The deadbeat partner of a sex worker is an ancient and common trope. If movies are to be believed, the only people sex workers ever date are unattractive assholes who live off our money while simultaneously shaming us for our methods of earning that very same money. Why do those cinematic hos put up with such treatment? Obviously it’s because they don’t value themselves. Who could, if they were going around selling their bodies like that?
Or so the movie logic goes.
Unfortunately, in this case the stereotype is not totally incorrect, though the cause sort of is. A lot of sex workers really do have a very unfortunate tendency to pick the worst possible boyfriends. I’ve done it, my friends have done it, and we’ve all suffered for these choices. We’ve paid bills while our partners rail against us for the very work that allows us to support them, or give up the work we love because our partners manage to convince us that getting naked for money or getting on our backs or knees for pay is an insult to them. Even when we don’t give up our work or deal with constant whore shaming, I’ve seen myself and so many other friends settle for men who just frankly don’t have their acts together simply because those men are completely okay with whatever we do for a living. I’m not sure which is worse–at least with the shaming kind of partner it’s easier to see destructive patterns.
I think there are a couple of reasons why so many of us do this. The first, but not the main reason, probably has a lot to do with the concessions we make in our professional lives. So much of our job involves pretending to like and care for men we don’t give a damn about. Sure, most clients are kind and sweet, but even that huge majority have the same little annoying habits and tics that everyone has–those only easy to ignore in the people we care for. In our personal lives, the habit of ignoring the little annoyances grows, and we ignore big things: whore shaming, laziness, and general lack of ambition.