Saturday, August 8, 2015

A side of the sex worker debate we don't usually consider

There's a moving and thought-provoking article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled 'Growing up in mum and dad's brothel: former university lecturer speaks out'.  It's a powerful testimony to the damage that a child can suffer in such an environment.  He went on to change his name and his lifestyle, but the scars never left his psyche.

Here's an excerpt.

On one occasion, standing in front of a small group of undergraduates, he tore up the lecture notes and began with a "free association" exercise. He said the word "prostitute" and got each student to give the word they most associated with it. Not a single person exhibited any kind of compassion or sense of understanding, he says.

"So I asked them if they thought they could learn anything from someone associated with a sex worker. The general response was laughter. I turned back to the board and read out what they had said about sex workers. There was a lot of giggling and a 'yeah, yeah, tell us something we don't know'.

"They quietened a little when I told them that these were people with family. I looked at them and saw that they, kind of, maybe, got the point in an abstract way but they were still in that playful, careless, disconnected frame of mind.

"I was so angry, I was shaking. I didn't know if I wanted to vomit or scream but I'm used to hiding my feelings and they never knew how hard it was to say a simple sentence in that quiet, yet carrying, voice that all good teachers learn to master.

"You do realise that you're talking about me, my mother, my family, don't you?

Sudden nervous laughter filled the room, he says. It fell away as they realised I was being serious. "A silence grew as they began to see me for the first time. A pin drop would have been noisy. In the moments that followed they redeemed themselves. They asked:  'Why? Why don't we know anything about the children of sex workers?'

"Being unseen is perhaps the best we have been able to hope for. And herein lies the banal roots of the structural violence directed against the children of sex workers. We are a group that is either not seen at all, we are an opportunity to exploit, we are an impediment to be removed, or we are simply intrinsically evil wastes of space that deserve to die."

There's more at the link.  Sad, reflective, and recommended reading.


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