Kamala Harris’ Whorephobia Is Sadly No Surprise

Melissa Petro
The Establishment
Published in
9 min readJul 26, 2017

Kamala Harris (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

For some of us, politics is more than an intellectual exercise — it’s a lived experience.

II t sucks to log onto social media and see everyone — including people you admire — celebrating someone or something you know directly or indirectly harms the people you love.

“Sucks” is probably not the best way to articulate it, but in situations like this, I don’t always feel like being articulate. More often, I feel like making myself small and staying quiet. It’s an immediate, bodily reaction. When it shows up in my Facebook feed that four of my friends “liked” the supposedly feminist movie, Rough Night — where the premise is that a stripper literally dies (ha ha?) — or when I’m on Twitter and I see someone’s retweeted something related to Rashida Jones’ Netflix documentary, Hot Girls: Turned On, in spite of the fact that several sex workers featured in the film came forward to say they felt exploited by the production (not to mention that one time Jones told fellow female actresses to “stop acting like whores”) — I keep my opinions to myself. It’s isolating and, in most circumstances, I don’t say anything so as not to risk exacerbating the feeling. From not-funny memes and annoying hashtags to problematic Buzzfeed listicles, there are just too many daily examples of stigmatization to confront.

Like racism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the rest, casual whorephobia and anti-sex work sentiment and views — even among so-called progressives — is endemic. This can leave current and former sex workers feeling deeply alone and without support.

The latest and most vivid example of this is the growing popularity of superstar Democrat Kamala Harris. The first Indian American U.S. Senator ever, and California’s first Black U.S. Senator*, Harris has been called a “liberal hero” and a “rising star” in the party. An outspoken member of the resistance against the Trump administration, at the Senate Intelligence Hearings late last month, Harris delivered one…

Melissa Petro
The Establishment

Writer, teacher. PEN/Fusion Emerging Writer Prize Finalist. Former Little Miss Walton Hills. Follow me on Twitter @melissapetro