Happy Mother's Day to all the sex worker mamas and mothers of sex workers! For all the sex worker moms out there, we know many of you do the work you do not despite, but rather for your kids. You choose the work you do because of the flexible schedule that gives you more time with your children. You choose it for the relatively higher wages, which keeps your rent and bills paid and allows you to afford toys and trips and after school programs and health insurance and tuition and school supplies and new clothes for your children. Happy Mother's Day! I know moms making money in the sex trade and adult industries are some of the best moms in the world, giving their kids unparalleled and non-judgmental love and understanding.
For all the mothers of sex workers too -- Happy Mother's Day! From conversations with community support line callers, I know that like parents of LGBT children, sex workers' parents face a lot of confusion and self-doubt due to the stigma of sex work, and can also be faced with judgement within their own communities. Thank you for supporting and giving unconditional love to your children who earn money in adult industries, and to your sex worker children earning money to support your grandchildren and standing by them against so much judgement and shaming.
This Mother's Day, I also am thinking of all the sex worker mommas who are separated from their children -- due to biased family court systems or incarceration. Our hearts go out to all the moms who lost custody against the best interests of their children because biased judges were incapable of viewing sex worker parents outside the lens of horrific societal stigma. Happy Mothers' Day to moms like Finley Fawn, a cam worker whose former partner stalked down her adult entertainer account to sue for full custody of their six year old son. The family court judge subsequently admitted she would side with her former partner after only seeing printouts of Fawn's cam twitter account and refused to consider evidence of Fawn's fitness as a parent: paychecks, school records, photos of her home environment. Finley is now looking at $100,000 in expert witness, legal and court fees to regain joint custody. You can learn more about Finley here.
Finley is just one victim of systematic family court and DCFS bias -- against sex worker parents, as well as LGBT, single, low-income and drug-using parents. "Every sex worker I know who's a parent and has gone through a divorce or separation has had their ex try to use that to take the kids away," Juliana Piccillo, a filmmaker, former AP journalist and one of the sex worker parents involved in the Red Umbrella Babies Collective, a project aimed at spotlighting the issues sex worker parents face, said in a Daily Dot interview.
And according to a University of Maryland literature review, "The moral judgments and prejudices of policies and laws do not truly address the best interests of children...the courts often limit the parental involvement of LGBT and sex worker parents at the expense of the children; in some cases parents' actual parenting skills and love for their children do not outweigh the moral prejudices of the law. As a result, children are taken away from their homes and placed in foster care or with extended family because of their parents' perceived sexual promiscuity or deviance."
Sex worker mothers are an inspiration to me, and in recognition of Mother's Day, I've collected and would like to share the words of some sex worker mothers as well as activists working with sex workers, incarcerated mothers and mothers impacted by unjust systems:
Adapted from a blog post originally published for Sex Workers Outreach Project
All images created for and courtesy of Sex Workers Outreach Project