Now that I've turned 30 and I'm about to get married, I know the questions about babies will start coming. Isn't my biological alarm clock supposed to go off any day now?
Older women have been telling me since my early 20s that, “Even though you don't want babies now, it'll happen soon.” But it's yet to happen, and I am probably OK with that.
As a kid, I was allowed to watch almost any scary movie I wanted. Poltergeist, Jaws, and Alien were some of my favorites. I'm sure my mother hoped that being exposed to a badass female like Ripley would be good for her budding feminist daughter, but Sigourney Weaver's moans and pleas for someone to end her life during the chest-burster nightmare in Aliens looked a lot like videos I had seen of women giving birth, giving me a lifelong, irrational fear of pregnancy.
But there's other, less irrational, fears that also prevent me from getting too serious about family planning.
I was at another sex worker's wedding earlier this month. It was a small affair, since the bride's family is no longer in her life, partially due to her profession. The groom's family wasn't exactly ecstatic about her profession either, but family members had come to the wedding anyway. In the days before, the groom's parents made a request to spend an afternoon with my friend's two young sons — alone.
That's probably a reasonable request for future grandparents to make, but when I caught wind of this while putting on mascara before the ceremony, I launched into a full-blown panic attack.
“They're going to try and take the babies!” I cried into my fiancé's arms, rubbing my mascara off on his pearl snap shirt. “I just know it. They're going to say she's an unfit mother because she does porn and they're going to try and take them away.” Though my reaction may have been based in paranoia, my fears are rooted in reality.
According to the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, a Swedish sex worker and activist who went by the name Petite Jasmine lost custody of her children because of her job. They were placed with her abusive ex-husband and Jasmine was denied protection from the state, despite her husband's history of violence and harassment. On July 11, 2013, Jasmine's ex-partner stabbed a social worker supervising a visit with her child and killed Jasmine.
While it is legal to sell sex in Sweden, it is illegal to buy it, creating a paternalisitic climate that views sex workers only as victims. Jasmine's legacy is a reminder of how sex workers are often treated like second-class citizens, even when their jobs are partially legal.
The father of my hypothetical children is not an abusive murder, but in the United States, my job isn't even half legal. What would happen if I were arrested? Would the state put my hypothetical children in foster care? Would my husband be thrown in jail and labeled my pimp? Would his parents, who disowned us, end up with custody of our hypothetical children because they live in a nice house in the Midwest and thus more worthy in the eyes of the law?
The rabbit hole I go down when I think about the risks of being a mother gets really dramatic, really fast, which is why I freaked out so much when I heard about my friend's sons spending alone time with their new, somewhat disapproving, grandparents.
Her boys will be flower person and ring bearer for my wedding in just a few weeks. They are some of the only kids in my life, and I consider them to be part of my family.
For sex workers, queers, and anyone else who faces the risk of being discriminated against in this country, bringing new lives into this world is a terrifying, albeit joyous endeavor.
My mom believed in the power of feminist sci-fi, but also that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that family isn't about whom you share blood with, but whom you share a life with.
If my biological alarm clock goes off and I decide to host an alien in my abdomen for nine months, so be it. But if it never does, that's OK too.