Is choice empowering?Written by Jemma Tracey
by Jemma Tracey
This month I attended the Women of the World (WOW) Festival in London. Amongst all the fantastic events and workshops at WOW, one talk in particular caught my attention. It was titled: “Sister Sex Work, Prostitution and Love.” This discussion focused on a performance piece by Rosana Cade and her sister Amy, who works in the sex industry. The performance that these sisters took on tour looks at their relationship, and the journey that Rosana went through to come to terms with Amy’s choice of profession. Rosana reads us the closing words of the play, which focus on her choices in life. She begins with “I am choosing to do this, I am choosing my words.” This declaration of ‘choice’ struck me as incredibly brave, and led me to reflect: what paths and actions have I chosen in my life? What have I lied about choosing? Is choice empowering?
When I first started planning this blog I had the “Choose Life” sequence from the film ‘Trainspotting’ running through my head, which starts: “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career.” I think for many people its with this ethos that we move through the early stages of our lives and careers. While too many women in the world have their freedoms limited, the choices we make with the autonomy that we have shape us – who we are, and what our futures will look like.
I am fortunate enough to have spent eighteen months working in Delhi, and one year studying in Amsterdam. These experiences were amazing and tough and they changed my life, shaping me into the person that I am today. I made a choice to go to Delhi and work, and I made a choice to go to Amsterdam and study. These choices weren’t easy ones, and by choosing these paths I closed off other pathways – but also opened up the world and my future in it. We make choices every day of our lives, and no matter how big or small they are they have an impact on us, and we learn and grow as individuals. My choices weren’t viewed as controversial by society, and I was fortunate too to have the freedom to pursue my path without the weight of social disapproval and judgment.
For Amy, people viewed her choice to do sex work through so many different lenses, often assuming that she did not have the autonomy to make this choice or passing judgment on the validity of her work. Rosana explains to the audience that for Amy, having to explain to people that she enjoyed what she was doing became very frustrating. Sometimes making choices in life can be terrifying especially if people dont agree with you or your actions, judge you for it, or if you yourself fear that you have made the wrong choice. But you should be able to be yourself and explore. When a choice is freely made, it is not for society to dictate whether it is the right choice for the individual in question.
Being free to choose your own path in life is amazingly empowering. Leaving WOW, head abuzz with the words and experiences of so many women, it strikes me that any journey that brings you to a place where you are OK with yourself, is a good one.
Jemma is one of two digital media officers at The Young Women’s Movement. Having recently graduated with an MSc in Gender and Sexuality, she has experience in communications and sexual rights from India and The Netherlands. Jemma enjoys live music and travelling, and is excited to be visiting San Francisco, Copenhagen and Iceland this year! Tweet her @shesinfashion