Sex Work Writing

Recently, discussions of sex work have been made interesting by activists, and made more urgent by bullshit immigration policies mixed with rabid liberal stupidities, sensationalism, cliche. So, I was reading this book – Bedanabala. Her Life. Her Times by Mahasweta Devi, translated by Sunandini Banerjee (Seagull Books) and was reminded that I need to link with stuff that matters – see below…

Devi writes:

“All I’ve done is speak of them, the whores of times past. But is that all? Not sought my roots therein? No matter the luxury that smothers me today, my mother lived in a brothel, adopted and reared by the woman who owned it, who owned her, and others like her.
And what of me? My life? To tell of my life I will have to tell of those women, recount their lives from the age of Uttar Veda to the present day. Women whose stories will never be told completely; ‘If the sky were a sheet of paper/ If every blade of grass on earth were a pen/ If the seven seas were awash with ink/ if all of that were used up even then/ It would not be enough for their history to be written.'”

Somehow this passage grabs me. Taunts and enchants – to write with such fervor. Fabulous. Let us learn again from such wordings.

And Devi reminds me that a friend called Alex has a friend who also recently started something that deserves a closer look: I quote again:

“Nik found a Anarchist Federation newsletter which had as its front page an article about ‘trafficking’, that was just pathetic and wrong. As some of you will know mainstream media articles concerning ‘sex slaves’ appear in the press in London about once a week. The trend for the ‘left’ is to take up the radical feminist / abolitionist position and recently George Galloway (respect party) has been talking about cleaning up the east end and shutting down strip clubs.
As well the usual raids are still occurring in brothels and many sex workers have been deported. …on many fronts it feels like we are not winning in the debate — not from a migrants rights perspective and less still from a sex worker perspective. There are many things that can be done — and many of them we are already doing.

So what to do when the all seems a little lost? — start a debate 😉 We are hoping to conduct this discussion in a space (libcom) that is supposed to be more radical than many other spaces that are available at the moment – but we will have to see — nothing like sex work to bring out people’s politics about gender and sexuality. Nik has posted a short text on libcom — and i thought it would be useful to send the link out to people”.

So folks – Click here to see Nik’s post.

I wrote earlier on Mahasweta Devi here. And on walking the streets here and on writing here


About john hutnyk

Writer on culture, cities, diaspora, history, film, prisons, colonialism, education, Marxism. Studied and taught in Australia at Deakin and Melbourne Universities; and in the UK in Manchester University’s Institute for Creative and Cultural Research; before moving to Goldsmiths in 1998, and becoming Academic Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies in 2004-2014. Has held visiting researcher posts in Germany at the South Asia Institute and Institute fur Ethnologie at Heidelberg University, and Visiting Professor posts in InterCultural Studies at Nagoya City University Japan, Zeppelin University and Hamburg University, Germany, Sociology at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, Turkey and at the Graduate institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Immediate past adjunct Professor of RMIT University, Melbourne and GIAN Visiting Professor Jadavpur Uni Kolkata.
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