Tuesday, September 24, 2019

One more Naked Truth

And another good read from The Naked Truth sex work blog and Annie Temple, who writes here about the highs and lows of "squaring up" given that the workplace culture of the sex industry is just so very different than what you find in a more conventional workplace.

My favourite kind of sex-work writing (well, writing about anything, really) is when it's like this: Straight up "this is how it is" kind of stuff. For sex work in particular, the misconceptions people have about the industry are so very far from reality that some people will probably need to read a thousand pieces of writing like this one before thinking starts to shift. But hey, now they only need to read 999 more.

I posted this piece on Facebook as well and heard from a number of connections that Annie's top 10 "cultural shock challenges" resonated with them as well, as they have their own work culture expectations that don't conform to the rather odd one that we tend to think of as "normal."

There's another reason to read more writings of sex workers - because we have the same issues. We are sisters and brothers in the same causes, which is a critical point to emphasize given the amount of stigma, judgment and discrimination sex workers experience because of people in the "square world" demanding that sex workers be viewed as different - so different, in fact, that they deserve to be denied basic human rights.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Naked Truth: Susan Davis on the life of a migrant sex worker

Photo of Susan Davis from the
Naked Truth website
There's few better ways to start to understand sex work than reading the writing of sex workers. I'm grateful for The Naked Truth for its efforts to bring those pieces to a broad audience, most especially this fascinating piece by long-time warrior Susan Davis.

Susan is a Vancouver entrepreneur, activist and sex worker who has played such an important role in bringing the issues of BC sex workers into the spotlight, and challenging the tired trope of broken victims in need of rescue. 

Her account here of making her way across Canada as a young sex worker, and the frightening challenges of settling into a new scene when you're in the sex industry, makes for a gripping read.

It will also make for an uncomfortable one for some people, as violence can be a routine part of a sex worker's life due to laws that keep the work in the shadows and make it virtually impossible for workers to avail themselves of police protection. (Reading Sue's many futile attempts to sound the alarm on serial killer Robert Pickton certainly gave me the chills.)

I haven't met many issues as capable of polarizing a conversation as sex work. I've listened to decades of those conversations and once upon a time, used to play way nicer and try to convince people of why it was important to decriminalize sex work to increase worker safety. Not so much anymore on the playing nice. When people literally have their lives on the line because we can't get past our moral objections and uninformed opinions, there's no room for "nice."

Canada has had bad law around sex work for its entire history, and arguably worse law since the former Harper government criminalized the purchase of sexual services for the first time ever in 2014.  The Liberal government made mumbly sounds of "considering the issue" when they first came into office, but never acted (one of the reasons why I have mixed feelings about Jody Raybould-Wilson, who never lifted a finger for sex workers in her time as Attorney General).

While police attitudes in certain Canadian cities have shifted significantly over time, that's still not the case in many communities across the country, where sex workers continue to work in extremely dangerous conditions with no hope that the police officer they approach will be prepared to help them.

You don't have to approve of the existence of sex work to get that criminalizing it is just about the worst way to oversee the industry. All our laws do is increase danger for people in the industry, the majority of whom are women. And yet here we are 152 years on, still doing the same old same old.

Add it to the list of Things That Make Me Weep. Or scream.