Coming Out Like a Porn Star

I read Jiz Lee’s Coming out Like a Porn Star over spring break and was so happy I finally had some time for pleasure reading. This book totally delivered on being thought-provoking, insightful, and providing diverse and unique perspectives from a wide range of people, and reignited my thoughts about my own coming out questions related to dancing. If you’re looking to expand your understanding of what it means to work in the porn industry and how workers negotiate and navigate the coming out process (to family, friends, lovers, kids, straight jobs/employers, the world) I highly recommend this anthology.

For me, I think about:

Who is safe to come out to as a stripper? Do I have a sense already of their sex work politics? How risky is this? What is the likelihood that this relationship is at risk if I come out?

When does someone deserve to know, or when have they earned the intimacy in their relationship with me to know?

What are the potential consequences, negative and positive, of coming out? And in what domains- professionally, socially, romantically, mentally, emotionally, etc?

What are my values? How does coming out fit in, or not, with my values?

Largely my coming out experiences have been positive (socially). Academically and professionally, my experiences have been mixed, with a heavy dose of awful (if you’ve been reading my blog for years you know the story). Some family knows (some because I told them and some because they found out through my blog), and some family doesn’t (as far as I know). It’s a constant negotiation I process of who gets to know when and how and why and for whose benefit and at what cost, and certainly reminds me of my coming out process as queer and poly (and I can imagine may be similar to a trans person’s coming out process).

💖

Nasty Women

Sex workers are the original nasty women. I love this piece by Jacq The Stripper. 

Jacq covers many of the main points I’ve been wanting to say since experiencing the Women’s March this past weekend. 

I know how much privilege I hold in general, and how those privileges buffer me from the risks in working in the sex industry: I’m white, cis, able bodied, middle class, and I work in a legal part of the industry, with relatively supportive staff. Geographically, stripping in Oregon is another huge privilege. As best I can, I want to use that privilege to speak up for the rights of all workers in the sex industry.

I was stunned at the conflation of sex and gender at the Women’s March. Anatomy does not equal gender identity. Equating having vaginas and vulvas to womanhood leaves our trans sisters and brothers out of the conversation, and is harmful and exclusionary to trans folks working in the industry.

Reading about the back and forth that the March organizers went through about the inclusion of the statement on sex workers’ rights was both inspiring and disheartening. Like Jacq says, thank goddess for Janet Mock:

“I know sex work to be work. It’s not something I need to tiptoe around. It’s not a radical statement. It’s a fact. My work and my feminism rejects respectability politics, whorephobia, slut-shaming and the misconception that sex workers, or folks engaged in the sex trades by choice or circumstance, need to be saved, that they are colluding with the patriarchy by “selling their bodies.””

If you want to support nasty women, be sure to support sex workers. They are, we are, the original nasty women.

Activism and movements

I love how when you sit in a classroom, someone often tries to teach you how to do practical things in the world. The class I took a few years ago on community organizing is just making me laugh out loud now; I just don’t think there is any classroom experience that could really prepare you for what it actually looks like and feels like to try to connect with people to move change forward.

In Oregon, House Bill 3059 would mandate that all entertainment clubs display posters that spell out what rights independent contractor entertainers (strippers, DJs, comedians) have, as well as maintain an anonymous hotline entertainers can call to report violations or seek clarification.

I think it’s a stupid bill, if at least a tiny step forward in spreading accurate information to strippers in Oregon on what their status actually is and how they are actually treated.

I think I have effectively alienated myself from a few people who are staunch supporters of the bill. And more closely aligned myself with other workers who think empowerment and respectability politics is pretty bullshit (as do I). But it’s kind of killing me that there are such divides within the community. That is exactly what dominant culture encourages people of oppressed communities to behave: divide and conquer. Fuckers!

You can’t organize a community that doesn’t want to be. You can’t effectively talk to a community and get a solid read on what it needs or wants if the community isn’t organized.

