This makes me want to start writing about my experience again instead using tumblr as a scrapbook for my readings and various links. B/c personal writing *is* Important, despite how literary writers are put into the memoir ghetto for it, despite how internet writers are put into the tumblr ghetto for it. (Oh, and personal writing is especially important when you happen to belong to a community of people who Melissa Farley thinks she can speak for.)
please sate my curiosity because I’ve been observing this for a while from your mob and would like to understand it more.
Why are people more willing to engage with external to tumblr articles and links written about sex work than they are the writings of the actual sex workers on tumblr?
I see - and experience - many people writing about their firsthand experience of sex work and their observations on it along political lines on tumblr, but passing by barely a murmur. But if one of us posts a link to something located externally, it is immediately noticed and circulated.
I’d genuinely like to get some insight on why this is.
Because the truth is, what I THINK it is is simply that people are more willing to ‘believe’ something when it has statistics and a more removed voice than personal testimonies and ruminations because then it seems more ‘objective’ and therefore ‘authentic’.
If it’s something else, I’d really like to know because I’m pretty dirty on the attitude as a whole.
My askbox is open, I won’t publish responses. I’m just really curious and I want to understand.
This again, it’s always this, how sex workers are distrusted relating our own lives, vs. those who write at a remove, whether as journalists, commentators, or academics, or former sex workers who might also be any of those things (present), and who may not disclose that. (I don’t always disclose that in my work. I sort of feel “out enough” that I don’t need to. Though once a Guardian commenter got angry, felt like I had deceived them somehow by not working that into my piece. Sex workers, tricky we are, always lying we are, even about ourselves!)
So, in contrast to the politics of negotiating identity in publishing venues we don’t control, it’s really a beautiful thing, that the sex worker internet has so exploded. I only got paid work as a writer because I started blogging about sex work – I had an “online journal” in the 90’s, and in 2000 I got a LiveJournal, made online friends with other sex workers for the first time, and I haven’t really taken a break (though I’ve shed some URL’s and got seduced by social media, but didn’t we all).
Anyway, this dynamic – of the “real” internet being for “serious” writing (or “serious” blogging) was even more intense then, when there was comparably less writing about sex work, period. And compared to other writing online about anything, it meant LiveJournal got painted with the “girl ghetto” brush at the time, because you know, if you were serious about blogging you had to be on TypePad and write about “real politics” (you know, guy stuff). And it’s the same pseudo-segregation that’s just moved on to Tumblr (and it was probably even like this on Xanga, or would have been, if enough people had used it). Maybe all that’s changed is now it’s cool for anyone to write about “real politics” using GIFs.
I don’t know that I ever resolved this – my LiveJournal is still there, maybe ten years now have passed since my last post, and I jumped ship to my own site (which I had before LiveJournal anyway, but there was something addictive and perfect about reading your Friends’ List, long before people were using feed readers in a real way, and now we don’t even do that anymore). For a while, it seemed like the trend had reversed: “serious” writers (now defined, professional bloggers who also maybe get paid to write not on blogs, as well) were coming to Tumblr to be casual, and then abandoning their blogs, or only keeping up blogs they got paid to keep up. I left Tumblr and went back to a blog again, a little over a year ago. I wanted a space of my own, even if anything I write there I now hold to a very different standard than I did any post on my LiveJournal, even if they appear on the same internet. But they don’t. The internet has changed a lot, since those years when the idea that a newspaper would bring a blogger to work on their website was unheard of – if the newspaper had a website at all.
Now I’m working on my first book all of my own, and in procrastinating like the devil, I’ve been getting into the sex worker Tumblr community again. It’s all different again, too – I signed up for Tumblr almost six years ago, but I missed the growth of sex worker communities here in my various hiatuses. There’s so many communities. Some of the people I followed on LiveJournal back in the day are back here in force. And I read the sugarbaby and camgirl communities with all kinds of nostalgia I have mixed feelings about, because I don’t do that work anymore, and now I am reading as an outsider.
I guess the point of this long self-reflexive reblog (ugh, thank you) is, I love what’s happening between sex workers on Tumblr even though for the first time I feel outside of it, I love the writing, and I don’t want anyone for a second to take it as “less real” or “less important” than the latest blowup on Jezebel or whatever. I wish I just had more time to read here. And I wonder if some of those people writing about sex work at a remove are reading here, too, and are wishing they could also let their personal work out (assuming they have it, and the number of people writing about sex work I know who have done it but don’t write about that also leads me to believe there’s so many more people who are in that position that I had imagined). I wish I could do more personal writing. I wish I had more time to blog here. I did it for so long, that I know to do it again will require a different kind of space and security. It’s not about “distance” from doing sex work, but just having control. Once I gave up a pseudonym, I feel like I gave that all up. I lost that part of being on the internet. So I might not get to write that way as much I want to, if at all online, but it’s still what I read, and what I most value, and what I take most seriously.