Harlotry: The Surprising Misandry That Comes From Being A Sex Worker

Misandry in sex work

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.

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    • Samantha Escobar

      One of the reasons I don’t write quite as frequently about rape, abuse, and misogyny is because it gave me so much stress that I wound up taking it out on the men around me (and anybody who frequently acted misogynistic). It wasn’t intentional; I was just so upset and disappointed all of the time that I found it difficult not to be angry, and since I couldn’t exactly confront the thousands of offenders each year, I unintentionally got stressed at whomever was nearby. I’ve gotten much better, but I still get hyper-defensive sometimes.

      I’m glad you’re writing about this, as I think it is not a topic discussed often except by MRAs who use it to get all self-righteous and feel sorry for themselves.

      • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

        I FEEL YOU GIRL.

        I’ve discussed this with friends who have been raped, and we all agree that being raped fueled a lot of “argh” feelings towards men in general, and ESPECIALLY misogynist men. I, too, have gotten a lot better, but it’s a journey. And, I mean as I say here, my work doesn’t really help. I am not liable to shut up when I see something wrong, so when clients say something unusually idiotic and I HAVE to shut up, it creates a sort of rage that gets spread out to the rest of my life. And I don’t need any more rage in my life.

      • Justine Zegui

        You tell em Samanta! There is no better way to overcome inequality than to project the same sweeping, generalized hatred that had held women down for so long!! You dont have to know every man on earth to know how they usually are! There is no bigotry when its true.

      • FemelleChevalier

        Although I agree with your sarcasm (I dislike pushy feminists and whiny MRAs), she just said that it’s personal thing. There is no generalizing here and she has experience to back it up; try to be more empathic.

        Overly criticizing one another without really thinking is what these extremists (feminists and MRAs) are guilty of, so let’s not stoop to their level.

      • Samantha Escobar

        You realize I said I wasn’t pleased about this internalized reaction, right?

    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      I really enjoy your column, and this might be my favorite thing you’ve written, especially your last line. It’s frustrating enough for me just working in a male-dominated industry, not to resort to hate or anger when things seem so stacked against women, so I can’t imagine how conflicted and stressful it would be to do what you do. You’ve written about that conflict so beautifully here.

      • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

        Thank you!
        My industry is strange because while it’s very female dominated, at least in the arenas I work in, there’s far more interaction with men, especially if one is working independently, than there is with other women, and because those men are CLIENTS, who obviously need to be kept happy, it establishes this weird power dynamic that I haven’t even totally figured out yet. I do, however, know that it is VERY stressful at times.

    • Justine Zegui

      I spend my life working for equality, but I hate men!

      • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

        I have trouble categorically hating men, but at the same time it’s very, very easy to categorically hate all men because let’s be real, the decent ones often seem to be the exception, not the rule.

      • Justine Zegui

        You are so right! What do you hate most about men?

      • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

        I think my biggest issue is not with individuals, but with the institution of masculinity that has created a group of people (men) who seem to be raised with not only an unrealistic sense of entitlement to be totally oblivious to any experience but their own, a condition that very few of them ever recover from.

      • Justine Zegui

        I could not agree more- how can we medically treat this condition?

      • FemelleChevalier

        By, oh I don’t know, giving those individuals some advices to seek out treatment when their paranoia and/or self-entitlement is bleeding through their personalities? Thus, making them incapable of saying reasonable things without bursting in a fit of rage?

        Seriously, you’re too transparent. I can almost hear your patronizing voice, a pipe fashionably trapped between your lips as you spoke. You’re then twirling your mustache, chuckling and shaking your head in between as if you’re thinking “silly girl”.

        …I admit that that was a suave image, but you’re still baiting.

    • FemelleChevalier

      This is a good, insightful piece. I like how you addressed that hatred and exclusion won’t solve inequality; it will only deepen the rift and will fuel the extremists on both sides. Extreme feminists and extreme MRAs can be both misguided and misinformed in their own right, and none of the two should be representative of their gender as a whole.

      • http://toyboxkiller.tumblr.com/ Cate

        Seriously! Can’t we all just be egalitarians?
        It seems like most radfems just want to police the lives and bodies of other women, while most MRAs are just whining about the fact that they have responsibilities and are expected to treat women like human beings instead of receptacles for their tiny penises.

    • emily

      I prefer to think of misandry as “hatred of the patriarchy (i.e the institution of men)” rather than just “men”

    • Cal

      Your views on men are disgusting.

      I have been hurt really badly by women in my life, yet I don’t harbour sexism like you.

      I am NOT worse than women by “default” as you say. I hope you do cut yourself off from men in your life, for their sake. I quietly go about my life and mind my own business, yet you prejudge me.

      Sexism against men is just as hurtful. You are a hypocrite for hating misogyny but being a misadrist.