Greta says it so I don’t have to

One of the frustrating things about this blog is that I have a lot of stuff I like to talk about, but limited time/energy/motivation to cover it all. I also worry about losing focus and having this Manifesto turn into a diffuse leftist whine-zine. The thing that is particularly frustrating is when I get e-mails from readers suggesting I talk about this article or that issue, and I have to tell them that I will try but can’t guarantee anything. For one reader, I had to give a definite ‘no’. The reader in question is someone who has worked with sex workers before and thought that since I was pro-fem and anti-racist, that the topic would be well-suited to my attention.

I had to confess to this person that while ze made a very valid point, I am not informed enough about the topic to do it justice, and it was a bit outside my wheelhouse. This exchange happened a few months ago and I have been quietly working behind the scenes to see if I can’t get some traction to open this issue up to the skeptic community here in Vancouver, since the city has many of its own demons to deal with when it comes to the sex trade.

The awesome thing about this blog is, now that I am an FTBling, I am surrounded by people who can do a much better job than I can of discussing these important issues:

The myth: Prostitutes and other sex workers can’t choose their customers. They have to have sex with anyone who offers to pay.

When you think about this for ten seconds, you should realize that it makes no sense. People in any other service profession can, and do, turn down customers they don’t want to work with. Therapists, car mechanics, gardeners, hair stylists, nannies… you name it. There are a few exceptions — emergency room doctors leap to mind — but for the most part, it’s understood that, as long as they’re obeying non-discrimination laws, service professionals reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. (My hair stylist has told me long, entertaining stories about clients she’s fired.) So it’s kind of weird to assume that sex workers would be the exception.

Greta Christina, one of my favourite writers (the first version of this post contained a 2-paragraph gushing elaboration of this fact – I decided to turn down the squee a bit) and fellow FTBorg hits 9/10 of my high points of the issue – sex workers as workers, sex workers as autonomous people, female sex workers as the victims of a cruel sexual double-standard – with her usual flair and sharp, critical eye. The one thing that didn’t make it into the piece was the way in which violence against sex-workers is disproportionately weighed against people of colour (PoCs) working as prostitutes, which tesselates nicely into her overall argument.

Anyway, I feel slightly less guilty about not spending more time on this topic, since I have a much more capable colleague to do it for me. Go read her stuff.

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  1. martha says

    “I also worry about losing focus and having this Manifesto turn into a diffuse leftist whine-zine.”

    I’d be surprised if that happened. I have been reading the last six or so of your posts and wishing your idealism and levelheadedness long life.

  2. says

    So it would probably come as a compliment if I were to say that I also love Greta Christina (quoting her in my wedding, for example), and your blog is one of the only blogs with such deep critical thinking and brilliant writing that I make certain to check it every day.

    In particular, I had always thought that atheist and skeptic groups did a good job of discussing misogyny and homophobia (though being far from perfect at handling these issues), but that racial issues seem to be … not ignored, but not enthusiastically tackled, either. So far, your writing is both highly educational in itself and further motivating me to educate myself on issues of race, religion, atheism, and skepticism.

  3. Crommunist says

    It is indeed QUITE a compliment! Thank you for the kind words.

    That’s what I’m going for – trying to introduce these topics into the conversation so we’re better at talking about them. I’m not sure how it is where you live, but many people here freeze up when the issue of race gets broached, and the only people who are comfortable talking are the people you wish would just shut up 😛

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