The Challenges of Advocacy Work

Posted on June 20, 2016

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I spent the weekend at the Democratic Executive Board Meeting Convention, supporting AIDS Healthcare Foundation and their work to promote worker safety in the adult business. 

At the time I agreed to doing this, I didn’t realize that next door there would be a room full of porn people – people who I used to consider “my” people – and that there would be the same boundary-less overflow into hallways and lascivious picture taking and ego stroking, of which I was once so accustomed. I’m not taking pictures with people, nobody has asked (thank God), and I present myself much more as a social worker than a retired porn actress. Because that’s who I am today. 

Well, I am both. I will always be both. 

I spent some time last night listening to California Democrats who were attending the convention, doing their best to decide Yes or No on  variety of initiatives. I also spent some time watching (current and retired) adult film stars doing their best to persuade those Democrats to move one way or another. I mostly watched. And listened. And here’s what I learned. 

Everyone here, the people with AHF, the current and retired film stars, the porn workers against the AHF measure, the civilians trying to decide, everyone is literally doing their best to do whatever they think is right. But what is right is so ambiguous, so murky and convoluted, that there may not be a clear line to be drawn. This initiative may not be a matter of black and white, but instead a long continuum of grey that comes with a substantial learning curve and a tremendous amount of discomfort.

I’m trying to keep this in mind – this “we all have good intentions” lesson – because this kind of work has the potential to swallow every shred of energy that I have. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work to move away from the industry in a way that is kind, respectful and appreciative of the time I spent there, and I don’t want to wag my finger now, or advocate for punitive measures against it. “It” is actually a collection of people – people who were once “my” people – who are doing their best to survive in the best way that they know how. 

Tuesday, the Husband and I leave for a two week celebratory trip through Asia, to mark the completion of my Masters degree (and the completion of his financial burden of having a grad-student wife!). As we hit Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, I have no doubt that my meditations will include discomfort around this advocacy work. I have no doubt that I’ll get to sit in some of that grey. 

And I will do my best to see what comes up.


*Features image (the quote) is from Emma Cline’s The Girls: A Novel.

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