Women's Liberation Begins With Woman's Liberation
I'm here to free myself; how 'bout you?
I'm going to out myself: I see a counselor, a therapist, a head-shrinker. Not because I have sordid secrets which led to me being a sex worker, or because I am damaged as a result of having been a sex worker; I began seeing a counselor years before I ever entertained the notion of being a sex worker because I am "just" one of those sex positive women who finds herself continually chaffing at the constrictions of being female in this culture and I need a place to vent the steam before I can tackle the coals. Seeing a counselor helps me get past the urgent need so that I can deal.
I've long avoided this subject not because I find my need for a therapist odd, nor do I see it as a sign of any weakness. Quite the opposite, actually. I have a need and I address it. So what if I pay a companion to listen to me rant and spew? If I can understand, accept, and consent to being paid to let some dude rant and spew on me, what's not to get?
No, I've omitted this truth to protect other people, namely sex workers.
Sex workers, as discussed many times, are assumed to be so riddled with issues & abuse that we cannot function properly. Such views of "sex worker as victim" are often seen as kindness; we are not responsible for our poor choices. But when you so kindly sweep away our accountability for the decision to enter into sex work you also sweep away our reason. You are saying that we suffer from some sort of diminished capacity & are incapable of being responsible, sane, functioning human beings. That inaccurate thinking discredits everything else we say or do.
By outing myself, I thought, I would be bringing to the forefront more of those tired old tomatoes to toss at us. And I have no desire to add such ammunition to the pile of the other side(s); it's an exhausting battle as it is.
Where once I used to think my silence was shielding (if not bolstering) my fellow sisters (and brothers), I now feel that I've actually performed a great disservice.
By omitting such facts about my own struggles, I leave an impression that I have no such problems. Readers may think, "Everything's fine with Gracie," or "She's so together and only rants on principle," never realizing that I do in fact struggle ~ that I feel I'll crumble or go insane from the pressures & restrictions of a world which seems hell-bent on punishing truly autonomous women.
If I've given any of you the impression that I've not suffered for my sin of insisting that I be treated as a free, liberated human being ~ including the right to control my body & my sexuality ~ then you have my most sincere apology. And I'm stopping that bullshit right this very instant.
It does no one any good.
I've been speaking lately with many other great women, leaders in feminism, blogging, business, and the sex worker movement, and all of them seem to be suffering, in one form or another, from this same business of "what it means to be a woman" and "image". That in-and-of-itself isn't surprising (it is, after all, why I pay someone to listen to my shit), but what is rather surprising is that we all have, to one degree or another, opted to omit or downplay our insecurities, the punishments for our perceived sins, the fears of our vulnerability & what that may mean for others.
We'll discuss body image; but omit how badly we feel about our own bodies. We'll show that glass ceilings really do exist, we'll say how frustrating it is to be discriminated against for simply writing about sex; but we won't admit just how much such things have fucked our finances. We'll discuss, rant, rail & wail about issues, but we just never let-on just how much these things personally hurt us.
Why do we do this?
If we think we are protecting ourselves we are mistaken. We are stifling ourselves ~ which, when added to the current status quo of our vocal suppression, is a load no one should be forced to bear.
If we think we are protecting others we are are mistaken. We are creating our own glass ceilings ~ glass boxes, really. Enclosures which keep us visible, on display, but which keep us from really connecting with others.
Silent women encased in tombs of glass, even if self-created, are not authentic, autonomous women.
When we don't discuss the ugly realities of our own experiences, we're no longer using our voice to expose what we value, what is vital. We're no longer being genuine, accessible, comforting, connected, supportive ~ and we no longer can be supported, comforted, understood, accepted. To some extent we even lose the ability to educate and inform. We lose the very things which made us write, blog, talk, in the first place.
I won't out these women who I admire so much; it's up to them to tell their own stories of life on the roads from sabotage to salvation, sorrow to satisfaction, rage to rapture, self-loathing to self-love. No matter where they are on those paths.
But I urge them to do so. Not only for themselves, but for all of us who read them, are informed & inspired by them. We won't think less of them; we'll admire these vibrant vulnerable vixen all the more for showing us that women's liberation begins & ends with each woman's individual liberation.