For many years, sex work was a solution. I could work and go to school. I could travel, live and work all over the world, participating in unpaid internships taken for granted as part of the undergraduate experience. As an undergraduate, I worked at two domestic violence shelters and as a rape crisis counselor. I went on to work in nonprofit development, grant-writing for a Somali women’s health organization in London, UK and, later, for a nonprofit that ran after-school programs for disadvantaged girls here in New York City, where I eventually made my home. In graduate school, I worked as a consultant for a high-profile feminist organization while also working as a research assistant in the Pediatrics Department of a public hospital. During this same time, I sold sex.
Sex work defines the people who do it like no other occupation. Associated with deviance, drug use, mental illness and disease, to be labelled a “prostitute” is to be cast as the lowest of the low. No matter the realities of our experiences, we are thought of as victims and as inherently damaged, either before or as a result of our profession. Sex workers are considered a danger to society, unfit for serious public service. Worst of all: once a sex worker, always a whore." — via demonrevolutionary
As you almost definitely know by now, Rush Limbaugh made waves last week with his ridiculously absurd characterization of women who want their insurance to cover their birth control as sluts and prostitutes who should be obligated to film pornos for him. This prompted a lot of people to demonstrate the incorrectness of this statement; the #iamnotaslut tweets, for example. This is all well and good, but third wave feminist that I am, I wondered: what about the people who are whores or sluts? Where does that leave them?
Allow me to tell you a story that illustrates my point. A friend of mine once made the mistake of getting into a cab that had a crazy racist for a driver, who proceeded to berate him and call him a “fucking kike.” My friend is not Jewish. Was the appropriate response, then, “oh no, ha ha, I believe this is a simple misunderstanding, sir. I am not a fucking kike, you see, but merely a gentile with a Roman nose”? No, no it was not. The appropriate response was to say “fuck you, asshole!” and get out of the cab, which is what he did. Do you see where I’m going with this?
By responding to the charge of whoredom with “no we’re not!” we degrade our fellow humans by implying that being a sex worker is bad, dirty, undesirable…all of the nasty words that have been used to keep women down for centuries. Sex workers are people too, with feelings, dreams, hobbies, etc. You might not even know it, but someone in your life could be doing sex work right now. Do you really want to risk hurting that person by arguing with Rush Limbaugh on his own horrible terms?" — via queerandpresentdanger
When she worked the streets, Yvette Gonzales said, she frequently saw other prostitutes working without condoms. But they were not having unprotected sex at the request of their customers.
Often, Ms. Gonzales said, the police would confiscate condoms when making a prostitution arrest so they could be used as evidence. And as soon as the prostitutes were released from jail, she said, they would go right back to work without protection; or they would refrain from carrying condoms at all, for fear of being arrested, and would hope customers would supply their own. “It breaks my heart,” said
Ms. Gonzales, who now works for a nonprofit group, the Positive Health Project, that counsels prostitutes, tests them for infection and provides them with free condoms. “The police need to understand: Don’t take their condoms. You’re taking someone’s health from them.”" — via queerandpresentdanger