how my personal choices affect everyone else who isn’t me

I should have Storified this but didn’t because I only have so much time and energy.

A question was posed on Twitter about not seeing guys of a certain race. I gave a flip, but honest answer, about why I no longer see Indian clients (even though Indians aren’t actually a race, they’re an ethnicity). And I don’t. I made that decision a year ago, after months of soul-searching and debate.

All of that debate was with two friends who would hear about my complaints after each and every appointment with Indian guys and they would pose the obvious solution: “Stop seeing Indian clients.” I would argue back with all the arguments I got on Twitter, plus my worry about it affecting my finances.

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the work-positive theory

Another piece by Audacia Ray in which she recants former beliefs and apologizes for being a white female of conventional appearance (she should apologize for believing that New York/San Francisco sex work activists represent the entire rest of the country). But I read this piece and wondered if I was one of these sex-positive activists. No, I’m not sex-positive and don’t believe I’ve ever identified that way. Sex workers who endlessly blog about their personal/professional sex lives makes me squirm and I’ve never, ever stated that sex work satisfies my sexual self. (I usually go the other way and tell sex workers that this work is not a substitute for a sex life.)

Sex work is work to me, not sex. I am work-positive. I firmly believe in every sex worker’s right to work in the safest possible manner, maximizing their income as much as they can. As much as I can give sex workers the tools to do that, I will. Granted, my focus is on what I know best: Internet escort work. That still encompasses a pretty broad swath of people. I insist on sex workers working ethically as well — that’s my belief in how the world functions best. Not that I can somehow force anyone to do any of this. That’s a laugh!

For some reason, work is a four-letter word among Internet escorts. There is nothing dirty, ignoble or dispassionate about work. Job is also not a bad word, yet is also treated as such. Maybe my origins do affect my sex work. I was raised with a very strong work ethic and having a job was what one did. Since my family did not provide me with a trust fund to last the rest of my life, having a job and working was an integral part of my future no matter how I looked at it.

That my sex work is work isn’t a negative to me. I take pride in my work, I pour a lot of my personal energy into my work. My work revolves around connecting with individual humans on a personal level and making them happy. It’s not easy work and it’s not a job for everyone but it is a job that many are drawn to. I certainly don’t resent having to make a living. It’s an expected part of my life. Sure, there are annoyances but there are plenty of other jobs that would have killed my soul long before.

Audacia discusses the issue of money and yes, it’s a valid reason for why many choose this work. Nothing wrong with taking the highest-paying work one can get. But I have found that those who find fulfillment only through the money end up with emotional problems regarding the work. The answer for these people isn’t decrim, it’s helping them get similar-paying work they can personally handle. The reality is that not everyone is cut out for sex work. Just like not everyone is cut out to do all sorts of other highly-specialized work. Still, those who hate sex work but need to pay the bills deserve work-positive activism just as much as those who feel naturally drawn to sex work. (I’m deliberately leaving out the experiences of those who were coerced into sex work because, obviously, they made no choice to be involved.)

In a perfect world, everyone would only do the work they wished to do and it would magically pay their living expenses. We’re not there yet. Changing the laws and providing harm reduction is the best that can be done. I don’t feel there is inherent conflict in telling the world “Most sex workers choose sex work. Many like it. Many do not. None of them wishes to work in unsafe conditions and be subject to arrest or become ready-made victims of crime.”

Sex work is a gigantic spectrum of experiences. One thing I’ve noticed is that those who have negative experiences rarely acknowledge that not everyone shares their experiences, yet any sex worker who has positive experiences is seemingly required to acknowledge they aren’t shared by everyone. Positive experiences aren’t a by-product of “luck” or any socially-endowed “privilege” (a laughable concept under a criminalized system) — they’re a product of hard work by the individual sex worker who approaches their work as a business to be learned, managed and maximized. Does this mean every sex worker who has negative experiences aren’t taking the right business approach? Sometimes — yes. Sometimes just a little application of common sense and personal responsibility would do wonders for the sex worker. Other times the answer is clearly no, an awful lot beyond the control of the individual needs to happen to change that person’s fortune.

I’ve really said all I wanted to say today. I’m work-positive and will continue to be so. Audacia helped clarify this for me and I thank her for that — regardless of what I think of her thoughts, she made me think and that’s always appreciated (and I like her on a personal level). I’ve been trying to clarify a lot of things in my life lately and this is just one more piece in place (a small one, but one I wanted to share).

a natural history of the prostitute

The Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet (he had the right idea)
The Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet

Prostitutes are born.

Not every sex worker in the world enters the work because she has always felt a pull towards it. Many have. I know a number of women who have felt the interest from a young age, including myself (and this was before I even had a clear idea of what sex was). Conversations with these women reveal that we all say the same things about our early interest, we all became interested right before entering puberty and common myths about prostitution were not enough to dissuade us from desiring that life-path.

This is a very small sampling and it’s highly unscientific. Given what we know about genes and hard-wired behaviors — it seems more than plausible. Just as homosexual people are born, I am convinced prostitutes are born too.

My inspiration came last year after reading a US-based survey about attitudes toward gay people. The discovery of “gay genes” seems to have really turned the tide in popular thinking and acceptance of homosexuality. It sounds like an argument of convenience for prostitution. But if the range of human sexual orientation is, in fact, genetic; then how come prostitution — an extremely common sexual behavior — supposedly isn’t? What if prostitution isn’t merely a sexual behavior but is actually a sexual orientation? Why has prostitution always been viewed as a deviant behavior? How come people aren’t willing to examine the idea that a prostitute is a perfectly natural occurrence and that it’s society which has formed the deviant behavior around the prostitute?

If being a prostitute is a natural tendency for a percentage of women, then how can laws be made against who they are?

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