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Posts Tagged ‘sisterhood’

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.  –  Frederick Douglass

Revolutions are caused by governments.

I don’t just mean that in the loose sense that tyranny will eventually provoke revolt; I mean it in a much more direct sense, namely that it is the intrinsic nature of government to continue growing ever more tyrannous until a revolution becomes inevitable.  Those in power are, as Prince said of his mother, never satisfied; they are irresistibly compelled by their own sociopathic and unquenchable thirst for control over others to continually increase the number and breadth of laws and the intensity of the viciousness of their enforcement until at some point they become, like the aforementioned musician’s father, too bold.  In less purple prose, they eventually increase the pressure on their subjects so much that an explosion inevitably occurs.  But most humans are more like sheep than doves; they will placidly endure any mistreatment from their masters, occasionally uttering an angry bleat but otherwise standing by, idly grazing while other members of the flock are herded off to the slaughterhouse.  One wonders if actual sheep have primitive thoughts somewhat akin to “he had it coming”, “she was no angel” or “the law is the law” when rams, ewes and even lambs are taken away by the herdsmen, never to be seen again; perhaps there are even apologists among them, telling the others that this is a positive good intended to protect them from bogeysheep which are often bleated about but never actually seen.  Of course, this extended metaphor is absurd in one important way: shepherds are not of their own species, and really are wiser and more able to deal with problems that might arise than the sheep themselves.  The same cannot be said of humans, who are not only herded by members of our own species, but specifically its least wise, least able members (for the simple reason that the wise and spiritually evolved do not desire to control other sentient individuals).  And since we are governed by those least capable of governing themselves, they are incapable of saying “enough” and so continue to increase the pressure until something bursts.

43 years ago today, the French government discovered to its chagrin that its moronic and evil “abolitionist” policies had surpassed the point French whores were willing to endure; their cry of protest against that tyranny was heard by the entire world and spawned the worldwide sex worker rights movement which eventually won improved conditions in many countries.  Needless to say, these victories encouraged the control freaks to double down rather than simply accepting their fellow humans as human, and the “sex trafficking” myth was reanimated from its century-old grave to serve this vile purpose.  This succeeded quite well for well over a decade, but now it seems that the power-mad have once again gone too far for their own good:  sex workers are organizing like never before to fight these evil laws and policies, and this time even the less-criminalized branches of our profession are joining us.  Yesterday in the US, hundreds of whores descended upon Washington, DC and many state capitals to lobby against FOSTA and other tyrannies, and in the past few months a number of politicians all over the country have started openly opposing the criminalization of our profession, a position which would have meant political death only a few years ago.  Once again, the tyrants have gone too far; they have inflicted so much brutal violence that even the sheep are fighting back alongside bitches like me who have never submitted obediently to the control of our self-appointed masters.  As always, the tyrants have been unable to exercise enough self-control to quit while they were ahead, so that when we eventually win our rights back we will, in a strange way, have our oppressors to thank for it.

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Recently two providers in one city discovered that they had me in common; I never intended to visit both.  I contacted one following her instructions and waited a week, but when she failed to respond I contacted the other.  After another week, both got back to me on the same day, so I saw both.  But they’re friends, and since they discovered I saw both of them, they’re both treating me kind of indifferently now.  Is this some kind of jealousy or possessiveness thing?

It would be highly unusual and unprofessional for an escort to get jealous over a client, unless his seeing other women would put her in dire financial straits (for example, if the economy is very bad in her city and she depends on him for a large part of her income).  But even in that case, it wouldn’t really be “jealousy” in the sense you’re thinking, but rather concern for economic survival.  Under ordinary conditions, escorts are not only non-jealous, we actually give each other references for clients or provide introductions; it’s not at all unusual for one of my gentlemen to ask me for an introduction to one of my friends, and I’m always pleased to see one of their names in the references a new gent provides me.  Aside from the pleasure of helping out people we like or love, and the necessity of sex workers being respectful of each others’ safety and survival, such cross-pollination sometimes leads to duos, which many of us enjoy a great deal.  All that having been said, I notice that one of these chicks took a week to get back to you and the other two weeks; unless they had some kind of vacation notices on their websites, that strikes me as both unprofessional and just plain bad business.  Plus, if they’re friends I can’t see why they’d object to both seeing you; that happens in my circle of friends quite frequently.  So it may be that you had the bad luck to run into two not-very-professional escorts who just aren’t very interested in making money, or else their indifference to you is caused by some other factor in your own behavior that you haven’t mentioned.

