So this week, something cool happened, and this something cool was the revelation that Renegade Evolution is in the Top 30 Feminist Blogs, according to statistics.
I consider Ren a good friend, so a congratulations of a personal nature is in order. Yay! Squee! And so on.
But what makes this particular inclusion so special – other friends of mine are on the list as well, including the lovely Daisy – is that Ren’s blog is the blog of a sex-worker: sometimes caustic, sometimes scary, often embattled, and always straight-up and honest.
I know that some people reading this right now are going “whatever. You’re just happy that Ren was included because she perpetuates the myth of the Happy Hooker. And that myth allows you to sleep at night. Jerk.”
Of all the people I know, Ren is among those who are least likely to sugarcoat anything. I don’t believe in sugarcoating when it comes to this subject either – especially as it pertains to things like trafficking, et cetera. But I also believe that the real reason why Ren is accused of being a liar and a shill is because one of the main ideas behind her blog is that sex-work first needs to be a choice, and a safe choice at that.
What she doesn’t say is that sex-work everywhere must be wiped out. Neither does she say things like “well, it’s all horrible, but I’m a realist, so let’s make it as safe as we can first and then worry about getting rid of it.” No. She likes her job. And that grates on people in a big way.
Most often, people who attack Ren and her blog point to any number of truly distressing blogs and/or negative accounts of women in sex-work and say: “Do you see? This is the REALITY that Ren is trying to deny.” Or else they say, “Ren’s the minority anyway, why should she count?”
First of all, Ren isn’t trying to deny anything. She’s truthful, sometimes brutally so. Of course, she also doesn’t buy into the idea that almost all of the developed world’s sex-workers hate what they do. She believes that nobody is blissfully happy for every moment that they spend in this industry either. That there are many people who are clearly forced, others who saw no way out, others who are very conflicted, others who are somewhat conflicted, others who love it and hate it, others who are “blah” about it, and so on – she believes, overall, that the sex industry is made up of human beings
When I complain about, say, some person promising me an article and then forgetting about the deadline and acting like a huge ass about it later – it’s not at all the same as Ren complaining about abusive men shouting racist insults at her while she’s out doing her job as a stripper.
Sex-work, like working as a miner or a career soldier, can turn dangerous in a flash. If you have a bad day as a sex-worker, there is a chance that it’s a really bad day.
But, when you hear about a mine collapsing in Donbas, you don’t go – “shut down those freaking mines.” Instead, we say – “how can we make these people’s jobs safer?” Not so with sex-work.
Many people think that human civilization can somehow be re-educated, so that sex-work will one day disappear. I don’t know whether or not this belief is erroneous, I cannot peer into the future of the human race, but I do know that this belief is used to dismiss people like Ren. Hell, on a bigger scale, this belief is used by society to sweep the concerns and needs of sex-workers aside, even when it comes to those who just desperately need to get out of the industry or else desperately need better conditions. They must all wait for some form of enlightenment, you see.
I believe that one of the reasons that Ren *should* in fact be listened to, whether she is in a minority or not, is because as a sex-worker herself, she has excellent insight. If I were to wake up tomorrow and find myself President of the United States – Ren would be on my anti-trafficking task force. She would be one of the women advising my committees on what to do about child pornography, prostitution of various kinds, obscenity laws, etc. Her voice is not only important, she is also practical. She treats people like individuals, including those women who hate the business she likes, and she understand that there is no such thing as a consensus on the issue, that it’s nuanced, and that no one’s experience is universal.
Also, if I were to wake up tomorrow and find out that one of my friends who is currently in sex-work wants to get out and needs help, I would not go to the people who spend most of their time talking about the evils of sex-work (even though I agree that there are many sex-workers experiencing many evils). I would call up Ren. And ask for advice. I know that, like with everything else, the advice I would get would be honest.
Ren isn’t going to giggle and go, “but why? WHY? Why does your friend want to get out of something as wonderful as sex-work? What’s her PROBLEM?” Because, no matter what people want to say, she’s not like that.
So even though she doesn’t call herself a feminist, Ren is, in fact, an Important Feminist Blogger. And this isn’t a fluke, and neither it is due to the fact that those of us who read her are clueless or otherwise invested in the idea that the suffering that goes on in the sex industry somehow doesn’t matter. It does. If we are to continue adequately tackling that suffering, we need someone as bullshit-free as Ren on our side.