Back in the Saddle
I’ve spent a lot of time over my life reflecting on contributing.
In my other life, I work in the helping professions, which I love. In particular, youth mental health, which is immensely rewarding, endlessly interesting and—like most direct service social work—terribly, terribly paid.
That work lends itself to reflection; it’s built into the work, mandated by professional standards. It’s not a space to plan the work to be done, but rather a space to think about one’s own practice—how one’s own experiences, values and beliefs are brought into and impact upon the work. It is something I value very highly, and through sheer habit can’t help but bring the same focus to my return to sex work as well.
I find it interesting that two of the roles I have gravitated toward are not valued very highly as concepts, broadly speaking. Social work’s rate of pay reflects how little society values people who need support (or values social justice, for that matter) and those who do the work of supporting them. Sex work manages to follow a similar trajectory—dismissed as a dirty or desperate profession for those with no morals or no options, which does not do justice to the profound importance of human connection and helping someone to feel good, to enjoy sex, to be present in their body and feel desirable. The stigma associated with it reflects how little society values it, yet the rate of pay is exactly the opposite—because at the same time, sex is something that we as a society value very much. We’re wired for connection, and we’re wired for sex, and we’re willing to pay for it individually.
So I’ve always seen the value in it as a general concept. I am so happy that people can pay for the experience they desire. Maybe you want a porn star experience. Maybe you want to film it? There’s a sex worker who’ll be a good match for you. Maybe you just want to talk and cuddle for a while before progressing to physical intimacy? Good. There’s a sex worker who’ll be your perfect match for that. Maybe you want regular sex with someone you trust with no strings attached. Or maybe you’ve never had sex and want to. Whatever you want, there’s bound to be someone who’ll be right for you in this industry. Of course, their price will exclude some people. But I think recognising your desires and paying the right person to fulfil them makes for a better, happier world for everyone.
On top of that, I’ve always been intrigued with it, from the moment I heard that you could have sex as your CAREER (all of thirteen years old). Having discovered masturbation at a very early age, I was baffled that everyone wasn’t doing it. So the idea had been rattling around in my mind for a long time by the time I finished school, and I bounded off to uni and into a brothel and it was AWESOME. (Actually, that’s not entirely true. One of my guest lecturers in a criminology class was lecturing on sex work, and told us at the end of her lecture that she was a sex worker. THEN I bounded off to a brothel). It’s indicative of the social stigma I had internalised that I needed someone “like me” (ie well-educated, a high-achiever, apparently “normal”) to give me permission of sorts to pursue my long-held dream.
So why did I ever leave?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
Don’t get me wrong. Sex work can be hard. Stigma is a bitch. Not feeling able to be open with your friends and family is extremely stressful (I’m a terrible liar, and feel a constant compulsion to divulge everything I’m thinking to those closest to me…) Being vulnerable is likewise a constant stress. There are idiots and worse out there in the world. But I still want to do it. And I went into the helping professions because I am interested in people. I like people. I like finding the ways we can connect, I like hearing about the experiences of others, I like the joy and sparkle that comes from meeting that innate need to connect with others. And I like how in this work you can meet all variations of people. The confident, the smart, the shy, the awkward. The well-travelled, and the never-travelled. The fun-loving and the lonely. The deep-thinking and the frivolous. I’m comfortable with all the myriad human presentations (except douche bags. I am not comfortable with, fond of, or tolerant of douche bags…) and I feel like I can bring all of my best selves to this role. The joyful, delighted, curious, and kind selves. The alluring and sophisticated selves. The own-my-own-businesses, intelligent, intellectual selves. The athletic and shamelessly horny selves. The womanly self who does NOT get to wear sexy dresses and sexy lingerie in her other job!! Not to mention the introverted selves—in what other job can you dress up, meet interesting people and be unashamedly yourself…and then not, when you need some solitude? And get paid really well for it?
So, there’s all of that. There’s orgasms, too. But mainly, I think coming back to sex work is about finally acknowledging what I want to do, and choosing to do it, regardless of the stigma, or the pressure from those around me. Like my earlier internalised stigma, once I finished uni, I felt pressured to ‘get a real job’ and ‘contribute’ to the world. And even though I now have my own consulting service within social work, which pays a lot better than direct service wage work, I STILL wanted to return.
It’s been a long road, I’ve been slow as a slug on the uptake, and I wish I hadn’t been so impacted by what others thought was best for me or what others valued as a ‘contribution.’
But better late that never, as they say. And when I recently made this decision, the clichéd giant weight lifted from my shoulders like a pesky heavy jacket being removed in the glorious summer sun. And now I can frolic—naked!!!—and soak up the heat.
So, hello, lovers! I’m back, I’m thrilled, and I’m dying to meet you.
'Til next time,