“I have to do something different cause what I am doing isn’t working” I said to him. Then for a week he proceeded to act confused and butthurt when I told him I would spend Christmas with him at my standard rate. Apparently he is under the impression that I give my time away for free. He wants to be my friend, but he can’t ride bikes or do yoga, he isn’t in the service industry and I think he undertips.
When I said I needed to do something different, I think he assumed I was suggesting that I can’t take care of myself, that I was looking to get out of the sex industry, or that I was begging him to help. Maybe he thinks that what his problems and needs are is what I am dealing with. Maybe he thinks I am lonely, like he is. Maybe he thinks I was saying that I am looking to settle. I am not.
What I am doing is getting serious. For years I have been using the sex industry as a way to fund my other things. I went to graduate school, I kept thinking that I would get a straight job. If I was going to get a straight job, at this point, I would have. This is my straight job. The smut business has been the thing I have dedicated my life to. I have tried really hard to feign a straight life through my privilege. I have waited and toyed and danced around the idea of working for someone else for twenty years. But the few times I have tried to work for other folks I have been disappointed and undervalued. I have been asked to cheat and overlook things. When working for myself I have been left with a feeling of accomplishment and pride, despite the fact that I have been shuned and shamed, stigmatized for my association with the sex industry. I cringe when I wonder how productive I would have been if I had felt supported and empowered.
It is Christmas and I am alone. Yes, I like being alone. Being alone at Christmas gives me plenty of time to think about the ways that sex workers are mistreated during a time of year that is supposed to be about love and compassion. Yes, I would rather spend my Christmas alone than with people who don’t like me or with an old man who is getting my services for free and not willing to acknowledge that. I would rather be alone, doing something nice for myself than pretending I don’t matter.
I don’t get invited to Christmas because I am a sex worker.
This old man invited me to spend time alone with him “after he spends Christmas with his friends and family” — that is the the way he stated the invitation. I’m cool dude. I don’t want to be your secret late night date. I get paid for that sort of thing. I like the dude, really I do. He can keep up his end of the conversation. He is smart and funny and kinda charming. But he is a very typical client. He is exactly the type I covet, and the type I like even more when they actually pay me. I understand that my time is confusing to people. I get that if I do my job well people start to like me, start to want me to like them, start to expect I will give them my time and, ugh, not charge them? I understand that you want to be my man, I get that. But understand that everyone wants to be my man. I put on some ratty ass gym clothes and we went to the market and everyone in that place looked at me like I was a piece of meat. The only reason no one said anything to me was cause I had that old dude with me. The cashier asked if he was my father. “No” I told her “he is just some random old white dude” then I made him bend over and get the things out of the bottom of the basket “for my amusement” “to make my day a little brighter,” as he said about making some sexist joke to the barista earlier. Yeah, I’m gonna spend Christmas alone, or with someone who can pay me, or at least with someone who values me enough to invite me to the party with their friends and family. How does he not get the fact that he is asking me to work for free?
I’m sick of being treated like I can’t tell that women are all just playing along to get through the day. I’m sick of fucking playing along. I think we all are. I’m also sick of pretending I’m gonna get a straight job. I’m sick of being scared that my words, thoughts, and actions are gonna get me in some sort of trouble I can’t get out of. It is usually the fear that gets me in over my head. I’m sick of fear. I’m sick of an oppressive government telling women we can’t have control over our bodies. I’m sick of being sick.
I was sick for a really long time, medical tests showed nothing. I had to go through a lot of really disturbing demonic shit in order to get to a place where I feel like I have my mojo back a little bit. I’m not gonna expect or demand myself to be on top of my game right away or every day or forever, but I am gonna try a little harder to take care of myself. I did some stupid shit and overdid it, I didn’t know how to slow down and get some rest, I didn’t know how to take it easy. I’m feeling a lot better. I’m feeling like working. So hi. I’m back.
Don’t call it a comeback, I think I’m just ariving for the first time. I’m tired and I’m hungry and I’m angry at a system that will chew up every one of us and spit us out. My husband is dead, my children are grown, my parents are old but I only have myself to care for right now and sitting and feeling sorry for myself isn’t making things any better. I sat there feeling unloved, being so depressed, my power was out for 23 days last month and not cause I didn’t pay it. My last serious relationship left me feeling like a used broken pinball game. I lost ten pounds cause I couldn’t afford to eat. My utilities, my birthday, my sad sad self. Then last week I was violently attacked.
I was riding my bike and someone in a car blocked me in, got out of the car, kicked me in the knee, drug me through the street, attempted to kidnap me but gave up and fled with my handbag after witnesses appeared. It hurt. First my head spun with confusion. Then my body throbbed. Then I was elated that I had not been kidnapped, shot, killed, raped, or even broken. I am a little battered, I have a little PTSD, I’m flashing to the event back and forth all the time, I keep trying to remember all the details but I can’t and I need to be okay with that. My awareness went away and I chanted Hare Krishna at him. It was really shattering. My brain spun searching for details. I assume that if he was actually after me it would have felt more targeted, it felt random. I tried to make sense of it. I realized it happened shortly before International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. At some point I started to feel really lucky to be alive, lucky to not be serious injured, lucky to have not been taken, lucky to be in a position to transform fear into something helpful, lucky to not have to give a fuck about what other people think about me!
I have nothing left to stop me. The things that held me back from standing up and fighting for the rights of sex workers, the things that scared me into hiding — none of that matters anymore. My time here is finite and I have a lot of work to do. I want to go to law school, but I don’t give a fuck about making money as a lawyer. I’m in a situation I am very happy with. I have a big flat in a city I love living in. I have a space I feel safe in, even thought I don’t feel safe in this town. I have a little fortress. I have managed to get myself into a spot that feels like a Christmas miracle. I have a wonderful home and not a single reason to try to impress the world. I have all the things set up to protect myself. I have a defense mechanism that fended off an attack. That attacker wasn’t attacking me, that attacker was attacking someone he saw as potentially venerable, as potentially lucrative, someone who was a sex worker, someone who was me and you. That attacker was attacking all of the fears that keep me dodging demons knowing full well that they can see me. He was attacking me and you, my family and yours, our sisters and mothers and daughters — all of us. He pulled my body through the street and I chanted the name of god at him. A stranger named Chris came outside and gave me a hug. The man fled in his red car. I rode around in a circle for a while confused about what happened confused about what to do. I didn’t realize at the time that I would wake up and not be confused anymore. I have been confused for too long. I am in this game, I have been in it for 20 years. I have done some things to try and get out, but it didn’t matter cause I am a sex worker and nothing I can do can take that away. It is a core part of my identity, it always has been. It is time for me to get serious and use my resources, use them so in the future I don’t have to worry about where I live or who my friends are, use them so I can take care of myself and my loved ones, use them to help the folks who have fewer resources. Its time for me to stop noticing what I don’t have and take a careful look at what I do have. It’s time for me to own up to being a really privileged part time ho. I have a lot of time, an education, some beautiful people who care about me, I have more social privilege and freedom to move about than most folks, I have a really decent shot at getting into school and making money and saving the world. I write this and it feels lofty and like I’m trying to shoot for the stars, and yeah maybe I am. It is the first time in years I have felt like getting out of bed and giving a fuck about the problems of the world. My health is a little shaky but I have a good handle on how to manage it. I’m in great shape physically and emotionally, if I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I guess I have my mojo back.