'But you show your face in your advertising!' I hear some of you pointing out. Yes, yes, this is true, and I'll get to that.
Firstly I want to relay what happened and add my perspective.
Having lunch with my best friend of 25 years today, she suddenly became uncomfortable and almost apologetically told me that her brother (who I have also known for most of my life) had sent her a screenshot of a Twitter escort selfie I'd posted with the caption; "Is ...insertmyrealnamehere...a PROSTITUTE???"
The photo had apparently been forwarded to him by a friend of his, who I had no recollection of ever meeting (He's obviously good with faces, whoever he is!)
My dear friend is an accepting person, but more conservative than me, and now she was placed in the awkward position of having to either lie or divulge.
I could feel how uncomfortable she was in this position, and I felt more outraged on her behalf than mine.
My response to this occurrence is a mixture of around 30% bemusement and 70% disbelief in understanding of escort code. After I processed these personal reactions, I wanted to write a summary of the lesser spoken-about component of sex worker etiquette; How to behave around someone you have recently discovered is a sex worker, and the reasons for our unspoken code of privacy.
Earlier this year, I revealed my face in my advertising. In an interview with @Whoretography, a London - based creative writer & director I explained why I had made this decision.
It was partially a marketing decision. I wanted to attract a clientele suited to my personality, and I knew from social media experiments in my former business that making yourself accessible creates powerful positive relationships.
But the larger reason was in reaction to my sadness surrounding SW stigmatism and the corresponding effects on the young women in the industry. I was particularly distressed reading about the suicide of Grace Bellavue. It was yet another case of an intelligent young SW trying to show mainstream society a snippet of the unique job we have. The truth about our humanity and that of our clientele.
This approach leaves us very vulnerable to criticism, but I still prefer it to being smeared with the traditional SW stereotype of being a hopeless drug addict with daddy issues, and my clients repulsive, abusive misogynists.
We all saw another example of the public SW myth a few days ago, when the Melbourne Writer's festival decided to include a panel on sex work - without a single woman who was a current sex worker on it! Society sure does like us to stay in the dismal picture we've been painted in. Anything else seems just too hard to understand.
By showing my face and having a voice, I am able to refute this gross misinformation.
It is my way of saying that I am not ashamed of my choice to be a part time SW, but neither am I in any way completely defined by it.. I am simply a young Australian woman with passions, responsibilities, a family and a wonderful network of friends.
However, whether we like it or not, whether we personally accept it or not, SW and the adult industry comes with an ugly and largely unwarranted stigma.
Very few of us are completely transparent with our choice of vocation for good reason.
People can be savagely cruel and judgemental when they feel threatened by something of which they have minimal understanding. Many SW's feel they cannot risk their families being subjected to this kind of treatment, or risk discrimination in a future career path.
Personally, I am in a position where showing my face is a decision I can make with reasonably minimal repercussions. I am a visual artist and writer, so I'm already pegged as being a little left of centre, I have always had an ambiguous sexuality, so shock value is low among my friends, my family and my partner are all reasonably eccentric.
But despite my steadfast reasoning, I fear rejection as much as the next person.
I abhor dishonesty, yet find myself editing the truth of what I do for a living when talking to my former colleagues, my classmates and acquaintances. I don't want to be judged on the avalanche of misinformation that's out there.
And people do judge, ostracise and 'out' sex workers without a second thought for the repercussions.
I recall a client of mine in my former business coming to me after talking with a mutual friend of ours. She was agitated and with a little prompting revealed that our friend was 'prostituting herself'
I remember feeling nothing but curiosity at the time, but looking back on that occurrence now, I feel quite angry.
The dobber in question is a human rights activist and identifies as being lesbian... So One might wonder why another woman's decision to become a sex worker was an acceptable target of judgement when she so publicly supports the plight of other minority groups.
Then there's the well meaning friends of escorts who are so accepting that they just can't keep it to themselves. After all, society should just accept us, right? (If only it were that simple)
These are the ones who talk too much about 'empowerment' and throw the word 'Hooker' around as if they had any right to.
I am horrifically ashamed to admit that I was once one of these people in the circumstance I outlined previously. After being informed of my friend's foray into sex work, I sent her a message expressing my support and curiosity. She never responded, and had trouble looking me in the eye when we saw eachother at social events afterward.
Now I understand, and words cannot express the depth of my regret. Her trust was violated and I exasperated the issue.
Finally, there's the matter of the other privacy code between escorts and their clients.
I may show my face in my advertising, but I would never EVER reveal a client's identity to anyone else. If I were to see one of them on the street, I would respect their privacy by simply smiling my acknowledgment as any friendly passer-by.
I would never initiate phone or email contact with my clients not in regards to a booking, and I would also not respond to their contact out of business hours without knowing their circumstances.
Clients deserve anonymity as part of their service. It is a respectful and confidential relationship we should share.
I accept that there may be occasions where a discreet referral is provided, and we welcome this from other escorts and trusted clients. But the code is clear - do not compromise anyone's privacy
In summary, if you uncover a sex worker in your social sphere, you have one mission:
To keep your mouth firmly closed. Our varying degrees of visibility should be our choice and only our choice, & we always strive to conduct ourselves with discretion.