obviously I need a good woman to tell me what to do

So I came back from Burning Man (which I'll tell you all about in detail later) to find in my inbox an article written by the incredibly pompous Julie Bindel in G3 (a free UK lesbian mag) about how lesbian strippers are leading women to "act like men" and be abusive or some such bullshit. "Even lesbians who don't give a toss about feminism should at least care about women being abused by other women!" she cries in an inflammatory op ed piece. Included, of course, in her wrath is how San Francisco made things like lesbian sex workers, S/m, and porn acceptable. I can't help but think she hasn't come to San Francisco ever in her life.

I was infuriated enough to write a response. Haven't sent it in yet. What are your thoughts?
"I felt exploited.
I had to sit, and smile, and pass as pretty and feminine, with perfect makeup and an eager-to-serve demeanor. I had to laugh it off as my opinions were ignored in preference to my appearances. I had to keep my brain stashed away, because I wasn't there to be intelligent.
I was working as front of house for a marketing company, and I never felt more helpess and unhappy in my life.
So, I quit, and became a freelancer. I set up my own hours, gave myself the free time I needed when I needed it, decided how I wanted to save my money and what sort of workplace I wanted to be in. More to the point, I never bowed down to a (typically male) boss again.
I became a sex worker. A dominatrix, mostly, but an escort sometimes as well. And good god, I couldn't be happier. I've worked with shy, geeky men, bi-curious older women, and kinky couples wanting to learn some new skills. I've helped disabled people discover their sexuality, and sexual trauma survivors reclaim sensual touch. I have a lot of compassion for my clients, who either can't find the sex they're looking for because they're not sure how or who to ask for it, or because they want a one-time, low drama experience. And personally? As a queer girl, my experiences with casual encounters on gumtree has led to me preferring to pay for what I want too. Almost all of my clients have a guilt complex about coming to me to ask for what they want, and the recent article in G3 just further exposed why they come to me instead of talking to each other.
Julie Bindel's opinion piece about sex work (which also encompassed S/m and double ended dildos, curiously) irritated me. I'm 25. I'm really tired of other women telling me that I don't know what I enjoy and what's good for me. I'm an adult, making adult choices that I'm happy about, thanksverymuch. Never mind that she indicates that an interest in kink, phone sex, strap-ons and voyeurism is just thinly veiled abusive behaviour. More offensively, she interchangeably uses "abusive" and "masculine behaviour" like they're inexplicably one and the same. I can't be the first to point out that emotional abuse and maipulation is not an exclusively male world by any means.
I've lived in London and in San Francisco, and I can't help but think Julie Bindel must have never come here. Had she ever spoken to the girls at the Lusty Lady, the unionized peep show, or at Pink and White Productions or Cyberdyke, two of our local queer porn companies, and kept an open mind, perhaps she would actually hear what the women who work in these companies think and feel. I feel more patronized and exploited by her article than I ever have in my work as an escort and Dominatrix.
There are people who inform me that I'm exploited, that I sell my body and my self-esteem, that I'm abused. Well, sure, I don't always skip my way to work, and sometimes, I can't be bothered to smile and play nice. But two things- one? Sex work is still work, folks, and it has its ups and downs like any other job- just when you complain about working in a cubicle, people don't instantly start telling you to quit. Secondly, since I am in charge of my own schedule, if I have a bad feeling about a client or I don't want to go to work... I don't have to. And that's not because I earn crazy money per session, but rather because I've learned enough about finance to cushion those times when I need a break. Can you say the same?
If you want to address issues of exploitation, start by helping women, especially minority women, have better access to education, job training, childcare, and financial assistance. Many women go into sex work when they don't really want to because it's the only way they can support themselves and their families with little education and few resources. Other women work 2-3 jobs in order to scrape by. Situations like that breed resentment and exploitation, and are hotbeds for abuse. It's easy to point as sex workers and their clients and say "see, there! That's the problem!" but it isn't a source- it's a symptom of a deeper, more complicated issue. Never mind the fact that some of us queer sex workers actually quite enjoy our work- on our terms, with our boundaries respected, and our choices honored.
I doubt many people know this history, but there was a time in the mid 1800's where social justice was a big influence in the politics of the day. At that time, well-meaning activists insisted that women couldn't know or consent to their exploitation- women were strongly encouraged to leave the sex industry, one of the only ways women could independently support themselves with any success. Even Charles Dickens founded a home to help "fallen women" get "virtuous" jobs. Sound familiar?
The clash at the time between the Reform movement and the Repeal movement ended up birthing one of the greatest evils women lived with in the United Kingdom- Magdalene Asylums.
Julie Bindel, please don't speak for me. I'm capable of speaking up for myself."

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