Occupy History/Occupy June.

Well, hello. I got an up-tick on the hit counter that made leaving the house temporarily difficult. “I’ll just click refresh one more time! One more time!” Do say hey, lovely, disconcerting strangers.

The last time I saw Thierry and Luca, they were fairly bouncy with glee at having unilaterally declared June to be Sex Worker History Month. And so it is! Go forth and multiply that knowledge; let’s make this happen. As Amber Hollibaugh says, “I believe that history matters, that it is one of the few tools within our grasp to re-constitute our understanding of our individual human lives [ … ] and our larger collective experiences”. Aw yeah! I want that on a BANNER.

No, but seriously, we’ve gotta hang on to, unearth, and re-create the alternative and marginal histories that root us more securely in the present. This stuff is a direct link to  identity, community, power, and ways to change the definitions of power, ways to up-end the bullshit and talk about hope. Or, as I explained to my brother last night, “I think on some level, my crush on Rebekah Brooks is a signal from my unconscious that I need more strong female role models in my life”. I’m like a baby bird that has inopportunely imprinted ‘mother’ onto the first thing it saw upon emerging from the egg, even though that first thing is actually (oops!) a weasel. Let’s pretend that ‘imprinting ‘mother” is the same as ‘big ol’ girl-crush’ (paging Dr Freud), and that analogy is literally true. (I actually have plenty of strong female role models in my life – such as, my best friends (hi yous), and Kathleen Hanna. But I think in this instance my brain is seeking out the UNDISGUISED SIGNIFIERS of traditional power as wielded by a woman, and Rebekah, with her weird combination of running the world + hair like a delicious Medusa, fits the bill. My unconscious is not subtle.)

Anyway! Back to the point. Throughout the month of June, I’m thinking of writing a whole load of stuff about sex worker badasses and sex work-related badasserie from the past. These people and events/collectives will include: Kathleen Hanna (fucking duh), Colette (I love, love, love Angela Carter on the topic of Colette, talking about the legibility of all those years as a stripper in Colette’s writing, how she “… celebrated the status quo of femininty, not only its physical glamour but also its capacity to withstand the boredom of patriarchy [ … ] She is like certain shop stewards who devote so much time to getting up management’s nose that they lose sight of the great goals of socialism”. Hee!), Maya Angelou, Andrea Dworkin (ooh! Did you just double-take? I actually kind of love Dworkin: I think she is a fantastic author of political prose, probably one of the best of the 20th century. When I read her, I feel energised by the quality of her writing, whereas when I read, say Kat Banyard, I can never decide whether its the terrible politics or the terrible, sub-hack, psychology-undergraduate-essay-style prose [which veers wildly between po-faced pseudo-objectivity, and poorly expressed attempts at what I can only assume is supposed to be ‘passionate anger’] that depresses me more.)

… where was I? Oh yes. Those are all the people I’m definitely going to write about – now, events: the occupation of the church in Lyon in 1975, and in King’s Cross in 1980, for starters. I want this stuff to be mainly positive, but I might do a thing looking at something Laura Augustin talks about in her book, Sex at The Margins, on how the rise of middle-class feminism in the latter half of the 19th century led to a whole discourse of virtue and temperance, deploying the supposed universality of women’s superior moral traits as a trojan horse for fucking over working class women, and in particular, ‘othering’ sex workers. Because I think the prohibitionists see history as a kind of bad Victorian oil painting in which the past is static and they are perpetually on the side of Good, and I’d like to push back on that – not only are they not on the side of Good, they’re not some ahistorical saviour-movement like St George stepping out of a cloud above a battlefield; they came about as a result of a particular set of circumstances in a particular time and place, and by tracing those circumstances we can locate the origin of a bunch of problems that are still very much in evidence today.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m interested in further suggestions for this: I’d like to write about historical badasses/badasseries who are based in Scotland (or, oh! Glasgow! That would be ace), to which end I might use the SCOT-PEP ‘history of the sex workers rights movement in Edinburgh’ as a jumping off point, but further suggestions of all kinds are very welcome. I might write about some men, although, to be honest, I’ll probably mainly focus on women (because I love them). But suggestions for male sex worker badasses, please! And spread the word that we’re occupying June with our amazing role models and our amazing models for different ways of living. Fuck yeah, sex workers.


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