"It all started with Stephen Elliot. I read his book My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up while in grad school and I started following him. I discovered the Rumpus and submitted an essay. I got rejected until I wrote something they liked."
"I'm a whore, a proud whore. What does this word mean? A whore is a prostitute, sex worker, hustler, degenerate, scum in a female body. I call myself a whore revolutionary. I consider myself a survivor."
"When I was a teenager, like 14, I took off from an abusive foster care situation (one of many) and I had to 'make it' on my own. I had no ID, and no money. I danced at Billy's Topless and a place called The Baby Doll Lounge, until I was legal age to be on my own and to get a proper job. I never got drunk at work, I never did drugs, or slept with or dated clients. The older women looked out for me, big time."
Many people find it challenging to see sex workers as subjects, rather than as objects—as individuals capable of making choices and as actors in their own lives. Tragically, many of these same people purport to be our advocates.
Here at the Bitch Community Lending Library, we're spending the spring talking about sex work. Last Tuesday, our book club got together to discuss Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry edited by Annie Oakley. In April we'll be discussing Unequal Desires: Race and Erotic Capital in the Stripping Industry by Siobhan Brooks, and in May we'll read Rent Girl by Michelle Tea. If you're in Portland, come to our book clubs! But regardless of where you are, if you're looking to put a few books that explore the sex industry on your bedside table, you should read along with us.
If there are other books about sex work that you would like to recommend to readers, leave them in the comments!
Not that I would expect post-modern, transnational feminist film work to come out of the slimy "it's not misogyny/racism, it's ironic!" Vice-magazine's video site, VBS.tv, but the thirty-minute documentary "Prostitutes of God," on devadasi sex workers in India, is dangerously western-centric, anti-sex work, and completely misrepresents the sex workers it focuses on.
Only there's a twist to this one-sided voyeurism--the film subjects are taking the filmmakers to task for misrepresenting their lives. Enraged about the compromised representation of their gods, their work, and their lives, the sex workers made a response video.
Sadly, $pread, the all volunteer-run quarterly written by and for sex workers, posted yesterday that they can no longer sustain their magazine:
We regret to inform you that...$pread will close its glittery doors soon after the dawn of the New Year...We apologize for those of you who have only recently come to know us, and to all our longtime supporters. After all these years, five all-volunteer years to be exact, we have come to the conclusion that an all-volunteer magazine is simply unsustainable in the current publishing climate. Short of a donation of $30,000, we will be unable to sustain the magazine past January.
"[The word "feminist"] has an ugly ring to it. I actually stopped using the term a while ago because it sounds so mean. It sounds so unsexy. I think it's come to [indicate] angry women who don't like men at all and don't like having sex, so I can see why people stray away from it. It's not one of those things you want to bring up in everyday conversation. But I know I am one....
Upon completion of Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, two major questions remain unanswered for me. First, what is it exactly about this book that made it the first German-language book to ever become the number-one Amazon.com bestseller, worldwide? And second: What in the name of Mary Wollestonecraft does a one-joke grossout book have to do with feminism?