The Weight of Words

The author is a former prostitute living in Vancouver. Written in 2009 and appearing in the pages of Reflet de société that November, these words are as powerful today as they were back then. A mother and freelance journalist, she was in the media during the trial of Robert Pickton.

Trisha Baptie   File Prostitution

This essay is composed of words I have put together in a certain way. My choice of words is my own. They reflect my opinions only; it’s my own way to communicate. If you could hear my voice you’d know that I have my own distinctive way of communicating. Our choice of words, and how we use them, define how we transmit ideas. Our words are our witnesses to our place in the world. One innocent example: the word “student” indicates that we’re enrolled in a school and we’re in the process of learning something.

A less innocent example: the word “prostitute.” That is the word that I use when talking about women – like myself – who are exploited by men for money and power. We offer our bodies for sexual services. I could also use two other words to describe my political position on the subject: “paid rape.” That best expresses what prostitution is all about.

So in just a few lines, centered around three words, I can clearly communicate my position on this issue. Anyone at all can add these words to their vocabulary to publicly express their own position.

I learned at a very young age that my ability to swear like a sailor made me appear strong. That was important at that point in my life. But that didn’t necessarily reflect how smart or how wise I was. Even though I never got past my first year of high school, I read a great deal. When I read I am searching for knowledge; but I am also searching for new ways to relate with words. We must never underestimate the power of words.

I enrolled in free courses at university. I don’t have any official credits, but I learned some valuable lessons on critical thinking, on how to think better in general. I’m also a member of many associations and organizations, and at each meeting I attend I become more and more convinced that I can make an impact on the world around me. I can change things.

Citizens For Sale

What I’d really like is to see a change in the place that women occupy in society. Right now, we are second-class citizens. If we were equal members of society, we couldn’t be bought and sold. We’d be able to walk at night without fear of being raped. We could enjoy relationships with others without fear of being beaten or sexually assaulted by our partner.

Because this equal status is refused to us, we must denounce the violence and injustice implicit in prostitution. It’s no accident that the pro-pimp lobby has replaced the words “prostitute,” “john” and “human trafficking” with polite phrases like “sex worker” and “client” and “forced migration.”  These words portray the same reality in very different ways.

No matter what subjects may interest us, it is the words we use that will help others to understand where we stand. It is the words we use that will convince others to join our fight. Saying things in a strong, clear way will help us battle the system in ways that is clear and understandable. Resorting to vulgar swear words will give the dominators a neat excuse to reject and ignore our arguments.

One Comment

  1. Gwendolyn Zupans 10/16/2015

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