The worst is the smells.

Not necessarily bad smells, either. Well, they would be to any refined crusty punk’s (that’s me!) olfactory glands. Perfume, shitty incense, cologne. Pheremones. There’s a certain smell to sex work: it’s the smell of sex you don’t want. I’m not talking about the whole sex-work-as-rape argument. What I mean is, this is work, it’s not for fun, it’s not for pleasure, it’s for money. Plain and simple. Good sweat smells are so fucking sexy, but imagine those smells on someone you’re not turned on by. It smells like taint, seriously, like sweaty cock. And cologne, they always wear it. I can smell it on me. And it gets confusing, too, the smell of my own vulva intermingles with the work smell till I can’t even stand the smell of my own body. I walk down the street and can smell gross men a block away. But I know that, if not for the synthesized perfume, their own stench would be even stronger.

One just came in, I don’t know if I misread the clock but I may have had him in for an hour and a half longer than intended. I actually almost turned him away because he was so young. Working with younger guys, and this guy may have easily been my age, is really disconcerting. First of all, they’re usually shitheads and try to argue your price down to nil. On a deeper level, it brings up way more insecurities than your run-of-the-mill married, middle aged dude. Those guys aren’t necessarily gross, but I have no doubt in my mind that they think I’m the hottest piece of ass they’ve seen in the past 10 minutes. The younger ones, it’s too close to reality. This guy, just now, wasn’t particularly unattractive, seemed like a vaguely interesting person who I could have had a good conversation with, and was awfully skinny. It shouldn’t bother me, but being bigger than a dude I’m fucking still weirds me out a bit, even if he’s paying. Walking up the stairs I almost turned around to be like “listen dude, I just can’t see you, you’ll have to come in when someone else is working.” But, I sucked it up and he was actually a relatively good client. I let him kiss me, even, which I never do. It’s stupid to cross the boundaries I’ve set up for myself, but it’s not like I’m getting any in real life, why not have fun with it?

My best clients are clean, in the 40s, and not particularly attractive. They don’t negotiate money or safety measures, and they get done in a timely fashion. They’re guys who I know I would never be attracted to in real life. There is no question that it’s all fake. It’s the blurring of boundaries that fucks with me.

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Nor an archetype, a case study, an insect under a magnifying glass. I am not a virus to isolate. I am not a social disease, I can’t be cured, and I don’t need to be. I am not a remainder, a conclusion, or a result. I am not a sob story, or a example. I’m not a vector, though I might be contagious, but that’s not my problem.

A friend of mine likes to say I always make friends with anthropologists because I’m a case study. This turned out to be a bit of a prophetic statement. A few days ago one of my housemates (described here) told me he was doing a paper on organized crime in this city. Furthermore, he was going to use me and one of the other guys who stay at the rooming house as his primary sources. Now, as you can see from the linked post, this dude is basically my political enemy. Conservative, straight white able bodied rich boy who grew up in the suburbs and voted for Harper. Seriously. Not only that, but he’s a mean, manipulative fuck who’s been starting drama between housemates, and given me shit for my job on numerous occasions. Obviously, this international business major has never even heard the term anti-oppression, nor empowering methodology, or have any sense of “giving back” in this project. It’s more that “If I did this study in Montreal, I’d get in some serious shit.” So instead, he wants to study me and this other guy who he talks shit on all the time for having an accent and being poor.

“Aren’t you excited to have someone find something interesting about your life?”

I ripped into him, obviously. Or more, I ripped into the vast majority of popular and academic portrayals of sex workers which objectify, fetishize, victimize, sell out, silence and disempower us. I said he’d have to compensate me to make it worth it,  to which he asked why I would , in my own words, selling out fellow sex workers. A good point. I’m not going to.

At one point another woman who lives there, who was sitting through this conversation (and who I hadn’t come out to, way to violate sex worker ally rule #1 shithead), interjected that “Most prostitutes have been sexually abused as kids…” Thanks dumbass, did you get your degree in sex worker studies at Fox university or what?

