Fine Andy, you want to take it there, take it there. No, he was not a “sex worker” and he was not a phone sex operator. Ever. On one single afternoon, for two hours, he did one modeling session. I will freely admit I don’t know what exactly happened in that two hour afternoon. I know that he never bothered to inflate it into a drama or make a big deal. He was extremely matter of fact about it, said there was a little nudity but nothing much, and moved on. It was definitely not “hardcore porn” nor was it with any other people.
Yes, I am fully aware that this could scar someone, or be traumatic. I do not mean to undermine anyone who experienced such pain. However, the event was minor, one time, and never came up again. He didn’t even rub it in my face that he had to do it. It was a business transaction, as far as he ever treated it. And I have never said a word about it to anyone until this post.
We were very poor in Hollywood, and he made $100. I know that, because it paid for our rent and dinner (our motel was $85 nightly). He did try to push *me* into sex work, specifically modeling and stripping. But he’d invariably sigh and say that I was either too fat, or that my loose skin from losing so much weight would mean I could “only do freaky fetish shows.” Him doing sex work never came up aside from the incident above.
He NEVER had ANY kind of phone sex (or ANY phone related) jobs. The closest was him working as a commissioned salesman for VeriPhone, a credit card reader company. That was for about 3 weeks and we made no money. Andy claimed he was scammed by the guy he’d been signed up by. Maybe true, maybe not, but thats the closest to a phone he ever got. Hell, we didn’t HAVE phones, ffs. All we did was take pictures for tips in costumes.
Rule of thumb: if Andy claims something out of nowhere that is dramatic, traumatic, scandalous and salacious…it’s almost guaranteed to be a lie, or at best a vast exaggeration.
Yeah, I basically suspected as much. I held back from calling bullshit because, well, it IS within the realm of possibility but I expected it was likely a lie.
And we get yet more insight into Andy’s abusiveness and efforts at coercion. Disgusting. What a horrible, horrible person. And this is why his efforts to portray himself as body-pos and loving “real women” always make me retch… cos the truth is what happens behind closed doors and THIS was utter psychological abuse to the extreme. I’m so sorry you were subjected to that, Abbey, on top of everything else.
However, I need to point out to everyone in this discussion that it is entirely possible for people to be sex workers with no one else in their lives knowing or even suspecting, literally thousands of women achieve this every single day. Not that I think that’s what happened here, given the oppressive closeness he needed to maintain with Abbey throughout this time, but noise about how it’s impossible to sex work without people not knowing just paves the way for toxic and damaging ideas about sex workers.
Also I don’t know why Abbey put the term sex work in scare quotes or assumed it was traumatic and damaging (unless Andy has suddenly popped out with it)? Pretty sure we can broach the subject of Andy lying about having been a sex worker without being whorephobic or contributing to stigmatizing ideas about sex workers.
The next person who makes a joke about my pole dancing and calls me a stripper, I’m going to show them this photo and say, “You may or may not take me seriously, but just know that I can probably crush your tiny little skull with my thigh muscles.”
There’s nothing I don’t love about this.
Yo who the fuck do you think came up with those moves but strippers? Show some respect you clueless little nitwit. Your transgressive hobby was created, developed, and perfected by the very women your snotty ass is deriding, and we do it in eight inch heels, without lessons, learning as we go in front of live audiences.
Arrogant little fools want an edgy and cool hobby that was created by marginalized women and instead of honoring that history or showing respect they sanitize it, do it barefoot in sports bras and gym shorts with splayed feet, and talk about how they’re BETTER than us?
i saw a stripper spin around a pole while another stripper her rode her like she was a surboard. it was amazing. strippers are amazing.
strippers are hardcore athletes and dancers and sex workers. I can barely WALK in my pleasers and these badasses do pole tricks in them. Show some respect!
SAY IT AGAIN SAY IT AGAIN
for the comments.