It honestly feels like a shit show. All of the interpersonal politics and drama and history that shapes and influences the real way policy (organizationally, institutionally, legally, culturally) is created. Some of it is petty and some if it isn’t. Some of it comes down to fundamental differences of opinion that can’t be bridged or glossed over; these differences really matter in building a movement, and yet it is still tough to know- is this the right way to go about pushing for change? Alienation never feels right to me, but maybe it should? How do we “call in” as opposed to “call out” possible supporters and opponents? How do you stay diplomatic while still remaining true to your message?

Integration, Disassociation, Connection

I keep wanting to write, and then feel overwhelmed by my lack of presence. So I’ll just start with where things are now, and the missing pieces from the past several months will filter their way in. Writing and sharing is too therapeutic for me not to do it, so I’m going to try to do it more.

I remember writing a post way-back-when on anal sex, and the hang-ups I have around it. I remember writing about the non-consensual anal sex that my high school boyfriend had with me. That’s called rape, by the way, and I can type it but I can hardly say it out loud (I’ve said it once now). For some reason (I don’t know what the reason is; if I did, I think it might help in processing all of this), this memory and experience bubbled up and had been sitting for the past few weeks, until coming over the edge yesterday.

The part that is getting me the most is the realization that I have been doing the same stuff that most survivors of this kind of trauma do: making excuses for the person, blaming myself, etc. He must have not realized he shoved his cock in the wrong hole. I didn’t tell him to stop. He loved me so he couldn’t have done this. I have been having flashbacks to the day after that incident: I was so terrified that my parents would find out I had been having sex and I spent all of my time trying to prepare to defend my actions. I left myself absolutely no room to feel how I really felt: betrayed, violated, unheard, and hurt.

For some reason, all of my life since that day has just been swimming through me since yesterday, when I had this meltdown. All of the times I haven’t been able to say what I really wanted, how I really wanted it, when I really wanted it, why I really wanted it. Every time with a friend or a partner or a lover or a customer in the club I haven’t been able to speak and hold a boundary of mine. How much I sway to expectation and pressure and history. How often I have put other people before myself.

It’s too overwhelming, frankly.

Somehow, though, after crying on the couch yesterday in the early evening, I managed to get myself showered and dressed and to the club for my shift. I don’t know how I did it, but somehow, I took all of that shit and created this bubble around myself, and I looked at all of the people in the club and just thought: You can’t hurt me. I don’t care what you fucking think. I’m going to have fun, I am going to do my job, and I am going to make the money I came here to make. And it worked. I’m still not sure how, but it did.

I woke up today, though, feeling low, and my mood has only really gone down today. I feel this weight on me, and I don’t know what to do or where to go or who to talk to. Nobody can fix that experience, no one or anything can make it better.

One of my friends, who happens to be a sex worker, maintains that she hates white straight cis men because they haven’t experienced oppression. I get what she means- it’s hard to feel understood by someone who hasn’t directly experienced being oppressed. I don’t hate men. I hate the system that has been created, and while many men (and other people) perpetuate it in many ways, I don’t think individuals are to blame. Especially, and at least, people who are at least aware of the privileges they embody and do their best to mitigate how they operate in the world. I also don’t think someone needs to have an experience themselves in order to to offer genuine support and empathy.

But I also just keep feeling this sense of utter violation, simply because I have this receptive sexual and reproductive system. I can’t penetrate anyone in the way that someone with a penis can penetrate me. I’m suddenly shocked by the deep sense of trust I grant, pretty freely, to male bodied sexual partners to penetrate my body. And how insanely lucky I am that I have had just the one experience that left me feeling totally violated. (And what a fucked up thing that I feel “lucky.” It should be the standard to not be violated.) Just that one experience is now rendering me depressed and numb. And overwhelmed.

The idea of creating feminist relationships also keeps creeping up as I spin in circles about this. How do two or more people create a relationship that truly takes into account the needs and desires of each person, while making sure that boundaries and agreements are equitable and fair? I want to surround myself with people who want to make space for everyone in the room, not just in their hearts but with their body language and the way they talk and the way they offer themselves.

