Tomorrow is an exciting day for me! For the first time, I will be speaking a formal public setting about having experience as a sex worker! And to be able to meet this other fabulous people I’ve heard about (via The Stranger or the grapevine) is making this an AWESOME day!
So if you happen to have an hour free tomorrow and live in the Seattle area, come on down!
This is exactly what I have been wanting: a healthy place to talk about sex work and gain experience. Educating the public on sex workers is a passion of mine though I didn’t realize it until the last few years. I was jealous of a sex worker who spoke openly about it at the first Portland SlutWalk. It changed my fear into desire. She was courageous and I wanted to be like her. Someday, I hope I have a chance to thank her.
Pushing to speak publicly about it has not been an easy task to wrap my mind around. My number one concern has been my safety. When I moved to Seattle and began a new venue of adult entertainment, a man I was dating at the time advised me not to tell anyone since not everyone “will understand.” I took his advice to heart for a number of years but in the process I learned I was simply living in fear. There was this whole section of my life I “couldn’t” talk about and that’s… very strange for me. It’s difficult learning to balance privacy, safety and.. sharing. I’m not a very private person so this has been a strange and sometimes painful adjustment.
It became even more important to me to speak out and up for sex workers (who cannot speak up publicly for various reasons) when I was sexually assaulted several times (or threatened with it) in the course of 2 years. The chances of being sexually assaulted significantly increases for people who are sex workers. People I was open with about my work treated me in interesting ways: Many thought they had to save me, assuming I had terrible self-esteem. Many thought I was cheater (or as they said, “promiscuous in a relationship”). Some thought I needed attention to feel better since I wasn’t “well off” as they were (that definition has many meanings and they all meant different things by it). I was once told how embarrassing it would be if my mother knew that all I grew up to be was someone who swung around a pole…
And I ask.. Even if I was using my body to be empowered, why is that so terrible? Don’t we do this all the time in many ways? By the way we choose to dress that day or choosing to put on make up (or NOT put on make up. That has also been a source of empowerment for me)? What about athletes who use their bodies to make money? I’ve never understood sex to be an embarrassing thing (this is what lead me away from Christianity). I feel ZERO shame about being a sex worker.
But what is very shameful to me is the way human beings have decided they could treat me because they knew I was one. And that it hurt me. It was only other peoples’ shame that made me feel shameful and doubtful.. was there something wrong with me?
I can say this: I have not seen a sex worker any more “broken” than any other person on the street: accountant, game developer, program developer, bicyclist, marathoner, CEOs, etc. You name it: people are people.
So why do sex work? Honestly, it’s just interested me over time. It happened because I answered an ad to be a phone sex operator. Before that I had explored posting erotic/nude photos while I was 80 lbs overweight as an exercise: to find beauty in my body that I was having trouble feeling comfortable with.. and to also inspire others to feel good about themselves too. So I tried phone sex work and it was fascinating. I even told my Dad. Not because I thought he’d want to know (he didn’t) but because I would be more embarrassed if he thought I wasn’t working. And it turned out it was fun, weird, scary and also.. very helpful to a lot of people. I did cam work and various things (though nothing illegal because I’m a pansy about having anything “on my record”–I’m still a “good girl”).
What I learned is this: Sometimes people just need to tell someone. They need someone who is empathetic. Sometimes, unfortunately, their partners for whatever reason are not at liberty to do that. Sometimes they are liars. Sometimes their partners enjoy them coming to me. Sometimes I see couples enjoying themselves.
What I learned is compassion and to be more open and less condemning. And yes, being a sex worker was very empowering for me because as a friend put it: We are practicing our boundaries. My friend was dead on about that. I’m not going to pretend sex work is always fun. It isn’t. It’s like any other job: trite, boring, requires patience, etc. Except sometimes you have to deal with seriously strange or scary people (who feel they are allowed to be this way to you). And sometimes it requires so much critical thinking I need a nap afterward. It’s frustrating, maddening and mind blowing.. because it is rare to see this side of a person.. unless you are very patient and non-judgmental.
People are amazing and sex work has made me love them more and tolerate less bull shit in my life.
And, one last bone to pick: Sex work is NOT sex trafficking. Jesus Fucking Christ. If I see one more person confuse those two things… 😛
So anyway, come down tomorrow and join me.. and some fabulous, smart, educated people (because believe me: you can’t be a dummy to do this work that’s for sure).