Sex Workers: What They Want You To Know
We as a society are used to degrading women, especially when said women are sex workers. You’d think we’d have gotten used to it by now; the profession being the oldest in the world and clearly in demand. Many people react to sex work with disgust; and even after explaining that for many women and men, this is not a chosen lifestyle, they remain unmoved or uncaring due to religious and moral beliefs.
Sex workers can and many do choose this profession. The majority however, don’t. When forced sex is often the case, you can’t just turn your back and scorn the victims, it is utterly inhumane. Then you have the self-righteous smart-asses who exclaim: “But they look so happy doing it, shamelessly flaunting their bodies and flirting”. Obviously, sulking and having a bad attitude is going to attract clients and appease a pimp, who may or may not beat the shit out of her if she’s a couple of hundreds short that night.
A very large number of sex workers have been physically assaulted, and the majority them are between the ages of 16– 25. Sex workers are also a favorite target for psychopaths, as they often have little-to-no contact with their families and it is less likely that anyone would become concerned if they go missing. The following statements are taken from correspondence between myself, two sex workers and one dominatrix. Their experiences highlight the importance of understanding and remembering that these women are people, not just objects of pleasure.
Nancy*, moved out of her father’s home just after she turned sixteen, living with a cousin and her cousin’s boyfriend who eventually kicked her out and left her with their drug dealer.
“I was anally raped by my ‘father’ as a child, and at the age of twelve I was vaginally raped by two men” is how she began her story. After being kicked out of her cousin’s home, the drug dealer took her to a sex party. Nancy was uncomfortable and wanted to leave until a woman there told her something that resonated with her, something that she mentioned she would never forget: “Imagine how much money you would have had if you took money for every round of terrible sex you had with a stranger and pretended to enjoy it?” To a girl of sixteen with nowhere to go and no money to spend, a girl who never experienced love to believe or know that it could be a part of sex, this was an easy option.
Today, seven years and two children later, Nancy is still a sex worker who believes that her chances at a meaningful relationship are slim. Sex has lost its value and there is no way around it. “Men aren’t interested in getting to know me. I’m a single mom with two kids. All guys ever want to do is jump straight into sex. I don’t care anymore – I just want their money if they just want sex”. When asked what she wanted other people to know, Nancy replied that she wanted people to know that all she wants is for other mothers to be okay with her son and daughter associating with their children, because she can see the hatred and disgust in their eyes after school, and it hurts her to think that the mothers shun her children as well.
Reyna* is a thirty-five year old Dominatrix. Along with her job, she is an aspiring actress. Reyna was very matter-of-fact about her job: “I do not have sex with my clients although some do it for the extra money”. The world of BDSM is diverse, varied, and misunderstood, an industry in and of its own which has recently been brought to the spotlight due to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books written by E.L James. However, the books are a sugar-coated version of real life BDSM, which is sometimes conducted in group sessions where she is responsible, along with her assistants, for a multiple of clients. Most times, she works with a single client, and they develop a bond that leads to repeated requests for her services. Reyna claims she only does it for the money, and the money at the dungeon that she works is substantial – up to $700 per session in her case, as she is highly trained and is booked oftentimes weeks in advance. Also, she views herself as different than a sex worker and resents being assumed to be one. As she claims, she is not a prostitute to play a role of pleasing men – men in her case pay to please her.
“It’s empowering for me to be honest, I am satisfied with my job and although I do understand why people don’t get it, it doesn’t hurt to try to understand us. It’s a job, a mask that is taken off when we’re home, or with friends.” When asked about what she has to say to other women, Reyna replied instantly: “A man into BDSM is not going to stop being into it, whether I exist or not. Don’t hate on me because your man purposely looks for and comes to me. I provide a service and stop thinking about him the moment he’s out the door. He’s the one that keeps thinking about how he’s going to come back to me.”
Shirley* is a sex worker with a young son that has a genius IQ. She wants to have a meaningful relationship with a man but feels like men will never respect her. As her son became more evidently gifted, she stopped caring about a relationship and focused on getting money so that she could afford to place her son in robotics and foreign language lessons. “My son has taken the state gifted and talented test and received a grade of 99. He has the opportunity to be accepted into a prestigious academy in the city. I have a four-year-old genius on my hands that wants to learn everything and that makes it so much easier to put my morals aside and my desire for love to make him happy. When asked what she wants to say to women, Shirley responded that women consistently view her as a threat, when in reality she is just someone with a service to offer and that she will one day leave her job. “You wouldn’t believe the number of men that tell their wives they’re with ‘friends’ or taking a business trip. He’s telling you I love you on the phone and that he’s driving around and I’m giving him head. Not all men are the same but the vast majority will not hesitate to cheat for a second if they were sure they won’t get caught. Sex workers are not the reason why men cheat. Sex workers exist because they do. Then when their wife catches on, is sick of it and cheats on them, they go completely ape-shit.”
What I got from these women is confidence and grit, and also a longing for a meaningful relationship that is built on mutual respect.
“Women like us are not respected by the outside” mentions Reyna. “But in our own worlds, we’re the star of the show. I guess that’s what keeps us going. We’re not the only ones acting. Almost everybody is”.