Occupy Sex Work
Would it surprise you to know that not all sex workers are terribly liberal? Some of us used to be that way—but like Snow White, we drifted. I came to sex work with a background in queer/feminist political activism, and I naively believed that anyone who endorsed sexual freedom would support my personal choice to be a sex worker.
I was mistaken. And I found, to my surprise, that my hardcore liberal acquaintances were no more likely to be open-minded about sex work than the average Republican. If anything, the liberals were worse. I learned that if I had a rational conversation with a secular conservative, I stood a good chance of convincing him that society would not be improved by putting me in jail, and that while he might find my profession personally distasteful, he'd serve his political goals better by leaving me alone. My experience of trying to have a similar discussion with a deep-dyed liberal? Not good. Nothing would persuade them that I wasn't either a deluded victim who must be saved from herself or a traitorous collaborator with the Man.
Adding to my centrist drift: I'm self-employed. Ask me about the perfect world for my career, and I sound like Ron Paul in high heels. Hardworking businesspeople should profit from their labor. I don't need a union, I don't need any externally imposed rules and regulations, and I'm not asking for a handout from anyone. Just get out of my way and let me do what I'm good at.
However, we don't live in a perfect world. (Take a minute to regain your composure.) I don't have to look far to see what happens in an unregulated marketplace. In my industry, opportunities to financially exploit clients and other workers are myriad. I see it happen all the time, on a scale from small to large, and there are scant ways to seek redress. It's troubling to me personally, and it contributes to a climate of distrust that inhibits business. If I could thwart thieves, pimps, and scammers by agreeing to some regulations in the sex industry, I would. Even if I didn't directly and immediately benefit from those regulations, even if they weren't my perfect vision, and even if they occasionally inconvenienced me.
That's why I support the Occupy movement, even though it isn't perfect. I don't agree with all the statements put forth by people in the movement, and I'm not enthusiastic about protesters doing things like tying up traffic. But the thieves, pimps, and scammers on Wall Street have gotten out of hand. Since they're not going to stop ripping off people on their own, they must be firmly slapped down. This isn't the time for liberal dithering, making the perfect the enemy of the good. I'll forgive some missteps, humor a few strange bedfellows, and endure some inconveniences as long as we're actively working to restore justice, fairness, and accountability for everyone in the system.