that’s why my work attire consists of underwear with the coverage of a piece of spaghetti and chandeliers hanging from my head.
that’s why my work attire consists of underwear with the coverage of a piece of spaghetti and chandeliers hanging from my head.
This week’s column on PPR: The sex worker stigma can make even the most progressive, “open-minded” people act hurtful. This week, I talk about the affect of the stigma on my interpersonal experiences, including losing a friendship, over the little unkind comments.
Over at the SWP tumblr, there seems to be some confusion from an anonymous asker why co-opting a sex worker’s story is problematic.
Here’s why doing that sucks:
To put it simply, you can ruin someone’s life.
I’d also like to add that sex workers GET MURDERED ALL THE TIME. You may not think there’s a risk, and you may not understand the way of thinking that leads to that, but it’s something we have to consider even if we are no longer sex workers.
I have to think about this all the time. All of us do. As soon as a person does sex work, there are people out there -TOTAL STRANGERS - who think that sex worker deserves to die. To some people, we are not even human - and you CANNOT judge who that person is going to be.
DO NOT out sex workers, current or past. We are not safe. Let us be the judge. Let us decide who should know.
this is also a very, very important point. take note.
journals are wonderful and terrible time capsules. one of the best things about keeping a journal is being able to look through the past and see what it held. it’s often embarrassing, but worthwhile. it offers a tangible hold on personal growth.
i was looking through some old writing, and i cannot believe only a year has passed since i wrote what is below. while i had slept with a fair number of folk, i had not really developed an ownership of my sexuality. i wrote this when i was reflecting on past lovers and considering what it means to call myself a proper slut.
a slut’s lesson (disclaimer: this is about some fuckin’)
the average amount of sex partners is apparently somewhere between four and seven (women report four, men report seven, but the former tend to under report and the latter tend to over report). if you read this journal, i don’t think i need to tell you that i am well past the average mark, and don’t feel any shame about it. (which, i shouldn’t need to say this, but: if you’re going to get all judgey on me, you should probably stop reading now.)
i learned a long time ago that my superficial barriers are low; i’ve dated and kissed and fucked people of all shapes and sizes, with ages varying from two years younger to twenty years older. while attractiveness can be measured, it can’t seem to be defined by hair color, eye color, height or weight. at least, not by me. every time i think i set a sort of expected type for myself, i fall in love with someone who defies all of my self-imposed conventions.
i’m also learning that the measurement of quality in sex is complicated.
which was better: the disconnected fuck with a date/crush turned friend who had turned out to be more sexy than sexual (an unintentional deception i’ve never quite understood), or the dull affair with the very tall librarian with the bitter semen, who’d call me “baby” when he got turned on and put on foreign films after we were done?
which is better: the two-night stand with violent dirty talk, orgasmic determination and wild abandon, or the sensitive, thoughtful fuck with the internet-hookup-turned-pining-lover-turned-great-friend?
which was better: the sloppy, secret, drunkasfuck sex with the coworker i’d fallen in love with, where i found i couldn’t come because i didn’t trust him, or the deeply intimate, sober, third date sex with a soft-spoken and eerily confident man that exhausted me with multiple orgasms?
within these comparisons, i can’t tell you which i would call “better”. it’s not based on orgasms, and sometimes not even skill (although of course, all of those things help). it’s not based on whether they treated me well (the librarian, the hookup turned friend, the third date) or perhaps, not so well (the disconnect, two night stand, the coworker). i can tell you which i preferred, but that’s all relational; who did i love and when? who became a beloved friend and who became just a fuck? who knew just as much of my heart as they did of my vulva? in the end, whichever side of those questions they fall on is all that seems to really matter. maybe that’s why the prospect of fucking someone who is such a close friend can create conflict—every time you engage, you risk the loss of someone dear.
in retrospect, i’m happy i’ve been involved with every one of these beautiful, occasionally (OFTEN) difficult people. whatever the pleasure (or pain), i walked away with something new embedded in my brain. and, let’s be real: people are the most beautiful when they’re vulnerable. maybe that’s why sex, even “bad” or “mediocre” sex is still seen as redeemable. human bodies and shared intimacy, in both of their many manifestations, are fucking incredible.