Hahaha what people literally always never stop talking about how addiction intersects with sex work and usually in order to deny us human and labour rights. Sex work and addiction are literally presumed mutually exclusive and seen as one of the top 3 reasons we can’t be trusted with our own lives.
i literally never see ppl who have an interventionist or abolitionist stance on sex work here actually engage sex workers or talk to them. it’s like they have cooties. even if you really don’t like their views or politics i think it’s telling when you roll your eyes at even engaging them.
That would mean having to actually acknowledge we’re human lol
If you have one of those stringent feminist-tumblin’ ethics of not reblogging from transmisogynists/racists/homophobes/ableists etc even if you really like the post otherwise but you don’t extend that to whorephobes your politics are flimsy as fuck bulllllshit lol.
whorephobia is just as critical an issue as any other and excusing it because “it’s a complex subject tee hee” is an almighty cop out.
plus do I really need to point out how often and profoundly it intersects with other oppressions? No der.
don’t follow whorephobes. don’t reblog from whorephobes. don’t reblog whorephobic bullshit. and especially don’t do these things and make a big production about how zero tolerant you are towards having content on your blog that comes from people with oppressive ideas. you’re being a fucking hypocrite.
Preamble: Once a working friend told me that she didn’t want to take on “sex worker” as a politicized identity (1).
I respect that: no one should be obligated to identify a certain way, or to take on politics that don’t inspire them. But for myself, I’m certain that sex work is not and can never be politically neutral; it can’t ever be anything less than a site of struggle. Being a person who exchanges sex for money is to be a certain kind of cultural outsider. It’s to be someone who is researched and criminalized, someone who is the subject of fascination and the butt of endless sitcom jokes. The disgust with which our culture regards whores is very old and runs very deep, and our radical communities are not immune to this.
I want so badly for radical queers, anti-authoritarians, anarchists and everybody else to see that their struggles intersect with ours so we can all kick ass together. The intricacies of the sex industry illuminate aspects of work, gender, care, class, sexuality and zillions of other points of struggle. Sex workers are intimate with capitalism, patriarchy, class (and more) in ways that other people aren’t, and our experiences give us insight that can inform resistance.
Even in radical communities there are all kinds of things getting in the way of having these conversations, so here’s a (very much in-progress) list of ways radical folk can get their shit together and move towards a more meaningful solidarity with sex workers. You’re welcome.
9 Ways to Be In Solidarity With Sex Workers
1. The first and most important thing you can do to be in solidarity with sex workers is understand that it’s really complicated. Let’s cultivate an analysis that leaves room for sex work to be different things to different people at different times: annoying, financially empowering, traumatic, funny or mundane. Help us out by disrupting narratives about sex work that let some people shoehorn our experiences into (often over-generalized, shitty) political positions.
2. Don’t stigmatize our clients. This is so huge. Assuming that clients are “gross” or “sketchy” feeds the narrative of sex workers as victims. We deal with entitled assholes, uncomfortable situations, and trauma, yeah, but that’s not your conversation to have. Men pay for sex for so many reasons beyond just wanting to get off— like boredom, loneliness, social awkwardness, or disability. When you stigmatize men who pay for sex, you stigmatize our work, and by extension, us.
3. Challenge narratives that characterize sex work as “selling our bodies.” So you’ve realized that maybe sex work isn’t anti-feminist or inherently exploitative. That’s cool. I still hear rad people refer to folks “selling their bodies.” It’s offensive and dehumanizing, and denies us agency. Sex work commodifies sexual acts, not the bodies that perform them. If you can’t shake the supply-and-demand metaphor it would be more accurate to say we’re renting our asses, not selling them.
4. Stop being fascinated. It makes me not want to talk about work with you. I can feel you taking in my outfit, my body, my demeanor, wondering who pays me and how much and how it goes down. It’s so weird.