(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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Last summer I saw a client whom I have good reason to believe is quite capable of violence, and he is now stalking me.  For about a month now he has parked in front of my house and watched almost every night; it may have been longer, because it took me longer than I am comfortable with to notice.  Last week he switched up his game: he got out of his car, prowled around my house, and left much sooner than he usually does.  Then later, I found a ladder and a flashlight near the easiest entry point to my home.  I called my attorney to tell him I wanted a restraining order, but he told me to first file a police report; I stalled a bit, but when I finally went to the cops they refused to take a report.  After that, I immediately fled town in terror and am writing to you from several states away from my home.  I want to return as soon as I can and get a restraining order, but is there a way to file such an order under a stage name?  Please tell me you have some advice.

I’m so sorry to hear about this horrible situation.  I’m not at all surprised the cops wouldn’t do anything to help you; cops don’t give a damn what happens to sex workers, and commonly write “NHI” (“No Humans Involved”) on reports about violence toward us.  I would also advise against putting faith in restraining orders; they don’t have magic powers, and can’t stop violent people from being violent even when the cops are willing to enforce them (which in your case they won’t be).

I think it was a very good idea to leave town for a while; that won’t get rid of him, but it may put him off your scent temporarily.  You’re going to need help from friends and associates to deal with this, and if I were in your place I’d contact the local SWOP chapter (I know there is one in your city) right away in addition to informing all the friends you can trust.  I think it would be best if you find another place to live; if possible, get a friend, family member or trusted client to sign the lease for you, and you may want to consider not living alone for a while.  In fact, if you’re not especially tied to the city you’re “currently based in” (that sounds like you might not plan to live there permanently), you might consider moving to another city entirely (one where you have friends).  If your stalker has a regular job (it sounds like he might if he only sits outside your place at night), send your friends (do NOT go yourself) to move your stuff while he’s at work; if you can’t be sure when he’ll be tied up, you’ll have to be sneaky about this because you CANNOT risk his following them.  And even after you move, I would suggest being very watchful for at least a year; he’s already proven he’s obsessed enough to follow you for over half that long.

Once you’ve ensured your physical safety as best you can, I suggest being extra-cautious with new clients from here on out.  If you’ve been a loose screener before, it’s definitely time to change that; he knows your stage name and contact info, and once he can’t find where you live he’ll almost certainly try contacting you through work, possibly pretending to be someone else.  So it’s absolutely imperative that you get good references from every new client, that you make sure you know his name & job so you can be ABSOLUTELY sure it isn’t the stalker, and that you talk to every new client on the phone so you can hear his voice before meeting him, to be sure in your mind that it really is a new person.  Finally, if you can afford it, you might also consider renting a separate place to be your incall, so that even if this dangerous person figures out where you work, it won’t automatically let him know where you live.

I’m going to publish this on Thursday (with identifying details removed for your safety) and ask readers for input as well; please look at my blog and Twitter feed on Thursday, because one of my readers may have been through something like this before, and may have some good advice.  That’s all I can think of at the moment, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not go home until you have a plan in place, and friends on alert who will come to you instantly if called.

(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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Diary #398

Last week was dominated by the sudden death of my friend Laura Lee on Wednesday morning; Matisse and I found out Wednesday evening about 10, but we were asked not to say anything until Laura’s daughter made a public statement.  Working out what to say to the press was a lot to ask of such a young woman, but she handled it with the strength and courage she inherited from her mother.  I never met Laura in person; we’ve been talking for a couple of years now about arranging that, but alas fate intervened.  But she and I have been online friends for years, and we shared the deep bonds of sisterhood that only whores can know with each other.  As I wrote in another diary column more than three years ago,

