is absolutely unacceptable..
“Why are you sitting there drinking Naked Juice?“she said.
“Don’t one of those cost like $4?”
I was sitting on the floor, trying to get SUPPORTED. This woman really doesn’t care about what I put in my stomach. I had been coming to this anger management group which has been politically retitled “Rage Resolution” because anger, they think can be not managed but resolved. This Black woman was about 10 years or so older than me, had done sex work, drugs and more but of course, because in my report back to the group that I was still broke..she erupted into her criticism on what I chose to eat for dinner that nite: a Cliff Bar and a Naked Juice. $3 drink, $2 bar=$5 total. “Yuppie” nutrition and meal replacements that are NOT available for consumption in a good HALF of Los Angeles grocery and convenience stores and most definitely not available in stores in East AND South Central LA. No one would spend $5 on a bottle of protein and a chunk of calories that looked like a piece of turd but filled you up. They would rather spend $6 on a Carl’s Jr meal with fries and a big drink. (Cuz it makes you feel FOOL!)
But it wasn’t about the implied yuppie foods it was the fact that I was even EATING at all and daring to call myself BROKE. Because if I was truly broke, I wouldn’t have food to eat at all. (You could live in Aaaafrica! or Innnndia! or Skid Row! they say, but even if you came from those places or lived there now, they would NOT care about you more or less).
I shouldn’t have $10 to pay for a group full of mostly court mandated clowns who would use the 2 hour group to put their 2 cents towards strangers on how they should think and live their lives. I was there voluntarily. In fact, including the group I have clocked in 5 hours of therapy THIS WEEK. I am soooo privileged. I am eating. I am soooo privileged. I have money to medicate with marijuana. Even if I don’t spend a lot of money on it, but rather sell it off to other friends so I can get mine for free. Even if I trade sex or companionship with lovers who grow or growers who love so I can stay medicated on my transitioning sex worker budget. Nope, that’s not good enough for THEM. Because then you are a drug addict and they can put you into a little box and throw you and your ideas out. Even if you have a medical prescription people will still say “medicate” as if it is a joke. And this is also partly a joke in the medical marijuana community because our “medicating” sometimes looks like it’s fun, but that’s only if you are looking at half of the pictures.
They wan’t you starving, bleeding, and DEAD. But as you walk in zombie form around the world, dying they look at you and don’t feel anything different. They don’t give you money, love, blankets, shelter. They won’t get a gun so you can shoot yourself. Just leave him! Just get off your medication! and then once you do and you are feeling the pain from that They will just look blankly at you as if you are not their problem. And then they go on with their miserable pathetic lives. But they’ll probably say some ignorant comment first and call your suffering melodramatic.
The same woman who had her comment about my dinner also burst into laughter after I talked about my car/rape symbolism. and she was a sex worker and a woman of color who used drugs all her life. Did that make her an ally? Hell no.
I should have kicked her ass.
