One encounters a lot of tourists in the sex industry. While many clients are technically tourists–visiting from other cities, states, or countries–I’m talking about working tourists.
Work tourists are young women, usually either college educated or in the process of getting a college education, who hear about how empowering sex work is, and decide to jump on the bandwagon. They’re different from girls who strip or escort their way through college, in that that they don’t really need sex work. Their education is usually paid for by their parents or scholarships, and the income they earn from their erotic labor is usually money to go out with friends or buy designer bags and shoes. Sex work is a game to them, not a livelihood, and certainly not a career choice.
The tourists are the women who believe that all it takes to be successful in the industry is a pretty face and a nice body. They have no concept of sex worker stigma, beyond some fuzzy concept that stripping will be “cool,” “edgy,” “fun,” or worse, “empowering.” Sure, the industry is somewhat forbidden to nice girls like them, but their dabblings in sex work are all about not being a nice girl anymore–about going home for Thanksgiving dinner and thinking, “nobody knows I’m a sex worker” while they get a second helping of mashed potatoes from Uncle Jerry or Aunt Jane or whoever.
It’s very rare for these girls to go into more intimate fields of sex work, they generally go with stripping, or sometimes fetish work. They tell their friends what they do in hushed tones, and their eyes pop out of their head when they ask career girls like me how long we’ve been doing this and hear five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty years.
It sounds, great, right? These girls are probably unconsciously normalizing the industry! More nice girls means less stigma, right? Wrong. The problem with tourists is that they don’t want sex work to be destigmatized, because they benefit from the stigma. If sex work were viewed as any other service-oriented physical profession like personal training or massage therapy, there would be no rebellion. If sex work became just another job, they wouldn’t have a tawdry secret to keep at family gatherings or an aura of the forbidden for their friends to gasp at. The nice girls who infiltrate our profession don’t want us to be legitimized in the eyes of the world, and because they tend to stick with work that falls into, at worst, a legal grey area, they don’t really care about decriminalization. That’s a battle for the nasty girls who actually touch their customers’ unclothed bodies, or god forbid, fuck their customers–not nice, respectable girls who just want to have fun and buy a few Prada along the way.