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Posts Tagged ‘sex work is work’

I’m a 24-year-old gay male sex worker who recently got into a relationship.  My partner knows about and respects my work, but he wants to be monogamous and feels like we have to be in an open relationship because of my job.  I don’t mind being monogamous, but I enjoy my job and I don’t want to quit, but I truly want to be with this man because he is the most wonderful person I’ve ever met and has an emotional depth and maturity that is truly unparalleled.  I was wondering if you had any advice or personal experience/wisdom you could impart.

Whether or not you can make this work will depend largely if not entirely on whether your partner can understand that sex work is work rather than a recreational activity.  Notice I didn’t say “if you can make him see that…” or something similar, because although you can express the truth to him, you cannot make him accept it.  All you can do is to tell him that if he wants to be monogamous, you are happy to promise him that you won’t have any sexual contact with anyone else unless money is involved; after that, the rest is up to him.  You might also take a look at a couple of other columns I’ve written on similar topics; though they’re about hetero relationships, I honestly don’t think the dynamic would be all that different.  And if you find them helpful, you’re more than welcome to share them with him.  The most helpful column of all might be this two-part interview with my (now ex-) husband; even though we are no longer together, our separation was very amicable and had little to do with my work, and we are still good friends.  His insights on jealousy and looking at my work as an outsider might help to give your partner insight from another man who’s been there, and that might do more to help him than I as a female sex worker could ever manage.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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[Sex workers] are selling sex by choice…[no matter] what Demand Abolition says.  –  Alison Bass

The Public Eye 

The more sex workers write and speak in public, the harder it will be to ignore us:

The recent book Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn by the pornstar known as “Stoya”…is…a…collection of essays that discusses different topics from technology to religious iconography…a new generation of porn performers taking an intellectual stand on social issues…intellectual porn stars have turned into the avant-garde academics in this field, philosophers of the flesh and some of society’s most serious thinkers on human sexuality…Angela White is known for her advocacy of women’s rights and body positivity…Conner Habib…was a college lecturer of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before he began shooting porn scenes.  Now he’s also known for his writing and his thought-provoking podcast Against Everyone with Conner HabibValentina Nappi in Italy and Amarna Miller of Spain are both porn stars who attended art school and grew up in countries where the Catholic Church held a firm grip on the social and political life.  Yet these women have boldly voiced a feminist and hedonistic worldview, pushing the boundary of public opinion…

Vendetta 

Stephen Lemons speculates on the origin of billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s fanatical hatred of sex workers:

…Hunt also frowns on “the use of pornography to masturbate” and seems to take a dim view of the male sex drive in general.  As for the right of sex workers to make choices for themselves, she opines that “every decision must be weighed in the terms of the overall effect on the [State], even at the cost of the impingement on personal freedom.”  Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies have secured the kind of enforcement against “sex buyers” that Hunt favors.  In a groundbreaking article published in The Intercept, Alison Bass…details how Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies in several cities helped fund local crackdowns…But there may be more at work in Hunt’s worldview than radical feminism.  Her father, H.L. Hunt, was an infamous philanderer who maintained two secret families in addition to the one he shared with his first wife…Swanee is the daughter of the woman who would become Hunt’s second wife, Ruth Ray Hunt, following the death of the first Mrs. Hunt…The billionaire oilman would visit his second family when his first wife was off playing bridge…She describes her mother’s “anguish” at the situation…Swanee…admits to wondering as a kid why she “didn’t have a daddy like the children next door”…Such lachrymose reminiscences may add some context to her anti-prostitution jeremiad.  Take, for instance, this passage from “Deconstructing Demand”:  With most monogamous couples, fidelity includes not only abstaining from sex with another person, but also honesty and transparency.  Buying sex, however, is largely a secret affair that requires a web of deception involving one’s location, time, and money…Children’s lives are strained and they may well become disillusioned with their fathers…

The Forest for the Trees

Sex abuse hysteria, like its twin sister “sex trafficking” hysteria, is the child of the Satanic Panic:

Moral panics…have occurred throughout history.  Two of the most notorious are the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ’90s.  The panics almost exclusively involve women and children and fears for their safety, especially from sexual abuse.  We are in the midst of another such panic, but despite the similarities to past episodes, we are still unable to recognize it as such.  The current panic has been playing out in the military and on college campuses for nearly a decade, but…the…hysteria is creeping into our regular legal system as well…five of the biggest signs…of mass hysteria [are]…1. Due Process Goes Out The Window…2. “Believe The Victim”…[accusations are all the evidence needed]…3. Misleading And Faulty Statistics4. Evidence, Schmevidence…and…5. Pseudo-Scientific Theories About Memory Reign Supreme

