Thursday, April 30, 2009

SexWorkers and QueerFemmes: Dressed like a hooker and loving every bit of it.

I've been worrying about feminists whose politics stop short when it comes to sex worker rights. When talking about sex work, I want to replace terms of victimization and moral judgement with efforts toward labour rights and pro-choice attitudes. Who's with me?

Lovely Lady A. brilliantly writes: "i think, on a basic level, both sex workers and queerfeemes are devalued b/c of their undesirable (or rather extremely desirable?) performances of femininity. words that come to mind are: slut, bitch, loose, immoral, immodest, scandalous--not the kind of femininity that is accepted (i.e. desirable--or rather extremely undesirable), such as nice blouses and skirts from the softer side of sears."

Reluctance to be identified as someone who “dresses like a hooker” underscores an anti-sexworker stance. Number 1: There ain’t anything wrong with hookers so, Number 2: There ain’t anything wrong with “looking like” one. Can we please stop defining sex work within puritanical, patriarchal discourses of morality?

Who decided that clothing is always a measure/representation/expression of sexuality in the first place? Maybe a short skirt is no more/less sexual than a veil or a "softer-side-of-sears blouse." Maybe it’s more about our baggage—the stuff we associate with these items and choices of clothing that’s the problem. Maybe there’s a function to a short skirt that involves something other than sex and if/where it’s intended to involve sex then three cheers for that too!

It’s from a place of queerfemmery that I feel a responsibility and desire to be a sexworker activist/ally and to acknowledge, voice, and take pride in my own participation and complicity in ranging aspects of sexwork. Sex work, to me, is a form of labour that--like many other kinds of work--makes visible the interconnectedness of gender, body, race, class, etc. politics, privileges, and oppressions. I see sex work as an enormous and important industry. I value the labour of sex workers. This is NOT about morality. To admonish sex workers in any way, including, of course, clothing choices, is to link arms with those who want to police and regulate "moral" codes for femininity.

Lastly (for now), my body labours for wages everyday in my work as a teacher (and sometimes I wear short skirts while earning my state dollars). I "use" my body to do this work and I get paid for its use. I even get health insurance and summers off. So why don't sex workers get to share the same benefits? Right, we're trapped in the puritanically-collared land of the "free."

4 comments:

mike m said...

i would actually argue against--or push further--the idea of "function" you attach to short skirt. The choice to where a short skirt should not even have to be rationalized in terms of function (perhaps it serves one, but it shouldn't matter). The only issue, I think, is "pro-choice." If one chooses to wear a short skirt, then it ends there, right? Fuck function. Fuck morals. Perhaps fashion=choice...It's late, but I just wanted to point out that function, while a great thing to talk about, really should just be secondary to the choice to wear/not wear anything/at all. xo

threadbared said...

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(I wrote about my love for your blog at mine, too.)

Little Ms Whatshertights said...

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amy_d said...

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Threadbared's comments on her blog about yours are articulate and absolutely on-point!

Cheers!