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Saturday, December 26, 2015

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF UPON ENTERING SEX WORKERS ANONYMOUS

When Sexaholics Anonymous was first founded - sexual addiction was unheard of.  I know because they formed not long before we formed our program.  This was a time in the 1980's when the world believed that addiction was about an addictive substance such as alcohol and/or drugs.  The world was still not accepting the concept that a behavior could be an addiction by itself - without a narcotic substance involved.  

Every program's founding was revolutionary.  When AA was founded the world didn't believe alcoholism was a disease.  They believed it was a "lack of moral fiber" and churches used to go around having people sign "pledges not to drink like somehow making a deal not to drink and sticking to this deal would work.  They tried limiting the booze during prohibition, and then with of course banning drinking on Sundays or after a certain hour.  But we know this had no effect on the alcoholic.  

When Bill founded AA - it led to the founding of the National Council on Alcoholism which generated enough research to have it declared a disease.  Alcoholism was then declared a genetic incurable disease that one could only put in remission.

When NA was founded it expanded this view to realize that the disease could attach itself to anything - any drug, prescription or not.  NA came into being with the understanding that it was a deeper issue than abstinence being that Jimmy had 15 years sober but the disease of addiction was bringing him to his knees sober.  

Now when Roy came along - he had 8 years sober but was hitting a bottom with pornography and prostitutes. He also saw raging sex addiction in AA - with many alcoholics substituting from drinking into sex and fantasy addiction or the "lust" connection.  

When he founded SA - it was just him and a few other alcoholics having a meeting in Hollywood.  They first met at a cheap meeting hall which was over a strip club but he joked that the "members weren't making it to the meeting" so he moved the meeting hall to a better part of town for that reason . Now since sex addicts also were into things like phone sex, and anything could be a "trigger" when one is viewing the world through sexual eyes - then he found that addicts were "getting off" by using explicit language in front of the others in the rooms.  So he put the ban on explicit language.  That was because he could see their members acting out right in the middle of a meeting.  

Now when we formed our program - we had to ask ourselves what were we?  Were we addicted to sex?  Were we addicted to money?  We were addicted to the sex industry?  We were addicted at all for that matter?  

Take compulsive gambling.  Gamblers are not "addicted" in the sense a drug addict is.  There is no physical dependence.  Gamblers act out for the high.  The "high" distracts them from the pain.  It's also a form of self-abuse.  To gamble away one's money, and other people's money you stole, is a big form of self-abuse.  Which of course is the major component of all addiction - self-abuse.  

Isn't that the difference between prescription drug use and addictive drug use - the component of self-abuse?  When one steals to get high, does so many drugs you destroy the body, prostitutes' one's self to get the drugs, etc.  Same with alcoholism - you drink until your liver is shot, you lose your job, your wife leaves, etc.   So the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic has the component of self-abuse.  

Gambling - same thing.  A professional gambling makes money and walks away without harming himself.  But a compulsive gambler steals money from work to gamble, then gambles away his rent money, lies to his wife and boss about what he lost and also engages in illegal betting in dangerous places - so you have the component of self-abuse in compulsive gambling.

Now what's up with us?  Is sex work addictive or are we people who have found it addictive for us?  Does one have to feel one's "addicted" in order to find help with us?  What about the person who was forced to be in sex work?  How are they "addicted" or engaging in self-abuse?"  Are we addicted to sex?  Then what about pimps and madams or those who run bondage parlors who don't engage in sex but are in the sex industry?   Did we abuse ourselves in the industry or actually empower ourselves?  We had money, power, prestige, and control in many cases.  Not all of us were the image of the "junkie prostitute" who is sucking a dick for a hit of drugs.  Some of us are living off sugar daddies who are paying us quite well, live quite well, and aren't touching a drug.

So what are we in this program was the questions that had to be answered in order to have not only our 1st step, but also our 3rd and 5th traditions.  Who are we "carrying the message to?" for one.  For another, what is our "requirement for membership"?

Twelve step programs have to stick to their issues - meaning the alcoholic in AA doesn't sit around going into how their members gamble or express their sexuality.  They leave that up to other programs.  So are we going to have members step up and take a chip for a month of time away from all sex work if they're stumbling drunk to the podium to pick up their chip?  Is the issue of substance abuse an "outside issue"?  

We're not here to replace AA or NA - but it doesn't make sense for us to be handing out chips for "time" if our members are high or drunk.  But then how do we write our first step?  That we're "powerless over prostitution, drugs, booze, sex, food, love, etc.?"  

First things first.  We're not a program to get everyone out of sex work because some people are quite happy in what they're doing so our mission isn't to go out and help everyone.  Now in NA - they want to get every person who is using street drugs clean.  There is no such thing as "recreational" heroin use.  So NA is going out to reach the "addict who still suffers".  

Now does that mean we're going out to every sex worker saying "hey we want to help you get out of the sex industry?"  No because to do so implies that every single person in the sex industry is having a problem with it.  I point you to Gypsy Rose Lee.  This is a woman who was a stripper who became an author, playwright, actress, etc.  Natalie Wood played her in a film and she seemed just fine being an ex-stripper.  

So no we're not going out to every sex worker saying "we want to help you quit".  We are however going out to the "prostitute who still suffers" and letting them know we can help if they're suffering.

Meaning I"m going to ask you "are you suffering?"  Are you unhappy with your relationship with the sex industry and do you want to exit that world?  If not, then I can't help you.  No one can't because you don't need help.

That's our 5th tradition.  Now to our 3rd.  Our "requirement for membership".  Again we're not out there trying to save the world.  The first word in the first step is "we".  Who is "we"?  We are Sex Workers Anonymous.  "We" are men and women who have a "desire to leave the industry, and find recovery".  

So we have two parts - first being "do you want to leave the sex industry".  Not for today but forever.  Not saying it was wrong or you were bad.  I'm saying do you want to leave?

If yes, then do you want "recovery"?  What's "recovery"?  If this is a matter of switching jobs - then you're fine.  You just get another job and you move on and that's that.  But there are some of us for who they can't just "move on" from sex work.  For them, they need a "recovery" process.  

They find they're suffering from "post-prostitution syndrome".  Now is the sex industry to blame for this?  Who knows?  Some had it before they entered sex work.  Some didn't.  The "chicken or the egg" question will drive you crazy so please just focus on "do you want recovery?"  

If you haven't listened to the tape we have up of what PPS looks like - basically it's an inability to live "with or without" the sex industry.  It's an inability to keep jobs or a series of jobs one absolutely hates.  It's going from working three jobs and being exhausted to not having any job and going to food banks and then right back again.  It's having a degree, but needing a higher degree, or never quite finishing.  It's being scared you won't find work but also finding work and then dreading every minute of it and wanting to quit.  

Bottom line is you're not happy nor functional in any area of your life outside of sex work.  Not in your relationships with people where you might have 1000 friends but not one of them knows who you really are nor are they someone you totally trust and are completely open with.  You might have 1000 friends in AA or NA - but not one relationship with someone who is outside of sex work that also knows all about you.  You're not sleeping regularly, eating healthy, and may even be engaging in self-harm such as cutting, or starving yourself, or not allowing yourself proper rest and care.  

It's almost like you're punishing yourself for something and you can't stop.  Now an inability to stop harmful behavior is the very definition of addiction.  Therefore, our 1st step in SWA is that you are "powerless over our addiction".  Not just "your" addiction - but "ours" meaning we share the same issues.  These are the questions to ask yourself about before coming into Sex Workers Anonymous.

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