The conversation ended with me again stating that such studies often disempower marginalized populations, and him firing back that rapists and pedophiles are a marginalized population. “Some of them have, like, tumors in their heads that make them do it. It’s not their fault. Should I be sensitive to them, too?” I walked away after that one.

I think this guy is the shittiest person I have ever met. I feel far more violated by this dudes constant judgement, mild sexual harassment, manipulation, and attacks then I ever have by a client. More even than some people who have sexually assaulted me.

I try to remember that some people, though their priviledges give them a mask of confidence, superiority, social seductiveness, are really just idiots. And though their toxic bullshit might hurt my feelings right now, I’m smarter than them, I’m nicer than them, and a better person than them.

The reason this hurts is not because these individuals think so little of me. They also watch hip hop dance shows and make comments on how shameful it is “they can’t speak english” and are “gangsters,” among other racist jabs. They listen to me play klezmer, call it “circus music” and then make anti-semitic remarks. The woman I mentioned had two kids with an Indian man, and will cook biryani while ridiculing her ex-inlaws’ accents. This is not the type of statement I often, or really ever make, but I’ll say it here: they are below me.

The reason this hurts is that, though these rich, white, straight, “sane,” able-bodied, rich, isolated shitheads are the demographic minority, they are the moral majority. The shit they say is what so many think but hold back. The law is on their side, the academy is on their side, the media is their side. It’s easy to be privileged, that’s the point. And even those of us lacking in such privileges often internalize their oppressive ideologies at the cost of our own self-esteem, and solidarity with eachother.  Why do we continue to be seduced by “normalcy,” and the attentions of people who will never understand what it is to hate yourself as much as the powers that be already do? That’s a rhetorical question, I know why. The hardest thing to internalize is to privilege experiences of hardship and marginalization. Even harder to convince others that this is a relevant stance to take. Even harder to enact it.

Last night one housemate, she’s younger and and from a poor background, and I were discussing what to do about this guy (again, the one writing the paper) harassing another housemate who suffers from bipolar and schizophrenia. I said, it seems like this guy is the one source of most of the drama and intrigue, why don’t we try to kick him out? She agreed and we went off about all the shit that has been talked behind our backs just because we’re not “normal.” Yet this morning she and the rest were making jokes at my expense over breakfast. Where’s the solidarity?

I love holiday! I made it to the wonderful big city, about 1500 km from my small city, in about a day and half. The ferry was only delayed for 5 hours because of 100km/hr winds. It only took 6 rides the whole way, and one of them even gave me $100! And I didn’t have to do anything! I’ve come a long way from the $25 truck stop handjob…ok that was 3 months ago, but seriously, I’m on holiday and ain’t workin for nobody this week. Only meandering about the snowy streets, trying on fancy stripper clothes at the *gasp* not-so-sleazy sex shop that actually has excellent costumes, checking out the multiple used book stores that have books I’m looking for, and the library! This one even has a graphic novels section that is dominated by Jewish authors. I just finished up The Rabbi’s Cat and highly recommend it, as well as anything by the author, Joann Sfar. This city feels big and cosmopolitan, but in a manageable way.

I also got to visit the local sex workers’ drop in/support center, they were really sweet and gave me a tour of the place. It’s wonderful to see long term projects in place that serve such a vital purpose, if not just to be around radical sex work activists (they’ve heard the term sex work before! they’re trans-inclusive! woah!). I’ve been deprived, by choice of course, for a while. I hate this feeling of being torn between places I love, and my identity. My need for belonging on a social level, versus on a political level. I’ve never felt at home in big cities and big scenes, because they are so saturated and cliquey that it hasn’t seemed worth the effort to try and break in. Yet in the places where I feel most accepted socially, the parts of me that don’t quite fit in are shushed out of the public sphere. Sometimes it feels as if others make more of a priority of hiding me than I do. “Let’s not talk about your profession” “You shouldn’t have told me what you do” “Don’t call yourself that”….

