Thanks for the response to the film Too Much Pussy: Feminist Sluts in the Queer X Show. As a performer in the tour I welcome responses to the film. The following is a personal response and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the group as a whole. Conversation can also happen outside of this forum if you want to email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
I wanted to take the time to respond to some of the concerns that were raised because this is a public forum and one statement in particular is an unfounded accusation that should not be circulated.
Specifically, no person on the Queer X Tour had or has a drinking problem and I think that the commentator should be careful about making such accusations in a public forum.
It is true that the clip about drinking (which was meant to be a joke) could have been omitted from the film, if only to avoid assumptions like “performers have to be drunk in order to perform” or “performers have drinking problems.” However, this was so far from the truth since four of the seven women abstain entirely from drinking and the other three only drink in moderation, including myself. If we had a drink around the time of the show (generally afterwards) it was certainly not to get drunk. Unfortunately, when women are working in the sex industry/erotic dancing /using their bodies onstage in a sexual manner as we were, they face increased (and I believe unfair) scrutiny as it relates to their drug and alcohol use. These are based on stereotypes that connect sex workers with alcohol and drug abuse; clichés about sex workers that we hope to undo. I support the choice to abstain from drugs and alcohol but I in no way believe that one drink or two around the time of performing signals that the performer is nonconsensual in what she is doing onstage or out of her thinking mind. Must all of us completely abstain from drinking in order to combat such stereotypes? I don’t believe so. This is exactly the type of thinking that convinces marginalized peoples to conform to unfairly high standards of moralistic behavior in order to receive the basic respect they deserve; in the process dividing those peoples between those who have internalized that guilt and those who refuse to.
I am very proud to have been part Too Much Pussy: Feminist Sluts in the Queer X Show because it was an empowering experience for me (I think of empowerment as a process, and as a performance artist concerned with questions of sexuality and gender, this was an important part of my personal empowerment process). It was empowering not necessarily because of the sex itself (though the freedom to exercise my queer sexuality as an example to others, with others, in public, in private, in front of the camera or absent of cameras is also part of an empowerment process) and not only because of the time spent onstage, but because of the intimate time spent offstage with other feminists and like-minded queer persons who are intelligent, articulate, fun and loving. Someone who watches the movie can speculate as they wish about my empowerment but I know I speak to the heart of my experience.
I know that this film is not empowering to every woman, but I also know that it is empowering to some. I have already spoken to many young persons of all genders who said they were inspired by the performances and conversations, ideas and spirit they saw in the film. A true story; I was waiting tables on my regular weekly shift at a restaurant in Berlin and two women from Tel Aviv asked me if I was “in a very special movie” that they saw at the LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv. Yes! TMP! Yes, I was. They proceeded to tell me that they were inspired by the movie and felt moved by the performances and the words from the performers. Even if it were just those two women, I would be happy for what we’d done because to touch two women in a positive way can be as great as touching 1000. These little moments are what keep me motivated as an artist … to know that there are others out there like me. Some young people, outsiders, queers who do not have access to such films may feel alone in the world, as though there are no others out there like them. This is part of what makes this project important.
That does not mean that someone watching the film necessarily feels inspired to become a whore, but it might help them to feel less ashamed about their queer sexuality.
This leads me to a basic assumption made in the critique that I want to engage with. That is, that it is negative to dream of being a whore (which incidentally I don’t think the movie encourages or discourages, it is merely portrayed as one woman’s dream. Other women had dreams as children of being writers, activists, actresses, preachers, etcetera…)
Because we generally “agree” as a society that it is negative to be a whore (or so this commentator
assumes), it therefore follows that it is negative to dream of being a whore. If we must remain divided on this topic, so be it, but I stand by the following statement and hope to show: There is nothing wrong with being a whore.
Empowered whores and other sex workers have a lot to teach us. By empowered I am speaking of persons who choose this profession, feel that it is good for them at this moment in their life and take loving precautions with their bodies. Whores can teach us basic skills about sex like how to give pleasure to others. They can expand our notions of what different bodies look like. They can get us to think about how to have relationships outside of heteronormative, monogamous ones. Empowered whores can impart their knowledge about how to give pleasure to differently bodied persons. I have had two lovers in my life who have worked or do work as prostitutes, one a cis gendered male one a cis gendered female. Both are educators and great in bed. They taught me a lot about how to have different kinds of sex. In a world where being a whore were not so stigmatized there could be a lot of possibilities for learning from whores. Whores are lovers, healers, and can provide companionship. Whores can teach us about safer sex because an empowered whore takes care of his or her body and is the most knowledgeable person about safer sex practices, far above and beyond the general practices of nonmonagmous people who are not working as whores (even those who think of themselves as young hip and empowered). Whores can teach us about power and help us to challenge the power dynamics that we experience in our primary relationships. Whores can provide sexual energy and attention to those of us in society who have difficulty finding sexual partners, e.g. those who are severely developmentally or physically disabled. Whores provide the outlet for exploring fantasy in a safe surrounding; they provide a framework for exploration of fantasies that society deems as perverse or wrong.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
With love and respect
Kathryn (Mad Kate)