5. Don’t judge, project, and shame. In addition to being fat, queer, of colour, or trans, a ton of sex workers are plain, awkward, shy, or not particularly femme. Teach yourself to be unsurprised by this fact. While we’re at it, please don’t suggest that we’re too smart, skilled, radical, or otherwise awesome to be doing sex work. And don’t assume or suggest that we could or should get “real” jobs, or that we even want to. This happens in so many ways, subtly and blatantly. (I personally struggle with so much shame around not having a superstar social work or activist job).
6. Don’t conflate sex trafficking with consensual sex work (or let other people do it). Conflating the two hurts sex workers and hurts trafficked people. It imposes victimhood on those who aren’t trafficked (leading to paternalistic, often dangerous legal and social service interventions) and entrenches a shoddy understanding of what trafficking actually is (kidnapping, forced displacement, and exploitation).
7. Don’t assume that all sex work is the same. Phone sex is not web-camming is not escorting is not stripping is not street work is not survival sex. Don’t feel empowered to talk about sex work because one time you hung out with a stripper or went to a workshop facilitated by an escort. (And hey, hoes, doing one kind of work doesn’t mean we’re in solidarity with people who work in other ways).
8. Don’t make us repeat ourselves. Look, it’s work: because we say it is, and because that should be self-evident. It’s different than other jobs. It’s still a job. We have to say this over and over again and be patient with you while you struggle to conceive of and talk about sex work like it’s work. That feels really crumby.
9. Don’t assume you get it. If you’ve never worked (or maybe even if you have), you have hang-ups about sex work. All you badass intersectional anarchists and feminists, women’s shelter/rape crisis workers, social workers, women’s studies grads, anti-poverty organizers: you harbour the same fear, fascination, and disgust as the rest of the world. You’re working on it. That’s awesome. Thank you! But don’t assume you get it.
Here is very good post on basic ways to interact with sex workers: http://not-a-jerk.blogspot.ca/2011/09/how-to-interact-with-sex-worker.html
1. We talked about it lots since, and that’s not where she’s at anymore. (Either way, it’s fine.)
When you came you didn’t expect to come
But you did, before I could
And when I finally did you fit so perfectly in my arms
Blurring the space between me and you
Why didn’t you take my money?
They all want money
The rats that prowl the streets, the web and my home
Everybody looking for what comes next
But you didn’t take my money
That’s one hundred and twenty dollars
You kissed me on the lips and stole my serendipity,my serenity
How can I be bitter now?
There’s nothing more to say
I don’t even have sadness now that you are gone away
To the whore who took my words
I love you I will say
But there’s a serious shortage of poets
And I wish you’ve let me pay
Blech. I don’t know whether I should be more offended or disgusted or amused. It’s every client’s fantasy.
Lol how deluded
Bro. When hookers have an orgasm we don’t refuse to be paid. We feel smug we just got paid to have an orgasm.
Then we go and laugh about you to our friends about how you think you’re god’s gift for giving someone an orgasm when we can have those by ourselves for free any old time.
Oh—you wouldn’t date a girl who’s ever been a stripper?
In that case, I wouldn’t date a guy who’s ever been to a strip club.
Oh—you wouldn’t date a girl who’s ever done porn?
In that case, I wouldn’t date a guy who’s ever watched porn.
You’re the reason we exist.
You’re the demand to our supply.
If you disdain sex workers, don’t you dare consume our labor.
As they say in the industry, “People jack off with the left hand and point with the right.”” —
No I fucking LOVE this.
The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.
The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
this keeps me warm at night
how to describe the sheer gnawing black vacuum of original creativity involved in the process of posing to yourself the question: “what can I do to take this female character [who slyly inverts a thousand stereotypes in an appealing and sympathetic way whilst seeming outwardly to conform to them and has actually already traded sex for favours in canon] and make her DARK!!! and GRITTY!!!!! and R RATED!!!!” and the answer you reach “prostitute”, I mean, SERIOUSLY.
