This is our truth, tell us yours
In my dim, and far more distant youth than I care to admit a group of us decided to do mushrooms one night. (Obligatory disclaimer, drugs are really really bad, don’t try this at home, I know better now ect ect) . Being young and foolish we did not know the shrooms we had been sold were supposed to go in tea, for a lot more people, which is probably why not long after eating them goblins started leaping out at me from the doorways of Notting Hill.
Our few collective rational brain cells realised that the party we were going to might not be a good idea, especially as my best, and sometimes, girl friend thought the goblins might turn nasty. So we needed an alternative, which presented itself in the form a key she had to a friends flat, a friend she had a relationship with behind his girlfriend’s back. Yes we were a horribly incestuous group who made Peters Friends look well adjusted and balanced.
Which is how come we ended up sprawled in their living room watching Police Academy when they arrived home at 1 in the morning. There are many ways you could react here, and that’s what makes this story, I hope, more relevent than most hey my youth was wild recollections. They checked we were OK, hydrated, conscious, knew where we were and what we had taken. Discussions of how we had got in were left for a moment when the word in would not have prompted metaphysical speculation on is anyone really ever in. It was, apparently quite clear why my bff had a key, and words were exchanged later,but that wasn’t the immediate priority.
A lot of people talk about harm reduction as an abstract, it allows them to ignore the reality of the lives that are affected by this policy choice or another. On Wednesday night Laura Lee debated sex work legislation with students and others at Trinity College Dublin, and wiped the floor with the opposition. Various features of the debate showed however that for far too many people these are abstracts rather than real issues that might make the difference between me living or being murdered by a violent client.
The debate was supposedly about whether sex work should be legalised in a country where sex work is already legal. Ireland is about to pass laws to criminailse sex work that will endanger sex workers, take away their ability to check for safety alerts, push them onto the streets and into the very hands of those exploiters who the bill is supposed to be tackling. Debating this it seems would have been to real world for the students of trinity, and so they got a “controversial” but meaningless title.
Interestingly the antis in the debate clearly had no idea of the real world discourse around sex work, as judging from twitter little mention was made of the genuine problems with the legalisation model as practiced in Germany and Holland. Whilst Laura and another excellent sex worker voice, Rachel talked about real harm, actual experiences, the results of the Swedish Model on the ground in Sweden their opponents talked about abstracts like the sacredness of sex and the inability to give consent if you are paid, or it seemed at one point, ever. I was reminded of my kind and tolerant friends at the beginning of this because a lot of people say they care about sex workers, the Bindels of this world, or Nick Broomfield with his execrable and exploitative documentary. But their concern stops at the door of real world action. Harm reduction matters nothing to them because it might mean they have to take a deep breath, put their own feelings to one side and see what can be done to make things better in the here and now.My friends believed they were good people, their actions in surprising circumstances showed that unlike so many, their beliefs and actions matched.