It’s ok that I call you Prime Minister Dreamy, right? I know that you’re not Prime Minister yet, but I think we feel close enough that I can call you by pet names, because, as I’m sure you remember, we almost met twice.
I’m writing to your eminent good-lookingness in regards to a variety of comments you made these past few weeks on a subject near and dear to my own heart, the legal status of sex work in Canada. We should go through a short recap of events leading up to your comments, just to make sure we’re on the same page before we get to the climax of my letter.
I’ve been following your non-threatening boyish good looks, boxing matches with Conservative politicians, and targeting of the gay vote for some time now with rapt attention. So, of course I was curious about what your response would be to the Supreme Court of Canada’s brilliant decision in the Bedford v. Canada case this past December that unanimously struck down three key passages in the Canadian Criminal Code around sex work. I’m sure you’re very busy campaigning while maintaining such perfectly sculpted hair, so I’ll just remind you that these three passages are:
One of the more difficult aspects of living as a sex worker is never knowing exactly whom you can trust. Sometimes even allies can say offensive things or break confidentiality. In the wake of such indiscretions, it’s sex workers themselves who are left to navigate that broken trust and the increased vulnerability that comes along with it. I know this pattern leaves me wary, and it is perhaps this wariness that led many sex workers to mistrust the Give Forward fundraising campaign initiated on behalf of Heather, a sex worker in West Virginia who survived an attack at her apartment by a serial killer posing as a client.
The Give Forward campaign was launched shortly after the attack on July 18th by a man and a woman local to the area who knew each other, but who did not know Heather before Falls’ death. In an article on The Daily Dot by Mary Emily O’Hara from July 31st, the woman involved with the campaign, Laura Gandee, is quoted: “I got a text message from a friend telling me that Heather was hungry, upset, and feeling all alone in her apartment, and asking me if I could I take her some food and go comfort her…Of course I said I would, if she was willing to let me.” The article doesn’t reveal who this friend was, and while it implies that Heather was willing to let a stranger into her home after the trauma of Falls’ attack there, it does not indicate her comfort with Gandee’s visit in her own words. Gandee went on to say that, “I have spoken to a number of people who are part of a movement to ensure sex workers’ rights. At first they were very skeptical of our campaign because they couldn’t believe anyone from outside their circle would step up to help someone in their industry after a tragedy like this. I told them West Virginians are different.”
Gandee’s words conjure images of any number of rescuers sex workers have known, armed with ostensibly good intentions, and confident in their own efficacy in situations with which they have little familiarity. While many cultures in the United States and elsewhere, including those of West Virginia and other parts of the South, value loyalty and neighborliness in a crisis, it’s equally true is that sex workers often live in dual spaces of invisibility and hypervisibility. Many of us operate in the underground economy. Often, our friends and family don’t know about our work until we are arrested, outed, or otherwise thrust into the spotlight. Our work, and entire parts of our lives, are unknown to people one day and revealed the next to be judged by anyone with a half-formed opinion on sex work.
[I]n a culture trashy with raunch yet clenched with righteousness, the sex worker persists and insists. She is lamented by some feminists, lauded by others, lectured by religious groups, legislated by governments; monitored by health services, spurned by mortgage brokers, envied or condemned by friends, invited to write memoirs by publishers, assisted by outreach services; must live under one name and work by another. The main part of this list is in passive voice, for this is how people often see the prostitute: a passive dupe. […]
This a crux of the matter: who speaks? Who knows? Is a sex worker herself the best arbiter of whether or not she is degraded, or is judgement better offered forensically from afar?
Here’s a little Midwestern scandal with a tough old-school lesbian stripper and Republican hypocrisy about sex and sex work. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has been outed as a creepy PL (pathetic loser) who used to be a strip club regular. When he ran into his old ATF, Tammy Chapman, he asked her if she wanted to move into the condo his campaign fund pays for. Chapman was so disturbed (or something) she went public. From the Riverfront Times:
Chapman says she’s speaking out because she’s disgusted by Kinder’s behavior, both in the mid-’90s and today. “He uses his political business card to get women,” she says.