never were there such devoted sisters…

By amy ~ March 18th, 2009 @ 7:24 am

dsc_0270I am spending this warm and uncommonly sunny Wednesday relaxing after a lively week and livelier weekend, the vast majority of it blissfully replete with delightful and enthusiastic company; the notable exception being an afternoon spent at the TUC Women’s Conference, where I found myself (accompanying the fabulous Catherine Stephens of the IUSW) on Thursday afternoon of last week. Catherine was kind enough to put up with my ramblings without even the back-click facility provided to my readers, and I hope to see her again soon for more discussion on, amongst other things, the best way to get a dozen or so metres of silk rope through an airport, and stories of appearances on poorly-informed TV news programmes – indeed, many of you will have seen and heard her, even if you don’t realise it.

Having spent the previous 24 hours travelling to London and back for a whistlestop liasion with a rather handsome New Yorker, I was singularly (and a little naively) unprepared for being patronised and insulted to within an inch of my life by a room full of decidedly sturdy women who solemnly informed Conference that sex workers not only cannot speak for themselves, but are ‘forced into an evil trade’ (predictably by evil, unscrupulous men – not an evil, unscrupulous woman in sight) and held captive at the mercy of pimps and drug dealers whilst we ‘sell our bodies’ – a bizarre enough statement in itself; mine is certainly still very much my own and I know this not least because I alone have to feed it, wash it and take it out.

I possess neither the will, nor the patience to relay any of this in detail, but for those of you who may be interested, do click here. I respectfully suggest you remove any valued breakables from the vicinity before embarking on the ‘Comments’ section.

The type of emotive twaddle (constant use of ‘women-and-children’, as if they were the same, many, MANY references to ‘pimps’, with no distinction made as to those running good, safe premises and those keeping their charges drugged and locked in veal crates), was not only infuriating but not a little saddening – it is ironic indeed that these statements had throughout the afternoon been interlaced with cries for solidarity and sisterhood, presumably this is by invitation only, and the welcome is limited to those whose views and experience concur with the majority one expressed on the floor. This is what we’re up against, folks.

In the interest of self preservation and anonymity, I am more than slightly ashamed to say that I kept my mouth shut throughout – indeed, myself and the many wonderful, responsible and hardworking ladies like me are condemned to silence in any such discussion by the very quality which makes us what we are – our invisibility. Unfortunately, it would appear we are stuck with these attitudes for now, but there were voices of encouragement and support, and while it may be a long haul, the seeds of common sense were sown wherever possible.

My trip to Edinburgh beckons next week and I am very much looking forward to it! Staying in the same hotel room for more than a few hours will be novelty enough, and I am looking forward to meeting some charming local gentlemen during my visit (and hopefully stocking up on shortbread and at least one proper haggis, the joys of which I discovered many moons ago and do not get to indulge in nearly often enough). There is still some small availability left for the Wednesday – please do get in touch! I intend to spend the remainder of this afternoon leisurely painting toenails, curling hair and other traitorous activities prior to a late meeting at eleven – after all, there is only so much solidarity I can take in one week. I may even wear a dress.

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