Traffic Jam (#411)

The ethically-bankrupt Dominique Roe-Sepowitz has invented another idiotic “study” designed to find exactly what its funders wanted found:

“I would also like to share on the record that…we [chose] to place our office in formal lockdown, file a police report, and get sheriff escort”  Khara Jabola-Carolus…of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women [claimed dramatically] following [what she pretended was] a threat of “imminent physical danger” her office received…“This is a big business and no one…wants their money flow interrupted.”  The threat, Jabola-Carolus said, was in response to the organization’s [prohibitionist] stance and publication of a [bogus] study by HSCSW and Arizona State University School of Social Work, titled Sex Trafficking in Hawai‘i Part 1: Exploring Online Sex Buyers, that [pretends] prostitution demand is much higher in Hawai‘i than it is in the rest of the U.S.  The study used the O‘ahu and Big Island “Women Seeking Men” personals section of Backpage…

The nonsense opening this article?  A politician got a flood of organized calls from people opposed to prohibition and chose to frame them as “threats” to cast activists as members of a sinister cabal.  Other interviewees make a number of ridiculous statements, including one favorite claim of the more racist kind of prohibitionist that non-white women are too stupid to be pragmatic on their own, and had to learn pragmatic sexual motives from more-sophisticated-but-evil white people.  In case you’re wondering why this drama is centered around tiny Hawaii, it’s because there is some support for decriminalization in the state legislature and the prohibitionists want that crushed.

Counter-Countermeasure

Since prohibitionists pushing the “pimp” myth have failed miserably to debunk the John Jay study, they’ve decided to attack its primary author instead:

…Four professors at [John Jay] criminal justice college are on paid leave while the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and State Inspector General probe allegations they brought the underworld they studied into the hallways of John Jay.  Accusations of rape, sexual harassment, facilitating prostitution, and using and selling drugs first surfaced several weeks ago in the written complaints of two John Jay graduates…Naomi Haber [and Claudia Cojocaru]…Ric Curtis…received a $520,000 grant in 2005 from the US Department of Justice to research child sex workers in New York City.  He also led a study on young people working in the sex trade as part of a $1.3 million federally-funded research project in Atlantic City and other cities across the US.  But the feds halted the Atlantic City study in 2012 after receiving…[complaints that] Curtis handed out cigarettes to underage sex workers.  Investigators eventually found that Curtis offered smokes to people who agreed to connect him with prostitutes to interview, but he did not give them to interview subjects…Curtis later wrote that “the findings from my research in 2008 and 2010 earned me scorn among a number of leading practitioners in the…rescu[e industry]…because it undermined the rationale behind their appeals for funding,” according to an email he sent to one of the alleged victims that was included in her complaint…

Gorged With Meaning (#711)

People who pretend students need to be “groomed” into sex work are living in a dangerous fantasy world:

The University of Brighton has been accused [by prohibitionists] of encouraging prostitution after [the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex] ran a stall offering help for students at its freshers’ fairs…In a series of tweets it promoted its attendance, it said: “1 in 6 students does sex work or thinks about turning to sex work…If you…want to talk and don’t know where to go… we’re here for you.  We respect your autonomy, privacy and confidentiality.”  [Prohibitionist fanatics] Julie Bindel…and…Sarah Ditum [called the outreach]…”a grooming operation…preying on the naivety of young students”…academics and students jumped to the defence of the group.  Alison Phipps, professor of gender studies at the University of Sussex, thanked them for their “great work” and doctor Gemma Ahearne, a lecturer and sex industry researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, said their work was “amazing”.  Parker Robinson, student union’s vice president of academic experience at Brighton, said it was “great knowing there are services available ready to help students through difficulties they might be experiencing”…

The fact that Bindel, Ditum and company want young women denied support and advice, potentially resulting in their being harmed or even killed, tells you all you need to know about their sociopathy.

