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).