So I have spent the previous 5 years in the sex industry, turning tricks as my primary source of income. With my life entering a new phase in the near future, i am starting to see myself leaving the industry (not forever but stopping it as my full time work) as a real option. Now before you jump on that comment as confirmation that all workers are victims trapped in their work needing saving, let me clarify: I havent seen leaving my job as a real option in the past for the simple reason that there is not another form of work that would allow me to pay my rent, pay my bills, study, eat, sleep and interact with someone who isnt a teacher or a customer at whatever cafe i were to work at because i dont hold the skills/experience/time for anything else.
Thinking about leaving hooking after almost half a decade in the industry leaves me with mixed feelings. Aside from finacial support this job has given me a medium for sexual experimentation, comfort in my body, intimacy in times i wanted it and a surface level cash cow when i didnt and also gave me the gift and privilege of a community – something not all sex workers are given or accepted into. What it has also given me is a secret identity i have to choose daily whether i want to expose or hide. This identity leaves me vulnerable to victimization, degrading comments, boring assumptions, fear and anticipation of physical violence aswell as a hyper awareness of the systemic anti-whore sentiments so embedded in mainstream culture. But this is an old story: we all know hookers are shamed and marginalised, and if u dont know that and understand why this is fucked go to http://www.google.com and do ur own research, u have some reading to do.
Lately when i think about what this job has given me in terms of my own world and my own “community” (whatever this may mean), i realize that what i have gained is visibility. As a straight edge white cis femme full time student, i pretty much tick all the boxes for immediate approval that my job is empowering for me and therefore hot, sexy, babeworthy and that i am now cool, glorified, sought after and most likely, a good fuck, i mean i trick dudes into giving me cash all the time by my act so i must be good at it right?
Being known as a sex worker in queer spaces allows me an imposed status as somehow fiercer, more sexually liberated/empowered and queerer than those around me who are thought to be non-sex workers. This hierarchy (besides taking away a sex workers right to be off the clock from sexualization) is fucked for so many reasons: for one this reperpetuates the notion that all sex workers are sluts, comfortable in our bodies, sexually confident and that those not engaging in the industry lack these qualities. Secondly this reduces the many reasons – both personal and structural – that may mean people dont want to/can’t choose sex work. Furthermore ignores the reality that many sex workers do not feel comfortable or safe coming out in public space or to people close to them. Yes, this includes the queer/punk/whatever scene. Surprise! your prying eyes and your lewd comments that you see as so loving and positive may actually be driving your friends further into the closet.
Many sex workers do not have a community. Many are not queer. Many are not radical or politicized. Many do not feel safe being out to those closest to them and many do not love nor hate their jobs. We are not changing the world by fucking for money nor do we wish to be seen to be doing so.
Fetishizing Sex workers allows repetition of ingrained prejudice disguised as progressive support. Would I still be hot and empowered if i was not white? If i was trans? if i was working in a gender that i did not identify with? if i had a drug habit? if i didnt have ableist privilege? if i wasnt in my mid 20s? if i wasnt working to support myself through my education? What if i told you i actually didnt like my job at all but that i needed to do it because i needed the money? Could u accept this was still my choice or am i only hot if i work when i dont need to? Why is it so neccessary to mark me as hot and empowered ne way? is this not something for me to feel for myself and use as my own energy for my own life?
After looking at these questions (and this is in no way a complete summary or checklist) you realise the only thing that brings your attention to me or makes you want to be my friend/say hi/hit on me/fuck me is that i fuck dudes for cash then perhaps u should stop to consider why this urgency for us to talk wasn’t there prior to this information. Also perhaps u might want to consider how many other sex workers in ur life u have objectified (yes it is objectification, no matter how many times u call it inclusivity) and who you have blanked out of ur vision. After this, instead of giving us ur apologies and telling us how bad u feel about it, maybe just stop doing it.