“We don’t need to discuss whether sex work is real work – it is”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE. JOANA NASTARI (PICTURED)
“The best thing that you can do is listen to sex workers. Take the power and put it back in the hands of the workers”
Here, we caught Joana to find out more – prepare yourself for two weeks of sex-witch anarchy, DIVAs 🔮
DIVA: Tell us a little more about Fuck You Pay Me and how it came to be?
JOANA: FYPM came about while I was working as a dancer. One day, I decided to put several bits of material together and do a scratch performance. When I first started dancing, I had lots of preconceptions about the industry; the show started with me trying to unpack and address the “big gap” between the story that society has created and the nuanced reality of people working in the sex industry.
Spaces that celebrate strippers and sex workers can feel like this amazing, loving, inclusive community spaces – that’s where it came from.
Fuck You Pay Me is supporting three Arts-Activism projects around the theme of sex worker advocacy. Can you elaborate on the work the organisation does towards ending stigma of sex workers?
We want to involve and embrace people from across the sex work community, so if they can’t afford tickets, we provide free tickets for them. We have special guests every night, and we are supporting some community projects, such as poetry workshops. We want to platform as many artists as possible.
I’m a part of DeCrim Now, as well as a group working towards unionizing strippers.
Do you think the feminist movement supports sex workers as much as it should?
Our greatest enemy and our greatest allies are women from the feminist movement. People look to white, cis feminists to tell us what is and isn’t good for women. Feminists saying, “We don’t want sex work happening and for sex work to be further criminalised” is hugely damaging.
People listen to those voices and take that on as what feminists want and what is good for women, but no one in that conversation has consulted sex worker advocacy groups. When feminists support sex workers and platform their voices, people really listen to that.
The best thing that you can do is listen to sex workers. Take the power and put it back in the hands of the workers.
Are members of the LGBTQI community more likely to be involved in sex work?
There is a huge overlap between the LGBTQI community and sex work. All queer spaces should be sex worker-friendly – and they’re not always.
We need safe queer spaces that are intersectional, sex worker-inclusive, and inclusive of queer, Latina people. That intersection of those three, until now, separate groups coming together creates something special, a sort-of homely, community atmosphere which is needed.
Could you tell us a little more about positivity in sex work, and where and when it’s appropriate?
We shouldn’t conflate people who choose this line of work with people who have been forced into it. What is choice in the first place?
Some people aren’t necessarily choosing to work in the sex industry. We don’t expect the people cleaning offices, making us coffee or tearing our tickets at the cinema to be doing so because they love it, and I think to expect that from sex workers invisibilises the fact that they are working.
You can choose to do something and not think it’s the best thing ever. Sex work can be a springboard for women to advance themselves; whether that’s to make money, to pay for school, open a business, or just to pay their rent. You can critique strip club management and existing laws without critiquing the women who are doing it. There are so many conversations which happen over their heads.
We don’t need to discuss whether sex work is real work – it is. Sex workers are writing books, they’re writing articles, they’re doing campaigns, what we need to do is platform them and listen to them.
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