sex and intimacy and relationships are complicated. even though i’ve never been good about being in the gray area, i’m glad i get to play along. being able to see all this as a whole, in retrospect, makes it easy to understand what i want and what i like and who i want to be intimate with. i would never have understood the nuances of these things if i hadn’t barreled through with slutty bravado and practiced perpetually intrepid vulnerability. i’ve become more selective, but also, less self-conscious.
this also reminds me that there are many ways to be good, and it’s often not as easy as marking off your to-do list. which, as someone who so feels like she needs to earn her love from others, is an important thing to remember.
written April 22nd, 2011
I’m a man of self respect. I want woman to have the same self respect. Flaunting your tits so that they are almost falling out of your shirt is not attractive. You know what’s attractive? Intelligence. Self Respect. True beauty. Not any of this whore shit.
I’m a woman of self…
I was all annoyed with the douchebaggery here, and then I realized this kid is seventeen. Literal LOL @ “I am a man of self-respect.” Little boy, please.
Every once in a while, I find one customer, completely by chance, who appreciates me having an intellectual conversation with them. I had an in-depth conversation with one guy about literature and another in-depth conversation with another guy about radical unionism and workers’ rights,…
I once had a long, incredibly positive conversation about dating, male privilege, and gender expectations with a regular of mine. They are definitely the best clients—I mean, how could they be anything less? They treat us like we are human.
Of course sex CAN be spiritual but not for everyone and it always bugs me when people use the “sex is spiritual” argument for only having sex in committed relationships. Which for me is kind of a weird argument because if sex was spiritual and gets you closer to god wouldn’t you want to have it as much as possible and share that experience with as many people as possible?
By a seriously shit “friend”:
She asks:Anyone here have any experiences with being outed? How did you deal with it? Today, my “best friend” confronted me and asked how long I’ve been using my moniker. I’ve had suspicions about her knowing for about a month now and I know she’s told other…
And you know, most of my friends are seriously awesome people. They support me in my work and understand its value to me AND to my clients. But even though I’ve always been honest with my friends from the get-go, I definitely lost some who didn’t agree with what I was doing. And well… that’s why it’s hard to be out in the first place, right? This is what we fear. NGL: it hurt. It hurts. Present tense.
But in other ways the problem is blindingly obvious. This girl has nothing in common with your high-school crush except for her social security number. Everything you loved about her is gone.
We loved the sweet, shy, freckly girl. We still remember her name, and after all these years she lives close to our heart. Seeing her in lipstick and stiletto heels dancing on a pole is like watching Winnie the Pooh do heroin and then glass someone in a bar fight.
Fuck this concept *so hard*. I had to move from twitter over to tumblr, and I’m probably posting the url wrong, but I’m deeply offended by this shit. You know what I am? I’m a girl who was shy and awkward and extremely nerdy in high school. Maybe some people had crushes on me - I know my first girlfriend did, way back in 8th grade, though we didn’t date until after I’d graduated. I don’t know. I was too busy reading books and not liking myself to date other humans.
Now sometimes I wear bright red lipstick and fuck-me heels and I can pull off a pornstar look if I want to. Hell, I worked in a peep show. I AM STILL AWKWARD AND NERDY. Finding myself sexually and owning my sex doesn’t TAKE AWAY MY FRECKLES or ERASE THE BOOKS I READ.
So fuck you, Pat Rothfuss.
Also, please examine how fucking offensive it is to compare a human being to a movie adaptation of a book. I wasn’t selling myself off the shelf to you in high school, and I’m not selling myself to you now in my thirties. Fuck you fuck you fuck you.
If my tumblr-savvy friends could add some little “fuck you” pictures to this, I’d sure appreciate it.
yeah, these things are not mutually exclusive. fuck this indeed.
My queue posts pretty regularly (and y’all, please bear with me—I know there have been a lot of updates today), but I had to get this one out.