Whither Canada? (#808)

Edmonton has a long history of abusing & dehumanizing sex workers:

Last year, Edmonton [Alberta] police charged more people for purchasing sex than anywhere else in the country.  Edmonton accounted for more than 40 per cent of charges nationwide…The…271 charges in Edmonton…[were] more than double the 114 recorded in Winnipeg, which was second on the list…A vast majority of [victims of the law] were [forced in]to a [“johns school” and made to endure propaganda infantilizing sex workers and demonizing clients]…They pay a $750 [fine], increased from $500 earlier this year, which goes toward…[a prohibitionist] group that runs the day-long session…More than half of the arrests…came from online sting operations…[which] have made clients increasingly skeptical of web-based advertising and [screening]…

Uncommon Sense (#855)

How countries with healthy ideas about sex react to moral panic:

More…sex workers in Bern are renting apartments through…sites like Airbnb or using hotel rooms to carry out their business, according to a new report…Bern is currently home to 28 licensed brothels [but] this number is sinking…[because] rules introduced in 2013 requiring brothels to register have made sex work more expensive…prostitutes are required from 100 to 150 Swiss francs a day to rent a room in a legal brothel.  However, there are dozens of apartments listed on Airbnb for less than this amount.  The trend towards the use of private apartments for sex work runs counter to the intention of [the] rule changes…which [were] designed to [infantilize] prostitutes…and exploit…[their work with taxes and fees]…despite this tendency, police are positive about the new rules, arguing…that authorities now have much tighter control.  [Bern cantonal parliamentarian Christa] Ammann, meanwhile, is calling for prostitution to be completely decriminalized…

Compare Swiss police’s collective yawning over sex workers renting AirBnBs to work with UK cops’ lurid masturbatory fantasies about “sex slaves” in “pop-up brothels”.

Business As Usual (#871) 

I love it when rival herds of swine feed on each other:

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs has formally transferred the investigation into the police vice [gang] to the FBI…as [too much] evidence [to hide] has [been discovered] during an internal investigation…The arrest of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in July by [disguised] vice [cops] and the August [murder] of 23-year-old Donna Castleberry [during an attempted rape] by…vice [pig] Andrew Mitchell have put a spotlight on the 20-member [gang].  Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of the [gang], was relieved of duty [on September 26th.  Besides the rape and murder]…he had been the subject of a potentially criminal complaint that had been filed about a week before…Todd Lindgren, a spokesman for the FBI…[said] a search…[was] conducted…on…Mitchell[‘s home]…

The Widening Gyre (#872) 

Even celebrities are seeing “sex trafficking” everyplace they go:

Lindsay Lohan wins the most bizarre video of the month…as she accuses parents of trafficking her children and then gets punched in the face.  Lindsay, who was in Moscow, gets out of her car and approaches the family — 2 boys and their parents.  She says they’re Syrian refugees who need help…then…accuses them of trafficking their [own] kids, as she speaks in both English and Arabic…After tailing the family for a bit and trying to [abduct] the children, you see the mother snap and attack Lindsay…

I’m really grateful for moments of comic relief from hysterical young women like Lohan, which at least break the tension of the hysteria being used to destroy lives and abolish civil liberties.

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Prohibitionists love wanking to the Neomarxist fantasy that sex workers and managers are separate and wholly distinct feudal classes, just as they imagine industrial labor and management to be.  They pretend sex workers don’t move in and out of management roles (escort service owner, house mother, jack shack manager, etc) over the years as the need arises.  This lets them conveniently slur women like me (who ran a service for six years but has been independent since ’06) as some kind of nobility who are completely out of touch with their peers and friends who made different choices.  It’s a fairy tale, which is appropriate considering their childish beliefs about sexual purity, mustache-twirling “pimps” and bogeyman clients.  Loons like Julie Bindel even salivate over fantasies of an all-powerful “Pimp Lobby” (that I’m supposedly a Big Wheel in), basically the “Elders of Zion” in drag designed by pearl-clutchers, who bizarrely fight to defeat the black market despite the fact that black markets are what make criminal organizations rich.  People who believe this stuff are all bat-shit crazy.

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Why don’t the people who support decriminalization work together with those who support legalization to fight criminalization?

The answer to that is simpler than you might think:  it’s because nobody supports legalization.  You may think that’s a bit glib, but it’s basically the truth.  Every sex worker rights organization, human rights organization (including Amnesty International), health organization and academic who has actually made a proper study of sex work agrees that decriminalization (in which sex work is treated as a form of work rather than a type of criminal behavior to be “controlled”, and sex workers are treated as adults with agency rather than broken children to be managed by the state) is the best framework for everyone involved.  Studies from New Zealand and New South Wales demonstrate that the decriminalized sex industry in those places is far healthier than in any place with heavy-handed government “regulation” of women’s sexuality by police.  The number of sex workers who want themselves declared moral imbeciles in need of management by the state is vanishingly small; nearly everyone who supports “legalization” is a politician, cop, moralist or crony who stands to profit from the “legalized” system (such as Nevada brothel owners or the owners of STI testing services).  In other words, the only people who support women being paternalistically treated like imbecilic disease vectors who need others to make decisions about their bodies for them, are those who stand to gain power (including the power to rape women who color outside the lines) or money from such a system.  And many such people, such as Dutch “authorities” and pimps like Dennis Hof, are perfectly happy to spread “sex trafficking” propaganda and other lies in order to ensure that women are denied control over our own sexual and economic behavior.