-used to describe any act carried out with extreme exuberance or to its fullest potential. “We were just Giv’n’r last night.” Often used to describe heavy alcohol drinking and partying. Short for “give her everything you got.” Variation “Give ‘er” used on east coast (‘I’m gonna just give ‘er in tonight’s game’ or ‘We really gave ‘er last night at the game.’)”

As yelled by not more than 6 drunk ass townie boys trying push my boss’s snowed in car out into the street. One of the girls from the strip club across the street and I came out to help push, too. Hilarity ensues at midnight on superbowl sunday.

I only had one in last night, and he was actually $5 short of the house fee. But he’d been waiting in his car for 2 hours for his check to clear and he comes in every week, so I cut him a deal. Seriously one of the easiest clients ever, and he gave me a vibrator. It always surprises me a little, what with all media portrayals of “positive” sex work experiences involving servicing sexy young men, that the very best clients are always unattractive, clean, 40-50 something dudes. In general I assume that guys under 35 are assholes, cause they usually are. But here I’m talking about the ones where I feel most comfortable and even enjoy myself a bit. It’s not like they’re guys I’d be intimate with for fun…it’s like having a friendly, easygoing customer at a restaurant. As a waitress, you probably wouldn’t be inclined to be friends with this person, but your brief work-based interaction is pleasant enough that you walk away with a smile.
So maybe I don’t have as much as I’d like to take with me on holiday, but it was at least an amusing send off.

From Border Thinking,

Mugny told swissinfo that he was not defending prostitution, but “from the moment we accept the phenomenon exists, it’s legitimate that it is practised in the most decent conditions possible”

Why is this so difficult of a concept to grasp?

The original article– try to spot where a lawyer indicates that a ghostly Grisélidis Réal will be entertaining the remains of John Calvin from beyond the grave. Sexy fan fic! But seriously this lady sounds totally rad.

A unique species, actually a parasite that feeds off of the negative energy of others, specifically mutual insecurity. Similar to a mosquito, the hater attaches to and injects a venom via verbal harassment. Haters are particularly attracted towards those belonging to less privileged populations. Though it may seem difficult, the most effective treatment for a hater bite is to acknowledge the sensation of pain, and resist the overwhelming urge to hunt down and smash, stalk, or passive-aggressively attack the hater. This will only contribute to a long-lasting itching sensation.

WARNING

Most are allergic to the venom of at least one subspecies of hater. Symptoms may resemble anaphylactic shock (redness in the face, choking, crying, inability to breathe) In case of trigger, seek hugs from trustworthy friends and chocolate.

Why do you have such a beef with anarchist sex workers?
Because they are exchanging their labor and their bodies for money and then turning that around to somehow present as a part of their anti-capitalist radicalism. Sex work is just another form of exploitation and should be seen as such even by the people who think it’s no different from working retail. After all, aren’t you fighting for a revolution after which nobody has to work retail either?

Also, the anarchist movement on the whole tends to be very good about women’s issues and very pro-feminist. It pains me to see well-read radical people who identify as anarcha-feminists and feminist allies doing something so highly anti-woman and pro-patriarchy as supporting and endorsing sex work.

See, look, this is me NOT even posting where this came from. It hurts a little bit, but not even that much, because there are a lot of holes in it from my perspective. On some level that sort of shit does wear away at me every time I read it.  I’d like to think that anti-sex work people don’t matter. But then I realize that they are the majority, and that the law and politicians (even if they come to see whores in their off time) is on their side. The anti-sex work/porn front is, without a doubt, my political enemy. But the ones who claim to be feminists only seem to exist on the internet, so I can take comfort in real friends and allies and radical sex workers. This is coming out all wrong, because I feel so fucked up about it the more I think about it.

