pass by
I want you all to learn to make your ends all meet,
And have a nice, good man for every day in the week!

One could be forgiven for thinking the next selection is about a rent boy, given that its title is “Rent” and the singer is male.  But songwriter Neil Tennant said, “I’ve always imagined it’s about a kept woman, and I always imagined it set in America.  I…imagined that this politician keeps this woman in a smart flat in Manhattan, and he’s still got this family, and the two of them have some [sort] of relationship and they do love each other but it’s all kind of secret…”

Rent (Pet Shop Boys)

You dress me up
I’m your puppet
You buy me things
I love it
You bring me food
I need it
You give me love
I feed it

And look at the two of us in sympathy
with everything we see
I never want anything, it’s easy
you buy whatever I need
But look at my hopes, look at my dreams
the currency we’ve spent
I love you, you pay my rent
I love you, you pay my rent

You phoned me in the evening on hearsay
and bought me caviar
You took me to a restaurant off Broadway
to tell me who you are
We never, ever argue, we never calculate
the currency we’ve spent
I love you, you pay my rent
I love you, you pay my rent

I’m your puppet
I love it

And look at the two of us in sympathy
and sometimes ecstasy
Words mean so little and money less
when you’re lying next to me
But look at my hopes, look at my dreams
the currency we’ve spent
I love you, you pay my rent
I love you, you pay my rent

It’s easy, it’s so easy

The next song is unusual in that it was written and sung by an actual sex worker from Ireland, Kate McGrew (better known as Lady Grew); I’m just going to let it speak for itself:

Hey Lady (Kate McGrew)

I won’t let them say that it’s wrong
Cuz I am that I am
And ain’t it sweet how we ache?
Won’t let them say that I’m wrong
Boy, I’ll show you wrong

(refrain)Hey lady you’re shining
Let your moon rise lady
You’re shining shining
Light all leading
Your heart your home
Bright and calling
Night fallen lady
You’re shining

(rap) In these meat-covered bones I’m a ghost and I drive it
hum and moan of our ghosts as they’re colliding
my time imma sell it / take yours and do what
as long as your happy I swear I couldn’t give a fuck
abolitionists in this patriarchy go home!
give women the power then leave us good and alone
cooperation has been forgotten lately
I’m a lady of the night
I don’t need your saving

(refrain)

(rap) See they’d have you believe that it’s all for your good
cuz surely with freedom you wouldn’t act like you should
we can’t be trusted with action over hope
or when’s the best time that our seed be sown
for millions of years we trusted the group
then culture came in and now we’re told what to do
cerebral cortices grow
but so does empathy
nature and nurture can exist in peace

(refrain)

Who are we?
All we see is light in mirrors
You’re light in my mirror
Who are we?
All we see is light in mirrors
Light

(refrain)

All y’all ladies you’re shining shining
Won’t let them say that it’s wrong
Cuz I am that I am
And ain’t it sweet how we ache?

There’s no way I could do a song column right now without one from Prince; I think no other artist was so universally beloved by sex workers, especially strippers.  There are a number of his songs that read as hookerish to me, but none other as much as “Darling Nikki”.  Now, you may disagree, and it’s certainly not stated in the song.  However: Nikki hangs out in hotel lobbies, comes on to men she’s just met, has every device “money could buy”, asks the narrator to sign his name on a form of some sort (a credit card slip, perhaps?) and leaves what sounds like a business card.  Yeah, that’s a whore in my mind.  Prince was notoriously aggressive about having his videos removed from YouTube, so we’ll see how long this video lasts; I’ll try to refresh it with a new copy whenever it’s yanked.

Darling Nikki (Prince)

I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
She said how’d you like to waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind

She took me to her castle
And I just couldn’t believe my eyes
She had so many devices
Everything that money could buy
She said sign your name on the dotted line
The lights went out
And Nikki started to grind

Nikki

The castle started spinning
Or maybe it was my brain
I can’t tell you what she did to me
But my body will never be the same
Her lovin’ will kick your behind
Oh, she’ll show you no mercy
But she’ll sho’nuff sho’nuff show you how to grind

Darlin’ Nikki

Woke up the next morning
Nikki wasn’t there
I looked all over and all I found
Was a phone number on the stairs
It said thank you for a funky time
Call me up whenever you want to grind

Oh, Nikki, ohhhh

Come back Nikki, come back
Your dirty little Prince
Wanna grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind

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