In, Out, or on the fence?

Michael's picture

Ellie (Lumpesse) has recently written about the frustration of combining being a sex worker with having another career (doctoral student) and the difficulties of keeping these apart and the internal pressures to come out. There is nothing unique in Ellie's dilemma, it is actually one of the most difficult things that indoor sex workers have to deal with. This is well described by Teela Sanders in her paper 'It's just acting' dealing with the emotional labour involved in keeping two lives separate. This in itself, is partly the result of the external violence of stigma, and partly the internal pressures of the 'management of feeling to create a publicity observable facial and bodily display' as described by Arlie Hochschild.

It would be incorrect for those who are unlikely to share the consequences to give advice, and as Audacia Ray comments, once you are out, you canot go back in again. One can only attempt to place onself in the position of being out and compare it to the tensions of remaining in. In calculating the former, one must take into account both the short and long term consequences, good and bad. For instance when a Winnipeg sex worker was outed by a journalist who provided identifiable details, the immediate consequences were severe, personally and professionally, but in the long run she felt a degree of relief.

Furthermore, academics such as ourselves have a bias we need to recognise and disclose, namely that the more sex workers that are out, the greater the possiilities for normalisation of sex work. But this must never be at the expense of the rights and welfare of individual workers.