I have been so very blessed to have all of my sex work advocacy start off in a highly accepting academic setting.
I clearly go to art school.
In January when the legalization (not decriminalization) of marijuana passed, the familiar pungent odor of cigarette smoke quickly shifted to a floral herby, well herb. When Sanders was defeated by Clinton we mourned openly and publicly for our socialist utopia, where perhaps art would be a livable career choice.
Essentially my constant climate is one where, whenever I get some itching need to advocate the rights of sex workers in some new and exciting way, I have a willing and accepting crowd to bounce my ideas off of.
The most scathing commentary I have received on these efforts was after a presentation of Juno Mac’s TedTalkX and discussion of the benefits of decriminalization, a student remarked that there, “Really was no good answer to the problem of prostitution”. Before I could really blink, other pupils used their new formed vocabulary to ask her if she’d been paying any attention to all I had just said. It seems the more I talk about sex work, the more people want to know. I’ve been asked a fair amount of questions by my professors and peers, the majority of which have been kind and thought provoking. I’ve been asked to give lectures or focus the topic of a project on the knowledge I have on the subject. Art school has afforded me such comforting environs in which to speak up that in our more current internet climate I feel a bit out of depth.
Let me start by iterating why I’m so comfortable discussing the legislation that governs my field. For many it’s a task that can feel, or out right is, dangerous. Opening ourselves up to the scrutiny and stigma society places on sex work is daunting, scary, and all around not a fun time. Especially when you have absolutely no meter for how they will react to such information. I’m still amazed by the polarity of sheer curiosity and excitement versus reproachful disdain that I receive when I bring up these topics, worse yet when they finally put two and two together that I, am also in the industry.
These choices were far from my own, in fact I had no choice in the very public knowledge of my private career choice. A “concerned” friend of the past rang in a call to my mother shortly after I opened up to them. It stings for a minute but like a band-aid once you rip it off the pain subsides.
My mother is now my greatest ally, sure, she still won’t call her senators to alert them of the unconstitutionality of SESTA/FOSTA. However, that brave woman will stand by me all night for gallery opening when I choose to display art about others experiences in sex work. She’ll answer curious questions from close friends and utter strangers, and wear a smile when puzzled faces get caught on the vulvic painting I turned into a pin for her, carefully placed on her bosom.
I’m grateful for having been outed, I get to live an open and free life where I feel comfortable discussing my career choice and the difficulties that are involved with that choice.
Any chance to spread thoughtful, well researched information is a chance to spread social change. I invite you to use the information your peers and providers share with you to help incite that change.