…when sex worker friends get together there’s a kind of camaraderie that I’ve not generally felt among groups of other adult women; it’s a sense of shared experience, of being denizens of a secret world unknown to the general population.  Perhaps we cleave to each other more tightly because the “good” women of the world reject us; perhaps it’s an outgrowth of the necessity for us to watch each other’s backs.  And perhaps it’s also due to our comfort with displays of affection and intimacy that others would find shameful…

That also extends to our online interactions; Brooke Magnanti and I were good friends and confidantes for years before I met her, and Matisse and I were so close that when we finally met for the first time in person, we were finishing each other’s sentences and people were surprised to hear that we hadn’t ever met before.  And the same goes for my relationship with Laura; we sent each other packages, chatted in DMs on Twitter, and supported and consoled each other through some extremely difficult times.  So when I heard the news, I didn’t receive it with the detached sadness one experiences at the death of a beloved celebrity or casual acquaintance, but with the pain of the loss of a real friend.  The sex worker rights movement has lost one of our greatest warriors, a fierce campaigner for human rights who was willing to go toe-to-toe with horrific evil for the benefit of thousands of women who didn’t even know her.  And those of us who did know her have also lost someone we dearly loved.

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Claudia Christophe is a Chicago-based escort currently on hiatus until 2019.  Nonetheless, she has returned to blogging on her own blog, The Claudia Chronicles, here on WordPress and she may very reluctantly return to Twitter later this year.  Previously, she has been an active participant with SWOP-Chicago under a different identity and remains an ardent sex workers’ rights activist in her own way.

Not one second, not one dime.

Let me make something very clear at the start:  I’m not interested in “not all” protestations.  I’m not interested in “No True Scotsmen” objections.  I’m not interested in catering to willful stupidity.  If we’re all on the same page, let’s proceed.

Sex workers need to screen Potential Feminist Allies (PFAs) the way escorts screen potential clients.  Why?  For the same reason escorts screen potential clients:  to make sure that those who will be sharing intimate space with us won’t violate us in said space.  In the case of the sex workers’ rights movement, that intimate space is the movement itself.  Thanks to the tireless, too often thankless, and overall, unpaid efforts of the worldwide sex workers’ rights movement, our voices and diverse experiences within the sex industry are being listened to with increasing respect.  But in the public sphere, that is the media and halls of power, we’re still drowned out by the voices of mainstream feminists who outright hate us or, at the very least, pity us as eternal victims.  It is the latter group of feminist allies that we have to guard against as the former will never be our allies.

It is tempting to accept help from our “sisters” in the feminist movement if they show even the slightest inkling of sympathy for us; it is equally tempting to lend support to a feminist event, even though there’s no hint that such sisterly support will be reciprocal.  But we have to make sure that the support is for sex work itself and not, ostensibly, just for the sex worker; that is how we get monstrosities like the Nordic Model and all its equally gross mutations.  Feminists who can only support sex workers when we talk about bad clients (because it reaffirms their belief that deep down all of us actually hate sex work and can’t wait to be violently rescued), or feminists who only support us because of similar reproductive organs (excluding male, trans and nonbinary workers), are not allies at all; they are the feminists who will inevitably turn on us as soon as it becomes inconvenient to stand with us.

The way we need to screen these PFAs is not a one-to-one analogy to client screening, but it’s close enough.  Let’s start with real-world identification:  Who are they, individual supporters or an organization?  At this point with a client, I would require employment information for verification but in the case of PFAs, I need references:  what background research did they do to make their decision to support the sex workers’ rights movement?  And how have they cast their votes regarding sex work and the law?  Have they consistently voted for politicians and propositions that promote carceral solutions?  Will they continue to vote for these politicians in the future because they subscribe to a “lesser evil” mentality in the voting booth?  Have they donated money to organizations that promote sex trafficking propaganda and an obviously biased exclusion of dissenting and highly nuanced sex worker voices?  Just like verifying references, employment information, checking for previous violent interpersonal actions, and IDs upon meeting, these would-be allies need to prove that our standards for safeguarding our autonomy are ones they will support also.