I also want and hope that I continue to use all of this to my advantage when I go to work in the club. This mixture of anger and despair, I hope, can help me to be extra clear about my boundaries: It’s about the money. It’s a job. No, I won’t go on a date with you. No, you can’t have my number. You can’t talk to me about how you hate Black people or gay people or any other oppressed group. Fuck you, with a smile.

My birthday is this week. And I am praying that come Friday, I can get dressed up and have a snazzy fun time at our favorite place, and that come Saturday, I can dance the night away while people pay to see my pussy and tits. And furthermore, I hope that when my people come to see me dance, from my full time work and my school and my friends, they see me as the whole person that I am. Lastly, I hope I can see that myself soon, hurt and healing and all.

I’m Alive and So Are You!

So it’s been a while!

Thank you to everyone who has asked or emailed me to check in. It means a lot to me! And if I haven’t written you back yet I will 🙂

A month has gone by and I stepped away from SR mostly because I mentally couldn’t keep up with myself. But I’m back.

In my world, in no particular order:
I start school (again) today
Work is going well. I’m officially a supervisor!
My dear friend who I have been crushing hard on for two years finally realized it was a good idea to try dating me! 😉
Domestic violence is a hard thing to see and hear about
I did one nonsexual escort date and long story short, I got paid $2500 and J and I have gone out to dinner with both the dude and his wife (more on that to come)
I still LOVE dancing
I only have one box left in the house to unpack
We’re flying home next weekend to see the fam
I want to go Hawaii SO BAD. Especially since today is the first really dreary day in Portland.
Have you checked out Bitch media?The falll issue is called Love/Lust and has several excellent pieces on the questioning identity, feminist porn, and more
Still trying to figure out why my most comfortable state is naked. Or rather, trying to be naked more often

What’s new with you all?

Boundaries in Sex Work

Apologies for lack of posts this week! It’s been crazy. Also, apologies for brevity and possible typos as I am typing from my phone!

I had the concept of boundaries come up in various ways last week, in relation to sex work…

First, my new supervisor asked me to step down from my involvement in the support group for sex workers that I just recently got up and running. It has been interesting for me to navigate this conversation, over email. I’m not definitively stepping down yet, although it looks like I may have to. I’ve done all I could so far in asserting my preferences. The confluence of sex work and professional boundaries is interesting, for sure, and I’m intrigued what may lie ahead in terms of creating a safe space for sex workers at my place of employment.

I also was interviewed by a fellow worker about how I view stripping and sex work. In particular and most relevant to this post, she was curious about how I identify (as a sex worker, stripper, etc) and what kinds of boundaries I’ve asserted with customers. The mental and emotional boundaries I have around my personal identification with sex work feel like a moving target, like I can’t quite grasp them. Needless to say, it made it difficult to explain to her that at times I’ve identified as a sex worker, stripper, and dancer for different reasons.

Most recently, I was approached by a customer to engage in some nonsexual escorting: he wants a muse, someone to tease him and turn him on, but he also wants this person to hold firm on his boundary of not having sex (because he wants to remain sexually monogamous to his wife). In the past I have been very clear with myself and customers that I keep my business at strip clubs, but this particular person piqued my interest. So I’m exploring what it could be like. Tonight we are mini golfing and getting dessert.

More to come, on all of this.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a piece that I adored; it’s a concept I have thought much about, and illustrates how social norms and boundaries from monogamy influence intimate partner violence and how sex workers are treated :

Jealousy Is Not An Excuse: Monogamous Norms and Partner Violence Against Sex Workers

 

Radfems, Harassment, Survival Sex

Links to share this week; most are pretty long, but totally worth it:

What Is a Woman? The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism.

Response: Op-ed: An Open Letter to The New Yorker

Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This.

You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?

On Surviving Sex Work

Infidelity and The Powerful Juxtaposition