Women, Sex and Blogging
Earlier we have written about the difficulty many bloggers and people working in stigmatised trades and professions have with maintaining multiple identies. We have also frequently described the tragedies that unfold when people are outed by zealous media, bigots or jealous colleagues.
This solstice season, a time for reflection and coming together, has been marked by an enthusiasm that at times borders on a feeding frenzy, to out bloggers, or suggest that they may be not be quite who they appear to be in their blogs. This raises many concerns.
I met Lady Jayla online, on a message board for sex workers, when I had put out a call to sex workers who were outted and wished to tell their story. Immediately, Lady Jayla responded, which began a dialogue with myself, Jayla and Elizabeth.
Very quickly I felt a connection with Jayla, and her story, and was a bit suprised at how we shared many of the same emotional responses to our situations.
Jayla has a career in the medical field, and has two grown daughters, both of which have limited their contact with her since they found out about her sex work.
Since interviewing Lisa Chavez last April and following the fallout of her being outed as a phone sex worker, and inviting Liz Derrington to tell her part of that same story, I have come to know an increasing number of outed sex workers. One of them, Rebecca Deos, is an amazing woman who traveled from North Carolina to join us at the Sex Work Awareness fund-raising party where we launched our 2009 NYC Sex Bloggers Calendar. (For a $20 donation to SWA you can support sex worker advocacy and have a calendar yourself!)
Rebecca told me about living with her husband and kids in a small town in Florida and about being outed as an escort. The impact of that outing was profound. As Rebecca and I talked I found myself wishing other people could hear her story. In that conversation and in emails since, we've discussed her telling her story here. She maintains her own web site but was hesitant to use it to tell her story because she didn't want to appear to be portraying herself as a victim there. It is her personal and professional site. She was looking for a place with an analytical bent, and she was also looking for a place that might be able to put her story in a context that would be helpful to others. I was flattered when she said she thought that Sex In The Public Square was such a place.
Rebecca tells her story below below. Look for her to appear more around SITPS. We're even discussing a forum for outed sex workers and their allies to share information, resources and support. Rebecca would be the lead moderator. We are also considering a "speaking out" series where people can share stories about how the stigmatization of sexual expression or sexual identities have affected them personally. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please contact Elizabeth by using this contact form.
Click here to read Rebecca's Story in her own words
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.
Yes, we know that your parents sucked. They didn't let you stay out past nine, were always on your ass about your grades, the people you dated, the awful music that you were listening to, how their generation had more respect for their elders, yadda yadda yadda. And even now that you're grown up, they're still nudzhing at you, right?
Here's some consolation: You don't have Amy Contrada for your mom. Amy Contrada belongs to a Massachusetts anti-gay group called MassResistance which describes itself "the pro-family action center for Massachusetts -- and beyond!" After MassResistance organized a protest of a high-school production of the play The Laramie Project starring Amy's daughter Claudia, Claudia came out as a lesbian.