Category Archives: Sex Worker Rights

Sex Work

Being a dyke I’ve been intimately involved with sex workers both as lovers, friends, and colleagues. I think straight people get surprised by the link between sex workers and the lesbian community. The fact is, a high percentage of female sex workers are queer. I not only know sex workers, I was one for a very very very brief time. It was phone sex, it was terribly boring and silly. I pretended to have an orgasm while watching t.v., and then I quit when a foot fetishist kept asking for me, just because he talked and talked for a REALLY long time. I did, however, come really close several times to doing street based sex work. In that case, it wasn’t because I actively chose that kind of work, it would have been survival sex work. I lived in grinding poverty for several years in Vancouver, I often had no food, I skipped on my rent several times, I ran up bills I couldn’t pay, I had a very difficult time being hired for work, mainly for being a butch woman. Sometimes I had no phone. I wasn’t going to do sex work for drugs, I just want to go eat at least one meal in a day. And through all that I still self funded a video art practice.

God, let me say again, I have only ever gotten one grant in my entire career. I honestly don’t know where this idea that I’m getting tons of money for being an Indian comes from.

So yeah, sex work. My family helped me out some, but they did the guilt trip thing, and I never told them about wandering along the strolls wondering about getting into the next car that stopped for me.

I had a girlfriend who started doing sex work again while we dated. Friends were really fucked up about the whole thing. They thought she was some kind of low life (she was going to university), they felt bad for me dating her (no way, she was cute and sweet!), and one friend even asked me if I was jealous for her doing sex work. I had to laugh at that one. I didn’t really care that she was having sex for money, my only concern about her was the very real possibility of being assaulted on the job.

Some people say that the dangers sex workers face is exactly why it should be eliminated and more aggressively prosecuted. I think this is problematic, because it pushes sex work even farther on the margins. People who do Shame The Johns campaigns and push sex workers out of neighborhoods put these women into even more unsafe places, like industrial areas where there’s more isolation. The more prostitution is criminalized, the easier it is for predators to prey on women. Even filing a rape report if you’re in the biz becomes a humiliating venture where cops refuse to believe a sex worker can be raped.

If people are serious about keeping vulnerable women from doing sex work out of survival, they need to look at the bigger picture. The minimum wage should be raised, women’s labour should be more respected and improved, and for sure butch women and other marginalized people need to have more job opportunities. Consider how many transwomen end up in the sex work biz.

And there are sex workers who like their jobs, as much as people hate to consider. Some women I know have certain clients who are their favorites, there’s a certain level of intimacy that happens that while it is not romantic, falls under a category of therapy. While there are assholes out there, there are also a lot of johns who are genuinely just looking for some closeness and release which they may not get for certain reasons like age, disability, the recent death of a wife, etc.

I remember one time I went to visit my girlfriend when she switched from the streets to a massage parlour. We were hanging around talking with her coworker when a client came in. The coworker started laughing and said “Oh my god, what if a client came in and picked Thirza!”

Basically, I think that feminists pathologizing sex workers are misogynist and classist, and that the battle for sex worker rights should not be allowed to be dampened by women who infantilize the people doing these jobs.

Another thing, when people say sex work shouldn’t exist because it is demeaning, they should consider other jobs poor people often do which are equally demeaning. Outbound call centre work, McDonalds, Production Assistants, all of those are demeaning jobs which have a demoralizing effect on their workforce.

Pimp My ______

Pimping is the new rage. From what I gather it seems to be shorthand for “I’m going to make this thing ridiculously fancy.” Like cars, computers, and from a link I saw even my own email account. Of course, what pimping really means is running a stable of underprivilleged women doing sex work. I’ve yet to meet a high class well paid sex worker who’s felt that they had the freedom to choose sex work, working under a pimp. I have met a lot of minority women, street involved youth, and child sex workers having a pimp.

I don’t think people really understand what a pimp does. I’m not even going to pretend I know everything a pimp does, but I did get a brief description of working for a pimp from an old roommate. People think it’s just a woman going up to some guy, saying she’ll work for him, and then quitting whenever she feels like it. You can offer to work for a pimp, but if you want to quit you have to save up enough money to buy yourself out, and on the low end of buying yourself out it costs $3000.00. I know they take you shopping for sex worker clothes, and I was at a bus stop when a pimp dropped off his two sex workers who seemed to be doing their first night. I think there might be some protection involved, but not much. Abuse definitely happens between a pimp and a sex worker.

I’ve never seen these blinged out pimps either. A friend saw one with a gold mercedes, but generally they seem to just be average low lifes fuelling drug addictions. I’m sure there’s exceptions like everything.

I guess what I’m wondering is why we’re so set on glorifying the capitalist exploitation of women and comparing it to consumer excess and fancy hub caps. We don’t have shows called things like “Sex Worker My Ride” or links saying “Turn your email account into a sex worker!” I don’t normally say sex workers are exploited by the way, because I don’t really believe that, but working for a pimp is exploitative.

And besides all of that, “pimp” is just a dumb word. It’s bookended by p’s and has an i and an m in between, what a silly silly word.

A sense of responsibility

I have insider information on what really happened to the missing women which is now being entirely pinned on Pickton. Pickton was involved, I’m not at all implying he is innocent, far from it. I found out what really happened about four years ago, just as I was going crazy. It was so shocking that I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the triggers which lead to my manic episode. I didn’t know what to do with this information, and I have a source who knows where files of documents outlining the events are held. A group of people were closely working with the one good cop on the force who was leaking information. I think they stopped because there was a serious threat of being murdered.

It’s a tricky story to break and I don’t know how to do it. If I tell you what I know I have no proof to back it up because I’m not the person holding those documents (and I don’t know where or who that person is either for safety reasons, though if I had to find them I could). I don’t live in Vancouver anymore, so I feel slightly safer from the possibility of being murdered to cover up the truth.

I think I figured out how to explain this without getting in to shit. I’m just going to tell you a story from when I lived in the Downtown Eastside.

I was walking along Hastings one day with a friend when we came across a poster carefully being preserved behind the glass of a business. I don’t remember the exact wording but the gist of it went like this.

“I am a survivor of the events going on at the Pickton Farm. I was abducted and taken to a club whose members contained Vancouver police and several high level government officals including Ujahl Dosangh. They told me they were going to do what they did to my friends and rape and kill me while filming it. This is a snuff film ring being aided and covered up by the government. I have no one I can go to to report what is going on and I am still in danger.”

Obviously she escaped, whoever she was. And obviously there are a number of people living in the Downtown Eastside who know what is going on. There are people who want to classify these atrocities as the work of one demented serial killer, when in fact from the rumours I hear it is the work of a cult committing genocide directed at Aboriginal women and children. For twenty years this has been going on before anything finally happened. Maybe they decided they had to dump Pickton as a fall guy and find another way to continue murdering aboriginal people for entertainment (and this is entertaining to these people).

For my own safety I will now do my disclaimer: I have not seen these documents but I heard this exact story three years before I came across this poster. I have nothing to do with any undercover group of people working to somehow bring this information to light, I could not tell you where or who they are because I simply don’t know. If you need me to prove it I can’t but I might be able to connect you with people who could. I am not invested in destroying the reputations of government officials or the Vancouver police force. I do not want this post to be referred to as irrefutable proof, if you must link to this post refer to it as a plausible conspiracy theory.