Ooof, I wanted to do a big post on trafficking, because I’ve seen this topic come up a lot recently (as ever), – on Jezebel, but also in the ‘statement of reasons’ attached to the proposed Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex Bill that’s heading towards the Scottish Parliament. (Yup, you guys: its here. This is it. At least now we’re not up against rumour, I suppose.) And (again, as ever), the topic is not perfectly illuminated by anti-sex work moralists, despite what they’d have you think about the pure flame of their righteous anger. However, the day has run away with me and soon I must leave the house, so you’ll just have to wait for those thoughts.
After writing Sunday’s post, I walked to Sainsbury’s in the glorious, glorious heat, thinking about how many sex workers I know go on to become therapists and counsellors. The link is kind of obvious: loads of the skills that sex work foregrounds (oh, stop snorting) are really transferable: listening, a non-judgemental attitude, boundaries. Just for instance. (I’ve actually looked into this a bit myself; it kind of draws together a couple of strands in terms of my double-life.) One of the things that I hugely admire about feminist second-wavers is that they fucking built so much: y’know, there was no women’s library, until a bunch of women were like, ‘hey, there’s a need for this’ and fucking MADE IT SO. There were no Rape Crisis Centres, and then there were. That is amazing. I remember reading somewhere a thing – I wish I could recall where – that was like, ‘if you think paedophilia is shit, thank a feminist’. Because child abuse really wasn’t talked about at all until the women’s movement in the ’70s and ’80s started kicking up shit about all the rape that happens within families. Second-wavers really changed (substantial bits of) a whole culture, through building institutions and discourses wholly from scratch. And basically, I’d like some of that ambition, pls. (But with less of the weird crap politics around sex workers, trans people, queer women, women of colour … Just less! of the weird crap politics. Please!)
The link between those two thoughts – about sex workers-turned-therapists, and second-waver ambition, is, wouldn’t it be great to create some kind of sex work equivalent to Rape Crisis, so you could call and speak to someone about whatever: legal stuff, or emotional stuff, or whatever. In confidence, to a person who was trained in counselling skills, and also knowledgeable about the various legal and social issues around sex work. Like you can with Rape Crisis: they’ll know about legal stuff as well as asking how you feel, you know.
That is an absurdly big, nebulous thought, especially given that I’m yet to organise a piss up in a brewery. (Furthermore, the technological context has changed hugely since the second wavers did their thing – so much sex worker information sharing is done on the internet now that I wonder if it would even make sense to take a technological step back into the 1600s by having a telephone-based service. Dunno.) However, it would be eminently possible and doable to sort out a directory of therapists with experience of (or sympathetic to) sex work, which would serve a double purpose of enabling sex workers to find appropriate, knowledgeable, sympathetic support (time, money, and assorted access barriers and stigmas providing), and supporting the work of former sex workers. Hmmm. That would be a start.