Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Red Umbrella

Not all problems can be solved by throwing money at them, but problems caused by a lack of money dissolve like sugar in water when money is added.

Given a large fortune, of course I would take care of myself and those close to me first. (In real life, I used part of my inheritance to make the down-payments on single-story houses for my two stepsons.) Would a luxurious house, frequent trips, fine clothes and a world-class collection of art make me (and my spouse) happy? Not completely.

The world at large needs so much improvement. Spouse has talked about wanting to set up a scholarship program for poor but deserving Latino kids, much like that run by Carlos Santana in the U.S. She also has an interest in those who “fall through the cracks” of systems intended to help them, including those with physical and mental disabilities (to use a label which is often misleading). Those are the people she works with in her current job.

With our unlimited imaginary fortune, Spouse could fund all the causes dear to her heart.

I have my own plan. I’ll call it the Red Umbrella, a foundation for current and former sex workers. Note that this organization would not have the mandate of “rescuing” sex workers from the “degradation” of sex work. Its mandate would be to rescue them from the need for money, a different goal. There would be scholarships for those who want to study or train for any career, including administration and/or accounting (which could qualify them to run successful escort agencies). There would be several conditions: my minions in the sex trade would determine which applicants are really there, and not just money-hungry; scholarship-holders would be free to continue turning tricks while enrolled in academic or training programs, BUT they would have to maintain a certain grade-point average and report their incomes. Quality housing and child-care would be provided.

There would be programs to address the special needs of male and transgender sex workers.

The Red Umbrella would include an educational and lobbying component which would apply pressure to all relevant branches of government to legalize sex work and treat it like other jobs that are taxable and unionized. Health care and pensions should be part of the package.

Do I need to add that the Red Umbrella would sponsor political candidates who include sex workers' rights in their platforms?

The real founder of this movement (me) would not be visible in the media, if it could be avoided. I would do hands-on work while trying to keep my fortune out of the public eye. (This might involve extra expenditures.)

But the Red Umbrella would be all about visibility. Board members would give press conferences about the unsolved murders of sex workers, hire private investigators and keep these cases in the media to an extent that would embarrass communities -- not to mention local & federal police -- into action. (Note: this is how lynching stopped being a socially-acceptable part of the culture of the American South.)

Local chapters of the Red Umbrella would honour the memories of martyred sex workers by naming programs and buildings after them. (Elaine Flowers and Jewel Gambler are two that come to my mind, though even local feminists who oppose violence against women seem to have forgotten them.)

Of course, the ignorati might ask why I’m not using my vast resources to make a dent in all the “isms” (racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, hysterical religious intolerance, etc.). I would answer: Can you think of a better way?


  1. An absolutely lovely idea! Time to dig up a rich relative you didn't know you had.

  2. This is something I could get behind! It infuriates me how the police treat crimes against sex workers. I have zero interest in challenging anyone for their choice of profession, but would like to make it, and every job, one that provides a living.

  3. I'll contribute, Jean!

    I think this is a brilliant idea, and your name is fantastic, too. Maybe you don't actually need that much money to turn it into a reality.

  4. Wow. Now that's audacity.

    I have no experience with sex workers, i really don't, but I've always felt sympathy for them. Their life is so often degraded and it doesn't have to be because they often perform a necessary service. Everybody needs touch, physical affection and of course sex, but there are some people who for many reasons will never likely experience it or be desired by anyone. I wish we lived in a world where sexworkers could be treated with respect and professionalism, medical checkups, security and so on. There are some brothels such as the Bunny Ranch that are reputed to be that way, and there were cultures in the past such as India where being a courtesan was respectable. But times have changed so much.

    A politician getting behind this? Like yeah, that'll happen. Maybe someday.


  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Actually, I think my idea is very possible, especially now, in Canada, when the old laws surrounding the sex trade have been struck down as unconstitutional (as of Nov. 2010) and new ones are being set up in individual cities. Actually, I think an org like this is definitely needed in every country. Raising the money would prob. be easier than running the thing and dealing with the kinds of conflict that seem to plague every large org. Well, it makes a good dream.

  6. I read a comment once, spoken by one woman to another. She said that men don't pay for you to have sex with them...they pay for you to leave afterwards, so they don't have to pretend there is any emotional connection.

    IMHO, religion has a lot to answer for, not the least of which is making the faithful feel that not only can't THEY enjoy something their bodies are designed to desire and enjoy, but they have to spend lots of time making sure that NO ONE ELSE can either, even if they don't share those beliefs.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.