When I said I’d create a flowchart of financial coercion in the sex industry for this site, I thought it’d be simple: the happy hooker at one end, the trafficked foreigner who’s forced to buy their freedom at the other end. After a little consideration, I figured it might be more like a chart or a line graph, but there seemed to be too many variables for that, too. What it really should be, I think, is a survey. Like in girly magazines, but at the end you’ll get a coercion score that’ll tell you how financially coerced you are. It’s fun to compare your score when you entered the industry to your score now. Ready? Here we go!
How much do you need money? Are your kids hungry at home, your utilities turned off, an eviction notice on your door? Is it your dream to go to college but you can’t get financial aid? Maybe you’ve been accepted to an Ivy League school and don’t have $100k for your first year. Perhaps you already have a job that pays okay, but you strive for a more expensive lifestyle or a fatter savings account?
Rate your level of need on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if you’re working on your savings; 3 if you don’t have the money for bills that are due next week; 5 if your life or your child’s future depends on what you make this week.
Are you under aged, an illegal immigrant, or otherwise unable to get a legit job? Do you have degrees or experience that would let you jump into another career? Can you make money in another way? Enough money? How much would it suck?
Rate your options on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if you could easily access something that would pay the same as sex work; 3 if you’d have to cancel the cable and move into a studio; 5 if you can’t do anything else for money.
How Much Don’t You Want To?
Do you escort because your sex drive is so high? Do you have to drink to get through the night? Do you hate what you do for money?
Rate how much you want to on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if the only thing better than your work is getting paid for it; 3 if you’re not that into it but you don’t mind it; 5 if you hate yourself afterwards.
My mom once said to me, “You know those things… They’re like fences… You have them…” Thanks, Mom! I learned boundaries from sex work! Do you know how to say no in the VIP room, no to guys who show up at your incall expecting anal, or no to customers who won’t follow your screening procedures? Can you confidently pass up the bad dates and wait for the good ones?
Rate your boundaries on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if you’re really good at saying no; 3 if you’ll do things that make you a little squicky when you need the money; 5 if you can’t imagine saying no to a paying customer.
Let’s be honest: most of us accepted things when we started working that we wouldn’t accept a few years or even weeks later. Maybe we didn’t see anything fishy about the manager who said a lap dance was part of the audition, or we believed the customer who said everyone lets them get away with it in the champagne room. Gosh, maybe you were a waitress who was impressed by someone offering you a couple hundred for an overnight you would charge two grand for now. Some of you were old enough, assertive enough, or jaded enough to know what was up from your first twirl around the pole.
Rate your level of experience on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 if you’ve been doing this a while and know exactly what every thing is worth; 3 if you just know what you charge; 5 if you can’t tell the difference between a pimp and a new friend.
Control Over Your Work
Do you decide what you do and when you do it? Do you set your rates? Do you negotiate directly with customers on your own terms about money and activities? Does a pimp, agency, or strip club set your rates and define your boundaries for you? Can you take a day off for your period if you want to? Does criminalization prevent you from having frank conversations about the services you offer?
Rate your level of control over your work on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if you’re completely independent; 3 if you have a schedule and rules; 5 if you have one of those evil pimps from the movies.
Some guys will walk into a dead strip club and see it as an opportunity to make someone’s night. Other guys will see the same dead club as an opportunity to pressure broke strippers for discounts and extras. Just last week one client told me I charge too little and overpaid me by 50% and another emailed to say that other ladies do the same for less and I should give him a discount so he doesn’t write a bad review. How much do the clients you come into contact with respect the way you value your services?
Rate the clients you see on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 if you love all your clients; 3 if you have to bargain sometimes; 5 if you spend more time arguing your value than getting paid.
Now add up your scores and keep reading to find out how coerced you are!
7–11: Congratulations! You’re lucky AND you’ve got this shit figured out!
11-20: At least it’s not McDonalds.
21-35: You’ve got problems. I hope it’s your personal journey with boundaries and not circumstances beyond your control.
36-45: Girrrl, get rid of that pimp!