Rebel With a Cause
By Richard Girard
"In Salon at the Rue des Moulins," (1894); Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Musee Toulouse-Lautrec, Public Domain
"You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl,
Hey babe, your hair's alright,
Hey babe, let's go out tonight.
You like me, and I like it all;
We like dancing and we look divine,
You love bands when they're playing hard,
You want more and you want it fast,
They put you down, they say I'm wrong,
You tacky thing, you put them on--
Rebel Rebel, you've torn your
Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess;
Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!"
" Rebel, Rebel" Diamond Dogs
David Bowie, 1974
In my March 24, 2012 OpEdNews article, "Making Sex a Crime," I made the following statement about being a rebel; a serial non-conformist who finds it difficult if not impossible to fit into the little niche that society wants us to stay in:
" Rebels of every bent, those of us who refuse to fit into the nice little pigeonholes society has provided us for their comfort, know instinctively when something is wrong, even when we cannot put a name to what is wrong. It is the reason that we became rebels. We do not repeat the "party line" for the sake of convenience, or to advance our personal agenda. We express ourselves regardless of cost: whether we are Thomas Paine with the Rights of Man, Martin Luther King, Jr., marching to Selma, or Carol Leigh campaigning for the rights of sex workers, especially the professional sex provider. We live by Bob Dylan's maxim that if you are going 'To live outside the law, you must be honest.'" (I found the original quote once again, so changed my quote to reflect that fact. It's from "Absolutely Sweet Marie," Blonde on Blonde, 1968.)
Society needs its rebels; its gadflies who swarm about the public perception of right and wrong in order to make society reconsider its preconceptions. The child who points out that the Emperor is wearing no clothes is many times more valuable than the sycophant who nods his head up and down saying how wonderful everything is. It is the rebel who first questions the status quo, and then points out that its time has past.
Being a modern rebel does not entail violence. In fact, violence is usually contrary to the rebel's best interest. Being a rebel in the modern sense is different from being a revolutionary. The first purpose of a rebel is not--like a revolutionary--to change a corrupt system, but to change the hearts and minds of those who are living under that system. The rebel knows that once you have changed the hearts and minds through non-violence, the rest is easy. Okay, easier.
Sex workers, especially the professional sex provider, know how hard it is to change the hearts and minds of the public; a public that has been indoctrinated for years with the concept that the sex worker is not even a second-class citizen. Too many people believe the calumny that anyone who would engage in sex for money, is not worthy of our serious attention, let alone that she (yes, as I've said before, I'm aware that there are male and trans-gender professional sex providers, but I will refer to all professional sex providers in this article in the feminine for the sake of simplicity) might have a viewpoint that is worth the public's serious consideration.
Let us consider this from another angle: that of the promiscuous individual who engages in wide-spread sexual activity not for money, but for fun.
In American society, within most of the heterosexual community, a man who has had large numbers of female sex partners is considered a "stud." A woman who has had a large number of male sex partners is considered a "slut." This dichotomy between the reactions of society to men and women engaging in identical behavior should give us all pause, and force us to re-examine our viewpoints concerning equality between the sexes. Identical behaviors cannot be viewed as positive for a man, and negative for women, without a great deal of hypocrisy entering into the equation.
In the same way, what is wrong for the poor and powerless is wrong for the rich and powerful as well. Any form of real justice demands equality of apprehension of circumstance and quality of enforcement, up to the point where we apply the ancient Roman concept of equity , i.e., circumstances can change both the law and its application. The ultimate example of equity under the law is that while killing a man is illegal, killing a man in self-defense is not.
In the case of sex, as in many other circumstances, the real question comes down to one of power. The man, with his penis sticking out from his loins ("Is this a dagger which I see before me," Macbeth Act II, Scene 1) is automatically (in American society) considered to be the aggressor, having all of the power and in full control of the situation. The woman, with her vulva hidden away by her pubic hair growing from the mons veneris , appears, superficially at least, to be nothing more than a passive receptacle for the power represented by the man's penis, surrendering any power she has by submitting to the act of sex.