Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sex Work in Australia

At the f collective conference last year probably the most challenging thing for me (except the debacle at the end )was the feminism of sex workers. I'd spent so long thinking about the feminism of mothering that I'd forgotten about other people in very different circumstances. There were representatives there from The Scarlet Alliance, who lobby for the rights of sex workers. These women are not junkies or downtrodden no-hopers. They are career sex workers. Whether or not they are mothers was never discussed.

It is interesting that WEA (a community college in Sydney) is running a session on Sex Working in Australia. It is on Saturday 19 March, from 9.30 to 4.30. It is being conducted by Roberta Perkins, who is a lecturer in sociology at UNSW, and has published widely on the topic of sex work. She also is involved in The Gender Centre. Someone from The Scarlet Alliance will also be speaking on the day.

It would be really interesting to attend, but I don't think I can make it. Kind of booked up with study and other outings that are higher priority.

When I was younger I had friends who worked in brothels as receptionists and as cleaners. One friend was a B&D Madam - she put herself through design school. I worked for some time doing phone sex, which is part of the industry, but at a distance from clients, and as close as I was prepared to go. For me, even doing phone sex was not healthy. It did, though, improve my voice for acting, which I was studying at the time.

When I saw the women from Scarlet Alliance I thought: there but for a decision or two goes I. I suspect they didn't think about me at all. I wonder what their views are on protecting children from sexually explicit imagery and such campaigns. I've met Fiona Patten from The Sex Party and was surprised at how much our views were in common. She said that no-one in the sex industry was interested in marketing to children. They agree with the right wing Christians on a lot of issues, but some campaigners or politicians just won't work with The Sex Party.

Should we think of sex workers in the same category as gestational carriers? A woman renting out a part of her body? A part of the economics of supply and demand? I wonder what modern sex workers want for children? What they want for mothers? From what I saw they were not women who had no other options, and would be insulted at the suggestion that they were not empowered feminists.

So interesting.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

Interesting and complex. I'm not sure what to think. These things are difficult to fathom. The whole objectivisation - is that a word? - of the body, any body, troubles me. There are such layers of meaning here, but it helps not to moralise or judge, better to try to think and feel these things through.