An eye opening look into the legal sex worker culture of Switzerland.
Documentary maker Malika Gaudin Delrieu spent months on a project about sex work in Switzerland, a country that legally recognizes prostitution as a form of employment. Her research led her to Claudette, an intersex sex worker born with both male and female genitalia. Not only a prostitute by trade, she's also a father and grandfather, record breaking cyclist and a sex worker's rights campaigner. At their first meeting, Claudette casually confessed "I'd rather sell my ass than my soul, it's harder but much cleaner" and Delrieu knew immediately there was a bigger story behind this outspoken, inspirational lady.
After Claudette was born in Switzerland in 1937, her parents assigned her the gender male for the obvious advantage of men in that era, but as she grew up, Claudette identified personally as female. She told Delrieu "I never felt bad about being hermaphrodite, it’s the others who have a problem with it; not me." Like most would, Delrieu assumed Claudette's gender identity and profession stemmed from emotional distress due to difference, but Claudette proudly waves a flag for both of these aspects in her life. She's no victim.
Some of Claudette's philosophies are unnerving to modern standards. She describes how strangers often seek to save her from the life she's chosen for herself, without listening to her achievements — a marriage of 52 years, financially supporting a family, cycling, and activism. In addition to her personal successes, Claudette also believes she's bettering the lives of her clients — leading to a more vibrant and successful community. "The satisfaction of work well done is incomparable in prostitution. When a client is happy, I’m happy too. It’s social work, how can anyone deny that we make people happy, that we are useful? In my job I have the certainty that I have done what was right."
Here's a look into the fascinating life of Claudette. (NSFW)
"I never felt like a boy. That wasn't me."
"Sport has always been an important part of my life. Cycling is one of my passion, I have done it all my life and I have no intention to stop. I still win competitions at my age and record better times than people thirty years younger than me."
"The satisfaction of work well done is incomparable in prostitution. When a client is happy, I’m happy too. It’s social work, how can anyone deny that we make people happy, that we are useful? In my job I have the certainty that I have done what was right."
"Activism is complicated. I’m one of the few who fight for the cause of sex workers using my real identity and showing my face, as Griselidis Real used to do."
"There's nothing like a good client."
"There's nothing like a good client"
"With some clients it doesn’t go as well as with others. For a lot of men the need to go see prostitutes is stronger than they are, they can’t help themselves."
"I always found comfort and strength in the message of Christ. It’s his message of love that nourishes me, everything else is of no importance to me. The church, as an institution, does not interest me and I actually don’t agree with what they do there even if I am catholic. But the example set by Christ, that gives me courage."
[h/t Huffington Post]
Images via Malika Gaudin Delrieu.