Does that answer your question about why we can’t work together?

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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It’s no secret that I do not suffer fools gladly, and never have.  In the past few years my reaction to imbeciles online has resulted in my being compared to a Western gunfighter, various warriors, a wronged wolverine, and even a psychic mutant (sorry, I can’t find that column); earlier this year, Matisse said I was like a “flaming sword of doom on Twitter”.  But while at one time I had a great deal more patience with work calls, the events of the past few months have necessitated a change in that department as well.  Up until this year, a large enough fraction of the texts and phone calls I received led to paying work to justify my taking at least a few minutes with each caller.  But now that Backpage is gone and the guys who used it have flooded into all the other sites, and Eros has made the incredibly asinine decision to remove all advertiser’s website links (thus driving browsers to contact providers by phone or email), I’ve been forced to improve my phone-screening skill set so as to eliminate the > 80% of phone callers or texters who are time-wasters, clowns, or cheapskates.  Even if I’m awake, I’m unlikely to answer a voice call before noon or after midnight, because those guys are most likely looking for a session nownownow and I don’t work at any AM hour (if they really want to see me, they can text or email).  Texts from any number not already in my phone book receive a short reply with my website link (and I wish I had a way to save that as something like a macro), and most of those don’t reply once they see my rates (or else they’re too lazy to even visit the site).  Guys who voice-call and mumble, ignore my questions, make stupid comments or just keep saying “hi” are going to be hung up on, and those who then try to pursue by texting are likely to get their feelings hurt.  Some of you reading this may not understand why this strictness is necessary, but I know the sex workers get it:  if I spent just five minutes with everyone who contacts me I’d be on the phone for about two hours a day, and less than a fifth of that effort would actually lead to any money.  So it’s absolutely imperative that I quickly separate the grain from the chaff so as to concentrate on the former rather than wasting my time and emotional energy on the latter.

Still, I recognize that there may be some men who want to be good clients, but simply lack the phone skills to present that way; maybe English isn’t their first language, or they’re painfully shy, or nervous about contacting an escort because they never have before.  To those guys, I advise doing what a new client I saw last week did:  use email.  All the emails I received from this gent were clear and polite, and I had no trouble screening him, but when we chatted so I could give him directions I noticed he wasn’t very verbal, and when we actually met I don’t think he said 40 words in the whole hour.  The reason it worked out anyway was that he made a realistic assessment of his competence in spoken English, understood that his written English was much better, and so followed his strong suit.  So unless you’re both eloquent and confident, and quite familiar with my rates and such, email is probably the best approach; not only does it give you the opportunity to put your best foot forward, but it also allows me to answer when I’m in the proper frame of mind.

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Instead of raising children in an adult world…we prefer to live much of our lives in a make-believe children’s world.  –  Hugh Hefner

Up until the nineteenth century in the West (and much later in most of the world), people understood that the point of childhood was to prepare for adulthood.  As psychologist Robert Epstein pointed out, “In every mammalian species, immediately upon reaching puberty, animals function as adults, often having offspring…In most nonindustrialized societies, young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil.  Many cultures do not even have a term for adolescence…”  And yet nowadays, we have artificially extended childhood not just past puberty, but in some ways into the third decade of life; people who though most of human history would’ve been working in a profession, been married, and even held positions of responsibility are now un-ironically referred to and treated as “children”.  The confusion between the biological reality of childhood and the increasingly-extended legal concept is so profound that many people quite seriously label sex between someone over 18 and a 17-year-old young adult (above the age of consent in over 80% of the world) as “child rape”, as though the 17 year old were actually (rather than just statutorily) a complete incompetent who might as well be 4 for all the rights she has.  But I’ve discussed this topic on a number of essays, including “The Shape of the Spoon” and “Still a Child“; it’s not really the infantilization of young adults (under the misapprehension that they aren’t adults) which I want to address today, but rather the infantilization of adults that everyone agrees are indeed adults.

