An article about Michelle Obama as First Lady reminds me of a lot of issues around sex work. The writer (Allison Samuels) points out that public perception of black women are limited to: sassy single mothers, crack whores or victims of AIDS by thoughtless partners. Samuels canâ€™t find portrayals of the very normal black women she knows: college-educated, in stable relationships, non-sassy. Until Michelle.
And I have no doubt that reactions to this article will include cries that Michelle Obama is a â€œprivilegedâ€ black woman and does not represent the a majority experience (of course she canâ€™t represent everyone â€“ she is only one person with one life).
Sounds like sex work to me.
The CNBC show has ruffled feathers for various reasons, one of which is the expected sighs over its portrayal of a small segment of the industry. While high-end escorts are indeed a small percentage of sex work, so are street-based workers â€“ who are often used to make sweeping statements about all sex work. The truth is the silent majority of sex workers fall in the middle.
Thatâ€™s what average is.
I have hopes the show will start a needed dialogue about the spectrum of sex work, as well as change some perceptions. Samuels hopes Michelle can help change perceptions of the modern black woman by starting a dialogue.
There is needed change in the air. I have optimism.
In dealing with some recent issues of my own, a wise friend told me that change — no matter how positive or needed — is difficult and painful. We may not always see the process of change as something good or something we want. We can only focus on the end result of the process.
If Michelle Obama helps the country realize black woman are not caricatures, thatâ€™s a step forward. If the show helps the public realize there is a broad range to sex work, thatâ€™s a step forward to a realistic view of sex work, opening the possibility to realistic solutions to problems that need to be fixed.