My therapist knows that I medicate with marijuana. It was one of the main interview questions that I ask them when I decide whether I can pour my guts out to them safely. Don’t try to stop me from doing sex work. Don’t try to stop me from smoking weed. Those things are immutable and inflexible until I decide that they are. I am not here to work on abstaining from any of those things…(I have already gone through a cycle of therapy trying to do that “unsuccessfully.” I am a harm reductionist, not a 12 stepper). One time the last 3 whiteboy roomates that I had at this “bohemian” warehouse tried to pull a marijuana intervention on me. To appease them, I attempted to stop smoking for 3 weeks. At the end of 3 weeks, when I broke down and told them I was going to start smoking again, one of them said,”Oh, You weren’t doing that for us. I thought you wanted to do that.” or something…I don’t even remember but I’ve been high everyday since then AND if I see those fuckfaces in this city I don’t even acknowledge their presence. If you want me to live my life without my medication, then WHAT do you propose you will provide me to replace it? Oh, right, that’s not your problem. Deep breathing and meditation? Yoga? Walking? Journal writing? Singing? Dancing? Art? Activism? Yes, yes, drug counselor..thank you. I do all those things while medicated. If I weren’t medicated, at times, I doubt I would be so profilic and functional. I’ve cut back on alcohol almost “as a drug” because it makes me black-out after too many. My first date rape at 17 was under the influence of alcohol and let’s just say that I have not really gained the trust back in how “people” will act towards “drunk girls.” (You can even go to your free internet porn channel and it’s actually a genre of porn that you can watch (rough sex with a ‘drunk and stupid’ girl), and I have to confess because the way that I was raped was nothing as sexy as that, the clips actually turns me on while it disturbs me as a whole but I’m not on a crusade to ban its distribution or existence. They also have Japanese Hentai porn which is the same as it’s always been Japanese schoolgirls getting raped and forced to LOVE it: also designed to stimulate and if you watch it long enough, the sounds alone will turn you on!). Those directors are like, hey, who said Rape was about power? We want to put the SEX back into rape! And they and their all male video crew give each other high fives, and they slap about $600 cash in the hands of their consensual victim and she is happy too. Because she was probably a survivor and needed to re-enact her shit too and that’s why she enjoys scenes like that…
There was a time that I used to only be able to hit the stage WASTED. I would down a few shots before stumbling on, and then I would wake up throwing up and miserable..crawling to my bong to ease my alcohol poisoning. But of course, if you don’t drink or smoke weed all of this might as well be in Korean. It’s why I love Amy Winehouse. She’s a beautifully talented trainwreck that everyone criticizes. I probably love pot as much as she loves alcohol. But we are raw like Billy Holiday, going through our pain and singing our pain away on and off stage. This is not JUST a music video, this is our lives…So don’t tell us NOT to get wasted because you are not the director and producer of OUR LIVES. But, sometimes the drugs and escape mechanisms can kill us too…that’s why I picked marijuana as well. Maybe I’m not as suicidal and self destructive as I think I am.
When I was a student teacher at one of the most rough at-risk school in LA, and I would come home and cry every nite and then some nights had to be strong enough to go to class at night to complete my Masters Degree. I did it all with the help of Mary Jane…She held my hand and walked me to class and kissed me on my forehead before I went in. That’s when I was living with the aforementioned roommates…sneaking a bong hit out the window of my own room! Even though, some would easily say prostitution or sex work is the REASON I medicate, I would say that teaching high school was also a continuation with that dance with men, misogyny and male violence. I wrote my Masters Inquiry on it actually based on a teenage student who insisted on calling me “sexy” instead of my name. I was challenged in different but sometimes equally or more violent ways as a teacher, I witnessed a “race riot” or fight of about 20-30 students and about 10 riot pepper spraying school police first hand so I’m not sure sometimes, if people say that teaching is safer than sex work.
I did do a 3 week VOLUNTARY cleanse for ME once last year. I have done it recently. But, I believe I am highly functioning train wreck. marijuana allows me to medicate the pain but be highly functional. It is better than alcohol, heroin, other prescription anti-depressents, vicodin makes you itchy, valium makes you forget…(which many people in pain will float to as an option..)
Everyone wants you to leave your bad relationship but they will not be there when you are alone. They do not even attempt to suggest a replacement for what you cling to that crutch for. And sometimes, the pain, like the pain I feel from my mother rejecting me doesn’t go away for years. And once you are a survivor of trauma, the world doesn’t stop being traumatic or get any safer, so if you have PTSD from previous trauma there is A LOT that can trigger you. But most of the time the freak outs are few and far between as I have worked very steadily on my healing and nursing my fears. I usually reserved those outbursts of anger, shouting, and shoving with someone that I loved. My[ex] boyfriend. The article in Salon.com talks about the passion and intimacy that fighting really is, and why, to me Fight club is such a gay [homo-erotic] movie. When I said that in Rage Resolution, the Black man across from me flew into a rage about it! [because that would mean that he was mandated to this group because HE was gay] I find out later that the GUY that he talks about knocking out cold in a Del Taco was actually a FEMALE TRANSGENDERED woman.
