Sunday 28 April 2013

A Comment Mamamia Wouldn't Publish

So in the last week somewhat of a blog war broke out between Brooke Magnanti and Mia Freedman after they both appeared on ABC's Q&A on Monday the 8th of April.

Magnanti asked, "Should Mia Freedman Apologise...?" and Freedman had posted "No, I won't..."  and supporters and detractors have aired their opinions across the internet.  When I attempted to post the comment below on Freedman's site it disappeared. An editor's note appeared later claiming that "Any comments overly personal in nature towards Mia Freedman or Brooke Magnanti will be deleted." People who know me, know that I don't take to being silenced submissively, so I'm publishing it here.  Is this too personal? I'll let you be the judge.

I'm not going to ask Mia Freedman to apologise. 
Instead, I am going to share a story because I was in the similar situation to her- except rather than being the parent (I don't have any children) I was the one who heard my mother say something like what she broadcast over national television. 
When I was little- perhaps I was around the same age as her child, seven- I overheard my mother say something like, "I wouldn't want my son to be gay." Which was fine at the time, I was really young, my sexuality hadn't dawned on me. I could just put it down as an attitude my mother had just like many others that had no bearing on me at the time.  
But then I grew up and things changed.  I realised I was queer. And one of the most devastating things for me was the sudden realisation that I would possibly no longer have the support of my mother. I questioned whether she would be there for me if I needed help or if she would ever understand what I was going through as a teenager. These are sad burdens to carry as a 14 year old.  
The weight was much more than that.  I realised that the lack of acceptance I could expect from my mother was the tip of a very big iceberg of rejection that existed in the world.  The ideal of "unconditional love" had been forever shattered for me.  My identity as a young person- a queer person- became confusing and my life, chaotic.  Some people use the word that Mia does in her article, "appalling".  
This is the experience of sex workers everyday.  People wonder why many of us hide- it's the judgments Mia made- judgements she gives other mothers and people permission to make (and if you'd like to read this judgement one doesn't have to look beyond the comments some of her readers have made on her post)- that keep many of us silent. It is this silence that isolates family members from each other is the same silence that prevents sex workers seeking recourse if they have been assaulted, discriminated against or otherwise need help.
As a fellow writer/broadcaster, I feel I have a responsibility to not perpetuate prejudice- but perhaps that is a value that I hold and Mia Freedman doesn't given our different backgrounds.   
Years later, I have made peace with it all.  I am on speaking terms with my parents again and they accept who I am- but I had to reach an age and a strength where they had no choice in the matter- if they weren't going to accept me, I could turn around just as easily and not accept them. 
 And I am a sex worker. They had had to accept that too. 
 I'm not going to ask any mother for expressing their prejudice to apologise for two reasons- 
1) I feel sorry for them and their children because
2) the people their judgement is going to have the most profound impact on is not me but those children. 
The question of whether a parent wants their child to be a sex worker or not is irrelevent.  The issue is that parents who act in the way Mia Freedman does have sent a clear signal- if your children are ever to become sex workers they cannot rely upon you for support and, as someone who knows what that is like, it can be a hard and sad place to be. 

And here is where I feel most proud of people in my community who are parents.  These are rare and special creatures.  These are the minority of parents who are equipped with the knowledge and experience that could support a son or daughter who has chosen to do sex work. This is a support I could have only dreamed of when I grew up.  
PS: the use of the word "sex worker" is not a mere preference.  It's use is identified by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS,  as best practice to ensure scientific accuracy, the preservation of human rights and respect for minority populations.  As a supposedly professional writer, one should become familiar with these international standards.

The terminology guide can be found here:    


  1. This is womderful. I tred to write about it myself here, My conclusion, loving your kids for what they do, rather than who they are is never great parenting.

  2. pretty sure that the prostituted women that can rely on any kind of support from their parents are the most privileged ones.
    PS: fuck your tone-policing

    1. Ha! Yet again another example of a white person (a British student, no less) feeling that they are in a position to talk to me (uh, I'm a gay sex worker of colour who isn't tertiary qualified and who just wrote about NOT having the support of his parents growing up) about privilege after clearly showing that they've pretty much ignored everything I just said. Oh and my favourite part is this person has actually chosen to name themselves after a fascist. Bravo douchebag.

    2. you are right, sleepystalinist- Mostly privileged sex workers have supportive parents. It's because of people like you who instigate more stigma and prejudice instead of supporting sex workers.

      PS:fuck your sex worker hate.

  3. Hmmm.... it seems sleepystalinist missed the point of your blog completely! I don't think you use a policing tone at all (and at least you listen to what people say unlike sleepystalinist who chooses to ignore the preferred UNAIDS terminology because hey, they know best right?!).

    The most priviliged sex workers are the ones that enjoy any kind of support from their parents? You are right - they are privileged because their parents have the strength and unconditional love to ignore the weight of stigma and support their child WHATEVER they do. But, sleepystalinist, unlike your uninformed assumption, this isn't always those who are privileged in the sense you mean it. Those families who have the most to lose are often the most shamed...

    But the point is, it is the stigmatisation of sex work and sex workers that makes it likely that they will keep their job secret from their families, or face disgust, shame and ostracisation.

    So thanks for perpetuating that sleepstalinist!


    Tabitha (@tabitha_vixen)