Sex worker is a term that sparks off many a debate. Do I consider myself a sex worker? I’ve never sold the actual sex act. However, I consider strip tease to be in the realm of sex work as I do it, anyway. I’m not serving up sandwiches on stage. I believe this term is as much about self-definition as anything else. There are strippers, burlesque dancers & dommes who would not consider what they do to be sex work. I think that is totally valid since, in many cases, there is not the exchange of the sex act for income in these realms. In these cases there may not even be much in the way of any physical contact. A slap, a graze of the lap, a drape of a boa, perhaps, is what happens. I’ve also read in David Henry Sterry’s Anthology Ho’s Hookers, Call Girls, And Rent Boys about a prostitutes that says, “I’m not a sex worker, I’m a ho.” So, ask 20 people and you will get 20 answers.
I choose to embrace the term because I believe work in all areas of the sex industry to be as valid as any other form of work WHEN CHOSEN. It is not for everyone. Let me be clear because there are always people who want to try to blur these lines. Sex trafficking & sex work are TWO DIFFERENT REALMS! I am in no way shape or form in support of the trafficking of women & children. This is e specially the case since there are an overwhelming number of young brown girls & women who fall prey to this. It seems people only conjure images of young Russian ladies under the control of Russian mob when they think of sex trafficking.
I also choose to embrace the term sex work because no matter what level of physical contact I am involved in, society at large will throw me right on in the “ho bag” for choosing to use my body as a commodity in any way, shape or form. Once thrown in the ho bag, I am judged as being wrong for it. My life is not valued. If I get killed all the talk in the papers will be about well, she WAS a stripper. But the people who know me & have met me will be able to speak to many facets of my humanity. I am a first child, a big sister, an aunt, a lover, a great friend, a confidant, a teacher, an entertainer & much more but I will be reduced to this one stigmatized label after my demise if not for those who truly know me. Yet, a man sacrificing his body to the NFL or NBA, for example, is lauded, praised, financially compensated to a high degree & dern near worshiped. OH, they aren’t using their bodies in ‘sexual’ ways for profit so that makes it valid. Also, they aren’t the sole benefactors of that profit. Silly me, I forgot.
There are several women who talk about marrying rich as a life plan. These same women will turn up their noses at the idea of a woman choosing to sell sex or the tease of it outright. I find this laughable. So, as long as you don’t collect a set fee for the sex you exchange for goods (in this case a high standard of living, it’s alright). Tyra Banks endlessly had sex workers on her show for the sake of preaching to them about how low their self esteem is (McDonald’s is always hiring.) Yet, she made a good chunk of change selling sex in the form of being a Victoria’s Secret model. Many men ‘read’ that catalog & I’m guessing it’s not for current fashion tips. There are rumors that one of her boyfriends ditched her for a stripper & she’s had it in for sex workers ever since. Who Knows for sure. What I do know for sure is that sex work is one of the most honest jobs in the world. When a patron walks into a strip club he/she is clear that time costs money. For that exchange they will get conversation, attention & a bit of titillation (pun intended). When someone hires an escort, they are clear that they will pay xyz for sex. They do not have to worry about if the woman is with him/her only for their money. The answer is a resoundingly clear yes. I’ve worked in corporate environments where I’ve had to hide the real me away until after 7pm on weekdays or the weekend. No thanks.
However, I have had the experience of being treated like a potential gold digger when dating wealthy men. It’s because they have been burned one too many times by women who only want to be with them for their money. I find sex work nobler than back-handed gold digging, sorry. I have been able to be dependent financially & NEVER have had to depend on being in a relationship for my financial well-being. Imagine that, I’ve been in relationships for the love of the person I am with, not for what they could do for me financially. I don’t find fault with women who believe in “traditional” roles of being the homemaker to their partner’s bread winner. That is an honest agreement. “Gold Diggery” is a phenomenon which I think stems from people not truly believing in their own abilities to achieve great success in many cases.
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. – Golda Meir
And for you ladies who are quick to scoff at the idea of being a sex worker, be clear you too could be thrown in the ho bag. In New York a woman having more than three condoms in her possession could have them be used as evidence of prostitution. Yes, so if you are a woman who has her own supply of condoms on hand, you too could have to take on the sex worker title or prove that you are not in ye old ho bag.
When I am on stage, I choose to stand proudly in my sexuality. If I am telling a particular story in a burlesque act then sexuality may take a backseat. However, I am intentional in choosing to frolic in my own self determined sexy when I am doing burlesque. I’ve heard some performers say they don’t want to give men the satisfaction of seeing them in sexual way while they are performing burlesque. With all due respect, eff em! It’s not about them. It is about what I choose to express as an artist & an entertainer. I hope that someone in the audience will find value & entertainment in what I present. However, I choose not to stifle myself for fear of the ho judgment from others. That’s their issue to deal with. I’m clear on what my choice is & how good I feel about it. The rest is for other people to sort out for themselves.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxely
People always have the choice of not looking, not buying, not watching, not partaking in the sex industry. So, it will ever be a mystery to me why people want to shove their moral compasses down other people’s throats. But morality & how it is defined is a blog for another day. I simply encourage us all, especially women, to be intentional about the choices we make about expressing our sexuality. Choose what feels good to you. Do not be forced or made to feel guilty about your sexual expression or even the choice not to express oneself in that way. Everyone else can do their own work around how that makes them feel for themselves. There are not enough hours in the day as it is. I choose not to do their work & mine too. So, yeah, I’m a sex worker & what of it?