Recently, Bella Robinson and I had the opportunity to meet at an undisclosed location with sex worker and activist Tara Burns. She has previously written on sex worker issues for AlterNet, VICE, and The New Inquiry, among other publications, and is author of the book Whore Diaries: My First Two Weeks As An Escort. She now is currently a registered lobbyist in Alaska and is working to improve sex worker rights with Community United for Safety and Protection as a board member of that organization.
Q: How do you think politicians need to talk about issues about sex workers?
A: I think they should talk to sex workers.
On Left wing thinking about sex work:
Prostitution is really radical within capitalism in that it’s a way that working class people can basically go and redistribute the wealth of the 1%.
On Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien’s recent statements intending to close massage parlors:
A lot of times, massage parlors are places where women have a lot more agency over what services they’ll choose to provide and how much they’ll charge for their services.
During the interview, Burns and I touched on a variety of topics that are wholly unique due to the fact she has been both a sex worker and academic who studied these issues in graduate school. “I got into graduate school and I started to think how policy was interacting with experience and I started to read research that said maybe those bad experiences I had [with anti-sex worker laws] were more common… I realized it’s really systemic and I thought ‘well, if I’m going to do anything with my life, I’m going to change this’.” This perspective gives a key set of insights on the topic that are extremely valuable when discussing the issues at hand. As a result, we go across the spectrum, discussing everything from Marxist theories about sex work to how she entered the industry and police harassment. This conversation is split over two tracks and can be accessed here.
Sex workers interested in joining in the unionizing efforts can contact Madeira Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org and Bella Robinson at email@example.com. Sex worker readers interested in contributing their voices to this continuing project are invited to contact our publication. Conscientious of the challenges facing laborers, we will offer a variety of options to protect contributors. Interested parties can contact Andrew.James.Stewart.Rhode.Island@gmail.com.