Sex Work and Storytelling at “Sex and Justice”

Sex and Justice Conference Oct 4-6 2012. Photo by author.

“I have been thinking a lot about the question of sex and innocence because sex is usually framed in the context of innocence and its loss—an enormously dangerous idea. We need to address this because as long as innocence is the definition of the right to be a sexual person, we will always lose. Because if we tell the truth about desire; tell the truth about our lives; tell the truth about who we are; what we do or want to do or try not to do, we will never be able to be innocent.”

–Amber Hollibaugh; Sex and Justice, October 5. 2012

I have a wrap-up of last week’s Sex and Justice Conference over at Tits and Sass.

The conference was motivating and, I think, essential. I think the event laid a groundwork for something new — exactly what, I’m not sure yet; a movement maybe.  As I mention in the article at Tits and Sass, I felt attuned to the act of storytelling as a political action, in that it is a different structure of conversation from which a new way of seeing things can emerge.

The three main conference topics were HIV criminalisation, sex work, and sex offender registries. It was unlike anything I had been to before: the speakers (which included several idols including Carol Queen, Gayle Rubin, Deon Haywood and Judith Levine) took on these issues, things usually only spoken about in near-silence, honestly and without apology.

“This conference is necessary and fundamentally frightening,” said Hollibaugh.

More from Amber Hollibaugh:

(If you talk about) the complicated lives of people who survive economically with bad choices, you can start to build a movement that can deal with these complicated lives. You can’t build movements that actually bring people together to begin to articulate the reality of the complexity of the intersections of their lives if you make people lie.”

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