Like “I’ve made her into a prostitute!” tells you exactly what kind he means… every hackneyed, cliched, dehumanising, offensive, hurtful stereotype complete with a total absence of character development and complexity because those things are assumed as inherent to the depiction of broken-down-pimp-beaten-hooker by unimaginative hacks, rather than the paper-thin, soulless, utterly empty shells of bog standard and totally untrue-to-life tropes they are.
doing this is very similar to the “female character gets raped” device: it’s a lazy shortcut to ‘character development’ that doesn’t require putting in any actual effort and usually relies on a shallow, fetishistic projection of what the experience even means. In a one-size-fits-all format, of course.
It is used when the concept of ‘adult material’ is valued over actually telling a quality story, because hookers aren’t anything more than a bit of raunchy, sleazy titillation and for some baffling, obscure, opaque reason a certain level of grossly immature mind believes that ‘grimdark edginess and ‘gritty realism’ automatically equals ‘high quality’ (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
It is grossly trivialising and dehumanising of the complex reality that is sex workers’ lives and shows a profound disrespect for female characters that it takes them parading around in their lingerie and being beaten up giving you a kinky little thrill whilst simultaneously arousing your nauseating pity in order to see them as interesting and sophisticated people. Not even an attitude you extend to ACTUAL sex workers. And that the hacks who regurgitate this sludge actually think it elevates their work is the kicker. “The rogues gallery as you’ve never seen them before… HQ as a prozzietoot!!!” Like so obviously we’re meant to get a voyeur kick out of seeing a well known character so “degraded”. Like HQ et al aren’t already sexualized to the extreme sufficiently, oh no, you gotta wham us over the heads with it THIS WOMAN HAS SEX SHE IS SEXUALLY DESIRABLE SHE IS SEXUALLY ACTIVE GET YER BONERS IN HAND GUYS AND GET READY WHORE ON THE BOX.
Temporarily Yours: Intimacy, Authenticity, and the Commerce of Sex by Elizabeth Bernstein
Scheduling the calls and getting ready for them is indeed much harder than the actual appointments themselves for me, too.
I remember wanting to slack off on shaving my legs and Caty being like, ”That’s part of the job and they’ll complain if you don’t. Go shave your damn legs!” or something to that effect.
But yeah, I can agree that the personal upkeep and just trying to get the jobs being the most tiresome part of sex work. You can be the most eager ho but if that phone isn’t ringing or you get too many cancelations, that’s when you’re really fucked, ya know?
i feel pretty lucky in that I don’t think strippers have to do as much upkeep. it’s like the fact that someone decided to allow us onstage does half the work for us so far as making men think we must be desirable and beautiful; i barely shave anymore and I’ve only had one complaint in the past two years. but I do go out of my way to conform in other ways, bc you know, attractiveness point system.
I feel like strippers have to be more heteronormatively attractive to start with, though? All the strippers I’ve known seem to confirm that. I know I couldn’t make it dancing myself except maybe at a very low-end club. Also, don’t you guys have to fuck more with costumes and make up and such since there isn’t as much as a tactile element and it’s all visual?
i have no comment beyond agreeing and omg fuck because i shave my pubes rather than wax cos im a pissbaby and my skin doesnt cope with shaving and waawaa etc. plus my wig ffs. also curious abt stripping
I shave rather than wax as well! And it’s not even a close shave b/c I don’t shave against the hair growth, b/c of my dread of ingrown hairs. Have never waxed, have an even greater fear of that prospect.
Oh I work in a high-end US strip club so I have to shave every single night—pubes, legs, thighs, armpits, happy-trail, plus whatever other random plucking/bleaching on the face & body (i’m pretty hairy lol), most US strippers do lapdances so nah it’s not mainly visual we almost all have physical contact w/ our customers (except in Washington DC, where lapdances are still illegal I think?). If I go one day without shaving I’m noticebly stubbly (also i’m not white, so my hair isn’t fine or light). Plus we get obnoxious groups of drunk people picking us apart while we’re on stage or doing table-dances, so there’s a lot of pressure to be as flawless as possible so customers don’t sit around bonding over how gross we look & actually buy dances from us.
