Craig invited me to his 6th birthday party when I was a kid, I was the only girl invited out of five children and he bluntly said ‘bring your transformers’. Now I had a small but sweet transformer collection, my mum budgeted for my obsession despite a few Mattel gender-norm comments from others….
In interviews, Dr. Angelou used the term “prostitute” to refer to her previous employment without rancor or shame. She spoke candidly to her family about it. She told her mother, brother, and son she would redact the information from the book, but only if they were uncomfortable with it. She had no issue whatsoever with speaking her truth. So why do we not know about it, save for hushed whispers and the occasional salacious reference in reports about and interviews of her? What’s so wrong with our beloved and lovely Maya Angelou having been a sex worker and brothel manager?
Respectability politics no doubt play a role in the erasure of her history as a sex worker. With a wide brush, details on it have been painted over by those who won’t acknowledge such a thing, brushing past it to talk about her awards and accolades. But she had no problem stating plainly: “There are many ways to prostitute one’s self.”
With a few notable exceptions, people do not get into the sex industry for reasons that have anything to do with desire for sex, any more than a person enters janitorial work out of a love for cleaning. The exchange between worker and customer is a complicated negotiation of need, illusion, denial, boundaries, and specific neuroses; but central to the exchange is cash. By keeping the debate about sex work focused on sex, and not work, the true nature of the issue is obscured. The arguments rage around ideas of obscenity, appropriate and inappropriate sexualities, representations of femininity, notions of morality: important issues in their own right, but in the context of the sex work debate they function more as a smoke screen that keeps us from confronting what’s really going on. In this framework women are sluts instead of workers, or victims instead of cognizant participants in an economy. The real question here is, why are our options so lame? What are the economic realities that make the sex industry the most viable choice for many people?
That’s where feminism comes in. That’s where outrage becomes appropriate. The wage gap, welfare ‘reform’ sexist and racist hiring practices, the decline in the real value of the minimum wage, lack of universal access to healthcare or rehab services, and the widening disparity between the rich and poor: these are the things that undermine the social fabric and degrade the status of women more than me tramping around in heels could ever hope to. We have to ask ourselves, what is so compelling about blaming naked women for their own oppression? What kinds of confrontation are women avoiding by interrogating each other rather than actual power structures?
”—Janelle Galazia, “Staged”, in Annie Oakley (ed) Working Sex: Sex Workers Write about a Changing Industry (via ntafraidofruins)
RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, is the first organisation in Australia to be governed entirely by refugees and asylum seekers. RISE consists of over 30 different refugee communities in Australia and exists to enable refugees and asylum seekers…
RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, is the first organisation in Australia to be governed entirely by refugees and asylum seekers…
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”—Scott Woods, 5 Things No One Is Actually Saying About Ani Difranco or Plantations (via focusthelens)