Hello and welcome to a new corner of EVE.
EVE uses our lived truths to expose the truth of what happens in the sex industry with the hope of creating real change in the public’s consciousness of the industry. We also work alongside a wide variety of organizations and groups that are pushing for legal and policy reform that focus on ending the demand for paid sex as well addressing the peripheral issues that impact the lives of women and girls.
To share our stories with a wider audience we created this space to share our truths with you, here is our first one and hopefully not our last!
Here in Canada Labour Day is just behind us as I sit and write this piece for EVE. I have experienced over 50 changes in seasons over my lifetime, and as I write this piece my sentiments once again are shaded with the colours of fall as summer comes to an inevitable close in just a few short weeks’ time. The leaves are slowly beginning to turn orange. families are in the grocery stores coordinating lunches and snacks for their young ones to take to school with them. Short term plans are less about patios and beaches and are more about getting our fall jackets out and ready for the cooler weather come. In the moment though we are all still making the very most out of every warm and sunny day that comes our way, and in the moment is where I have learned to stay.
Before I get too carried away with what many Canadians, Ontarians in particular, experience at the beginning of September, I must remember that for many Canadians these seasonal experiences do not exist in the moment in the same way. I remember a time, over many years, when the seasons did not impact me very much at all. I remember a time when bar rooms, strip bar rooms, were my only source of income and I was in them for most of my awake life at that time just trying to stay alive. Many times fall would turn to winter and I had not even brought my winter boots to that town or city let alone a winter coat, but I still had to go out to get my coffee and cigarettes in the morning even in snow storms. That time in my life was a time of constant fear, constant crisis, depression, despair, and not letting any of it show most of the time because – I couldn’t. I had an image to protect that was my only source of income and survival. All my memories and cues that where being formed and stored had to do with how I was going to be able to make money that night, what happened the night before that could impact my safety and image the following night, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of despair, thoughts of my humiliation and deep beliefs that I would never make it in the world outside of the sex trade – so what’s next?
All of this is to say that my time in the sex trade was not making memories based on changing seasons but of mere survival and moving from one crisis to another and one trauma to another and I will leave it there. I have learned not to re-traumatize myself with the past. It was a good and necessary step to relearn my past and to learn that there were real and meaningful structures and circumstances way beyond my control that led to my becoming dependent on an industry where women are exploited, harassed, assaulted, coerced, not respected and raped(many times) and never complain against men about it. I didn’t. You blamed yourself or you became a threat … or should I say unlikable and unattractive and you would not make that much needed money you needed to survive.
So, I drank – a lot.
As my memory banks are filled now, today, the present, with thoughts of fall and not of complete and utter fear of my tomorrows, I remember that fall is a time of great excitement for those who are beginning post-secondary education institutions and taking those first and important steps toward building a career. Many are filled with hope and dreams of bright tomorrows. I also know that with hope comes stress. In the case of attending a college or university there is the stress of having student loan applications come back because of a missing piece of information even though you still need to buy your books and pay your rent right now in the immediate. The stress of having assignments due and you could do so much better on them if you had more time but you need your job and your job needs you. The stress of sexual harassment and discrimination. For women, trying to laugh off intellectually discouraging “jokes” about not needing an education(I’ll leave it there) or being labelled as not understanding humor. These pressures exist as much today as they did in my day and my advice after 50 years of lived experience is this:
Hang in there!!
These pressures will come and they will go. But the world that remains — needs you. The world needs you to be a doctor. The world needs you to fail at being a doctor and become an engineer or a teacher or a business leader instead. The world needs you in your poverty. The world needs who you are because the world needs your friendship. The world needs you to be present. The world needs you to stand against the sex trade. The world needs you to stand against exploitation. The world needs you to care.
Most who attend post-secondary education institutions, at this point in time, care, and want to make a positive impact in the world.. I know I did. We care for our own lives, we care for the lives of our friends and families (who are and who are yet to come), and we more often than not care for the world at large. Care at this time, no matter how old we are when we invest in our futures in this way, is fledgling and strong, and it is at the crux of who we are and who we will become and is an indication of the impact – we will – have in the world. What is so important at this time in our lives is that we not give into the defeat of the “I don’t care” but to work thorough the sometimes very painful emotions of the — “I care”.
The sex trade relies on an “I don’t care” (sigh or laugh ha ha ha) to grow because the sex trade relies on what we all know is unjust to exist. The sex trade relies on inequality. The sex trade sexualizes inequality and fetishizes it, therefore if you are against racism — you are against the sex trade, if you are against misogyny — you are against the sex trade. The ways in which we change the world and stand against racism, misogyny, ableism, and the sexual abuse of children is to care about the social discourse surrounding the histories and characterizations of these groups of people. The only way the sex industry gets away with eroticizing rape and sexual harassment, dehumanizing people of colour, characterizing sexual attraction to children and youth as innocent, the only step in the mental processes of the human being needed is found in the – “I don’t care”.
The world of commoditized sex perpetuates a world of mistrust, oppression, illusion, and disconnection from our very selves. For me there is no room for judgement for those entangled for their own survival and without help. The perpetuation of mistrust happens in a world you cannot trust in. For those who are at the brink of giving into the lies and illusions of the sex trade, thinking that sex is nothing more than a constructed value, and for those thinking “what is ‘sex’ really anyway? – I desperately need money for school and to survive so – later – I can have a better life”, I must tell you in care that the link between the internal development of the self and the external activity of sexual activity is inseverable. The sex trade will change your possibilities for later in life because the sex trade will change both you and it will create the world you live in later. As Trisha Baptie once explained paraphrased: “money is not inherently bad, nor is sex inherently bad, but it is the combination of the two that amounts to sexual abuse.” In every sector of our world bribing someone for sex is called sexual harassment, not because sex is bad but because it is an abuse of power even if the person being exploited gets the job promotion! We want to live in a world free from the abuse of power and all its effects on us, so we need to see it and resist it and stand against it
Never let it be said that the sex trade is a free or fair choice but we must chip away at it’s illusions to build a strong momentum against it and help each other resist it through our informed understanding of its effects and advocacy against the conditions that perpetuate it. Those who have fallen have fallen because of a lack of cultural resolve to care about inequalities and to care about and not mistreat – anybody. The life you will create for yourself by feeling the sometimes difficult emotions of fully caring for yourself, your fellow human beings, and the future of the world we live in, is in complete contrast to a life created in the prophetic of the “I don’t care” of the sex trade. We must care. For those who can’t get out we must care, and it’s never too late.
As someone learning to enjoy every season and anticipate good things to come, I confess — It’s never too late.
“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”
― e.e. cummings