Illinois HB 6195 is a bill to increase the penalty for soliciting a prostitute to a felony. It’s part of this whole end demand in Illinois campaign. You’ll be hearing a lot about this bill from me in the coming months.

Let’s be real for a minute. I think shit like trafficking and coercion are fucking abhorrent. I also think that the proliferation of rhetoric around these issues has pretty much eclipsed any kind of ability we could possibly have to actually grasp what we mean when we say “trafficking” or “coercion”.

I’m pretty sick of the exploitation versus empowerment paradigm when talking about the sex industry. I’ve made a decision to not engage with it, actually, because of how pissed off it makes me. And how much it’s nothing but rhetoric that doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

My concern is that the people pushing for this bill are not engaging with the consequences of making a lot of people into felons. I also think this kind of political maneuvering is just that: a political maneuver. It doesn’t address the myriad of problems and oppressions and resistance strategies among sex workers.


So there’s a proposed change to the legislation in Illinois to increase penalties for pimping and soliciting or patronizing. I don’t feel like getting into why more laws doesn’t mean better right now, but I wanted to document a phenomenon I noticed.

In Illinois, you don’t commit prostitution, you are a prostitute. The criminal code says: “Any person who performs, offers or agrees to perform any act of sexual penetration (defined in sec. 12-12) for any money, property, token, object, or article or anything of value, or any touching or fondling of the sex organs of one person by another person for any money, property, token, object, or article or anything of value for the purpose of sexual gratification”.

Compare that to Arizona: “‘Prostitution’ means engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement with any person for money or any other valuable consideration.”

What’s that about? Why in some states do you commit prostitution and why in some states are you a prostitute?


Home repairs

02Mar10

I could make a whole blog bitching about other blogs. (Wait, have I?) Exhibit A: a post on Feministing about home repairs. The post struck me as gee this sucks, but help me brainstorm solutions. The author chimed in on the comment threads to say that no one was acknowledging sexism and making it all about her to fix. Which rubbed me the wrong way. And then got me thinking.

Home repairs are typically guy things, yeah? For all my mother’s weird anti-feminist, Christian fundementalism, she always expected me to do shit myself. Why pay someone for shit you can do yourself? It was often an issue of my family simply not being able to afford a contractor to re-tile the bathroom or re-carpet the living room. I learned when I first started driving how to change my own oil.

And pretty much everything else I’ve learned how to do I did by just doing it. Oddly enough, not in spite of sexism, but because of sexism. I hate dealing with repair-dudes and car mechanic-dudes. I wooed my lady over (I hope) by fixing her toilet. And that was just by buying the shit for the toilet and working it out.

So the whole thing kind of begs the question of structure versus agency: the structure of home repair is sexist, while the subversive woman learns to do shit herself. At least that is the structure of the argument. But I don’t know how much agency we all have individually and I don’t know how much we can blame to structure for not figuring shit out ourselves.

I guess this is also the place to talk about my antithetical belief to figuring it the fuck out: why do it when you can pay someone? Weird, huh? This one comes from my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who was married to an electrician. It was in her self-interest that people not try to rewire themselves! So I feel like I have a toolkit that lets me figure shit out when I want to (fixing the toilet of the woman I am trying to woo) and pay for it when I want to (which would be shit like changing my oil because goddamn is my garage nasty).

Hell, if people did “it” themselves all the time, I’d be out of a job! (Obvious sex work joke.)


In no particular order, some things that piss me off:

People who flick cigarettes without looking. I was walking on a busy sidewalk today and the dude in front of me flicked his cigarette backward without looking and nearly burned my damn leg. What the hell?

People who can’t talk on the phone or text and walk. I find the general level of everyone texting all the time annoying, but seriously. Stop walking to text. Or use your peripheral vision. But do not run into me and act put off by me.

Facebook groups that promote violence against sex workers. Most of them have been started by high school students. As if we don’t have enough trouble.

The pressure to “come out” as a whore. I could write a blog entry about this. I feel like some activists expect or are upset when some of us don’t come out or selectively come out. I have all the respect in the world for whores who are out, out, out, but that is not right for me at this time in my life.

Dudes at the gym who grunt, guard the free weights, spit in the water foundation, or ask me if I need help on the weight machines. Oh, god, the grunting. Do you really think I’m going to fuck you because you sound like a Guernsey calving? And also: yes, I am a girl. This does not mean I am incapable of lifting weights like teh big menz.

Chicks at the gym who hang out on equipment, dress inappropriately, destroy the magazines, or leave their long hair down. The gym is not where you go to mate. And you’re going to catch your hair in that weight machine! And also: I feel weirdly socialist about magazines at the gym. They are communal! Please put them in the wrack in a manner such that they are not ripped to hell.

Drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians in designated areas. Hi, crosswalk, motherfucker. Anyone who has ever been on a windy street in Chicago in the winter will tell you that if you are in a warm car, pausing is not going to kill you. I promise. Failing to pause may kill me. Not just from cold. If you hate the idea of pedestrians, don’t drive in the city.

Running out of wine. OH MY GOD. UGH.


Screening

12Feb10

I really try to be a fairly understanding pro. I really do. But sometimes I get super pissed off about people who are reluctant to go through my screening process. It tells me either they really don’t give a shit about my safety or that they’re utter novices to this whole visiting sex workers thing.

I get that giving your sensitive information to a total stranger can be totally weird, which is why I’m understanding. But of all the things I could do to you (and seriously, what is that? call your wife? why the fuck would I care about that? is she going to pay me?), anything you can do to me is probably worse (rape, murder, arrest, etc). And really, would you really want to see a professional who wasn’t careful? Think about it. Some psychotic killer could show up while we’re meeting and kill us both, all because I wasn’t careful.

And I’m super lucky because I’m privileged enough to be able to say no to jerks who won’t go through my screening process.


Sex injuries

09Feb10

The other day, I was masturbating with a new toy (the Rabbit– awesome!) and when I stood up, I managed to walk sideways into my door frame out of sheer post-orgasmic inability to function. I bruised the hell out of my head, right above my ear. It’s where the muscle that controls your jaw is covered in hair. Now, whenever I chew, it hurts. Some might say it’s god’s divine punishment for sinfully pleasuring myself.

Whatever sex is or isn’t, acting as though sex isn’t something super hilarious and kind of baffling is a bit short-sighted. (I mean, why the fuck do we care so much about sex to the point of full-blown hysteria?) We’re all had sex injuries. Like the time I asked my then-regular partner to cum on my face (yes, I asked him; yes, I liked the submissive aspects of it; no, I’m not still into it) and he managed to get ejaculate in my fucking eye. That shit burns. For hours.

What’s your best sex injury story? Did you break the bed, the penis, or the lamp?


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?