Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Dress Like Yr Going to A Funeral..."

... is what P told me on the phone. When I asked her what kind of event this was, what to expect, she said,

It's more of a... *formal*.. event. Like dressing up. I mean, like fancy. Well, you don't have to wear a prom dress or anything. Or, er, a tuxedo, but um.. well, you know, its more *formal*..

Very cute. It made me laugh.

Shoot, you mean I *shouldn't* wear my prom dress then?, I smiled.

What she could have just said was, Can you dress less crusty, and please behave yrself tonight.

Because last night, I went to a Democratic Fundraiser dinner! In solidarity with our Proposition K campaign, nine of us wined and dined it with a couple hundred people that I have less and less patience for. Yes, that's right, a $150-a-seat, all-American whitebread Dem experience! But hey, we're in SF, so there were definitely a few black and brown people too. Yay for diversity!

But, you know me, I'll rarely turn down free food and the opportunity for a new experience! I knew it would probably happen, but I wanted to shoot myself in the head after about 2 minutes of arriving. Give me a goddamn glass of wine, and stand next to the other person in the room who looked as if she felt as awkward as I did at that moment. She's a 17 year old college student interning for Nancy Pelosi, and I'm a 27 year androgynous hooker anarchist, and yet we found solace in our common ground:

These people give me the creeps.

So I stand there, tactfully stiff, and smile, secretly feeling like my very presence there is a fraud, and the ruse seeping through the clenched grin of my teeth must be giving me away. I don't belong here. I really don't. But for the sake of the game, I pretend that I do.

The hour and a half of 'democratic' hot air from speakers that ensued had my eyeballs falling out my head in loathe boredom. There is something about the monotonous drone of a politician's voice.. And that bitch Kamala Harris had the gall to stand at that podium, look directly at our table, and tell the entire room to vote No on Proposition K.

The proponents of Proposition K are saying that decriminalizing prostitution in San Francisco will create a safer environment - and that is simply not true. So I urge you all in this room to please, vote no on Proposition K.

Some bullshit like that. What a fucking jip. This wasn't a goddamn debate, and she took advantage of the situation to take a malicious and slanderous dig at us to our faces that left us defenseless to respond. R almost flipped her shit, but it was a comfort to know that there were other people in the room who hissed at her in our defense, and that this scene probably won us some points in the end.

But its funny to note that our hooker table paid twice as much - $1500! - to attend an event that we were not even invited to, and they sat us in the far back corner of the room.

It's so the filthy prostitutes won't contaminate the rest of the room
, I heard a neighboring ally joke with a smirk.

But i don't want to be a hater, and i really do appreciate the opportunity to have experienced this $150-a-seat event for free, even if its not my thing. It was good to sit at a table with my comrades. Its a strange feeling to be working for something that i feel so strongly about within a system that i completely disagree with. The shady realist and the cynical idealist in me are at contradictory odds, and i have to concentrate to keep my anger in check.

My life and my mind live so far outside this system of socio-political values.. I know full well how to work within it, and I will when I have to. But no sir, I don't like it.

Taking the Pledge

Taking the Pledge is a 13-minute film featuring sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more! They describe the problems created by the 'anti-prostitution pledge' required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds.

In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles. Watch in full-screen mode to read the subtitles.

Produced by the Network of Sex Work Projects.

Erin Siegal shot the interviews and edited the film.

Thanks to W for sharing it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only Skimming the Surface of Human Trafficking and Decriminalization

I have been thinking a lot about the complexities within human trafficking itself. I feel that much of the Prop K campaign comes from a place of sf empowered sex worker privilege - 'the right to choose an occupation, and the right to be able to do it in safer conditions without fear of arrest etc - and oh, of course we are against human trafficking.'

The way that its addressed often seems to imply that all human trafficking is coerced, when in fact, its not always the case. There are people who voluntarily allow themselves to be trafficked - especially in poorer parts of the world - because it's the only opportunity that presents itself towards fighting their shitty situations in life. So it becomes a consequence and a reaction to poverty, but a choice - which - because it remains criminalized, persecuted, and pushed underground - carries much higher risk of violence, rape, coercion, extortion, battery, arrest, and deportation. Getting 'shipped back' to their personal hells, or leaving a black mark on their record that permanently affects their ability to get a 'straight' job for the rest of their lives. Or fill in some other catch-22 here that keeps people 'in their place' rather than providing services to address the actual conditions of their needs.

In the bigger picture, the coercion seems to stem more from the unjust systems that allow these kinds of trades to flourish and remain a desirable option. And yes, the trafficker is a shameless opportunist - and probably also a big asshole.

So whats a ho to do? Sometimes, simply treading water on the daily is a full time job that leaves little time or resources for anything else. And the extreme incongruities within the legal, legislative, economic, health, and education systems (and our faux-dem/rep capitalist big business government spreading its global parasitic disease as a whole) maintain the social homeostasis in the distribution of wealth, power, and righteous morality that are killing us all.

Yeah, the first step to untangling this colossal mess is to decriminalize, but I am afraid that if Prop. K passes, people will feel contented with the immediate gratification of this victory, and disappear back into the woodwork. Which could potentially fuck everyone over since it would be the most precarious and impressionable time that could potentially define the direction that this movement will head next. And what exactly is that direction?

Desiree Alliance really brought to my attention how difficult it is to build bridges between all the different communities of sex workers, but also how completely necessary it is to do it. Because this is a conversation that we all need to have together to figure out a strategy that works for everyone. Not just privileged, idealistic sex workers like me.

A Tickle in My Throat

My throat has been feeling funny, and I can't tell if it is because I am fighting germs, or if my voice is starting to drop. Its been kinda scratchy and low all day, and I feel like I need to talk more quietly to avoid my voice from cracking.

Its exciting, and perplexing to think about where this ride will end up. Like the surprise in the Crackerjack box, I wonder what gifts that I've been wishing for will be granted through the tip of that 23 gauge. My little brother's voice is really low now, but my dad is a tenor in his chinese community choir. Its partly genetics, and its partly lifestyle, and I've sure as hell smoked loads, and downed many a flask of whiskey in my time.

I feel I may not be able to hide my inner crossdressing queer boy faggotry much longer (physically, anyway - i mean, who am i trying to kid?). The thought of it scares me a little, and I still haven't made sense of how I'm going to explain this to my family and 'straight' job co-workers. Will I still be able to pay my rent once I start doing sex work as a FTM boy? I'm really good at procrastinating about things I don't want to deal with. But like any good procrastinator, I've learned to land on my feet when it matters the most, full force, when things come crashing to the ground.

Waiting for change to come. And I don't fucking mean Obama.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote for Obama Because McCain Sucks More

This is how I follow the campaign. Get crunk, booty!