Dear Sex Worker Hater

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Hello Sex Worker Hater,

So, we meet again. You’re a shape shifter and I feel like I see you everywhere I go. I’ve spotted you on police forms for recovered bodies which had two categories: human and non-human. Guess which category specifically listed prostitutes? I don’t have to tell you, hater, you already know where you think sex workers belong.  I’ve heard your testimony at rape trials when the plaintiff’s occupation and clothing were judged more harshly than the actions of their rapist. You laugh at strippers when they believe they have the right not to be exploited with stage fees and racist policies and you think it’s hilarious when there is evidence of a battering behind sparkling eye makeup and feathered eyelashes.

You spend a lot of time at bars and parties whispering into someone’s ear that a person who sells sex and takes precautions for the health and safety of everyone involved is a baddirty person, forces you to wash your hands after contact. You’re not saying that you personally would go and cause violence against a sex worker but when it happens, well, the sex worker really should have seen it coming. In your mind violence, rape, and homicide are just the natural and obvious outcomes to be accepted by anyone who makes their living from sexual attraction. You sneak your way into activist movements and discount the opinions of whores because “they’re obviously stupid.”

You’re everywhere at once sex worker hater and I see you’ve been writing over at Cnet. Allow me to quote you:

The porn industry is undergoing considerable changes, especially with the huge proliferation of free online porn. Will the existence of PornWikiLeaks make some think twice about their chosen means of making money?

Or is the expectation now entirely reasonable that anything you do, anywhere, at any time could–at any moment–be revealed online for all the world to see, know, and, of course, judge? - on Cnet

Let’s clear a couple of things up, hater. First and foremost this information was obtained from private medical records. It isn’t a coincidence that one of the major ways that we protect our health and the health of our partners was sabotaged. It’s a clear message: you are not allowed to have both a non-traditional sex life and good health at the same time. This was an act of terrorism. According to your words, hater, we should just sit back and accept this as proper order of the world. We should just accept that mainstream medical care excludes us and degrades us and that if we develop a community model of care that people will do everything they can to shut it down. I guess we should have thought about that when we tried to pay our rent, have a relationship, be part of a family, or go on living our lives like anyone else. We should have just known that someone would eventually think that they were saving California from “Mexicans and gays trying to get married,” by illegally accessing our medical records and posting them on the internet with our real names and an incitement for harassment against us.

Whether or not our industry is conventional has nothing to do with what happened. For example, I think that it is unethical to set up sweatshops in developing nations to exploit the local labor force. If I put hacked into the HMO database for a major corporation with factories in developing nations and published the names and private information of thousands upon thousands of low level employees who worked for that corporation at any point in time on the internet alongside calls for harassment against them I would be immediately denounced as a deranged criminal who must be stopped immediately and that would be absolutely, 100% accurate. No one w0uld be debating whether or not those employees should be ashamed of working in retail. No one would suggest that the reason why they dropped their surname or opted for nickname on their employee badge was because they were trying to hide from their occupation. No one would speak as though they should have known that sooner or later someone would inevitably hack into their medical records and post their badge name next to their full legal name alongside libelous language and calls for harassment against them. We would solely focus on the actions of the deranged criminal and discuss ways that we can prevent that kind of illegal and dangerous behavior from happening again.

Like most haters, you’re getting defensive about the fact that people are calling you out for victim blaming. The opening and closing of an essay is prime real estate in a piece of a writing. It’s what people notice first and what they walk away with at the end.  This essay contained 538 words. The opening and closing  (103 words) constitute just under 1/5 (just about 20%) of the total essay length and both are dedicated to questioning whether or not porn performers should feel shame about what they do for a living rather than what actually happened or any form of compelling analysis. The reason that people are receiving this as victim blaming is because you opened your essay by saying, “For some reason, I am reminded of Eric Schmidt’s dictum. You know, the one that went something like: ‘If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.’” It communicates quite a bit about your priorities that you opened and closed your writing with a sentiment of judgement and shame.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a sex worker hater forever. You can choose to write something new, interesting, relevant, and original about what happened in this situation. You can choose to listen to this criticism and reframe your argument. You can choose to acknowledge that some of the people affected by the PornWiki might possibly be reading your column. You might even choose to apologize. At the very least you can acknowledge that you didn’t add anything to the argument by climbing up onto a moral high horse and wagging your finger at the whores down below to remind them that they shouldn’t expect the same kind of privacy that any other public figure expects. Don’t worry, including sex workers and talking about them ethically and honestly won’t turn you into one. It won’t even make you an ally. It just makes you less of a hating asshole. Anywhere you choose to go from there is up to you.

Sincerely,

A pornographic whore and hooker who is mad as hell and won’t take it any more

Maggie Mayhem, Photo by Courtney Trouble


Maggie Mayhem is a sex worker and political activist. More from this author →