Last night I went to a screening of John Winters’ Black and White and Sex. It was the second time I had seen the film. It’s very unusual for me to see a film twice or read a book more than once but John had asked me to introduce the film this night.
I enjoyed it even more second time around.
I have been part of this project for a number of years, meeting with writer-director John WInters and many of the cast and crew.
The film explores the life of a sex worker character called Angie played by eight different actors. They present a complex and diverse character and not the cardboard cut-out that is generally presented as a sex worker on TV shows and Hollywood movies.
In my talk I reflected on the fact that in the 21st century many people and even feminists, do not accept that men and women choose to work in the adult industry. They are still shocked that people would charge for a sexual service or have sex for some reason other than love.
There are still ‘feminists’ labeling all sex workers ‘victims’ and advocating a system where they are ‘saved’ via legislation that sends their clients to jail – as is the case in Sweden these days.
When the media downplays the half a million missing dollars from the Health Union but can't mention Craig Thompson's name without adding ‘brothel’ or ‘prostitute’ and the $5,000 he allegedly spent on these personal services, we still have a huge discriminatory problem. One has to wonder if he was accused of spending a similar amount of money on a podiatrist or a cleaner would the media have focused quite so much on these professions? Hardly.
Twenty years ago I helped publish a book called Double Lives. The title was inspired by the constant remark that sex work is easy but telling people what you do, is impossible.
One person in the audience asked two of the actors whether there had been any fallout in their personal lives after playing this role. The actors were quite bemused. ‘No, why would it?’ They weren’t playing a sociopath or an arsehole. They were playing the part of a very interesting and intelligent woman.
I hope that I will see that day when commercial sex is recognised for what it is - a necessary and often pleasurable part of life.
Black White and Sex helps explore this and also clearly shows there is nothing black and white about it. The film is being shown in Canberra and Darwin next month and has been chosen for the Taipei Film Festival in July.
You can find more info at blackandwhiteandsex.com