Friday, January 4, 2008

How do you know what you're talking about?

I became a prostitute at nineteen in order to pay for my apartment and car the best I could with no degree, no work experience, and with what anybody who tried to hire me for anything else would be willing to tell you was a terrible attitude. I was part of a community of moral relativists who believed that prostitution was a completely valid and even desirable choice for women young and pretty enough to make lots of money at it (they also believed there was nothing wrong with me dating a parade of men nearly twice my age). The idea was that it was all my choice, and any discouragement would be deleterious to my freedom, but for some reason encouragement was okay.

Eventually, I tried to get into stripping because I thought it would be better for me than prostitution, inasmuch as it offered no actual exchange of sexual intercourse for money. Unfortunately, I found that strip clubs were actually more humiliating and less tolerant places to work. They're pickier about "imperfections" like body hair where my clients had always praised my decision to keep my pubic hair/lip ring, the boundaries are constantly being renegotiated, with some customers negotiating quite aggressively, and the whole place was run by creepy men. It was awful.

I went back to prostitution and worked for myself until I had one client say some nasty things to me that made me decide to quit. I worked at a restaurant for a couple of months before I got fired (I can't quite tell if it was for cutting my hair wrong, sleeping with my boss, or not sleeping with my boss anymore). At this point, a desire to not spend the rest of my life in a drug-addled murder-ridden city barely making rent and checking my email at the library spurred me into the decision to move to my current city of residence, where I immediately got back into prostitution (I had showed up in the city with a very negative bank account and had to turn up about two thousand in order to get into my own place and off my friend's couch by the end of the month).

I continued to work as a prostitute in order to pay for my apartment and my classes at a local art school until sometime in the late summer of 2006, at which point I took a break, which turned into a permanent holiday. I coasted on money I'd saved until it ran out. Then I was introduced to my current employer by sheer coincidence.

My current job is not important.

During my time as a prostitute, especially as someone who felt intense economic pressure to go into sex work and intense social pressure to lie about how that felt, I would make a lot of the same statements that young sex workers make to me all the time. I know where these ladies are coming from because I used to live there. I know what I'm talking about because I've done what they do.

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