It takes me around an hour and a half to primp for work (showering, shaving, hair, makeup) & it only takes so little time cuz i’ve been doing this a long time AND I have short hair & don’t wash it right before work. If I had to do anything more to my hair than just run a flat-iron through it that would bump my pre-shift primping time up to 2 hours a day :/
Oh, yeah, as ignorant as I am about stripping, I am aware that grinding/ lap jobs is/are the norm—I’m just saying it’s MORE visual and less tactile than full service work, you know? Your description of your prepping sounds more like what I’d thought was the case than Tilz’s account (Tilz, why do you think you have to do less upkeep than escorts do? Can you describe your maintenance routine?) I’d thought strippers had to invest in higher femme/higher maintenance appearance upkeep than I do. Getting ready for me takes about 45 minutes to an hour, though I try to leave myself two hours for it. Then, once I get ready once I can refresh between calls in a hotel room with a shower within 15-30 minutes. But the planning and clothes buying and the calculation going into all that drag makes it feel like more work than it is, you know?
er… why is the term ‘high femme’ being bandied about in this conversation as though it is interchangeable with heteronormative standards of feminine presentation? we really need to cease cavalierly using terms like femme and their varying subcategories when referring to gendered presentation outside of queer community. Expressions of femininity, even WITHIN queer spaces, should not automatically be ascribed a state of femme. Doing so has implications in all sorts of ways (obvious ones wrt race and trans status, for a start) and is misleading to non queers who think the term is then theirs to appropriate. Even high maintenance conventional femininity should not be presented as though interchangeable with high femme. It isn’t. Femme is a queer identity, for queers, and it is one that is self-identified.
my jaw is also pretty much on the floor at the idea there are lower presentation standards in stripping so you don’t need to shave (not to mention such blanket statements disregard the incredible breadth of heirarchy in strip joints! see the other worker who talked about the expectations placed on her in a high end club) when stripping is, next to porn, the most looksist area of the sex industry so it’s basically a certainty that if you can get away with no shaving you’re otherwise a good 8-10 on any PUG’s beauty scale.
Even in places that accept less conventionally attractive women, expectations of presentation will differ depending on individual ‘attractiveness’ to heteronormative standards. Consider the lines of intersectionality that come into play here. Just because you can get away with not shaving doesn’t mean management won’t have a quiet word in that fat, heavily tattooed stripper’s ear. Not to mention the shit she could get from customer’s because the more you fall outside conventional attractiveness, the more people dehumanise you. You know?
grin and bare it all: against liberal conceptions of sex work
AN INCREASINGLY EMOTINALLY INVASIVE PERFORMANCE OF ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT. SHOTS FUCKING FIRED.
if you call yourself a feminist and an anticapitalist but are still supportive of porn as it exists today, don’t even look at me
better make goddamn sure your critique of porn is nuanced, intensely informed by and does not simultaneously oppress porn performers in the process and most especially is SILENT when porn performers are stating their own needs and talking about their own issues with the industry, cos if not you are just a whorephobic piece of shit and you can look at me but I will come for you. Promise.
So, here’s the deal. Today, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three main anti-sex work laws as unconstitutional. These laws were solicitation in a public place, running a common bawdy house (brothels, etc.), and living off the avails of prostitution. While this is a huge victory for sex workers, it’s not perfect.
The Supreme Court granted the Canadian Government a one year stay of execution, meaning that the laws remain in effect for one year from today, and the Government is encouraged to draft new, constitutional legislation in that time. The problem is that the Government now has the ability to just make more bad laws. They might, for example, institute licensing as many legalized countries have. Licensing means that sex workers would have to pay large fees to the Government in order to work (it’s often around $3k annually), in addition to submitting to Government mandated health examinations. These exams are generally performed by doctors that are assigned to you, not doctors you can choose, and are very invasive. If a sex worker is found to have HIV or any other STI (and possibly any other health condition at all), their expensive license is revoked, meaning that they would have to work illegally. As I’m sure you can tell, this negatively impacts street-based sex workers the most and I’m not happy about it being a possibility.
