Continuing my 2011 smackdown, please welcome Mistress Matisse and Susie Bright. There is a delicate balance when one achieves mainstream prominence as a sex worker/former sex worker. It’s important to remember you’re assumed to speak for sex workers, and young sex workers look up to you. It helps not to throw sex workers without a column under the bus.
What’s out in 2011? Belittling the concerns of already-marginalized people who were affected by a disturbed con artist. I’m not sure that the whole fauxho scandal was about “winning hearts and minds” so much as sounding a warning. Blogging about it or sharing information wasn’t about trying to make money or impress clients. Nor was it about making nice with the sex blogging community. I think that bridge was burned long before this.
As for seeking bona fide members of the community to represent sex workers to the world, well, chances are really good that if we could elect those representatives they would be someone who wouldn’t make light of a predator in our midst.
The Craigslist debacle of 2010 really separated the in-the-trenches sex workers from those quite obviously above it.
First, Susie Bright’s blog post was infuriating. The wording has been changed since I left my comment. The way it originally read made it sound as though the Craigslist Erotic Services ad were simply there to entertain the terminally hip. Not like there were any people trying to make a living, ads were posted just for the amusement of non-clients. She bemoaned the days when “the cool factor went away went from the sex ads,” when they clearly slipped into the territory of commercial. Damn those sex workers for trying to make a buck off a free-entertainment site!
Of course, what got me the most was her comments on legalization and her dismissal of my call for decrim. Note to Miss Bright: sex workers want decriminalization. They do not wish to be legally regulated into further stigmatization. I don’t know what sex workers you’ve been talking to recently, everyone I know wants decrim. If you’re going to speak for sex workers, get this basic concept right. Decrim does give us all the rights of any other citizen and businessperson. We do not need legalization for that to happen. Please ask SWOP or Desiree Alliance for a briefing on the differences.
Then Matisse weighed in. To her, it wasn’t just about censorship, it was about lazy sex workers who don’t have a clue about online advertising. I half-expected her to suggest everyone get their own column as a venue for advertising.
I’ve used CL in the US and internationally. I know an upper-end escort who initially started out on CL charging nearly the same amount as she does now. I know plenty of mid-range girls who put up an ad on the days they wanted to work and presto! they had their quota. And then there are the agencies and rip-offs and other assorted types whose ads we competed with (and clients tried to avoid). Not to mention that CL reached small towns the large national malls do not. Or how about that CL provided for all sorts of categories (like M4WM or M4MM or the various TV/TS categories) that the large national malls do not? CL was well-known and extremely democratic. It wasn’t about laziness, it was about good and simple business.
I won’t ever defend CL as a bastion of taste, refinement or intellect, though I found some great clients off there. Nor will I ever claim CL advertising was useful for higher-end escorts (because it generally wasn’t). Up until 2009, it was about sex workers doing exactly what they wanted with no one to stand in their way. That’s not laziness, that’s freedom. For many providers, a quick ad on CL introduced them to online escort work (then they found my books and moved forward). CL would have been my choice for dabbling had it been an option when I was in college (back when “investing” in my work meant buying name-brand condoms and scented candles).
Of course, that’s all best understood if you’re one of the hordes working hard to provide entertaining ads to hipsters rather than being those who are glad they aren’t you.