How sex work made me realize my white privilege.

05Feb10

A pro-life group has started a campaign to compare Black children to snow leopards. No, really. Black babies are an endangered species, apparently, thanks to abortion. It would be ludicrous for me to try to argue that it’s not an objective fact that women of color are over-represented in abortion statistics. It is pretty fucking ludicrous to make the argument that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood target women of color because they’re racist motherfuckers (first issue I am not discussing: was Margaret Sanger a eugenicist? because she did align with those campaigns). It’s pretty clear to me that these statistics have more to do with the historical disenfranchisement of people of color. I also don’t feel like going into how obnoxious I find individualized choice argument, whether they be about abortion, sex work, or the number of kids the Duggars have. We are all members of society.

I bring up this example because it led to a conversation about racism in America. And how completely baffled and appalled I am on behalf of white people everywhere. (Seriously, white people, you guys, listen to me on this one: get a fucking grip on your privilege.) This conversation was on the heels of another one I had recently in which the other people compared the existence of white privilege to conspiracy theories. I’m really fucking sorry you can’t find a job, white dude, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the systematic abuse and disenfranchisement of people of color.

I’m white. And it’s been pretty difficult for me to finally come to a point in my life where I recognize my privilege without being defensive about it. And you want to know what helped? Sex work.

I had in my head that race was over and blah blah blah when I first started. And it’s real easy to think that before getting a job in a strip club. In no clearer way can you see the Othering of women of color than when there’s an unofficial policy that only a few women of color can be working at a time as the “exotic” beauties. It could be, of course, the types of clubs I’ve worked in. Higher end, gentleman’s clubs, gown clubs.

It’s also apparent around me in the porn world, where interracial porn is a niche market, and in the escorting world, where most indoor workers are white and most street workers are women of color. (Which could, of course, be due to the interrelated nature of race and class.) It’s apparent now in the pro-domme world. White women are the norm; women of color are “exotic.”

I’ve even realized recently that my ability to move up in social class is tied to my race. White people aren’t burdened with the same stereotypes and assumptions that people of color are. My income isn’t questioned by my bank. I’m not (so far) harassed by the police.

It’s just so baffling to me how much white people around me refuse to see racism. That is privilege, of course, the privilege to not see. That’s not to say I’m perfect or that I’ve figured it all out. I’m still working on how to make my white privilege mean something, to contribute something to the anti-racist goals of the sex workers rights movement. And I think challenging the racist criminal justice system is a good goal. What do you think?

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2 Responses to “How sex work made me realize my white privilege.”

  1. 1 caseydancer

    This is an amazing video on white privilege, I’ve never seen one explain it better or more indepth (I love mdeia education foundation in general).

    http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=137&template=PDGCommTemplates/HTN/Item_Preview.html

    Just found your blog, btw, and love it.
    Casey


  1. 1 Interesting posts, weekend of 2/6/10 « Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction

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