The most important thing a Slut can have in their bag is knowledge.
Isn’t that what the SlutWalk is really about?
Meet Mia, an artist, and hear what they have to say about being a slut, owning the sexuality, sex work, the SlutWalk and more.
What does the term “slut” mean to you?
Slut for me has always been a specter. An instrument of fear. Slut is what I never wanted to be as a young person. I also was one of those people with a lot of internalized misogyny who only wanted to be around guys cause they were less “drama” and so I feared that they would talk about me the way I heard them talk about other girls. It’s wild how pervasive sexism and misogyny is where young girls are forced into following these fake rules of engagement or be labeled as a slut.
I have definitely called a girl a slut maliciously when I was younger. Slut was a way for me to distance myself from other girls, I might have been a bitch, but I was never a slut. I am so happy I grew out of that self-hating shit! It took me a while but I got here! Now, slut holds no type of power at all and that’s so liberating. I can’t even recall the last time I heard someone say slut around me.
How does SlutWalk change the conversation around sexual assault and awareness?
I think it provides an opportunity for levity around an issue that is often heavy and overwhelming. I actually haven’t been to a Slutwalk because I feel like Slutwalk are for civilians and I feel that people who aren’t sex workers have a very different journey when it comes to “reclaiming” sexuality or the word “slut”.
A civilian wants a chance to be slutty without the stigma, but what happens when being slutty is literally your job and that job is being institutionally and systemically persecuted? What does it mean to be a slut for a day when I have to be a slut 5 days out the week.
Where do you find your power?
I think the first time I felt powerful within myself was through sex work. It made me feel in control of my self, my body, and my life for once. But more importantly, sex work allowed me to be in an industry surrounded by women who were also in control of themselves and who were also empowered through this really stigmatized profession. That’s not to say that sex work is this magical world where you feel super powerful every day, like anything else it has its ups and downs.
But there’s no way to describe the feeling of sitting in a dressing room full of girls putting on makeup and picking out outfits and talking about hustling. After I had been in the game for a while, a lot of my power started to come from other people in my life calling me powerful, usually it was other women or gnc femmes, and hearing that echo helped me believe in it when I couldn’t. There are so many simple things I do that don’t always seem that revolutionary or radical to me, but other people see what I do and what I say and they feel inspired to find their own power.
Even my own family has told me that seeing me live my life so unapologetically makes them proud and makes them feel brave. That really makes me feel powerful. Especially since power is usually framed as something based on scarcity, like people really be out here hoarding power, so to reframe power as a thing that can be shared and that can become communal is so important to me. Like my power today is definitely the amalgamation of a lot of other fearless women and femmes finding their own power and sharing their power with me through their knowledge and lives, and me putting that back out in the universe to share with other people.
How do you take ownership over your sexuality?
This one is hard to answer cause I am definitely not there yet. This is work for a lifetime because there is a lot of shit I still need to work through regarding dysphoria, trauma, sexual assault, and patriarchy. I am still learning how to say “No, I don’t want to do that.” No matter how powerful I feel, my body is still unknown territory. What has helped me work through it and start that process of reclaiming my agency has been my clothes. The way I dress is deeply psychological for me, I have had body dysmorphia and eating disorders and I used to fucking hide behind baggy sweaters and pants all the time.
Mind you, I grew up in Miami, so there’s no reason for me to wear a damn sweater. Because I spent my whole life hating and hiding my body so when I started to do the opposite it really helped me. I stopped wearing bras and underwear, I started wearing a bunch of see-through stuff, always had my titties out, etc. And I started getting really loud about people trying to slutshame me or sexually harass me. Those two things in combination made me feel like I was my bodies biggest fan and protector and that definitely translates into my sexuality. But like I said, still working on it.
Let’s talk about objectification. How have you experienced objectification in this industry and how do you reclaim “the gaze”? Can you turn “the gaze” back on itself?
I really hate this question cause it always feels like some second-wave feminism bullshit. I am objectified every day that I walk out of my house. Actually, I don’t even have to walk out of my house now cause we got social media! Like it is what is. I have been objectified since I was a freaking four-year old.
There’s nothing about the objectification in this industry that is worse than the objectification that exists everywhere in this world. Open your magazines or turn on the tv, look at all the endless beheaded decontextualized bodies with boobs that are used to sell some sort of useless product. I reclaim the gaze by making money off it for myself and because I am an autonomous being with agency who chose to this job. Next.
Sex work is work. Tell us more what working in this industry means to you?
Sex work has changed my life forever. Completely. I will never be the same and nothing else will ever be the same either. I am smarter, wiser, braver, and stronger cause of it. Most importantly, I have no doubt in my ability to take care of me.
What are some misconceptions you encounter about the work you do?
Ahh! The worst one is that I have daddy issues or that I am doing this because I was molested or that I am damaged.
Let’s deconstruct some of those — how do you combat folx who try to use derogatory comments and language against you?
I just brush it off. I don’t really have time to argue with every individual who has something fucked up to say. Plus a lot of people are dealing with their own issues and their own repressions and I can spare some forgiveness for that. I try to be an advocate on my social media and use it as a platform to talk about these things and challenge these ideas but other than that I just live my life. They hate to see a bitch like me win.
Can you tell us a little bit about FOSTA/SESTA and how this has affected you and your ability to work safely?
It’s so screwed up. It has put so many people I care about in danger. This is threatening the livelihood of my friends. Like people who do sex work are taking care of families, and kids, and communities. SESTA/FOSTA is fucking with that. It is literally taking food out of peoples mouths. This is puritanical legislature.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about sex work / sex workers?
Sex work does not equal sex trafficking. Sex worker does not equal sexual trafficking victim.
What changes do you hope to see in the industry in the next 5 year? The next 10 years?
Decriminalization. Destigmatization. No more cheap johns.