Oh man, can this week be over yet? It’s Sunday, and as previously mentioned I had a terrible week at work that ended with my boss making me take the weekend off. This may be purely out of profit motive, but I’m glad. I often feel like a lazy piece of shit because I don’t work full time, and I spent a lot of time hanging out at home and playing music or doing nothing or being depressed (or some combination of all of those). Maybe this is because it’s emotionally taxing work and my subconcious forces me to “do nothing”  a lot of the time just to cope.

Last night I ran into a friend at a show- he’s the type of friend who I don’t hang out with regularly, but we always manage to have a good conversation upon running into eachother. We decided to duck out of a really bad band’s set for drinks at the preppy coke bar nextdoor. We got to talking about inspiration, what drives us, reasons to leave, reasons to stay. I was saying how some people feel very present while having sex, or doing something “thrilling” like, say, skydiving, but that for me this moment happens most often when I figure out how to play a song I really like…

(assuming dude was already aware of my profession) “and besides, conventional sex just doesn’t have the same appeal, seeing as it’s my job.”

“what do you mean? where do you work”

“uhh…at a massage parlour. I thought you knew.”

“woah, really?!”

This is a pretty common conversation for me to have, at this point. The diversion from the norm comes a little later, after a few more drinks…

“Man, ever since you told me where you work, it’s been driving me crazy.”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean I’ve always wondered about it- paying for sex. I want to come into your work.”

Woah woah woah! WHAT?

“Umm, I don’t know about that. Aren’t you in a monogamous relationship?”

“Well, yeah, I mean I’d never actually do it…”

This is a bit disturbing. But why? I’m always trying to pick apart my assumptions, because they’re often based on faulty logic. In this case, my friend’s meaning was a bit unclear. I’ve broken it down to four possibilities:

1. He wants to have sex for money.

2. He wants to have sex with me for money.

3. He wants to have sex with me.

4. He wants to think about having sex for money.

It’s really only #2 that freaks me out a bit, and that’s unlikely. #3 I’m also ok with, because he’s in that category of “people I would consider having sex with.” However, I can’t feel right about being a party to cheating. I also wonder if that would be a result of my being “exotic” because of my job, an X factor of sorts.

What I’m really wanting to pick apart, though, is my deep gut reaction to finding out that someone I’m friends with is a potential john. If, in most people’s minds, there is a line between “us” and “people who engage in the sex industry,” then in my mind I’ve been drawing a line between sex workers and those who buy services, be they sex, porn, or dances. Thinking on it harder, I’m not sure I like this line. And I’m not just talking about my clients, I’m talking about anyone who buys sex- that I would hang out with someone who does freaks me out a bit.

But why is it up to me to decide that the act of buying sex or related services makes one an inferior person? Especially when I so vehemently defend the sex industry? Of course I complain about gross, disrespectful, and/or entitled clients (most of which fit at least one of those descriptions). But what about the clients who are clean, respectful, and nice? These are few and far between, yet does the fact that they are buying sex still make them inherently shitty? I can’t figure that one would without looking at why someone would buy sex:

(for clients of male sex workers) They’re in the closet

They have a fetish that they can’t share with their partner, or find anyone to indulge them in for free.

They have a hard time attracting sexual partners because they’re not conventionally attractive, or have social anxiety or related mental health issues.

They’re spouse died and have problems finding sexual partners their age.

They’re turned on by the idea of paying for sex.

They’re bored and have the money.

They’re horny.

Most of these aren’t particularly objectionable to me, when broken down this way. If a client is paying, doesn’t try to negotiate, doesn’t try to argue their way out of safer sex, and is generally respectful and consensual, then I don’t think I should stigmatize them for being johns, especially if the reason is tied to an issue of oppression.

There’s the whole arguement that men feel entitled to women’s bodies to use as they please and all that. Yet this is applied to sex work way more often then it is to a women having unfulfilling sex with some dude from the bar. At least I get compensation for my time. I’ve had a lot of one night stands, none of them were particularly enjoyable. In the end I would feel confused, attached, and used. Johns are by no means the only people who feel entitled to do what they want with women’s bodies. They, at least, recognize that for me to work to please them sexually is in fact work that requires compensation.

And I, for the record, do believe that good sex is a human need. As long as one fulfills it consensually, more power to ya.

This is something I could write about for a long time, and there’s a lot missing here. Like, what is sex for anyway? Is there one answer to that? What about the fact that most of my clients ARE assholes? Is it my job as a sex worker to sympathize with johns? Is there really a clear line of “oppressed” and “privileged” that can be drawn between providers and clients? Is it worth my time to look to johns as potential allies? In all, will I find more solidarity from johns than from anti-prostitution “feminists”?

The questions are endless. I know I’m going to feel a bit ackward around this friend now, and I hope we can actually talk about it while sober (this is unlikely). I’m always thankful in the end to have my assumptions challenged, intentionally or not.

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