The Show must go on

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January 26, 2008

10:56 AM

Are we free to talk about sex?

p. Sex. That’s right — go ahead, say it. See how it feels rolling off the tongue. Can you handle it? Of course you can.

p. Everybody at one time or another has talked about sex. So why is it that as soon as we try to bring the conversation into the public, it becomes a scandal that rocks the entire state of Virginia?

p. The time has come again for the Sex Workers’ Art Show to remind us just how uncomfortable the topic of sex can be, for some, and I want you to ask yourself, “Are we free to talk about sex?”

p. Many of the harshest critics of the Sex Workers’ Art Show have never actually seen the performance, so let me lay it out for you. A group of sex workers ranging from exotic dancers to phone sex operators travel the United States in a bus to tell people about their lives. They read memoirs and poetry, play music and showcase their performance art. In some cases, nudity is part of the performance, but the most shocking thing about the show is the political material.

p. The sex industry brings in billions of dollars a year, proving that Americans love to consume its products, but do we ever acknowledge that there are people behind the pornography? Do we ever stop to hear what it’s like to be a sex worker before we condemn those who choose this profession?

p. I cannot understand the claims of some, such as One in Four sponsor John Foubert ’90, that the Sex Workers’ Art Show could lead to rape. How can listening to the experiences of a marginalized group encourage men to sexually assault women? I give men a little more credit than that, and I hope you do, too.

p. The best way to reduce rape is to foster a positive dialogue about sex and, as the show depicts the threat of rape for sex workers, I cannot imagine a better forum to address these issues.

p. Even if you do not care to hear about the lives of sex workers, even if you never want to see this show, are you willing to censor a performance that brought in almost 1,000 audience members last year?

p. The entire University Center was packed with students trying to see the show, and over 400 people were turned away because the Commonwealth Auditorium was filled to capacity. The Student Assembly provided funding for the show last year, and student support was overwhelming.

p. Do you think that a show supported by so many members of our campus community should be blocked by the administration?

p. I, for one, am glad to attend an institution that values free speech regardless of how offensive that speech may be to some. It would be a tragedy for the College to betray our values of freedom of expression and student autonomy because we are scared to talk about sex.

p. So, give it a try, start a conversation about sex, or sex work or the show. You might learn something, and isn’t that why we came to the College in the first place?

p. __Sarah Klotz is a senior at the College.__

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