As a sex provider I was therapist,
marriage counselor, career advisor,
priest. Oh yes, I was a sex object too.
Women are expected to perform
for free the emotional labour
men feel entitled to.
I got paid for for it.
A Sex Worker’s Story
Like most women, men have seen me as a sexual object more times
than I can count, both with and without my permission. I’ve been
told by bosses to wear a skirt next time – the shorter the better.
Like nearly every woman I know, I’ve sat down in a coffee shop with
a book only to find myself held hostage by some man, striking up what
could pass as innocent conversation.
Not wanting to be rude or assaulted, neither physically nor verbally,
women engage with our harassers just as long as we have to.
I’ve had hot coffee thrown at me for not smiling back at a cat caller.
I’ve had male friends, classmates and coworkers stun me silent with
an out-of-nowhere comment about the shape of my ass or size of my breasts.
When I became a sex worker, I had a sort of ah-ha moment: putting up
with men was work, I realized—and I didn’t have to do it for free.
Whether I was working as a table dancer in London, a gown club
in New York City, or some hole in the wall in the midwest, the men
were the same. More than dances, they wanted me to sit silently and
listen while they complained about their jobs or talked shit about an ex.
I was therapist, marriage counselor, career advisor, priest.
The emotional labor men feel entitled to that women are
expected to perform for free, I got paid for.
And—unlike other service jobs or the real world—if a dude
was particularly awful, security would step in while I walked away.
Some years later, when I went back into sex work as
a call girl on Craigslist, it was similar: much of
the job was emotional, rather than physical labor.
The sex itself was not very different than encounters
I’d had as a civilian. Sometimes pleasurable, it was,
so much more often, unmemorable.
Men’s needs took priority, whether I was engaging with
them for free or for pay. By the time I started having
sex for money, like many women, I’d had a lifetime’s
worth of fucking that had left me feeling fucked.
At least, as a prostitute, I was getting paid.
The chairs are plush velvet or leather. There are main rooms,
dining areas, private nooks and alcoves scented by candles.
The multiple stages are bathed in high-tech lighting, Champagne
flows, and the women, the main attraction, sparkle in glittery gowns
that is, until they strip down to their G-strings for a $20 lap dance.
But do not call them strippers. In this type of multi-
million-dollar ‘gentlemen’s club,’ they are ‘entertainers.’
The clients are classier and have more money, and
the girls tend to be more educated and business-savvy.
Louise, a dancer at the new Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club
in Manhattan: “There’s a difference between saying,
‘Hello, how are you?’ and ‘Yo. What’s up?