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Friday, March 16, 2012

Rape As An Occupational Hazard

It's been quite a day...a really fucking long and annoying day. Where do I begin? For starters, I made a HUGE mistake by promoting this blog on a certain Facebook wall which will remain nameless ( begins with "Femi" and ends in "ism!"). This was hours ago, and there are still women fighting on the page. I had countless women telling me that I'm contributing to the patriarchy, that what I'm doing is disgusting, that women in the sex industry NEVER have a choice, the ridiculous list goes on.  It was hard to pick just ONE highlight, but here it is, carefully selected by yours truly:

Page: Prostitution will ALWAYS exist. Always has, always will. It makes much more sense to legalize it, regulate it, and ensure that the women are being STD tested regularly, and have the same rights that other workers are entitled to. It's a basic harm-reduction model.

Angry woman from the FB page: Bestiality will ALWAYS exist. Always has, always will. It makes much more sense to legalize it, regulate it, and ensure that the animals are being STD tested regularly, and have the same rights that other animals are entitled to.

Page: Comparing women to animals- that's the best thing I've seen yet. Here's the difference- animals can't give consent. They can't speak. Women can. Did you seriously just make that comparison?

 Wow. So, that's all I'm going to say about that. Now, I know what you're thinking- "Really? Is that all she's complaining about?" But wait for it...wait. It got worse.

There I was, on my bed with my lovely dog, wasting my precious time arguing with these ridiculous people on some Facebook page. I was already feeling pretty bad about my Friday afternoon (and my lack of a life). Then, my mother came over.

Normally, my mother's visits are pleasant. Although she's pretty conservative, she manages to tolerate my constant rants about sex workers, porn, feminism, dildos, etc. I know that she doesn't quite understand what I'm doing it or why I'm doing it, but at least she always appeared to respect it. Well, today she decided to share her real opinion with me-

That there is no merit in what I am doing. She can't even BELIEVE that a school would allow a student to do their dissertation on women in the sex industry, and that she doesn't understand why I don't "care as much about all of the other women in the world who are being abused, just the prostitutes."

Whoa, hey there. I was just trying to fry up some fucking tofu for lunch, and now I have to deal with this? Rather than throw a pan at the kitchen wall and burn the apartment down, I remained calm.

"Um...Mom...aren't sex workers women too? Don't they count? What makes them any less important than any other population of women that I could be studying?"

Mom: "Well, it's wrong that they get raped, but they should sort of know going into it that the job is dangerous, that it might happen. Just like cops know what they're getting themselves into. There's plenty of other women who get abused but you only care about the porn stars and hookers." 

Me: (Lost my shit)

Ok, not really. I actually remained calm (it was difficult, trust me). I tried to give her a crash course on rape myths, stigma, blah blah blah. It didn't end well.

I emailed her a link to this blog about a week ago, because I am proud of it. I've worked hard on this and I know that a lot of my readers appreciate my efforts, and I appreciate my readers. I know that she never bothered to open the link. If she had, maybe she would understand the merit in what I am trying to do.

Oh well, fuck it. I guess I just wanted to vent. Thank you to everyone who has been sharing this blog, and to my dog, who helps to keep me sane.

The silver lining in this cloud: I'll be on a plane in about 24 hours, headed towards palm trees and sun.




  1. Big hugs.

    One thing that's helped me when encountering the "occupational hazard" argument is mentioning that with cops and soldiers, encountering violence is an intrinsic part of the job. Soldiers fight in wars; cops actively interfere with armed robberies.

    With sex work, violence and assault - even sexual assault - are not actually an intrinsic part of the job. Yes, we enter locked rooms with potentially violent strangers for a living, but wait.

    Think of other professions where this occurs: therapists, real estate agents. Female dominated professions that involve being alone in close quarters with strangers without the perception of an expectation of rape.

    What makes the difference?

    Therapists and real estate agents are not seen primarily as targets. Sex workers are specifically seen as *safe* targets, because our profession isn't respected. Because it's commonly assumed that we won't go to the police, to the hospital, to court... and that if we do, no one will follow up.

    It's assumed that we have no dignity and no voice -

    - and this state of affairs came about specifically because sex work is a traditionally female dominated profession, and because our society uses stigma around female ownership of sexuality and fears of violence to control and shame all sex workers.

    All women are policed with and affected by slut stigma and whore stigma that reflects how our society treats sex workers. Help sex workers and all women benefit.