I realize that’s probably not very clear, so I call your attention to today’s epigram, and also to Robert Heinlein’s statement that “The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.”  Or the very concept of “family friendly”, which not only pretends that all families have young children, but that the entire family should be limited to what is appropriate for the youngest.  Furthermore, the bluenoses and control freaks want to seal all of society, even older adults who have no dependent spawn, into a worldwide nursery where everything conforms to their idea of what is “safe” for young children; these Procrustean prudes want to censor books, television, movies, the internet and even society until they are satisfied that nothing exists, even in private, which might confuse or upset a 7-year-old.  Lest you think I exaggerate, consider the War on Sex (of which the War on Whores is only the front lines), whose excesses and violence are excused under the banner of “child protection”; sex workers are repeatedly infantilized both in our intellectual and emotional capacities, and in a pretense of fact.  It’s no accident that one of the most ludicrous myths of the “sex trafficking” hysteria, the notion that the average sex worker debuts at the age of 13, is also one that prohibitionists cling to most doggedly and repeat most obsessively:  it implies that we are all psychologically and emotionally locked into a juvenile state due to the supposed “trauma” of our work in a way that the dogma we were all molested as children (or have daddy issues or whatever) can only hint at.  But even this trope isn’t as revealing as the astonishingly stupid statement that “no little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute”; leaving aside the evident absurdities of this non-argument (which I’ve previously discussed), consider what it is actually saying:  that adults (or at least adult women) should only be allowed to do work, or presumably any activity for that matter, which a young child can comprehend.  Obviously, even those who vomit out such idiocies don’t really believe them; nobody complains that “no little girl dreams of being a middle manager” or “no little boy dreams of being an accountant”.  No, it only applies to sex…which is what “family friendly” means too, despite that every family owes its existence to sex.  What it all boils down to is, people who are uncomfortable with their own sexual feelings want to keep everyone else from having any kind of sexual life that hasn’t been sanitized into unrecognizability, and “the children” are just a convenient excuse.

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I’m an 18 year old virgin, barely making ends meet at my dishwashing job; I’m interested in making money with my body.  I’ve thought about stripping but I don’t think I have the body for it and I have self harm scars on my thighs; maybe porn or escorting might be another avenue to explore.  Would it be a good selling point that I’m a virgin?  How would I go about advertising that?

Since stripping and porn performing are more visual than escorting, you may be right about the latter being a better path for you than the former two.  I wouldn’t worry too much about the scars if I were you; I have some fairly noticeable scarring on my left arm, and I know a lady with pronounced Cesarean section scars, and both of us are quite popular escorts.  There are three things in your letter, however, which do concern me and you should consider them deeply before attempting to pursue sex work.

The first is your youth:  while 18 is of legal age and I’ve known some ladies (including me) who did sell sex at that age, the ongoing hysteria over “child sex trafficking” has made being so young a liability rather than an asset.  Advertising sites are going to subject you to extra scrutiny, webcrawling programs run by the government and its prohibitionist cronies will flag you for increased surveillance, and your local cops and/or the FBI may even target you for “rescue” (i.e. arrest and use as a propaganda subject) in one of their pogroms if they decide you might be underage or vulnerable.

The second is your use of the phrase “make money with my body”, which to me indicates you’ve absorbed some harmful myths about sex work.  What you’re doing now is making money with your body; unless commercial dishwashing is very different from the home variety, it doesn’t exactly require a lot of mental work.  Escorting, on the other hand, requires considerable emotional labor; creating ads, screening clients and building a brand also require a great deal of head work.  It may be that you’re up to the challenge; since I know nothing about you I can’t say.  But even some very bright people don’t really like expending the kind of mental and emotional energy necessary to succeed as an escort, especially in these times of vanishing advertising sites and increased screening difficulty.

The third is your virginity.  You didn’t say where you live, but your spelling and word use seem American to me.  So unless you’re planning to go abroad, the only way to openly sell your virginity without bringing down hordes of authoritarians attempting to “save” you from a sensible decision (because you’re supposed to give your virginity for free to some stupid, penniless boy who may inflict an STI or worse, a pregnancy, on you) is to make a deal with a Nevada brothel to market that, and they’ll take 50%.  Furthermore, none of the high-profile virginity sales of the past few years have gone well, which rather makes skeptical of the whole concept in the 21st century (though it worked well in the 19th and early 20th).  Furthermore, I don’t think it’s an especially good idea for a young woman who doesn’t even know how she’s going to feel about sex with men to try to make a living at it from square one.

My advice to you is this:  get a bit of sexual experience under your belt (no pun intended) before considering any kind of in-person sex work.  Try doing phone sex (there are some services such as Niteflirt which are quite popular) and see if you like that, then maybe move onto camming.  Do some research and talk to sex workers, and then after you’ve been doing the not-in-person stuff for a while you can try dipping into escorting if you still want to.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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