Okay, so we’ve already had pointed out this story, the tale of a Gov. Official in Florida who was fired after he married a porn performer. The reason given? His choice of a spouse did not live up to the “Good Family Values” the city of Ft. Myers FL is trying to maintain…
Now, the cynic in me says that if Ft. Myers was so concerned with family values, they should be praising this guy for “making an honest woman” out of his long time partner and mother of his children…and hell need we remind anyone, Ft. Myers is often regarded as the birthplace of Spring Break and when it comes to porn production and the profit made due to it Florida is second only to California, but anyway…
This article made me decide to write about something I’ve been pondering for awhile now, and because I am so kind (ha) and what not, I thought I would save it for my stint here at Feministe…
There are a lot of things people who are not sex workers take for granted, and one of those things is the ability to be married. Nah, no room for critique of the institution of marriage here, that is another post, but let me let you in on a little secret: A lot of sex workers are married…and that is another place where they take it in the chops in a way other people may not understand.
I’m married, and while my job is not a huge source of strife within my marriage, as in, between me and Mr. Evolution…there is definitely some odd mojo going on in our lives because of my job. For example:
His parents do not know what I do for a living, nor, with any luck, will they ever- because flat out, they would not accept it and it would be a huge shit fest. His co-workers do not know. It is pretty much a given that around his family, his families friends, his co-workers, or various other people we know that when the “What do you do for a living” question comes up I will lie. I do not like doing this, but it is done. I actually like my job and take pride in my work, but that does not matter. There have been times where it has really, really pissed me off… as in, I am slated to work weeks in advance, his family will invite us up to see them or go somewhere, and I cannot go. The why I cannot go has to be lied about, which has at times led his family to think that I hate them, that I do not want to go places with them, that I am lazy and have no job at all, so on, so forth. I cannot tell them or a great many other people “Hey, I am speaking at college X about sex work” so they then wonder why I am just jetting off to MN or something. I cannot say I am going to this event or working on this scene or any of that. It is not done. It is also very possible, that like the folk in that news story, that my job could get Mr. E fired or some such thing. Even though what I am doing is legal.
And as always, even under often highly vaunted models like that one in Sweden, it is worse for those engaged in straight out prostitution. In Sweden, even with their model, it is illegal from one to benefit from the earnings of a prostitute. Which is to say, when said prostitute spends the money she has earned to put food on the table for a family, technically she is breaking the law.
And then, as always, there are the reactions of other people. People freak out at the idea of a sex worker being married. Any time I speak somewhere, the room sits and nods when I discuss performing act whatever in a porn scene, then gasp when I say I am married. “What about intimacy?” “What about fidelity?” and, my favorite (Mr. E’s too), “How can you let her do that?”/ “Your husband let’s you do that?”
The short answer is Mr.E…well, there is no “let” involved, but in any event, this is what one who is a sex worker can expect when people find out they are married. In this situation, not only does the sex worker get the great googlymoogly, but so does their partner. They get in on all the bullshit right along with their sex worker spouse.
They can be fired, they can lose their kids, they put up with all kinds of shit right along with their partner in that til death do you part kind of way. They (if male) get accused of being pimps, or abusive, or it is assumed they have forced their partner into the sex biz. It is just a whole extra load of shit sex workers (and their partners) get to deal with. I mean, if Jane the accountant married John the IT guy- well, no one would bat an eye.
If you are a sex worker? Well shit, then the rules are different. Just ask the Janke’s…or any other married sex worker.
The stigma and dehumanization, you see, runs very, very deep.
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