What is it about this politics stuff that TURNS ME ON?! The power? The suits? I've always gone sniffing after straight-laced boys in buttoned-down collars, yearning to lay the little mama's boy to waste.... Ultimately, it's the challenge. You won't find me laying down and liking it with out a fight. Mmmmm.
If you read the Gospel two months ago, you'll remember that the rights of local working girls are under fire. Yeah, yeah, prostitution is illegal because it "victimizes women and is a threat to society..." [OR, does it empower women in a way that threatens society? Is that really what this is all about?] But the working girls I count as friends still believe that as workers and as Americans, they deserve rights. They want safe working conditions, they want respect, and they want privacy for themselves and for their clients. Many of them engage in no illegal activity whatsoever. And they want to be innocent until proven guilty like anyone else in this country, and don't feel they should have to prove themselves and pay exorbitant fees before they open shop to provide their LEGAL service.
The cops estimate that these law-abiding folks account for a mere twenty percent of the model/escort industry. The cops want to enforce the LAW. The cops say prostitution victimizes women and that they want to empower these women [by harassing them and throwing them in jail...]. The KKKops have convinced mayor KKKatz of the above, and she gave them carte blanche to author a piece of legislation to crack down on this menace to society. Wait a minute... If the cops are writing and enforcing the laws, that's a POLICE STATE!
So, that's enough to get me up in the morning proselytizing at City Hall. Me 'n a handful of hookers hoofed it all over downtown this January. We met with representatives of almost every City and County Commissioner. We told them, trembling, that they need our help and input if they want to write legislation that makes any difference whatsoever. Friends and Citizens, THEY LISTENED. The offices of Charlie Hales, Jim Francesconi, Dan Saltzman, Erik Sten and Diane Linn were not only respectful, but sympathetic! Commissioner Hales' assistant Susan Descamps brought tears to our eyes by using words like "we women," the mere gesture allowing us tramps a say in city government! She agreed with our assertion that
regulation of prostitution would be more effective if overseen by a health organization rather than the Vice Department of the Portland Police Bureau. We gals skipped down the street after meeting Susan, vowing to send thank yous, flowers, chocolates....
We had some heartbreaks, too. Mayor Katz, who is allegedly a woman, has been disarmingly disrespectful, meeting our impassioned pleas with everything from glib grins to outright laughter. But of course, she's in bed with the cops, so it behooves her to show them how dismissible we are. The cops have been the worst of all. But what did we expect....
Anyway, in the end, the Council Members voted for the new Ordinance and all its egregious injustices. BUT first they grilled the cops for over two hours and heard nine girls speak their mind. Francesconi said outright that he was embarrassed that he voted for the original document back in September. Saltzman refused to vote for the altered Ordinance unless the stipulation that a working girl carry a permit that identify her as a model/escort on one side and by her real name on the back be removed. To Saltzman and the other MALE commissioners (Katz pleading the fifth, but saying volumes when that fucking insincere grin finally left her face), this was clearly a security risk. And they stuck to that assertion for over twenty minutes while the cops insisted it must be thus. [The cops will reappear in two weeks with an alternative.] Commissioner Sten expressed concern over how contentious and confrontational the issue had become, and recommended cooperation in the future. Which was our foremost assertion and our ultimate goal.
Yeah, the Ordinance passed (though a preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for this month). Prostitution is illegal, after all! But we Girls who fought know that we won. Sadly though, after all our efforts, Sten and Katz seemed to think that we were not representative of local sex workers. Because we are not victims. Because we are organized. Because we are intelligent women with many choices. Vice cop Ferrarris, that motherfucker, insisted that we weren't sex workers at all, but rather "members of activist groups." Oh, well. We're chipping away at these misconceptions, anyway. We are the real world, we are women, prostitutes and sex workers, and we bravely interfaced with the LAW and in the process found our voice and made folks realize we have something to say.