Auckland event tonight: Victory To The Wharfies

January 19, 2012

Public meeting: How can we support the Auckland port workers?

Tonight 7:30pm

Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland


Don’t Talk to Me About Sewing Machines, Talk to Me About Workers’ Rights! A Call to Action for Socialists from a revolutionary hooker

January 19, 2012

Greta de Graves

 The question of how to relate to sex workers (in this article, I will use the term ‘sex worker’ to refer to workers in commercialised sexual encounters, including, but not limited to prostitutes, strippers, go-go dancers, and pornographic actors of all genders) has been a topic of contention for many Marxist and other radical activists, and the New Zealand left has not been exempt from this struggle.  The rationales that I have heard as to why the left is often ambivalent towards sex worker struggles are diverse, ranging from “all commercialised sex is inherently sexist and politically incorrect – it is a tactical mistake to ‘normalise’ sex work” to “sex workers are unintelligent and non-political – it would be a waste of our time and energy to politically align ourselves with them.”

Such attitudes (voiced to me by experienced and hard-working activists) are in direct conflict to my experience as a sex worker.  My experiences that lead me into the sex industry conformed to every sad stereotype prevalent in popular culture – I was left in a huge amount of debt at the break-up of an unhealthy relationship, and was struggling to come to terms with the suicide of a close friend.  I experienced poor mental health and was unable to find work that would allow me to pay off my debts and fit in with my existing job and study.  I felt depressed, un-attractive and had a low sex drive.  I didn’t believe that anyone would ever love or even sexually desire me – a crazy, neurotic failure – ever again.

And then a friend told me that she was thinking of working as a prostitute – and it occurred to me “well, why couldn’t I do that?”  While I had a fairly sheltered upbringing, I had always had a fascination with what I perceived to be the glamorous “underworld” that sex workers occupied.  Of course, the reality proved to be far different.  In my experience, the vast majority of consumers of commercial sex in New Zealand can only be described as normal. Of different races, different personalities, different apparent socio-economic and educational backgrounds, different ages, some married, some single, but none of them the type society would classify as “deviant,” or who would arouse suspicion in their friends, families and colleagues that they paid for sexual services.

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