One of the ways that this court case was pushed through was by saying that since sex work is technically legal, the laws around it were increasing the risks of violence associated with it. In Canada, it is unconstitutional to have laws that harm citizens doing legal activities. I’m no lawyer, but I imagine at least someone on the Crown’s side has already suggested actually outlawing the practice of sex for money itself as a response to today’s decision.
Another issue will likely be municipal. Cities, towns, and counties may begin instituting bylaws that curtain sex work in their areas, or concentrate it within red light districts. While to the outside observer this may seem to not be a problem, it can actually create several problems for sex workers. Generally, red light districts are placed in remote and isolated parts of a city. This can increase the risk of violence, as violent people posing as clients may feel less likely to be caught since there’s no one around. Some cities may even use bylaws to outlaw all sex work within city limits. So, again, this could potentially not benefit sex workers.
While today was a huge victory, it’s important to remember that the fight is not over. This is the first step in a battle that will take years to finish.
In the meantime, why not donate to one of Canada’s sex workers’ rights groups? I highly recommend donating to Maggie’s: Toronto’s Sex Workers’ Action Project. Maggie’s will be continuing the fight to ensure the rights, safety, and dignity of all sex workers across Canada. At Maggie’s, the focus is on street-based, racialized, and trans sex workers. Help Maggie’s continue our vital work by donating today.
I’m all for sex workers and our rights and making sure things are groovy and safe for them/us, but wowwowowowowowowowowow I would not like someone who has HIV/AIDS (specifically) to have a license to practice sex work with the general public.
That’s not safe for literally anybody.
They need to create some sort of secondary licence that is less expensive and only allows for penetration-free sex work jobs (of which there are many) or HIV positive only clients or something.
Whoa. Everything you just wrote is fucked up. Let’s unpack this.
First of all, licensing is a terrible idea as I already explored in my piece above. It pushes people into poverty, and can cause sex workers to have to rely on criminal organization and abusive boyfriends to pay licensing fees.
Next up, it’s clear that you do not understand how HIV is transmitted. Despite what you may think, HIV is no long a death sentence, it is a chronic condition that, in Canada at least, is relatively manageable with the correct treatment. HIV meds used consistently bring your viral load down to low or undetectable levels. From all of the available scientific research, we know that it is damn near impossible to transmit HIV when your viral load is low or undetectable. It is far, far easier to transmit Hep C than it is to transmit HIV — yet I don’t hear you (or the Government for that matter) freaking out about that.
Furthermore, the proper use of condoms for sexual activities considered “high risk” also brings risk of transmission down to a statistical impossibility.
The majority of street-based sex work, and perhaps other forms of sex work, tends to be low risk anyways — meaning blowjobs mostly. The risk of transmission through oral sex, even without treatment and without condoms, is extremely low anyways.
So, if a sex worker is living with HIV and is receiving adequate medical treatment OR uses condoms for high risk sexual activities, there is no reason to think they would be able to transmit HIV to a client.
"But what if they don’t have treatment?!" I anticipate your shrill reaction being. Well, if they don’t have adequate treatment or access to information, that’s an entirely different problem that needs addressing and has little to do with their employment.
The real problem here is your AIDSphobic stigmatizing of sex workers and people living with HIV. It’s 2013, get with the program and, in the words of Tumblrs everywhere, check your privileged assumptions. HIV is not a crime, your AIDSphobia ought to be, though.
Alternatives to “Queer”:
2. Being specific!: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual.
3. Putting the community’s acronym to practical use!: LGBT+
Alternatives to “Slut-shaming”:
1. Sex-shaming or sexuality-shaming.
2. Sex-policing or sexuality-policing.
Alternatives to “Whore-phobia”:
PINPOINT THE PROBLEM!
Who the fuck do you think you are?