Year’s End

Happy New Year postcard  circa 1910 (in the public domain)

Happy New Year postcard circa 1910 (in the public domain)

I’ve been writing for Cliterati for a year now, and have covered a plethora of topics.  In my own blog, I always do a year’s-end retrospective of the top stories, but since I only do one column per week here versus seven for mine (and none of these are multiple-item news columns), I think I can mention all of the essays I’ve done here without exhausting either y’all or myself.

My very first post was on censorship, a topic I feel very strongly about; I revisited it in April, July and October.  The latter post was on the subject of David Cameron’s plan to “protect” British women and “children” from evil, dirty smut, based on the fallacies that women are fragile, delicate creatures whose bodies are public property, and that young people are passive victims of sexuality who are irreparably harmed by sexual contact with anyone older than some magical arbitrary age.  This belief in the damaging power of sex is so strong, its adherents consider rape a fate worse than death and are willing to sacrifice the health and safety of sex workers in order to “send a message” about the tiny fraction of us who are below 18.  The truth is more often the opposite: the vulnerable party in a paid sex transaction is the buyer, not the seller.  We are one of the caring professions, and some of our clients are disabled or otherwise unable to enjoy physical intimacy in any other way.

Many self-important busybodies would love to see sex work of all kinds stamped out; they think it somehow contaminates everyone involved in it, and often slander it in articles larded with ludicrously old-fashioned language.  Unfortunately, they don’t stop there; prohibitionists are willing to sacrifice sex workers’ rights and violate our privacy, make exaggerated claims about us, and even betray us to police departments which are involved in wrongheaded crusades against us.  They also invent ridiculous “sex trafficking” stories which the media is only too happy to repeat despite a total lack of credible evidence.  Still, it’s important to remember that this sort of persecution isn’t limited to sex workers; people are often afraid of those who are different from them, and may treat such people abominably, trying to destroy their lives or even murder them.  Even the mainstream gay rights movement is trying to distance itself from its less mainstream or more controversial members.

But sex workers are not the passive victims our enemies want to pretend we are; our long-disorganized struggle for human rights has reawakened in recent years, and though it’s often hard to tell whether we’re currently winning or losing we must eventually succeed in showing the world that sex work is no different from other forms of work, that most claims to the contrary are specious, that sex workers are as different from one another as any other people are, that anti-prostitution laws and stigma invariably harm other women as well, and that political campaigns which start by oppressing sex workers absolutely never stop with us.  There are annual occasions on which we agitate for our rights, celebrate our victories and honor our dead, and an irregularly-occurring one on which we ask our allies to speak up (though we must be wary of false allies who are merely using us for their own ends).  I also used other, more conventional holidays to explore aspects of sex work, to speak out against tyranny and bigotry, or just to discuss the celebration’s history.

In addition to all that, I still found time to discuss the different synonyms for “prostitute”, mock foolish and self-defeating behavior by an anti-gay group and analyze the truth behind claims about an “alternative” to plastic surgery.  I hope y’all have found it an interesting year, and that you’ll continue to read in the new one.

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