Velvet is a sex worker who works for the Dutch sex workers’ right organization Proud. She held a speech on 8 March, women’s day. It is already published on the site of Proud, but she also thought it a good idea to publish it on ‘sekswerkerfgoed’.
Women’s March 2019
I am a sex worker. I am gay. I am a woman. THIS is intersectionality. It is as simple as that. My life intersects with women’s rights, LGBTQI rights and labor rights. My life intersects with yours.
And I am here today, because you invited me. Which is not a given, to have a seat at the table as a sex worker, let alone be invited there by a feminist organization. Even though, PROUD, the Dutch sex worker union, is run by a feminist team, other feminists are divided on the topic of sex work. Some say, all prostitution is violence against women. Think all our clients are bad people, and therefore must be criminalised, as is now the case in France, with a rise in violence and increased HIV prevalence as consequence. Go figure, when you criminalise our clients, you criminalise us. But you refused to listen. Make the lives of migrant and trans sex workers more dangerous, getting us killed. Do not underestimate just how much we hate whores as a society. Stigma kills.
‘But, we must do away with this pillar of the patriarchy called prostitution, right?’. It is upholding gender inequality, you say. You even make the link to the #MeToo movement. Do you have any idea how incredibly insulting it is to equate my work with rape? Both to sex workers and victims of sexual violence. Resulting in police officers thinking a sex worker cannot be raped, and is thus unable to seek justice.
I offer my services, my body always remaining my own. I do not sell it, you cannot keep it. Sex work is work. The work in which people express their desire to me, feel safe enough to ask questions about their sexual identity, or experience touch for the first time after sexual trauma.
You might not be able to do my work. That’s okay, that’s not what I’m asking of you. I’m asking you to listen to us. To stop pretending as if you’re saving us by closing down our work spaces, like the windows in the Wallen. I think we can all agree, this is not about saving us, this is a project of gentrifIcation, with the safety, the livelihood of sex workers as collateral damage. I ask you to stop acting as if you actually give a fuck about victims of exploitation in our industry, but refuse to listen to us telling you that you are causing more harm. There is no dichotomy between the happy hooker and the poor victim. We are a multitude of people, with a spectrum of motivations. And so what, if we need this work to survive? How does it help to take a sometimes last resort from someone? And to make it as dangerous as possible, simply because you don’t agree?
Tell me, how is you denying our labour rights, our human rights, and speaking over us, anything else than blatant misogyny and transphobia.
Intersectionality, your intersectional feminism, is not a buzzword. It’s responding to the reality that’s right in front of you.
Nothing about us without us!