First of all, I’d like to dedicate this hangover/post to Robbie Burns:

All hail! inexorable lord!
At whose destruction-breathing word,
The mightiest empires fall!
Thy cruel, woe-delighted train,
The ministers of grief and pain,
A sullen welcome, all!

With stern-resolv’d, despairing eye,
I see each aimed dart;
For one has cut my dearest tie,
And quivers in my heart.
Then low’ring, and pouring,
The storm no more I dread;
Tho’ thick’ning, and black’ning,
Round my devoted head.

And thou grim Pow’r by life abhorr’d,
While life a pleasure can afford,
Oh! hear a wretch’s pray’r!
Nor more I shrink appall’d, afraid;
I court, I beg thy friendly aid,
To close this scene of care!
When shall my soul, in silent peace,
Resign life’s joyless day-
My weary heart is throbbing cease,
Cold mould’ring in the clay?
No fear more, no tear more,
To stain my lifeless face,
Enclasped, and grasped,
Within thy cold embrace!

A toast or ten for whom on which I can blame my bleary-ey’d state. (<is that even a sentence?)

Whore-hunting amang groves o’ myrtles:
Then bowses drumlie German-water,
To mak himsel look fair an’ fatter,
An’ clear the consequential sorrows,
Love-gifts of Carnival signoras.

Yesterday I actually had two guys in- good thing since I’m going on holiday soon and need the fucking money! The first one was a really big guy, like he reminded me of someone and I realized it was Jabba the Hut. This probably is coming off as fat-phobic, but really that’s who he reminded me of. Yet he didn’t really gross me out much- clean and well kempt, and he wanted to cuddle afterwards. The second one was tiny! I thought for the first 15 minutes I was going to break him! Or that I was breaking the law. Ok, breaking another law. The dude seriously didn’t look older than 16, minus the facial hair, which was scraggly, and had the build of a 12 year old girl. And he was really really nervous. I wish I were good at animation, because the two of them juxtaposed would be a hilarious image.

I am so ready for this holiday. Even when I do get clients, I can’t really muster up the energy to act that well, and probably come off as bored. In my social life, I’ve walked away from so many conversations that are too hard to have. I just can’t/don’t want to be arguing politics all the time. And there sure is plenty of opportunity. Maybe it’s over a liberal friend’s claim that Iraq is quantitatively “better” now after the US invasion (“they raised a statue of that thrown shoe! Under Saddam, that guy’s family would be dead now! There’s freedom of speech and voting!” ). Or maybe it’s over whether sex reassignment surgery should be covered by insurance (“I’m all for the trans thing, I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s cosmetic surgery”). Or even an arguement regarding whether Nazis, Soviets, and the IDF are “cool” because they “kill lots of people, and death is cool.” (I’m not making this shit up)

It’s getting a little lonely in this corner over here, one I’m used to being filled with varied trans, queer, sex worker/ally, anti-zionist, jewish, anarchist, POC, fem/womanist radicals. I put myself here and I plan on staying, it’s just be trying to feel surrounded on all sides sometimes. I wonder if I would be able to maintain my sanity if not for the ability to come home and read blogs and articles I agree with on the internet. Would I still challenge myself? Would I renounce the stances that are so dear and validating to me, just to fit in? Would I end up agreeing with everyone around me that I am a crazy bitch? Who knows. I may be a luddite at heart, but this is the internet age, and I will never know what it’s like to travel without the existence of modern telecommunications.

Thank the gods for that.

Oh happy day, an involuntary week off of work, and little but endless hours of accordion practice. I’ve decided to, against all advice from vip-type internet escorts, lower my prices. Clients won’t come in and see me, as I’m bigger, hairier, a bit ruder, and more expensive than most of the other girls. I think I’ve literally priced myself out of the market, which means I am making zilch. And it’s slow season.