I have been thinking a lot lately about transparency, and the effect of it on my life. While I have generally been known for being blunt and honest to a fault (I believe my friend Matthew once referred to me as “an unedited woman”), I have always viewed it as a liability. It was something I felt like I had to apologize for, or otherwise tone down. Even with that quality, I felt pressure to conceal certain aspects of my life. It was hard to reconcile this natural openness with what I learned in my childhood; I grew up in a family that has some archaic, superficial perspectives on sexuality, femininity, and perfectionism, and it impacted my ability to commit to who I wanted to be.
Part of my goals for this year (or really, since I left last job as a domestic violence shelter advocate/counselor) have been to commit myself to the weird. It seemed that trying to commit myself to a life of normalcy was not only ill-fitting, but also making me miserable. Fuck that. So I decided to own it: Queer; sex-worker; roller derby rookie; writer; domestic violence/rape survivor; poetry nerd; burgeoning ukulele player (lulz); college drop out; fat-positive; kinky; feminist; silly, smart lady. I decided I wanted to stop apologizing for those things, for all of my things, and actually own that I am an out and out freak (and I like it that way).
Being transparent and unapologetic about these things has been, for the most part, an uplifting development. My life feels more fulfilled, my confidence has exploded, and it has given me the ability to develop an exceedingly phenomenal community. While I was expecting blowback, particularly about the queer/sex-work bits, I was primarily met with unconditional love and support. Some folks had questions and concerns about safety (ok, my mother initially lost her shit, which I wrote about here), but for the most part, it was accepted. Plus, I have had the fortunate opportunity of dispelling myths and misconceptions about sex work/professional BDSM to the folks around me. Ultimately, what it came down to is that the people in my life feel confident that I am the same dazzling person I have always been, regardless of what I do job-wise.
Jiz Lee wrote a fantastic post called “How to Come Out like a Porn Star,” and while I’m not doing porn, I found it all too relevant to coming out as a sex worker in general. What I am struggling with now is number two on their list, which is “You don’t just come out once.” I had been lulled into a sense of security by the supportive, sex-positive, progressive people in my life, and by the fact that I generally don’t give a fuck what people outside of that think about who I am or what I do.
But here I am, facing a situation in my personal life where my transparency has caused someone who feels strangely pitted against me to use the information to be hurtful and unfair. While I could have anticipated the results of this, I still suppose the naive, optimistic part of me (sidenote: it’s nice to know that, as cynical as I am, this part of me still exists) expects folks to be generally less cruel than they are. Again, these are the benefits of being surrounded by communicative, intelligent, compassionate folk: I have massive faith in humanity, and I am disappointed and appalled when someone only a few social degrees away could behave callously based on little to no information.
Fortunately, during these times, my community comes forward like none other, serving as staunch sounding boards, reaffirming that things are going to be okay, and reminding me that I need to let these things roll off my back. One of my dearest friends told me, “Tizz, I don’t give a flying fuck what the fuck you do for a living. You’re legit one of the goofiest, smartest, well read, well spoken, caring people I know. I don’t care if you were a garbage man, a receptionist, a McDonald’s cook, or a legit prostitute—nothing would change that, so fuck [their] ignorance with a shiny strap on dildo, k?” As much as she said things that I already feel confident in, it is good to be reminded. Sometimes, outside reassurance can calm the little voice that seeks to destroy from the inside out, especially when it has been encouraged by unwelcome external forces.
Transparency is still absolutely vital to my emotional and mental well-being, not to mention any success in accomplishing my goals. I knew that there would be negative feedback, although it came later than I expected, and I anticipate that in the future, as I come out again, and again (and again) as a sex worker, there will be more. That is part of how this works, isn’t it? Either way, I remain committed to crumbling the harsh stereotypes, with six inch heels, whips, and words. Folks can talk all they like, but this is the reality: I am not going anywhere. I am going to continue doing the work that I like doing, and along the way, advocating for the wonderful people that I feel honored to call my peers. Deal with it.
My weekly column over at the Playpen Report has started! Click above to read the first post. Every Monday, there will be a new one, so you’d better bookmark the homepage.
THIS. so much this.