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What the Thankful Whore Is Thankful For - By - November 25, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

What the Thankful Whore Is Thankful For

I have complicated feelings about Thanksgiving. If it didn't inspire people to meditate on gratitude, volunteer their time, and donate to food banks, I don't think it would have such a glowing reputation. As a holiday, it's barely not Columbus Day. (We all know about the genocide by now, right?) False histories aside, the food certainly helps, though. (When else is it acceptable to have three slices of pie for dessert under the premise of not wanting to offend?) But it hardly balances out the high-stakes drama that often plays out among families during the giant, gluttonous holiday that comes just one moth before the other giant, gluttonous holiday that also puts families on edge.

Still, gratitude is powerful, and our great nation, built on slavery and colonialism, could certainly use a Grand Canyon-sized helping of it every year. So, this week, I have made a list of things that this lucky little whore is thankful for. I encourage you to follow suit.

I am thankful for the internet. Obviously, I'm super-stoked that I don't have to talk to another human and be held accountable for how much Chinese food I order when sitting home alone on a Friday night, but I'm specifically grateful for the safety it can afford sex workers. For starters, placing the crucial barriers of time and space between oneself and one's client allows for screening. At the very least, you get a moment to check your Spidey sense. When sex workers can manage their own ads, as well as book and screen their own clients, they don't need to rely as much on third parties, potentially protecting them from exploitation. The internet plays a key role in keeping the work safe, as well as independent.

I am thankful for allies. Every day, I am truly amazed and grateful that my parents don't make faces about what I do for a living — yet I know not everyone is so lucky. But I think the ranks of those who support the human rights of sex workers — or, better yet, love and value sex workers as an integral and important part of humanity — are growing. Each day there are more of us, and with big human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on our side, it may not be long before those who support us outnumber those who do not. I can't wait for that day, but for now, I am incredibly thankful for the fierce allies that we already have.

I am thankful for the whores of the American musical. I spend a lot of time criticizing the way sex workers are portrayed in media. Television and movies often see us as disposable, not worthy of character development. Long before I knew I'd make a career out of selling sex, I was fascinated by the figure of the whore, as portrayed in musical theater. The dockside prostitutes in Les Misérables seemed to whisper of a secret world of sin and sisterhood that called to me. Pirate Jenny was clearly the coolest character from The Threepenny Opera. And, of course, the incomparable Dolly Parton as the Wild West's friendliest trafficker in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas convinced me that if these characters could be heroes on stage, then I bet there'd be hero-whores out there in real life, too.

I am thankful for anti-trafficking organizations that don't totally suck. In the wake of shady operations like The Somaly Mam Foundation, which shuttered quickly in the night after allegations of fraud, it's nice to know that there are at least a few non-profits out there that are survivor-led and want to work in partnership with sex workers. Check out The Wayne Foundation, and more locally, Oakland's Regina's Door.

And finally, I am thankful for hoes. All of us. Many would say we make this world more deplorable, but I know in my bones that we make it better. I'm thankful for the lore that gets passed down between us, from how to tell if he's a cop to the divine secrets of make-up sponges. Our wisdom spans generations. From the strippers of North Beach to the street workers on International Boulevard and beyond, I am thankful for our work, our hustle, our fight. May it not be in vain!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Next year, I know we'll have even more to be thankful for.