When we had a discussion about labor/public vs non-labor/private it reminded me about an experience I had in D.C.
One day I went to a book reading at busboys and poets. This reading was promoted through the organization HIPS “(Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive) was founded in 1993 by a coalition of service providers, advocates, and law enforcement officials as an outreach and referral service. HIPS mission is to assist female, male, and transgender individuals engaging in sex work in Washington, DC in leading healthy lives.”
During this event. A man (we’ll just call him ‘Joe’) who said he was “in the life” for about 9 months and a woman who was a dominatrix for six years talked about different experiences and the reason why the became sex workers.
You can get into sex work many different ways and these two people were examples of that. The man told us, the audience, about being kicked out of his home and meeting a man who subsequently raped him. After working at a frying chicken for a month and getting little pay; his boss approached him and asked if he wanted to make “real money.” He got into it blindly and without much thought.
The woman (we’ll call her ‘Jane’… yeah i know its typical) became a dominatrix fully aware of what she was doing, answering an ad that stated she could “get paid to be a bitch.” Jane was in college and need a way to make a lot of money quickly, waitressing what not cutting it.
Joe’ s first clients was a elderly widow. He expected the experience to be horrible and serious wondered if he could “perform.” Instead he had a nice evening with her and found that he genuinely liked her as a person. After listening to her talk about her love for her late husband she reveals that he had never performed oral sex on her. During the act of performing this duty he felt appreciated and vulgarly explained that 83 year old pussy tastes good. Joe’s last experience as a sex worker was what got him out of the business. He was asked to humiliate a Judge. The Judge wore his robe and nothing underneath it but a diaper. While his head was on the Judge’s chest he felt this pulling motion on his hair. He looked up only to discover the Judge sucking on his hair and he saw red. He beat up the Judge and destroyed the room they were in. He broke all the rule and of the sex worker- client relationship and realized he had to get out of the life.
One other part that was significant about this was the political aspects of sex work. The speakers spoke of the legalization of prostitution. There are two opposing arguments to whether prostitution should be legalized among actual sex workers. I was surprised to find out that there’s a difference of opinion between a high priced call girl and a poor drug addict on the street. The main arguments for the legalization is for health and safety. I believe this is incredibly important and was disheartened to hear one audience member talk about a cop who is a pimp at this moment and collects his money in the back of his car. Over all this was a very enlightening presentation.
This topic in inherently queer because its an atypical profession that is non-heteronormative. I think this is a very important issue that need to be highlighted by the mainstream. prostitution is seen a deviant as is being queer.
In fact many of the sex workers in Washington D.C are Trans. I believe there should regulations to ensure the safety of the sex worker and the client, whether that prevents a broken arm or an STD. I believe sex wok is going to happen legal or not so why not make its safe?