Also on my list, is “do not try to convert me to your religion or ideology” which is what a number of people would like to do with people like me. But I reflected last night, that I haven’t had anyone try to convert me to any organized religion since my undergrad college days. I must give off the untouchable sinner vibe that the Mormons don’t even want to approach. I’m sure people think that “I am as bad as the mormons.” But I don’t knock door to door, people come to me usually. They come to hear me speak or ask me questions, and sometimes they violently try to convert me with their rudeness, or their “interventions of love” but that never works. The system tried to convert me, but I am still working albeit very little but I believe if your religion is America and American “Freedom” then once you read about and experience who the laws are designed to protect, and once you realize that it isn’t you then you can easier change religions.
I was talking about how the CAR was an extension of your BODY, and your LIFE which is encased inside of it as you drive it. When I had a Toyota SUV, my car was broken into 5 times. The 5th time it was completely stolen and gone for almost 2 weeks before it was recovered. That year was extremely traumatic for me. I even walked up on a transient guy going through my truck, scavenging around. I caught him in the act of this, but didn’t kick the door closed on his torso which was halfway inside the scene of the crime. We had a verbal confrontation and he ran away. He said he wasn’t the one who broke the window.
I should have kicked his ass.
If I were a “real” man, I would have. Instead I drove to the class I was going to be teaching and shared my anger with my students. That was almost 4 years ago. That poor car was totally cursed. Three years later, after I got the car back from the impound, I slid on black ice in the Bear Valley of California, crashed into a sideroad boulder and then another truck crashed into me from behind so hard that the back glass window shattered. Have you ever been in a car that was hit by a car? It hurts. Marijuana (eating not smoking) and massage nursed me back to health again. Considering all of the car accidents I have survived (one time, I hit the center divide of a freeway at 80 mph and walked away) I guess it would seem like a sort of a slap in God’s face to say that I feel so hopeless I want to die sometimes. I know that I do not have PTSD from just sexual violence. And suprisingly I was NOT high or drunk on anything when I looked death in the face behind the wheel that one near fatal day (and I’ve been in about 5 other not as major car accidents in 16 years, is that better than the average truck driver?)
I felt raped every time I would come back to a large puddle of broken glass, my clothng and CDs strewn all over, amputated stereo wires and receiver guts spilling out of the dashboard. File a police report. Are they going to investigate and attempt to catch the perpetrator? No. They are not even going to pretend to care. I paid out of pocket everytime. Just under the $500 deductible but way over my income disposable at any given time. I suffered finnancially and felt that this act of invasion was out of my control and one of my family members shook their heads and implied me somehow at fault. It’s hard to distinguish between the car accidents, parking and speeding tickets (which are my fault BUT also the very profitable industry of policing and fining drivers as part of the state revenue that plays a huge role) and the car jack and break ins (which are not my fault and San Francisco is known for). This has been a symbol of all the many times I have been sexually violated and have not used the police to help me “catch the guy” or help me to heal.
I know, I am NOT the perfect victim. I smoke weed everyday. I eat. I don’t have enough of a drug problem for you to discount me. I am a sex worker. I have a car. I still have food to eat. I have a laptop that I got from a sugar daddy but that I could sell if I needed to pay my rent. But then if I sold my laptop, it might make me feel more hopeless, even if it helped me stay housed. It would be a sad day indeed. My computer symbolizes any hope I have for the future. And once I give that to some hustler for half of what it’s worth because I am really that desperate it will be the end. So I guess, to the critics credit, since I haven’t yet stooped that low, then perhaps I did have an option that I hadn’t yet considered. But a miserable one to wish on someone. I chose to forfeit something less tangible. I dropped my car insurance until I can get more income. I am driving illegally. I still have things. Services on the verge of being disconnected but nevertheless you have services. VOICE OF JUDGMENT AND CRITICISM: “You need to appreciate your life and all that you have. You are just an ungrateful selfish piece of shit and you need to shut your mouth everytime you think you want to share your feelings with the world. Because unless you are the perfect victim, no one cares. And even if you are, they are just pretending to care, by making comments about your life or maybe they’ll suddenly start caring during your funeral, but unless you are Robert Kennedy or michael Jackson, no one will even know that you are gone.”
