Yesterday (March 3) was International Sex Worker Rights Day, and so of course, I went to a benefit show last night to celebrate the day. (December 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which is generally a much more somber event)
“This day’s history goes back to 2001, when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival despite efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to prevent it taking place by pressuring the government to revoke their permit. The event was organised by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based group that has over 50,000 sex worker members, and members of their communities. Sex worker groups across the world have subsequently celebrated 3rd March as an annual, international event, as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day. ”
A couple of really rad dancers in Portland organized this amazing show as a benefit for our main crisis line and local Sex Worker Outreach Coalition, complete with poetry, a band, pole dancers, burlesque performers, a consensual kissing booth, and a booty-shaking contest. And lots of raffle prizes. It was really fabulous. And had I not been exhausted, I would have stayed for the whole thing.
Highlights for me included:
-The amazing host/emcee who kept saying things like “We are coming together with our strength and vulnerability.” She was so cute and sparkly.
-All of the drag performers were amazing, but there was one in particular that blew my mind. I love a guy with long hair who has moves.
-The booty-shaking contest which featured almost all male contestants.
-A stellar rendition of Margaret Atwood’s poem “Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing”
-A display of strength and power during a pole performance set to a Brittney Spears song (I wish I could remember which one- I was totally singing it during the performance, and now I can’t remember)
Support your sex workers- we’re just workers, who deserve workers’ rights and human rights, just like all other workers. For me, reclaiming sexuality extends to giving voice and authority to people who exchange their sexual energy for resources, and also means that we need to strip (ha) the taboo away from sex work and give sex workers the respect and integration in our society so we can all live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Want to learn more about sex workers’ rights? Here are some other resources:
COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics)
There are many other more local organizations organized sex workers’ rights; I encourage you to support those in your area!