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Dear Prime Minster Dreamy: Reconsidering A Crush After Bedford V. Canada

Justin Trudeau, Canadian Liberal Party leader, prince of Morgan's heart, and...whorephobe? (Photo by Sean Kilpatrick via the Canadian Press)
Justin Trudeau, Canadian Liberal Party leader, prince of Morgan’s heart, and…whorephobe? (Photo by Sean Kilpatrick via the Canadian Press)

Dear Prime Minister Dreamy (AKA Justin Trudeau),

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:

Sex Work Snobbery

One of my favorite aspects of sex work is the camaraderie. I often feel that I’m in a secret society; I’ve had people pull me aside and confess their own sex work past (or present) after learning of my own. There’s a level of honesty and candidness I assume with other sex workers that I don’t have with civilian friends whom I’ve known for longer. The girl I met on my first day of webcam, eight years ago? We still talk on the phone. The girl I met through an agency once I started doing in-person work? I was the officiant at her wedding. I find sex worker bonds to be more durable and more intense than the connection I form—or rather, don’t form—with civilians.

But it’s not all group hugs and gossip sessions. There’s a tremendous amount of classism and snobbery among sex workers. It runs both ways, existing within each facet of the industry and also cutting across job descriptions. That means an incall escort may trash talk street workers and turn up her nose at strippers, while a massage girl might think that her colleagues who offer more than handjobs are super skanky and dominatrixes aren’t “real” sex workers. The pressure of stigmatization and often operating in environments where one’s boundaries aren’t respected leads to this demonization of co-workers and other sex workers on the whole, when instead we should direct the frustation where it belongs: on bad laws, bad bosses, and bad customers.

October 22nd And After: The Movement Against Police Violence And Black Sex Workers

The author in a selfie with the Red Umbrella Project team. (Photo courtesy of Cherno Biko)
The author in a selfie with the Red Umbrella Project team. (Photo courtesy of Cherno Biko)

Every year since 1995, thousands of people all over the world have joined forces in an effort to end police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of our lives. In America, yesterday, October 22nd, has become known as the National Day to End Police Brutality. These efforts were launched by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and have historically focused on violence perpetrated against men.

As the developer of the hashtag #BlackTransLivesMatter and a national partner of the larger #BlackLivesMatter network, I must point out that the violence against folks like us manifests in many different ways and hits black cis and trans women the hardest.

The Road From Sugarbaby To Escort

My SA profile
My SA profile

When you’re 23 and getting divorced after 5 years of staying home, the only logical thing to do is to look for a sugar daddy, no? It made perfect sense to me; I wasn’t interested in a serious relationship, but being taken out on nice dates and having help with the bills seemed like a win-win situation. I truly believed there were these handsome 30- and 40-something year old men who were just happily fluttering $100 bills in pretty girl’s faces; that they deemed it their responsibility to financially support young women.  My career in sex work started this naively.

Those illusions clashed with the reality of being a sugar baby as soon as I met “Jim,” who convinced me that he was a generous sponsor after a dinner at Beni Hana and an offer of a winter coat. I spent our dates high out of my mind, so my perception of things was undoubtedly flawed, and my memories of him confuse me to this day. But as I recall, we would go to his house where we had Thai delivered every time I came over. He was in such a rush to get upstairs that he would hurry me through dinner. His “son’s room” was like no child’s room I have ever seen – it looked to be straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue with not one thing out of place. At the time, I didn’t think he really had a son, and looking back it makes me wonder what else he could have been lying about.

Each time we saw each other he gave me a couple hundred dollars, except for once. The last time we spent together, he slapped me across the face while we were in the middle of sex and began what he believed was dirty talk. “You like that, don’t you?  You like being my dirty little whore?” I was so shocked I didn’t respond at all, and when he dropped me off, he gave me $60 “for gas money this week.” Based on the agreement that he would give my girlfriend $40 each time for babysitting, this meant I ended up with $20 for being smacked around. I could discuss how much my sitter needed to be paid, but talking about my own compensation, for whatever reason, was too uncomfortable. For the first and last time, I had wrongly assumed that a man “just knew” what the magic number was.

Deeply Leisured (2014)

QueenieBonBon via
Queenie Bon Bon (Photo via the Melbourne Fringe website.)

Deeply Leisured, a one-woman show by local Melbourne talent Queenie Bon Bon that details the joys and battles of being a sex worker, played during this season’s 2014 Fringe Festival. I was fortunate enough to see one of the six nights of Queenie’s show—her final performance was last weekend. It’s always fun supporting a fellow sex worker (or a “co-ho,” as Queenie would say) with whatever they’re doing outside of their work, but I didn’t think it would be this much fun. Queenie narrated her short stories on her experiences as a stripper, brothel worker, and all-around fantasy maker. The performance took place in Melbourne’s historically queer Hares & Hyenas bookshop in trendy Fitzroy. She sat, illuminated in symbolic red light, on a desk decorated by books and miscellaneous items. She looked like a modern-day Aphrodite, with her beehive and dangling condom-pack earrings.

It was enthralling and relieving to listen to her hilarious diary-entry style recollections. Her portrayal of sex work, while still being personal to her, seemed to encompass every thought and feeling I’ve ever had about the profession. She managed to put a comedic spin on even the smallest details; from having worlds collide when your butt plug tumbles over your toothbrush in your bag while you’re on the phone with mum to stringing out a service to savor the opportunity to pick the brain of a knowledgeable client. Navigating the simplest things, like choosing which song you’re going to jerk your client off to, are skills specific to sex work, requiring a thought process non-sex workers are unaware of. All sorts of situations require sex worker troubleshooting, like suddenly having stage fright during a golden shower upon finding yourself gazing down at your client’s expectant eyes and ajar mouth.