Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Why I don’t do sex worker activism

When I moved to San Francisco I spent a few months as a pro-domme.  It was fun, but I just didn’t have the personality and business sense to make it financially viable.  For many of the people I know the decision to do sex work and/or their feelings about sex work are deeply personal and polarizing.  For me, it’s just a crazy thing I did in my early 20s because it seemed like fun.  I took from it what I wanted, not least of which was rent money, and I don’t think too hard about what didn’t work.

I understand that this stance comes from a place of power – I’m white, female, conventionally attractive, well educated.  I can discus the evolution of Baroque music and the evolution of vibrator technology with equal literacy.  In short, I not only had an easy way into being a sex worker, I had plentiful options when I decided it wasn’t working.  If I had the opportunity to become a pro-domme again today I wouldn’t go for it; it is hard emotional labor in an industry not known for being kind to its employees and I’m pretty sure I command a higher hourly rate at my day job.  That said, I was sorry to leave the house I was working in. I was just starting to establish regular clients, I had explored a number of kinks I was previously to0 timid to try, and I had a really good relationship with the women I worked with most of whom I found to be interesting people and dedicated to improving their craft.  I was also truly fascinated by the clients and their varied stories.

People frequently ask if I felt as though I was being topped from the bottom by my clients.  My answer is, well, no.  Frequently, I felt as though I was in a service industry not unlike a flight attendant or waitress because I was, in fact, in a service industry.  Often, I felt as though I was bringing water to the desert.  Occasionally, a client would break my heart with how much shame he would drag in and lay at my feet, and then I felt utterly unqualified to do anything and desperate to embrace his fantasy and make it ok and to dispel the fear of whoever told him this was wrong.  I don’t know if I ever succeeded, given the size of the tips those men gave me, I suspect not. (People pay more, a lot more, for what they are ashamed of.)

So why am I adamantly apolitical about sex work? Well, in large part because I am a radical moderate in most things not concerned with child abuse (bad, duh) and free and fair elections (good and super exciting in the Congo right now).  But also because I realize that while my experience was positive and no more oppressive than most jobs with a schedule and a boss, many people are exploited by the sex industry (and I don’t just mean trafficked sex workers here).  Saying its all good or all bad is too simplistic and fails to acknowledge either the benefits or drawbacks.

I worry about the commodification of sexuality, but I also believe in a free market, and I realize that while sex work is used by some men (and women) to gain access to sex they otherwise can’t have, it is also a fee for service enterprise that may be utilized for convenience as easily as wish-fulfillment.  Which is to say, sometimes you don’t want to be able to share your deepest darkest fantasies with your lover, sometimes you don’t need to or want to concern yourself with building a world where sex is openly embraced, sometimes you just want to pay someone to deliver a nice experience to your doorstep on your schedule.  The fact that sexually submissive men do have to struggle to carve out a space for themselves and that sexually dominant women don’t get recognized as such unless they fit a leather clad dominatrix stereotype is a problem, I just don’t see how sex work is at the root of this problem.  Maybe at most a symptom, but frankly the answer to bad speech is more speech and the answer, in my mind, to bad representation of female dominance is more and more diverse representations of female dominance.

You can’t be what you don’t see, I get that, but I guess if anything I am advocating for guerrilla acts of female dominance in blue jeans and crowd sourced images of such (hell, I’d pay to see that).  Because while you can’t be what you don’t see, getting rid of what is out there does not inherently make space for what isn’t.

Written by kinkinexile

October 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm

%d bloggers like this: