Saturday, November 29, 2008

Porn Stars In the Classroom, Hookers Right Next Door, Here I Am Stuck In The Middle With You


This story and this blog post caught my attention. In their own way, each is about the same thing. Unlike the way sex workers are portrayed in the movies or on TV (especially during a "sweeps" month), most of the people in the trade are not really different than the person in the next apartment.

In the news story, a woman who earlier in her life was known to the world as Crystal Gunns, a porn star, was unwittingly hired by a local school to be an aide. She works part-time. She earns less than Six Thousand Dollars a year and works on the play ground and as a lunch aide.

Now though she is not shy about her past, she has also put it behind her. She is 32 now not 22. She may be a mom. I don't think I would have named her for others to deride her, as she has committed no crime but only sought to earn a living. I know had she been in another business the press would not have named her.

Parents want her fired. The Superintendent of her school district wants to fire her too (
Superintendent Charles Ottinger, who is of the same mindset as (Principal)Giordano, says they have been advised against firing the teachers aide, “Not that we don’t want to.”)


It is just that you see, Ms.Gunns would be able to sue the living daylights out of the school district. After all, what has she done wrong? Adult films (as opposed to Pornography) is legal. It is also a way that some men and women make money. Sly Stalone was in an adult film, as was Jackie Chan. There is no crime and thus there is no reason to fire her unless she is inappropriate with the kids. Interestingly, the kids would have not had any idea this is happening at their school but for someone publicizing it.

Now on The Debauched Domestic Diva's blog, Dee blogs about having lived a double life. She was a sexy women cheating on her husband and exploring her sexuality while leaving the chains of a dead marriage, and was his Mrs. Cleaver at home and work. (I'll leave out the Usher lyric). She talks about how she feels now that she can be more of herself. She had recently "come out" to some of her friends and now she feels she has a better relationship with her friends and is more close to them now she can be honest with them about her sexual affairs.

Now this immediately got me thinking about a blog post by Rebbeca Dios that dealt with how she would now handle being part of a community that would not accept her decisions nor recognize her needs. It comes as no shock to me that being outed has disturbed her income and negitively affect her family. She was threatened, and shunned in her small town. She fears for her husband and children. Rebecca is an enormously brave woman who faces illness in her home and her choices of how to deal with those choices straight on.

Then I remembered this post that really began me blogging occasionally of the people I represent that work in the sex trade.

It has been three years since I wrote those words and the fact of the matter is that I was right then and now. What makes me laugh is that these women are the same people who shop with us, and bowl with us, and eat at the table in the restaurant right next to us.

I am representing women now who work in the sex trade who also hold down full time jobs as teachers, nurses and secretaries in big Multi-national companies. These are not women who have left the adult business, but who are still "transitioning." I have represented women who serve on Congressional staffs.

I know one who is actually quiet religious and intends to join an "order" when she returns home (Latin America) but right now she sells herself (she is a stripper who offers "extras" because she is caring for a sick mother and father both of whom require serious surgeries at home.) She is well aware that she is sinning. So is her priest. She is honest with him. She fears being shunned at home, but more, she fears being arrested here and returned to home before she makes enough to pay the doctors and hospital and thus gets her folks thrown into the street. She is a beautiful young woman who is bright and earnest. She just cannot earn the money she earns here at home, and she cannot get a job here without being thrown out. So she "goes" to school and gets decent grades and strips at night and works for tips. She goes to Church on Saturdays and admits her sins, and on Sunday to pray for forgiveness. She is back at her "job" on Tuesday night.

I even represent a police women who has a very active though very exclusive escort life which she takes out of town.

There is a very competent lawyer I know who used to act in "B" movies with a lot of sexual tension and nudity. At first the men she worked around snickered. Maybe some still do, but that is likely before she beats their sorry butts in court.

Not one of the women I have represented or know, if others knew of their other job, would be able to work in their day jobs. (the exeption being the lawyer who interestingly works as a criminal defense attorney) On the other hand, not one of them is not outstanding in their work. I know, I have spoken or met co-workers, bosses and seen grades and met teachers. Sometimes these women come to me through those referral sources.

From all that I can see being somewhat of an outsider, sex work is neither easy nor is it "fun". It is work. Now I did not say it is drudgery. For most of these women it has its good times and bad. The one thing I have not seen is how it negatively affects their ability to be good teachers, nurses, or employees. I do not see why once they give it up, it should stygmatize them and make them unable to serve children food or watch them play.

For whatever reason a person enters the work of sex, their should also be a way to exit the world and join the ranks of those with less "interesting" jobs. When are we as a society going to look at people for who they are and not what they do. Yes I know that part of what we are is what we do, but just because someone doesn't view the world the way we do doesn't disqualify them to live next door.

It is funny but I know of people who have in my opinion done far worse things than agree to have sex with others. I know people who cheat their clients, who lie to the court, who are sworn to secrecy but can't keep a secret for all the tea in Boston. I know people whose ideas of right and wrong include telling their minions that stealing and obfucation are just part of the job. Yet many of these mostly men are lauded by colleagues and hired at quiet a good price. I know men who will beat or rob or rape a sex worker knowing that she cannot go to Police for fear of "outing" herself.

That is the normal way I these clients find me. They are not usually arrested. They are victims of assaults. They come to me because they fear reprisals from authorities. I often tell them they shouldn't but I will admit there have been times when they should and I am glad I or a staff member was there to stop some SOB from refusing to listen to their story or from firing them for their job. Fear of lawsuits and crusading lawyers is a good way to keep certain types(like School Superintendent Ottinger and Principal Giordano above)in check. (I remember Professor Monroe Freedman on the first day of classes telling us that from the minute we entered the room that we were going to be feared by all the other professions in the world, that as lawyers we were the ones they most worried about. He taught me to use the strength of our profession to do good. I try every day.)

What is funny, is that I have had potential clients who have not hired me, because I will not abandon these sex worker clients and won't keep the fact that I take such cases a secret. They feel it makes me something less of a lawyer. If anything, it makes me far better a lawyer, but I am not upset. They can keep their fees and their lawyers who look down on these clients and maybe me too. Everynight I can look at myself and feel like I have really helped someone who if not for my effort would have had no one to fight for them, no one to protect them.

Frankly however, it shouldn't have to come down to the largesse of a few hearty souls like the men and women of NACDL or FALA. People even sex workers, have a right to be protected and to expect that the law will not punish them for seeking to be protected. They should have a right to re-enter "straight" society when the time comes and to be judged on who they are and what they know and not on how they earned a living.

There is a March in Washington on December 17, 2008. The National March for Sex Worker Rights . It is a day when those of us who believe that no one should live a life of fear of attack nor fear of reprisal for being a sex worker will lift our collective voices and call on our leaders to bring an end to this kind of hate.

If you are available, you might want to check this out. You never know, the person you fight for, may be someone you know, and love, but is afraid to tell you about her choices.
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