On “the whore stigma,” from Margo St. James, early US sex workers’ rights activist and founder of COYOTE and St. James Infirmary, and Gail Pheterson, author and sex work researcher who coined the term. (Video by Scarlot Harlot, excerpt from “Outlaw Poverty, Not Prostitutes,” 1989.)
Lately I’ve been considering how “slut shaming” grew – unacknowledged – from the experiences and intellectual contributions of sex workers who first identified “whore stigma.” Slut shaming exists now as a critique external to sex worker feminisms and politics, applied mostly by women without sex work experience to describe the loss of social capital they suffer when assumed to be whores. What’s been lost is the centering of people who are marked as whores, in the assumption so common within attempts to resist “slut shaming” that being a whore is the worst thing to happen to you. So long as we cling to that notion of the slut or whore as the ultimate outsider, we reinforce whore stigma. This should be obvious.
Yesterday, got busted somehow (Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy, Robert Neuwirth; Lies: A Journal of Feminist Materialism, volume I; City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics, Alex S. Vitale)
People already immersed in the investigation’s details may find that this treatment covers a lot of familiar material and is a bit sketchy in places. But the program does have some rewards even for serious students of the case, including an interview with Michael Pak, Ms. Gilbert’s “driver.” (The absurd euphemisms of the sex trade flow thickly here; sure, these “escorts” have “drivers,” like celebrities do.) What stands out most starkly, though, is just how much of a fact of life the awful business of sex for sale has become in the Internet age. It has obvious enablers like Mr. Pak, but also enablers by inaction: family members and friends who, at least from the interviews here, seem not to have done enough to intervene. Yes, these victims were legal adults, but sometimes 24-year-olds make poor decisions too. With the easy access and anonymity of the Web, that puts them in greater jeopardy than ever.
Unrelated: today I found myself mentally calculating my freelance rates in terms of sex work rates. E.g., an online story is about what a solo porn shoot once went for, and print is closer to an evening or overnight rate. My enablers include: rent, bills, student loans, and my poor decision to eat food.
“Rip It Up,” Little Richard (from Ready, Steady, Go! in 1966, according to the commenters)
This is for my mom, who claims to have caught him once in his dressing room after a show, and waved to him while he was removing his suit: “that was before he got all weird with the makeup.” (Related.)