Sex Work And The Rage of Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho instagram screenshot

Yesterday was day 8 of Margaret Cho’s 12 Days of Rage, and she posted a YouTube video about the first time she was sexually abused, inviting followers to share their own stories and videos. Cho has been doing this every day, and will continue up to the release of her new music video, “(I Want To) Kill My Rapist” at on Friday. Tweeters have joined Cho in sharing their stories with the hashtag #12DaysOfRage.

Margaret Cho Twitter screenshot

Margaret Cho twitter screenshot

Just before #12DaysOfRage started, Cho says she retweeted something about sex worker rights and someone challenged her. In response, she mentioned her own sex work history.

Margaret Cho twitter screenshot

It was nothing she hadn’t shared before, but it was a tweet that unleashed a torrent of opposition from “feminists” who don’t want sex workers to be allowed rights as well as tweets from sex workers themselves. Cho handled it all with grace and rage.

Margaret Cho twitter screenshot

I even tweeted her and she responded!

Margaret Cho twitter screenshot

A few days later we were chatting on the phone — her from a noisy bathroom, me from a sex worker’s rights summit. The burning question on pretty much all the sex workers’ minds was whether (or how) Cho would help us achieve decriminalization and basic human rights.  

“I don’t know,” Cho told me when I asked. “I was one, not a great one, but I was around a community for many, many years far after my short career was over. I loved the sex worker community. That’s my family. I don’t know specifics. I don’t know why there’s a lot of stigma attached to it still. I think that they need to be protected and it should be legalized so that law enforcement protects them. I’m in the process of learning about what needs to be done. Fortunately there are a lot of people who can help me learn and talk about it in a more educated way. I don’t know about what’s happening now. My experience was when I was much younger, it was all independent and inexperienced.”

I told Cho about the trouble that Alaskan sex workers have had reporting crimes to the police without being threatened with arrest themselves or turned away, and her rage on our behalf was beautiful and bright.

“That’s a statement that sex workers are incapable of being raped,” she said, “and in fact many are raped and that’s why we need to decriminalize all prostitution and sex work. It’s like you’re treating people like they’re not just second class humans but not human beings. That’s a human rights violation.”

“Let’s fight together,” Cho said when I asked her what she had to say to sex workers, “because we are human beings and we do not deserve to be treated this way.”


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