I, and many other escorts, have a requirement to meet clients in public first, with a few exceptions.  PFAs all need to meet us in public; we are not the “side-chick”, okay?  If we’re invited to participate in a function, we can’t let them hide our presence and thus lessen the impact of the invitation.  If an organization has come to the conclusion that their previous stance on sex workers’ rights was flawed, then the organization needs to publicly amend that stance at the same or greater volume as previous statements on the subject.  This is especially important if said organization ever promoted legislation and policies that have been proven harmful to sex workers:

This is extremely important if the PFA is a politician or other policymaker or influencer.  PFAs, whether individual or organizational, must take responsibility for any past harm they committed against us before we extend our hand in friendship, and nothing less than this.

And then there’s the money aspect.  The obvious screening analogy to this is the deposit:  would-be allies need to put their money where their mouths are before an alliance is solidified.  This is especially important with any famous, wealthy feminist celebrity who might decide, even for a brief moment, that openly supporting sex workers’ rights will be great publicity.  Oh, so Famous Actress made a statement with a half-hearted support for the movement?  Let’s contain our excitement until it’s backed up with cash or other valuable resources (like writers’ rooms!) that Ms. Actress has access to and we don’t.  If supporting our movement becomes unpopular again for whatever reason, at least let’s not expend our precious resources of time, money, energy, attention, etc., on a fair-weather friend.  Maxine Doogan brought up a similar point in this YouTube video where she called out Hollywood hypocrites who make money off portraying us for a substantial paycheck on-screen, while pleading with politicians off-screen to incarcerate us “for our own good”.  For individuals who aren’t wealthy but are new supporters to the cause, well, time is money and we’ll gladly tell you how best to spend it.  Goddess knows that the coffers of the sex workers’ rights movement are sorely in need of filling.

Harsh?  I don’t think so; this is merely the minimum we should expect.  I have a feeling that there may be an upsurge in new feminist support for the sex workers’ rights movement coming soon, but I also fear that it could be very superficial.  In other words, they might offer just enough support to lull sex worker activists into thinking we have more people on our side than ever before until, as I wrote earlier, it suddenly becomes inconvenient to stand with us…until Ms. Privileged Feminist with the large checkbook and larger voting bloc threatens to withdraw support from her feminist organization of choice for their support of sex workers’ rights.  It’s very important to make sure ally participation in our movement doesn’t become a “trend” with a shelf life shorter than an Instastory.

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Diary #392

It’s just so lovely having Grace nearby.  Instead of having to fly her here and deal with all the logistics of a two-week vacation, all I had to do is take a two-hour drive out to Sunset and I can visit for as long as I like.  In fact, I was able to visit for Christmas, come back to Seattle on Boxing Day, then go back last Saturday and stay until Tuesday.  And you know what I did all day Sunday and Monday?  Mostly a lot of nothing.  Oh, I caught up on some writing on Sunday, and I prepared dinner on Monday, but other than that it was just a lot of being stoned, listening to music, talking, cuddling up on the couch and watching movies.  I need to do this sort of thing a LOT more often; I think I’ll do an Imbolc feast like I used to in the old days, with my sister’s gumbo as the entree.  It’s true that there are still a lot of repairs to do on the place (and I’ve added some tools Grace wants to my Amazon wishlist), and it’ll be a long time before I can find where anything is (when it isn’t still in a box).  But in a year or so it should be a place I can happily invite friends to visit, and I enjoy seeing Grace in the meantime even if it’s still a mess.

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Diary #382

I don’t really mind busy days and weeks, unless the busy-ness derives from unpleasant stuff.  When the things I’m busy with are pleasant, profitable or both, I actually prefer busy times because, left to its own devices, my brain is wont to dwell on far less pleasant things.  I’ve been devoting more effort lately to making it harder to hear the awful things shut up in crates in my mental basement; since I can’t get rid of them there’s no way to eliminate their awful din completely.  However, I can spend as much time as possible in the less-haunted parts of the house; eliminate, ignore or refuse activities that might take me downstairs alone; turn the music up so loud they’re drowned out; and spend as little of the rest of the time conscious and sober as is practical.  Besides work, I spent Sunday evening with Lorelei as usual, and tonight I’ll be with Jae; then Thursday through the weekend my friend Angela Keaton will be visiting (including a party on Friday night!) leading up to my birthday with Lorelei.  And if I or somebody else thinks about it at the time (no promises), I may even have a picture or two from the party to share with y’all later.

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