Harlotry: Why I Need My Sex Worker Community

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN - AUGUST 10: (ISRAEL OUT) Khazak prostitutes walk the streets August 10, 2006 in Almaty in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan. Fifteen years after the breakup of the former USSR, the millions of Muslims living between the Caspian Sea and China, who for decades found themselves repressed under Communism, are experiencing an economic and religious revival. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Sex work can be an incredibly isolating profession. In a world where our work is at least frowned upon and often directly criminalized, it’s extremely difficult to find support. Even relatively understanding civilian friends tend to be unable to truly relate to the difficulties of life as a sex worker. Too often, the solution to a complaint about work is, “Well if you hate it so much, why don’t you quit?”

I don’t fault civilians for this, it isn’t really their fault. From birth, the standard narrative of sex work is that it’s a last resort, that no-one in their right mind would EVER choose to be a sex worker, and that every sex worker in the world just wants a way out. Despite the fact that these civilians know we are happy hookers, on some level that standard narrative is still engrained in their heads and the fact that the happy hooker narrative has gotten entirely out of hand doesn’t help. While it’s great that more people are recognizing the possibility of being both a sex worker AND happy, it is not-so-great that those same people expect happy sex workers to be happy all the time and never have bad days or bad clients, or just not really want to go to work some days.

The biggest thing that makes sex work so isolating, though, is the fact that most people simply do not understand what we do. Either they emphasize the physical labor, telling us our jobs must be so easy and fun, or they emphasize the emotional labor and tell us our jobs must be SO difficult, they could never do that, omg. It’s rare to find someone who understands that our jobs just are. Sometimes they’re easy, sometimes they’re hard, mostly they’re a mix of both.

Criminalization breeds stigma, and stigma bring misunderstanding, even by those who want to understand. On the simplest level, we sex workers need each other so we can complain about clients and have someone understand exactly how we cringe when clients decide they want to stop paying just because “we have a real connection,” or how we roll our eyes as a client who’s hung like a peanut fucks us from behind, insisting we “love that cock, right baby?”

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Really interesting — I can imagine that it would be an incredibly isolating job. Amazing that social media can connect people so well.

    • Irene Noel Baker

      I dont’ have a view where I see sex workers as any less than any other human being. What worries me is that the men who visits sex workers most definitely (more often than not, but not always) do see theses women as less than human,