Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It's hard out here for a tart

Strolling though the Page yesterday, I was struck by the wide variance in numbers of comments.

Whilst all things Atenco were garnering several hundreds, the poor Ladies of the Night have only collected 9 [even fewer than the CNI conference received], most of them having to do with breathless requests for photos, such a surprise.

And since we know I have nothing better to do at the moment, my mind began wandering aimlessly about, immersed in a happy fantasy of choice and direction. Faithful readers will know that this subject is quite dear to my heart.

First, as is my general wont, a word on words:

Sex workers.

Horrid, unremarkable, off-putting. The image brought to mind is 30s poster art: huge, sweaty, muscled steel workers, bending over for the good of mankind. Or Rosie the Riveters, starched head scarves in place, servicing the masses assembly-line style.

I understand the choice of the word – the context, perceived and otherwise. The need to be taken seriously, to establish their credentials as bonafide “workers,” and to be afforded the same rights and protection as any other.

And, given the climate, not just in Mexico but in most of that continent, there is the further perceived need to get beyond the discomfited giggles and leering [“where are the pics?”], thus “sex worker,” rather than harlot, courtesan, ladies and gentlemen of the night, trollop, fille de joie, tart. Any of them, for me, vastly preferable and much more descriptive of the delightful services on offer.

But back to my fantasy.

I cannot imagine any group of persons, in most societies, who are forced to live more precarious lives than they. Truly rendered “invisible,” ignored when they are lucky, preyed upon when not, stigmatized, marginalized, ridiculed, assaulted. Literally and always “of below.”

Yet absolutely necessary and always everywhere.

My flight of fancy had taken the OC into other barrios, streets, clinics, homes, brothels and boudoirs. Much too valiant to give a whit that some might see the turn as less than serious, less manly [irony of ironies], less likely to inspire rage and passion [certainly true of the former, in fact, rather more likely for rage to find its inspirative opposite].

The visuals might have been so very different. Instead of helicopters circling overhead, nightsticks and machetes, students rushing into the streets to be thrown into prison, the endless cycle of violence begetting violence and rage its rage, there might have been others.

A tiny storefront clinic, in the middle of nowhere, dispensing little and never enough. An exchange of stories, thousands of them, of lives lived and what is needed. No stump speeches on podia, but the deepest of winding back alleys, where cameras never reach. Not ready-made photo ops or soundbites but simple visits, meant to delight and instruct all parties involved.

A profession which lives by its wits, long schooled in survival, flourishing and omnipresent, might have much to impart and much to demand.

Basic supportive services, for example, especially modeled on those in Amsterdam, which have little to do with licensing and regulations and much with providing security and health and social services.

Not fierce, circumscribed little groups with their “leaders” and manly symbols, but a vast swath of idiosyncratic individuals, accustomed to much and more than schooled in providing hospitality.

I told you it was mere fantasy.

And, what’s more, they wouldn’t have to be harangued about avoiding institutional politics, since, in my experience, most tarts don’t bother to vote.

As mentioned here previously, I certainly don’t.


Anonymous said...

Querida irlandesa,

With your "flight of fancy" I was reminded of a pet theory - totally unsupported by any facts, of course - that the reason for the "collapse" of the Mayan civilization circa 900 AD had less to do with warfare or drought, than that the people opted for less: less grandeur and less of its necessary ancilliary: hierarchies. And that rather than having a complex, structured society, the people envisioned a radical return to smaller, more manageable and democratic communities, with merchants, healers and teachers traveling the sacbes bearing herbs, incense, chickens, hammocks, fruits, stories, and memory.

Connected and dependent on each other.

An open question of sorts.


irlandesa said...

And all and any of yesterday's visits shall be duly and happily noted here.