artwork by Becca Human @becca.human
When I was younger, I often found myself looking at pictures of the 60s and 70s and feeling nostalgic. For me, it represented a wilder time, one full of incredible firsts and dynamic beginnings. The Civil Rights Movement, as we know it today, was flourishing. Funk music was born, and whether you like it or not paved the way for Rap, Punk and other sounds of the anti-establishment. It was Angela Davis and screaming freedom. It was certainly not apathetic. Free Love was on the tips of everyone’s tongues, on the hips, on the lips. It seemed so exciting, I couldn’t help but feel I was born in the wrong era, one where…
We are living in difficult times. Perhaps, no, certainly, more complicated than it was then. Especially for the youth, it seems that our disillusionment with authority is complete. It only takes a quick scroll through your twitter feed to become aware of the abundance of varied and divergent views that contribute to the complexity of today’s current social and political climate.
We are angry and we are tired, yet somehow, we are so full of Love that it hurts. We cry for what appears to be no reason. We become angry at the smallest thing like moody teenagers. We often feel like there is nowhere, and no-one to turn to. We consume drugs and alcohol and purchase clothes and phones and devices that distract us from our pain.
We seek warm spaces and familiarity, people who understand our pain, and therefore better understand the means to our joy. As marginalized communities, the need to stick together and defend ourselves becomes a very critical matter of survival.
As a Sex Worker, I exist in a world that, to me, represents a realm of experiences so varied and complex that it can often feel overwhelming. The intersections of race, class and sexuality are so strongly apparent that to overlook Sex Workers as educators in these topics are at best ignorant, at worse dangerous. To ignore the wisdom of people engaged in the oldest profession in human history, is ridiculous. No one knows better than us the complexities of the human soul. No one knows better than Sex Workers the souls of the suppressed. No one knows better the minds of the Oppressors than Sex Workers. They tell us so themselves.
Conversations with my friends and colleagues in Sex Work, about their own lives, range from experiences of extreme abuse and trauma to feelings of empowerment and liberation.
It is important not to devalue any of these experiences. This is not to say that we should not prioritise those who need extra resources, support and/or care, whether emotional, psychological, educational or financial. We must find space to affirm the experiences of individuals, to not say that we know the quality nor the pain of someone’s experience. That no one is a statistic, and that everybody has the ability to heal as well as to harm. Because what becomes clearer, day by day, is the one thing that every human wants is power. It is our desperate need for power, to be heard, that is the thing that is destroying us. Once power is claimed, it is very difficult to let go. Hence why you see people who do not look like the typical white patriarch oppressing their brothers and sisters- it is fear. Fear of what would be done to them if they are so bold, so compassionate, as to relinquish the throne.
Sex and Rage began as a response to these ideas of Power. I was thinking of the 70s, of the connections between liberation and Sex. I was thinking of Betty Davis with her sexually charged sound, devastatingly female, unapologetically Black, and yet so wild that the NAACP encouraged people to ban her concerts. Not the right kind of female. Not the right kind of black. I was thinking of Audre Lord, loving ferociously and completely, with fierce grace, giving tribute to every single Lover and acknowledging this, each one cherished, each one essential. I was thinking of Marsha P Johnson and Silvia Rivera, resplendent in the flowers fragrant with their spirit and the colours of their pride, building communities based on Love whilst simultaneously being ejected from them, because Trans was not then the issue- it was, according to the community, a non-issue and a burden.I was thinking of Angela Davis, dedicating her entire life to Revolution, a Revolution of Love restless, roaming, going, not necessarily where she was wanted, but where she was needed. I was also thinking that we will never know all there is to know about these people. For they are Lovers and Protectors. After all, Secrets are different to Silence.
Sex and Rage is a movement that centres Sex Workers, Activists and Educators.
By placing Sex Workers, of all descriptions, from prostitutes to porn stars, dommes and deviants, and those who champion Pleasure as essential to healing, at the centre of our discussions, we search for meaning in the Work beyond that which is most obvious- the release that is offered, lessons on intimacy and self-love, explorations on identity and race and gender. How do we become fully autonomous beings? Ones whose bodies are sensitive and receptive to pleasure, to change, to Love? How do we lay claim to that which is rightfully ours, that which our fingers can caress and our minds can conceive?
The body is through that which we experience the world. Our abilities to experience touch, taste, texture and tone are as varied as there are sentient beings in this world, and yet society is structured in such a way that it prioritises only a small percentage of beings to enjoy the fruits of everybody else’s labour. Those with money, with power, who don’t need wheelchairs, or welfare, or “Why Not’s?” whose skin is not tourmaline, amber, bronze or brilliant with tears. Sex and Rage centres those who have reached those bottomless pits of despair and are doing the work to rise above. Sex and Rage holds space for workshops that touch both body and soul, understanding that, in the material world, if one is not free to navigate the autonomy of their own sensations, then their mind is not free to explore the potentialities of their own existence. In this vein, Sex and Rage’s facilitators explore Sensory Domination, with Indy B, Body Worker and Domme, where people can “explore the different languages spoken in the play of domination/submission,” and understand the rhythms of these roles in our daily existence. I personally facilitate workshops such as Self-Defence and Intimacy, where we see how martial arts can not just be a life-saving skill, but create a personal relationship with a dynamic, sensual body.
We understand that it is not safe to have every space open to all. We prioritise those who have burned, are burning, to their very ashes, and are at the point of rising as a phoenix. Those whose spirits have been crushed, only to have found their very essence, and who desire others to find theirs. It is not the job of the marginalised to teach those with more money , time and opportunities why, exactly, they are experiencing privilege. But we must be honest with ourselves. We must find ways of contacting these people, and creating dialogue, and holding space, in more creative and diverse ways, if we are to make a substantial change in this world. We are carefully creating spaces that are open, for example, to white people, held by white facilitators who are already doing the work, so that people of colour are not called upon to hold these spaces again and again, at the cost of pain and frustration. We are making spaces for cis-men where they can learn to become accountable for their often violent actions, by exploring their own abuse and suffering, and embark on journeys of personal self-love, acceptance, exploring their Loving Potential.
Sex Workers can be the catalyst for this alchemy. We understand, better than anyone, the intricacies of the human mind in its most vulnerable state. On a daily basis we come into contact with people with power, excessive amounts of power sustained without Love or Awareness, who are destroying the world, destroying us. And they must burn, burn as we have, in the fires of Destruction and Transformation. In the material world, they are the ones with privilege, with their fast cars and glass towers where they can shut themselves away and ignore the rest of the world burning. But it is Us who have the privilege of spirit- it is Us with fuller hearts, with more Love, full of the kind of Rage that bursts through our tingling spines as wings through which we can fly upwards, higher than the towers, higher than the moon. It is us who know God.
There is a reason why great revolutions always start with the Erotic, the Sensual. A life without pleasure, is barely a life at all. When creating healing spaces, we do so out of the need to greater feel more beauty, more joy. One’s own body should be, and can be, the most ultimate healing space, in whatever way it functions. A hand executing a poem, painting the colours of the Sun, of the moon. Your genitals trembling at the caress of a lover’s hand, or your own. The belly rumbling with the force of a deep, primal laughter.
For the first time, I am not nostalgic. I am very much rooted in this time and place, in this very moment. There is work to be done, and it takes a sense of the environment to do it. I am learning to speak my truth, and that journey is long and arduous, because there are many truths. But I take comfort in the fact there is only One Absolute Truth- that of Love.
The time is now. This is our revolution.