Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity

By Elizabeth Bernstein; Laurie Schaffner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

Desire, Demand, and the Commerce of Sex

ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN 1

Suddenly, the car takes off. We're moving again, but I'm not quite sure whom we're following. Apparently, a woman has gotten into the car ahead of us with a date. We proceed at full speed about a block or two, over train tracks, to a deserted stretch of territory with few cars or people. Indeed, the area is completely barren save for a few abandoned warehouses. Despite the gleaming California sunshine, the atmosphere is tense.

Everything happens in a flash. In mere minutes, it's all over; we slam the brakes on, and two of the officers hop out. They motion for me to join them.

The other members of the Street Crimes Unit are already on the scene. They stopped a blue Chevrolet truck and handcuffed the driver, a large but trembling man who is trying to be obsequious in spite of being terrified. Two of the officers have their guns pointed toward him. In addition to the arresting officer, the sergeant and another policeman also surround the suspect. Meanwhile, the female officers beckon the passenger, Carla, from her seat and begin to talk to her.2They are trying to get her side of the story so that they can use it as evidence. Carla is high on drugs and rather weary, but still lucid. She is apparently one of the numerous street prostitutes whom the officers know by name, because she has been arrested repeatedly during the 10 or so years that she has been working. But today she is not the main focus of their attention.

I hover in the background, absorbing the drama of the surrounded man, the drawn guns, the momentary displays of power and fear. My heart pounding, I try

-101-

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