I'm still getting email responses to a Stranger column I wrote two week ago, A Life In Sex Work, and that's a bit out of the ordinary. Apparently a number of people found it thought-provoking.
A lot of the email I'm getting about it seems to center around the idea that I'm a very unusual sex worker. Now, I don't mind people thinking I'm unique in some ways, because, hey, aren't we all. But some of messages I'm getting about what these people think is so unique about me isn't exactly…well, flattering.
No, I am actually not a crack/heroin/cocaine/prescription drug addict. I hear that you find that amazing, and I'm glad to have raised your consciousness about sex workers a tiny bit. Like certain conservative radio talk show hosts, I have done some recreational drugs in my time. But never to excess, and when I stop and think, I realize – wow, it’s been years since I did anything like that. For that matter, I very rarely drink alcohol, and I don't smoke, either.
No, I am not the victim of a ruthless pimp. I've met a few people who claimed to be pimps in my time - but only a few. I've never had one myself and I've never had another woman tell me, "I have a pimp". I've worked at places where there was some pointing and whispering about girls who supposedly did, and that's about the extent of my acquaintance with that.
(I have met a lot of women who were financially supporting unemployed boyfriends. But I can't say too much about that, because I've supported a couple of unemployed girlfriends. Just about every sex worker I know I has done this with a lover at one point or another.)
But no, I am not supporting children whose father has run out on us. I know women who are, but I'm thinking they'd have less time to write than I do. I've chosen not to procreate in this lifetime, thank you.
Let's see, what are some of the other stereotypes? Well, I was never abused or molested as a child, by my family or anyone else. Overall, my childhood was so Leave-It-To-Beaver that it's almost sickening. Stay-at-home-Mom, private schools, a house on the lake, and my Daddy bought me a pony when I was eleven. So my family has a few areas of weirdness, but nothing out of the ordinary.
I've never been raped by a client - or by anyone else, for that matter. I've never had a client harm me or make an overt threat to harm me. On a few occasions, a long time ago, I have been with clients who made me think, "Wow, this guy is balanced right on the edge of some serious craziness, and I should be very, very careful with him, or he’ll just lose it." And so I was, and I got away clean.
I'm actually not unique in any of these traits - I know other sex workers who tab up with my experiences fairly closely. But opening one's mind has to begin somewhere, and I do enjoy shaking up people's notions of the world. So thanks, dear letter writers, for letting me know I did that…