Ok, before launching into anything of any serious sort of nature, I HAVE to share this. I wasn’t present at the time, but nevertheless…

A few nights ago a friend of mine was darkening the homemade skull tattoo on his wrist, and decided it would look good with a candle on top.

friend: “Oh shit, this candle looks like poorly drawn penis.”

roomate: “Yeah it does.”

friend:  (unrelatedly) “Shit. This sucks. (beginning to suffer from mild paranoia) What if the needle isn’t clean anymore. Fuck. What if I get Hep C. Shit shit shit!”

roomate: (completely seriously) “Mike, relax. You can’t get Hep C from tattooing a shitty looking dick on yourself.”

AHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Ok anyways. I’ve been thinking. As usual. About lots of stuff. Feelings, mostly. So I’m a pretty touchy feely sort of person, I really like to talk about feelings. I want to know how my friends are feeling, I need them to ask how I’m feeling, cause a lot of the time it’s not that well. Point being, I’ve noticed this trend among friends who are sex workers, and in myself too, around how we speak about our feelings.

We talk about sex work but we don’t talk about how it makes us feel.

I’m afraid of making too many broad statements here, but I’m gonna do it anyways and it’s not like I have many readers, so fuck it. When you’re doing/are something controversial, the outside world is going to constantly barrage you with messages about how you’re a fucked up person. Sex workers obviously deal with this constantly.

Were you abused?

Don’t you feel objectified?

You’re playing into the system and reinforcing patriarchy!

Oh honey, you don’t have to do that. Don’t do that.

Don’t you think it’s fucked up to profit off the desire constructed by the racist, sexist, heterosexist media?

Sex work is going to fuck up how you feel about sex and your body.

And on and on and on and on.

So what’s a whore to do? If someone goes on the offensive, you go on the defensive. Fuck you! Sex work is liberating! People, especially women, give it up for free all the time and it’s just as exploitative and fucked up! It’s my body and I can sell it if I want. It’s ANTI-feminist to tell people what they can and can’t do with their bodies. I’m just  making a living and EVERYONE’s a whore to the system, I just make more money off of it. Sex workers are threatening to patriarchy because we demand compensation from men for our time.

And on and on and on.

And I do agree with all of those sentiments but really, I don’t want to be on the defensive. Because sometimes it does suck, sometimes I hate the work and it makes me feel shitty and it fucks up how I relate to my sexuality and I have to be really careful about what I do and don’t do for work. Because if I do it for work, often I can’t do it for fun. Maybe I’ll get over that since I’ve only been doing sex work for about a year, but nevertheless…

I don’t want to feel like admitting the difficult parts is betraying my own identity, is agreeing with the people who think I’m crazy. In stronger moments, I don’t give a shit what those people think, but my honesty is NOT fuel for their fire.

I’ve made friends with a number of different types of people here, and am willing to tell or have told maybe a third of them, mostly the younger, punker crowd what I do. No one has given me shit about it, but maybe that’s because I don’t act ashamed. And because they know I’ll rip them a new one if they do. One friend I mentioned it to was a bit shocked, and asked a LOT of questions but that’s cool. Most of everyone else is very quiet about it, and don’t really ask questions. I WANT people to ask questions. Not prying, not ones that make me feel like a freakshow, just like “howya doing, how’s work.” Normal shit.

And this gets back to the trend I’ve felt with how sex workers often seem to write and talk about our work. I tell the funny stories and the shocking ones, make my presence known, but the difficult shit gets swept under the table because 1. nobody wants to hear it, asks, or has made themselves clear enough as an ally to trust and 2. it feels like a betrayal. Is this just me?

That all said, I’ve gotten a lot better at managing work, through some serious trial and error.  The most emotionally traumatic part of the first 8 months or so was dealing with guys on the phone. I feel so so so so violated by some guy calling up and masturbating on the phone while “negotiating” then hanging up, by a really long “interview,” negotiation, and ESPECIALLY by being stood up.

I spent a few weeks at a friend’s place out of province this summer trying to work, thinking that in a smaller city there’d be a more favorable john:sex worker ratio. Oh no. I got stood up three times in two days at one point. I cannot describe the pure rage that shit inspires, I walked down to the train tracks out behind the house and just smashed bottles  and cried for a while. At one point this guy walked by and screamed at me for smashing bottles and I almost punched him, screaming “YOU DON”T FUCKING KNOW. I FUCKING HATE YOU AND YOU’RE PROBABLY ONE OF THEM.” But instead said sorry and walked home crying. I also angrily emailed one of the guys who stood me up on the phone, who then claimed that I was naive )implying that being at the whim of shitty dudes is something I should get used to), and that he’d “see that I never worked in the province again.”

This is just an example, of course I’m over this particular instance, but this is the type of shit I’m afraid to talk about. Like it’s too whiny or dramatic, that I SHOULD get used to it. Fuck that! Most of the radical/organized sex workers I know are huge proponents of working independently, and when I was first getting into it, I did have their support in a way which was amazing. But I found that, while they all had been working for 5-15 years, had online reviews and a number of regulars, my experience starting out independent was like volunteering to be buried in a pile of flaming cow shit.

At this point, while I hate forfeiting a bit of everything I own over to someone else because I did the dirty work, it’s a small price to pay for a comfortable, clean place to work, a phone line, advertising, booking, semi-regular clientèle, and, most of all, peace of mind.

Feelings, wonderful feelings….

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