Cate is something of a renaissance sex worker and has held numerous interesting jobs in the adult industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.
Like any subculture, the subculture of sex workers has its trends. Currently, the latest thing is misandry ranging from the playful to the deadly serious. It’s sort of a complex issue, because while I firmly believe one can’t simultaneously be a good sex worker and also a true misandrist, it’s also true that as sex workers we often see men at their rawest, which means we frequently see them at their worst. It’s not that my clients are violent or cruel–it’s just that, well, dudes can be the worst. They can also be thoughtful, charming, sweet, and generally lovely, but eventually they all tend to revert to their default of complete and total obliviousness coupled with a belief that their experience is the only one that matters.
It’s infuriating when my clients–mostly white, middle-aged professionals–tell me that I have it so easy because I’m young and female and pretty and I can sell sex. It’s as if it doesn’t even occur to them that by virtue of being all those things, I actually have fewer advantages than they so. Sure, for an hour or two I’m the one with all the power and they’re the ones paying me, I’m the one who gives or retracts consent, and I’m the one with the power to kick them out, but in normal life they are the people who can get away with almost anything and I am one of the people who cannot.
It sounds like it would be very easy to just deal with the annoying clients, make my money, and go about my life, but it’s only easy if you see clients as something less than human. Clients are people just like anyone else, and they are men just like any others. There is nothing that makes my clients any different than a guy you might see on the street and because of that, it’s very easy to take frustrations with clients and put them on every man I encounter. This is further complicated by the fact that most men really do seem to share the same obliviousness and entitlement that my clients suffer from. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with a boyfriend or male friend, and they have said something particularly myopic that could have been pulled directly from the mouth of a client. All too frequently they try to explain it away with “I didn’t mean it that way,” or worse, “why are you overreacting like this?”
When these kinds of things happen, it becomes very tempting to just remove all non-paying men from my life. I could live a perfectly fulfilled life without a single man around, I tell myself, my life would actually be better.