I am parked in the parking lot of my PO Box. A small unconventionally dangerous to squeeze in lot with a rent a cop Korean security guy with sunglasses and a nitestick. There are a TON of parking lots like this in LA. I’ve been hit in one parking lot (her fault) and been in one other collision which was another her fault while driving this car that I currenly drive which is OWNED mostly by Chase Bank, not me. I recently got into a smash up that was my fault but because of car insurance, I was covered. They were covered. I am very very familiar with filing claims with insurance companies and how long the whole process takes. I am very aware of how insurance companies create a barrier between the rage that occurs between the two drivers that have collided. Like lawyers act as a mouthpiece for the convicted so they don’t tear out the eyes of the cop that arrested or beat them up.
We start to exchange information and I have to reveal to this guy, who I’ll call Kumar (cuz he looks like and his about the age of the Indian actor who played Kumar in Harold and Kumar stoner films) that I don’t currently have insurance. He reveals to me that he WORKS for an insurance company and that he and 3 other clowns were out on lunch. “Wow. How hilarious.” I say sarcastically.
“And what are you doing parked in a loading zone? Did you pull in AFTER I was already backing up?” he said.
“NO. I was sitting here trying to have a nice day, checking my messages when you BACKED INTO me.”
“Well look, I’ll help you out here.” he said looking at the shark bite in my left fender. “I can give you $200 cash for the damage then and then we’ll just say it’s even.”
“You mean to tell me that you work in insurance claims all day long as your day job and you’re going to estimate that damage at $200 knowing that NOTHING on a vehicle costs $200 when it’s been hit” I said. One of my mirrors is missing half of the plastic cover cuz I hit it off someone’s fence. “Replacing the driver side mirror in it’s entirity is like $250.00 from the dealer, I said, that’s why I haven’t done it. There’s no way that repair of that is going to be $200. You are totally exploiting my situation.” I said. “But, hey, there’s nothing keeping you here. You CAN just walk away and screw me if you wanted.”
“How do you know it was me who did that? Maybe you already had that damage? You’re car is pretty banged up”he said.”Like in the same accident that broke your mirror. And this is a loading zone, you aren’t supposed to be parked there!”
“But you STILL would have hit me, if I was a truck or a car. So your logic is not a good enough answer for you to not be at fault.” I argued.
“But then if you were a truck, I would have saw you.” he said not getting nearly as angry as me, mocking me..
“Look, I gotta get back to work, so you can either take it or leave it.” he said.
“Are you trying to deny that you FUCKING hit me??” I yelled and I could feel myself boiling up. “I can’t even talk to you right now. Just write your name and info here.” I said and sat in my car to cool down else I might try to knock this guy out in front of his stupid clown insurance friends.
I was already unstable and depressed about my finnancial situation, my loss of trust in so called friends and lately because so many people have questioned my right to call myself a survivor, I have been remembering and rethinking about all of the sexual trauma that I have survived in my life throughout the week. I couldn’t believe this guy was trying to blame me! It was all so symbollic of male privilege and power that my trigger was flicked and now I was full of rage at all the rapists and men with male privilege in the world.
I wanted to kick his ass. To knock him out in one fell swoop and jump on his 5’8, 160 lbs body and start punching him and screaming,”What the FUCK do you mean it’s not YOUR fault???” I would start hitting him and not stop…
but I didn’t. On Facebook, I posted an article on the West Virginia rapist, “The father of five children and midget football coach did not testify. But jurors watched a taped interview in which he confessed to picking up at least 15-20 prostitutes and holding a knife to their throats or choking them while he had sex with them.” He is a handsome Polynesian looking guy who picks up street workers with baby seat in his car. He is a family man, community member, misogynist and violent rapist and even though he is in West Virginia I feel that he is living in my neighborhood too…
When I watched “Boys Don’t Cry” with my then boyfriend and he didn’t feel moved, and every time he insisted on calling a transgender person by the wrong pronoun, I felt like he could be even sleeping in my bed.
