This blog post is in response to another blog post I read today, titled Sex Workers – An Invitation to Tell Your Stories.
I decided to tell of my experiences via my blog. I know some people will say “OMG! Why did you do that!” or that I might lose some friends (again) for outing myself. I might also gain some friends. Some people may not come back to read this blog ever because of the supposed “immoralities” that I contribute to in society. I may even never find a job outside of sex work again, and you know what, that’s okay…it’s not the end of the world.
A bit of background:
As I am writing this, I should be studying for an exam instead (social psychology–focusing on moral development). Fuck morality. Apparently, most adults don’t make it past stage 3 of Kohlberg’s stages of of moral development anyway. Soooo, we are potentially all fucked. Sex or no sex.
Okay, enough of my “morality and moral development” rant.
Currently, I am studying (at the honors level) criminology. I love it! I learn about what people think about deviant behaviours, or what is “morally” right and wrong. I learn about what professionals think of my experiences as a sex worker, and as an Indigenous female. Much of what I learn is one-sided or just straight up wrong.
Why did you get into the sex industry?
I made the conscious decision to become an escort when I was 18 years old. This was right after I had been looking in the classified section of the local newspaper for a second part-time job. I saw an ad that read “Make thousands and work your own hours” or something like that. At the same time I was reading this paper, I was also in my last year of high school. I moved out when I was seventeen because of problems I kept running into at home. Even as I write this, I know that someone out there will completely miss the following point I am trying make: those personal issues are unrelated to my decision to enter into sex work. And for a long time, everyone around me kept telling me that it was those problems that led me into the sex industry. Today, I honestly believe that there is no correlation between the two: sex work and personal issues (Note: decision to enter sex work is also unrelated to my family relationships too).
Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
I wanted to focus on my school during my last year. At the time, I was working at least 2 different jobs either during the summer and/or during the school year. That can take a toll on someone even if they are not in school. By the time I graduated high school, I graduated on the honor roll and I also had won several awards. I also was able to focus on what I needed to focus on: getting my volunteer hours done, getting the grades I wanted to, and finishing school on time (after being in a major car accident, I was put back an entire year).
As for being pressured into it, I don’t believe I was pressured into it because I was actively seeking out work, and I found it! I went into escorting with an agency because that is what I found first. I then went into dancing and then back into escorting (on and off). There was no particular reason for going into dancing other than that I needed a job, and I didn’t really want to work for someone else or pay someone else fees for working under their name.
What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
I surprisingly liked a lot of things about my work, especially the ability to control my own hours and also the people that I had the opportunity to meet (I’ve met some pretty influential people in all geographic regions that I worked in). I used to be really shy too. I can tell you one thing: I am not shy anymore! I developed communication skills, negotiation skills, the ability to access certain situations on the fly, and the ability to steer situations in a more positive direction! I also liked the protection that some of the bars could provide. I was date-raped by a guy who I did not meet while working. He came into the bar, knowing that I worked there after he did what he did to me, and I was able to get him removed … FOREVER (the sad thing about this is if I went to the police, they would have blamed my choice of work for what happened to me).
What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
The one thing that I didn’t like about my work was that I should have never started working in my hometown. I had people who would out me in public, or also people who would stop by the bar just to see “if it was true that I was dancing.”
On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
At the beginning, I liked it. As time went on in working with an agency, I began to dislike working for someone else. I was being told that bigger and better paying clients would come along, and that I could make 2000-5000 in a weekend (I equate this to a non-sex work employer telling their employees that they will get more hours or benefits if they continue to work long and hard…except for shittier pay!).
What are your feelings about your customers?
When it comes to my experiences with my customers, I worked to develop lasting relationships with them. For the most part, it wasn’t about sex or services to them. For them, it was more about being able to spend time with someone on a more-intimate level (and intimacy can come in many forms—not just sex). There were few bad customers experiences. My madam always had a driver close by if the situation was bad (fortunately, there was never a bad situation). Management in bars would also remove difficult customers or get customers to pay who didn’t want to pay in full.
Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
When I first started escorting, I felt kind of embarrassed. When I started dancing, I felt embarrassed too. However, when I started my first retail job, I felt embarrassed. I also felt embarrassed trying to sell internet services to people in that states.
Over time, I just grew into the comfort of it more. During the course of my experiences as a sex worker, I had numerous non-sex professionals try to help me to leave the industry. I was influenced a lot by their authority and power over certain aspects of my life (like my doctor or past counselors). I left it for sometime but have met a great group of individuals who are really sex-work positive. Hearing their positive perspectives on sex work and/or sex workers has helped me on a personal level. I no longer feel as if sex work was the problem in my life. I feel empowered!
If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
I had the ability to leave the sex industry once I got back into school (but if it wasn’t for sex work I wouldn’t have probably left my hometown, and probably would have never applied to the college and university where I am at now). While still in school, I left it after realizing I was not making the money I initially made at the amount of hours I was working. I quit entirely after being able to find two part-time jobs during the summer months.
Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
These are my experiences and my experiences only. My past experiences (family, relationships, etc.) are unrelated to my sex work experiences. Shitty people and even shittier management exist in all types of industries (not just sex work). Bad customers emerge in all types of business transactions (not just sex work—sometimes sex workers just have to deal with the realities for it longer and without all the same social supports available to non-sex workers). On one hand, I have lost friends because of my decision to enter sex work. On the other hand, I made many more friends! I had many great experiences and some bad experiences. It’s not like what it is in the movies. There is money to be made but not every day and all day. The thing that makes me angry the most is that there is this image that all sex workers are in need of help and live in dire circumstances. Through my experiences, it led me to new experiences, new friends, and new opportunities! The only thing that I wish I could have done better in my experiences: I wish that I had a mentor or someone that I could turn to without fear of being judged or ridiculed. My madam did sort of serve as a mentor but I felt that I needed someone outside that particular relationship. I also wish there were/are better support systems for people in the sex industry or who previously worked in that industry. Sex work and sex workers’ experience isn’t all black and white. There are many diverse experiences. People who exist outside sex work need to acknowledge all types of experiences!