Intergenerational Sex Work
I want to invite you into a conversation with my daughter, Desiree. It was the second wave feminist movement that coined the phrase, “the personal is political.” For Desiree and I, nothing can be truer to our lives as generational sex workers. But before our conversation, I want to give our listeners a warning: there is some discussion of intimate partner violence that can be triggering. Please listen [and read] with caution or skip ahead.
To find out more about what Desiree is doing and encourage the completion of her book, follow her on Instagram @goddessvibesent_
This conversation (listen to the Unapologetically Generational episode of Old Pro News) has evolved, over many years, and among the myriad of iterations of our lives and lived experiences as sex workers, for my daughter and I. I’d considered not sharing with you all, because one: my daughter is still an active sex worker and activist for sex worker rights, while I’m completely out the game and earn my living in safer-spaces as an activist and former sex worker.
I also didn’t want to share because, when I state that I’m a second generation sex worker, part of telling that truth is relaying my mother’s experience with sex work, or outing her. But my mother, daughter, and I are not merely bound by blood, we are connected through our set of experiences that we have lived together and individually as beings on this planet. Because of that, some of my narrative is naturally part of my mother’s, and I get to tell my side of it. One day, as my daughter writes her own book, she will tell her experiences with me, freely and with my full support.
So part of my narrative with sex work was deep shame, a carry over in ideology from my mother, who felt she had to hide part of her tools of survival — through generational poverty and generations of systemic oppression — in order to be worthy of family and community support. It wasn’t until my daughter was trafficked by a boyfriend, who she trusted, and I started reading books such as Black Sexual Politics by Patricia Hill-Collins, Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis, and Sex Workers Unite by Melinda Chateauvert in my college classrooms that I found the threads of internalized whorephobia and shame that I would need to unravel so that my daughter could exist as her full self. And while I worked to free up space for my daughter, something amazing happened: I liberated myself and my mother as well.
One pushback I’ve often heard from opponents of sex worker rights is that those of us who support our adult children’s participation in sex work are “no better than pimps.” That we are proliferating sex trafficking, and that we are the reason why prostitution continues to be a “problem” after all of these years.
To that I say this: you obviously have never had the unconditional love and support of a parent, and that’s of more concern to me. I strive to live in a world where I can openly and equally be as proud of my daughter who is a sex worker as I am of her brother who is in college working on his nursing degree; Both healers in equal proportion.