“We take shoving to be a provocation after which one is justified in committing violence. But kids shove. Brothers shove each other. We can shove each other. A shove is nothing. It is just a shove. There is no logical reason why it should lead to violence. It is perhaps technically battery. But the rules and laws around battery and assault, I would argue, are also formed around our the cultural assumptions of a fundamentally violent culture. We all know the dance. Why could not two men simply have a harmless shoving contest? It would be funny. Consider what the shove actually says. What the shove says is, I love you and I want to feel the violence of my love for you by having some contact. The shove says, I want some pain inflicted, will you please engage in some mutual infliction of pain? I need some pain. The shoving says, here, look at what I am willing to do: I am offering myself to you, to be beaten. Will you please attack me so I feel whole again? Here, look, I will shove you again. That is my request. The shove says, “I want you. I want you to beat me.” I beat up a guy and now I feel guilty (Salon) (via melissa)
The dance of violence between men and men is one that men who grow up are very familiar with. Most men have gotten into at least one fight. most men fear violence as much as women do but express it through posturing, homophobia, rape, pre-emptive ass kickings..
But women have that desire in them too. We are raised in a violent culture, where fighting and war are the ultimate symbol of triumph, conquer and revenge: power. I always move to want to fight with men. My ex and I got into some screaming raging public fights, and I have even thrown lite objects at him and punched his chest like the powerless little girl that I am. I loved him, so I trusted him enough to have further outbursts of rage like I had never done with anyone else before…this is the secret language of Domestic Violence that they don’t teach you and that the survivors aren’t allowed to really express. But when we went to couples counseling once, and the counselor asked me if I had ever hit him and I said yes, then I became the batterer and HE was the victim and we were not allowed to receive services because we did not match their criteria. Neither he nor I were the perfect enough victim.
but i never have done more than really close posturing and running away from angry gorillas.
My last 3 years as an agency escort was about my dance with sexual violence and misogyny. I would act and re-enact scenes which begged the collaboration of the dance of violence and gang rape, male privilege and power. I was literally asking for it or the system in place set us up to have to fight our way our of some ugly negotiations. I WANTED to have the LAURA CROFT BARB WIRE ending to my next attempted rape. Whatever it was that they were going to give me was going to be given to me in a clear cut blow. I would feel their fist connect with my face. I would fall to the ground. I would be the perfect victim. Except that i was a whore and my “friend” had just stolen $300 from him. I thought for some reason, that I would be okay in a houseful of 5 guys who had just gotten ripped off. I even told her she could go! Older brother started screaming through the house like an ape banging on his chest. He came for me. “YOU ARE NOT LEAVING THIS HOUSE UNTIL YOU GIVE US THAT MONEY.” I handed my stack of cash out of my purse and headed straight for the door. He chased me out the house, yelling at me the whole time to continue his little war dance over me as I drove away..
I survived that. I drove back home from Chatsworth, shook up. Sat at my desk while the sun came up, while I watched the Latin workers start their rounds on Metro to start their work shift…smoking my post traumatic stress disorder into a soothing enough calm that I will be able to go to sleep for at least 6 hours during the day.
I have worked very long and hard hours on my recovery and wellness from sexual trauma, and for years before I identified as a prostitute I was very focused on sexual assault awareness activism as a platform for my mission to leverage male privilege once and for all! I did not plan to engage in this dance for 3 years, nor do I regret some of the amazing experiences that I did recreate. I did educate and empower men, I did provide and satisfy for them and they did tip me excessively on top of the agency fee MOST of the time, and that was why I did it for so long. I met my sugar daddy by stealing him from my agency, they don’t expect repeat business of course, and that is how the system is designed. So if I am able to appease their egos enough so they don’t chase me out of the house yelling then we have a great time and everyone is happy for a while..
