Celine Bisette: What does a ‘representative’ sex worker look like?

May 18, 2014
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I have written a few op-eds about my experiences as a sex worker, most notably this one which appeared in the National Post. Since having my writing published, I have received emails from readers congratulating me on being so “articulate.” I wonder: Do all authors of op-eds get this kind of feedback on their writing?

I can’t imagine a social worker or police officer being called “articulate” for producing a decent piece of writing about sex work. I suspect that what people are really saying when they call sex workers “articulate” is: “you’re pretty smart…for a prostitute.”

The reality is that sex workers come from all backgrounds. Some of us are smart, some are average and some are lacking in the intellectual department. Some of us dropped out of high school, others went to graduate school and others pursued an education in the trades. Some of us have done sex work our entire working lives, while others have worked in a variety of jobs.

Celine Bisette: What does a 'representative' sex worker look like?

The point is, there is no “representative” sex worker. We come from all walks of life. It should not surprise anyone that there are sex workers who can string three sentences together. The stereotype of the utterly desperate, drug-addicted and intellectually deficient street walker is not an accurate characterization of the people who work in my industry (nor is it an accurate characterization of all street workers or all drug using sex workers). Are there people who fit this stereotype? Yes. They are not representative of all sex workers, just like I am not representative of all sex workers. All of our experiences are legitimate and all of them matter. There is no one sex worker who can speak for all of us.

Read more…

…And find more from Celine Bisette at her personal website, and her editorials on sex work in the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen. 

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