In other news…
So I live in a small city where everyone seems to know everyone (and their mother, and every stupid thing they’ve ever done while drunk). Many of the university students are out of the loop, sure, but if you’re mostly friends with people from town or who have been living here for a while, there’s really no one you’ll meet more than 2 social degrees away. There’s one girl who I’ve seen streetworking around town since I got here, and it turns out a few friends of mine know her. It’s also relevant to note that, also related to the small-town condition, I don’t have many friends who I’m on the same page with politically. But they’re friends nonetheless and know what I do and are seemingly non-judgmental about it. Last night I was hanging out and this girl came up in conversation:

friend 1: Oh man I can’t stand ____! She’s so fucking annoying! (to me) you know ___? She’s a streetworker. And she always gets in my face when I call her a prostitute. She yells ‘I’m a WORKING GIRL!.’ Like what’s the fucking difference? All women who work are working girls! And she just pisses me off.

friend 2: Yeah I just call her a crackwhore cause she is one. A dirty fuckin crackwhore.

Now, friend number one definitely knows what I do, friend number two may not have figured out what I meant by “massage parlour.” Either way, this conversation kind of knocked the wind out of me.

me: Well, it’s hard work, and if someone asks you to call them something, you should respect it.
friend 1: Yeah, I would, but she’s just so freaking annoying.

So, what then, you only act respectfully towards me because you like me? And you think that talking like that about someone who does basically the exact same thing as me (except in a generally more difficult setting) will not hurt me, too?

Once upon a time I was at a week long workshop sort of thing, and I was getting a ride to it every day with a male friend. Given the 30 minutes drive every day, we got to know each other and I developed a platonic liking towards the dude. A few days into it, a woman who was also at the workshop started acting really aggressively towards this guy, seemingly out of nowhere. I personally didn’t like her, and so I totally entertained his complaints and agreed that she was a crazy bitch. He told me- “Yeah, we cuddled one night in her tent, and all of a sudden she acts all aggro towards me!”

It came out to me, in confidence, a few weeks later that he’d sexually assaulted her in her tent. She didn’t want to talk about it publicly for fear of the reaction being even more hurtful than the assault itself.

I remember sitting on the steps in of my friends house in savannah, hearing this, and realizing that I’d let my own petty dislike of this woman override my solidarity with her. And I realized how common that is, and that it is a tool privileged people use to pit the oppressed against each other. And I promised my friend who told me, that I’d try my damnedest never to be so shortsighted again.

No, I’m not going to make a racist joke about a person of color I don’t like. I’m not going to call them a fucking faggot because they happen to be queer. I’m not going to insult someone because of their weight because I’m trying to discredit them. That shit is just stupid, and easy, and shows how little one actually has to back up their opinion. After all, if you dislike someone, shouldn’t there be a more compelling reason other than how they look or what they do? If they’ve done you so wrong that you can’t even be in solidarity with them if they’re dealing with some traumatic shit, wouldn’t you have called out or distanced yourself from them already? I know this isn’t possible all the time, especially in a small community, but there should be a really fucking good excuse.
Being “annoying” is a piss poor excuse to shit talk someone, especially who is dealing with economic, gender-based, and sex worker oppression. But apparently I’m relatively lonely, holding this position.

Because Womanist Musings deserves one for Who Owns Feminism?. I should make clear, if it isn’t already, that I’m writing as a middle-class, first world, gender/queer white woman. It serves women (and men, and trans people) of all backgrounds to take an inclusive, multifacited, and self-critiquing approach to feminism (or I guess in this case, Womanism). As long as fences are erected declaring certain identities worthy of feminist inclusion and others as either irrelevant or even “anti-feminist,” it’ll remain and ideology of the privileged. I’m reminded of how, as it’s shoved it’s way into the mainstream, a formerly radical gay rights movement has whittled itself down to be represented by only the most non-threatening image of rich, cisgendered, white gay men. This, of course, at the cost of the inclusion of transpeople, gays/queers of color, poor and working class queers, and open BDSM enthusiasts.

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.