When people pretend to care or understand it urks me. I ran from Candy the elderly Skid Row sex worker that I mentored to save my sanity. I am too unstable to deal so closely with someone else that is more unstable and self destructive than me. When people say “You aren’t suffering, if you were REALLY suffering you would be like THIS, or THIS or live HERE or look like THIS. And Candy was all of those things and more. And also she wasn’t. She was more capable than most people thought. She had an apartment and disability income. Streetwork was her “side job.” She used drugs to escape the pain and sex work to recreate and seek safety through the validation that sex work provides sometimes. I don’t think it was about the money. When I walked side by side with her, I would notice that people either cared for her or they looked at her with disdain and wanted her out of their business. She was the worker that the rapist in West Virginia would prey on. She looks “expendible” because her face and body show signs of drug abuse and self destruction, so therefore it would be fine to just off her. We would be doing her a favor..I came to know why she used drugs to escape and I felt scared of her. I felt like she was a reflection of who I could be if I changed from marijuana to crystal meth like her. And if I started to escape with meth for 30 years like her…but without blaming her, I blame others first. And I think of her when people say I don’t have it so bad because I know her and people don’t rush to help her either, and that was how she came to me, and because she was too engulfed in her pain and her addiction, I couldn’t hang on..Or else soon, we’d be sitting on the sidewalk scantily clad and fucked up, smoking crack out of the same lightbulb and spitting insults at passerbys in the park…
I got the other driver to pay $340 cash on the spot. I didn’t lose my drivers license. I didn’t fight him. I didn’t go to jail with an assault charge. I came out ahead. Unfortunately, the money has to go towards the rent instead of the repair of the car or even the acquisition of insurance but I am usually stressing about rent at this time of the month. Frantic and desperately waiting for the next call to come through. If I had dealt with it any other way, I would not have gotten paid. I had thought that money and emotional confrontations with strange men only happened in sex work, but apparently it happens in other situations too. I am thinking a lot about survival lately. People are confused with me because I am confused with me. I have survived a lot. But not as much as HER or HIM OR HER OR HER!!!!!! Everyone wants to play trauma Olympics or Oppression olympics because they are so wounded…but believe me my pain is as valid in my world as their is in their world. I pulled over after I pulled out of the parking lot and freaked out in tears. It was very difficult to keep my cool in that situation even though I felt like he was instigating me to lose it, even though he was completely oblivious. He was never admitting fault Even after he paid me, he was saying some “Next time you should…” sentence and I told him to stop talking and go back into his car. “Even as your paying me, you are not admitting fault.”I said,”that alone can make me want to kill you!” I’m sure they thought I was crazy.
I am working on touring and doing some events specifically around sex work and sexual violence. My story is very common for a lot of workers and I find that it is so challenging to not want to talk about the glaring negatives in our profession while we push towards decriminalization. I also find it interesting that I have never painted my work as all happy hooker or all victim of rape and serial murder but that both are simultanously true. This blog is part of the way that I survive the violence that I am asked to hold and not speak about. People do NOT want to hear about your pain. And if your pain is not as bad as their pain, then they will be sure to let you know and cause you more pain.
My self esteem is very low and I am having trouble believing that anything matters or that I will live to see any major changes in how sex workers are treated, or how many sexual assaults occur.
I am also interested in the emotional finnancial connection that many women and sex workers have around money and men. Most people have a very intimate relationship with money and ideology but many women who gained economic empowerment and perhaps surviving violence (from home or relationships) because they were able to not only survive against the odds, but also acquire above their projected or expected means can feel like they are going to DIE when it is SLOW.
I am in this book with 2 other sex workers..It’s exciting to have something to tour with and it was fortunate that Susan invited me to be a part of this proejct without me actually submitting. And now I am peddling it wherever I perform as part of my SURVIVAL INCOME. And would you believe that if I dare use that word like that people are all up in my Facebook!