What is Sex Work?

The term “sex worker” usually makes me cringe. By most people’s standards, as an escort, I certainly fall into that occupational category. Living in a country where prostitution is illegal in all but a single state means that labeling myself a “sex worker” is hardly pragmatic. Besides, to call men like myself (straight male escorts) “sex workers” is almost insulting. How great would my life be if I could just sell sex? I have very few clients whose primary interest in retaining my services is sexual intercourse, or even sexual physical contact. Critics of the show I happen to be a part of have no frame of reference for what my profession entails. I will be the first to admit that the show, with eight 30-minute episodes per season, is not exactly made to be educational. Those critics have said repeatedly that women don’t have to pay to get laid. I have said repeatedly that they are correct, but that both women and men most definitely pay for “sex.”

I was raised on the Discovery Channel. Both of my parents were educators and naturally curious people. In my home growing up, there was no shortage of animals fucking on our TV screen. Those scenes were usually over in a matter of seconds, as compared to the sometimes hours of observation and analysis of the courtship rituals that led up to the act. It’s always been fascinating to me that although sexual intercourse among mammals is pretty much homogeneous, the courtship rituals and mating systems that get individuals to the act are incredibly diverse. That (entire process) is “sex.” Intercourse is by far the least interesting aspect. It’s a series of hip thrusts in a few positions. The mating game that happens before intercourse, on the other hand, is captivating. For us human animals living in the “modern world,” our mating game is the world of dating. I am a sex worker, but I am primarily a “professional dater.” [READ MORE]

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all photos courtesy of Hypnox

I feel nothing but pity for people who don’t “get” Twitter, anyone who has ever rejected me, and most of all, those who missed the 2nd Annual Vagina Beauty Pageant that happened this past week at Club Rouge in Portland, OR. I generally have a strong disdain for gimmicky strip club events and formal exotic dance pageants, but I feel like a child on Boxing Day now. I haven’t been able to get out of bed since realizing that I have to wait an entire year before I get to celebrate again.

I had considered entering when I read that the top vagina gets $500. I wasn’t sure what competing entailed, but felt like I had a solid entry. Plus, I thought maybe I could start charging extra for dances after I flashed customers my blue ribbon* (which I would carry on my person for the rest of my life, ready to show cops who pull me over for speeding, my future husband’s parents, etc). I boasted to a friend that I could win with toilet paper stuck to my junk, which I figure is the vaginal equivalent of doing a one-armed pushup. Ultimately, I was too confused (read: wimpy) to compete, but I did stop by to check it out just for the fresh blog material. [READ MORE]

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by smcgee on flickr

At The Hairpin they have this thing where they “Ask a Dude” to give advice on matters of all sorts. Most fall along the lines of “Should I leave this relationship?” or “What does it mean when a guy does this?” type of questions. Last week, though, the featured Dude told a girl that turning a friend into a client by sleeping with him for money was a good idea—forward-thinking, even—and it was horrible advice.

There’s a reason most of us use pseudonyms, screen, and even blur our faces: We don’t want to have relationships with our clients beyond the actual transactional one we will already have. Clients can’t be friends, and friends can’t really be clients in the long run. When you actually know someone and they know you, they anticipate feelings (or you do), but somebody is doing a lot more thinking on the experience than “This is amazing, it feels so good!” In this girl’s case, that would be what her Mom might think and how he can use this as leverage to get more attention from her.
[READ MORE]

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The popularity of the sugar baby/sugar daddy relationship in the media is a bit of a recession phenomenon. It’s a grey-area of sex work lite that women with no experience in the sex industry can dip their toes into before they realize that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. The odds of finding an asexual millionaire benefactor are not good, but that won’t stop those with student loans or retail addictions from signing up on sites like Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy For Me, Whats Your Price, and the like. MTV’s True Life follows twenty-one year-olds GG and Olivia, and twenty-two year-old Steve on their quests for financial dependence. Despite silly narration like, “They’re willing to ignore their hearts for the Benjamins,” I thought this was an accurate portrayal of what happens when young laypeople make an attempt at dancing the tango of conflicting interests. [READ MORE]

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I just want to know what these people want from us. They argue over which term to use like we are animals, where using the wrong genus actually matters. It is not difficult to figure out. We are sex workers because we use our sexuality to make money, period. All of us: strippers, escorts, dominas, whatever. It is an umbrella term because we can all fit under it. Why is that so hard? Why do they need everybody to be ultra specific before they can tuck themselves in at night?

I know why: this isn’t really about trying to figure out what to call us. This is the kind of classification you use so you know how to react to someone, you know what I mean? They want to know which kind of sex work we do so they can know how to treat us, because “sex work” doesn’t have the same hateful baggage as “whore” or “stripper” does for some people, and it is hard to throw at someone. “This is one sex worker with chutzpah” just doesn’t have the same sting; it sounds like something you say to an equal, not something you say to classify another group of women as less worth respect than you are. I’m looking at you, Andrea Peyser. [READ MORE]

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