    Thank you for your work as an ally.

  2. Sabrina- thank you for being a reader. I COMPLETELY agree with your statement about helping sex workers, and how this helps all women. The worst part is that SO many women in society don't understand this point. Society tends to think of sex workers as their own breed of human. "The good girls" versus "the slutty sex workers."

  3. Not sure if you're already a member of the private facebook group, but you may want to check it out if you haven't already. There's over 100 people in the group, some remain anonymous and some do not. It's a great support group of individuals who all believe in this cause. xoxo

  4. Sabrina- never mind, I just saw your name in the FB group :)

  5. Australia has better policies for sex workers. Much more enlightened. Check out:

  6. Madeleine, thanks for sharing that! xoxo Page

  7. I think there maybe a hidden fear among women that they will lose their men to a hooker. So sex workers are competition and a threat in their minds. . . And you know how caddy women can get.

    Not to mention the religions love to make sex wrong. So the bitter unfulfilled women of that ilk can feel superior because they are taught that the body is sinful and they shouldn't enjoy sex.

    Don't take it personally. You are doing good work. ;-)

  8. I just think you're awesome :) And I lose my shit with my mother all the time! You're doing fantastic work, and it really is appreciated. Love Beck xx

  9. PS I think decriminalisation is much better than legalisation. In Australia we donot have mandatory STI testing, yet our workers get tested and practice safer sex within their own autonomy and our sex workers have the one of the lowest rates of STI's in the world, and much lower than the general community. Hope all that made sense, very tired :) good night x

  10. Beck- thank you! We are all doing awesome work. Change happens very slowly, but I think with enough activism and enough voices, it will eventually happen. xoxo Page

  11. Excellent comment, Sabrina.

  12. Whether or NOT you think rape is an occupational hazard for sex workers, I would like to think that you are enlightened enough to KNOW that is a pit-poor excuse to commit violence against another... frankly it's a cheap shot, pathetic really. Ahhhhh look you have balls, then you understand I must kick them, RIGHT? It's your fault for having balls lol

    As for legalizing vs not legalizing, I have a hard time agreeing completely with both... I don't want the government telling me what I can and can not do with my body.. I also worry that legalization will further marginalize those who have already been systemically discriminated against ie drug users and people who are std+. Where do they go then?

    Plus I personally have a HUGE issue on paying taxes on $ I used my own body to make, I risk enough doing that, I don't want the Gov's dirty hands all over it lol I think decriminalization is good and on a side of that providing services to address addictions, trauma, raise awareness and various support services as needed.

    I also "lose my shit" with my mother all the time.. it's just come to a point it's healthier and better we don't communicate at all. Unfortunate for her but so reliving and nicer for me. Took me a long time to figure that out.

    Also with occupational hazard thing.... for you to say that (rape is an occupational) I can deduce your an asshole and in my opinion assholes have to deal with being punched in the face as a occupational hazard, would you like it if I punched you in the face and made up some stupid excuse for my behavior??? How is abuse an occupational hazard FOR ANY INDUSTRY??? To even explain that is to justify their stupidity... lol Your blog brings back a lot lol ~ DarkRayne

  13. Juvia- thank you for your reply. You're right about the legalization issue- there are pros and cons to both, so perhaps decriminalization makes the most sense. Either way, something needs to change because the current system isn't working. It seems like Canada is starting to make some real progress. I wonder if the United States will ever catch up...

  14. And yes, the occupational hazard thing is fucking ludicrous. That's like telling a hair dresser that they shouldn't be surprised when a customer stabs them in the face with a pair of scissors. "Well, you do work in a dangerous line of work, all those weapons around. What did you expect?"

  15. I'm sorry that you have to deal with fanatic feminist. Though I think prositution can be a dangerous, I think it should be legal also. One reason is what you mentioned above. If it was legal, it could be regulated, & the job could be safer. Safe from not only physical assault, but also from STDs. A 2nd reason is that people should have the right to do what they want, as long as they are not hurting other people. There are potential dangers in being a prositute, but there are also potential dangers in driving. But if it was legalized, prostitution would be less risky.

    Regarding what your mother said: While it's good to care about everyone, & do what you can, 1 person cannot do everything. Different people give back in their own way, & yours is by standing up sex worker's rights. Often people who say, "why don't you help such & such" are not helping anyone, & have no room to talk. People often ask of others what they are not willing to do themselves. I personally think what you are doing is great, & that sex worker's need their rights defended.