I’ve been hanging on to this vintage card to share sometime during the holiday season, and International Day to End Violence to Sex Workers (December 17) seemed the ideal time. I don’t know to what extent the real Mae West dabbled in the oldest profession, but her characters certainly did, to one extent or another. And as we wrote pretty extensively in No Applause, not only has societal prejudice created a perceived relationship between show folks and sex folks, historically there has usually BEEN one. Sometimes an overlap, or a continuum, or, at the very least a metaphorical mirroring. And, not for nothing, the man who is ostensibly celebrated every Christmas Day started a major movement against hypocrisy that was later usurped by hypocrites and used with cruelty against the very sorts of people he had compassion for, sex workers among them.
The International Day to End Violence to Sex Workers was launched in 2003 by Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA. It was prompted by the arrest and conviction of the Green River Killer and aims to spotlight the extent to which crimes against sex workers (in particular their murders) have gone unreported and uninvestigated. Largely, of course, due to the fact that they themselves have been made a criminal class. Thus it’s part of a larger movement to decriminalize and to de-stigmatize sex work, spearheaded in the US by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA and worldwide by the UK-based Global Network of Sex Work Projects.
I’ll make the leap and assume that many people at first blush will think this cause is both hilarious and unworthy, which will merely be a tell as to the kind of person you are. I happen to live on Long Island, where a dozen years ago the bodies of 11 women, many of them identified as sex workers, were dug up in Gilgo Beach. Don’t imagine that they’re your sister or daughter or wife, as the sniveling politicians always do: imagine that they were YOU. If that’s not the point of this season, I don’t know what is.
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