We have to talk about this.


It does not happen so often, but sometimes I get incredibly sad. It is an ineffable sadness, a sadness that lingers, that forms cobwebs inside me, so that I feel empty. And last week I got sad.

My sadness is so hard to describe, but essentially, it is rooted in feeling like an outsider. I know that a combination of a million experiences and choices has led me to this point. I never had to continue to be a sex worker. I’m not even so sure I ever had to be a sex worker. I would’ve have somehow found a way to pay my bills that were due right now if I hadn’t done it. I digress. My point is that after I fell through the mirror into this shimmery, elusive world, I was and am forever on this side of it.

That makes me sad. It does not make me sad because I am ashamed of my choices or what I have done. I would make different choices, perhaps. I do wish I had chosen differently. There is a different between regret and shame. And I will be damned and dead before I am ashamed for this. I am not even sad because I regret some choices. I have always been a black sheep. I have always preferred to find my own way than to conform, despite the social costs.

But sometimes those costs do make me sad. It makes me sad to think that to some people, all I ever will be is a whore. I am not sad because they think that, but I am sad for them. How do I put this so that my words will not be twisted? I know this is impossible. Someone will see my words as proof positive that sex work is degrading and horrible because a sex worker posted on her blog that she is sad. A similar thing happened to me before, on another blog I wrote when I was working at an abortion clinic. I posted that my job made me sad. I went on to explain that my job made me sad because it is incredibly difficult to go in everyday and give your whole heart over and over again to people in difficult situations, to go in everyday knowing that someone somewhere wants me dead for it, to go in everyday knowing that we were unfunded, understaffed, and generally uncut. An anti-choice blogger saw this and took it as evidence that abortion hurts everyone, even the workers. Which is so far from the point I wanted to make.

I see a very similar thing with sex work. It’s frightening and saddening to know that there are people out there who would think I deserved it if I were murdered at my job. At the clinic for being a “baby killer”. At my space for being a whore.

This same sadness haunts me sometimes when I think about being a survivor of an eating disorder. I know what it feels like to have that singular obsession with self-destruction, and the vast majority of those around me do not. My entire life is colored by this, and theirs are not.

I am sad because I live in a time and place where everything else I could ever accomplish is out-weighed because I am a sex worker. I could get a college degree, invent a cure for HIV, solve world hunger, have children, donate to charity, become an interesting well-traveled person, and still, I would just be a whore. I find it so incredibly sad and frustrating that people think this way. I could lose everything I’ve worked hard for because I am a sex worker. I could quit sex work. I have quit for a time. And I could still lose.

This is the worst part to me. So many people don’t want anyone to be involved in sex work, and yet, current and former sex workers have doors shut in their faces, one after the other. You cannot ask someone to quit escorting and then refuse him another career.

Do with it what you will what I have said. I understand completely that the “other side” would love to use this as evidence how damaging sex work is. (I will repeat: it is damaging because you have made us pariahs.) Yet I can’t in good conscience lie about how I feel. I created this blog to be honest to myself and to whomever it is reading about my experiences.

I hope, in some way, to make a dent in the slut-shaming our culture so thoroughly marinates in. It is this sadness, this isolation, this being made to feel like nothing but a whore, that is so damaging to sex workers everywhere. But we cannot be made to feel like we are alone.

This knowledge is now yours. The burden is now yours to act responsibly toward others.


5 Responses to “We have to talk about this.”

  1. 1 mystified1

    I’m sorry for your pain. I really am. Prostitution is an honest and noble profession. Your pain is an unjust consequence of choosing nobility over conformity. Your willingness to endure that pain and defend your choices makes you nobler still.

    We live in a society of hypocrites and our own hypocrisy condemns us to pain and loneliness. We put on a happy face for the world to see – and wonder why everyone looks happy while we suffer inside. We tell women not to be so concerned with body image, and then fill women’s magazines with impossible images. We celebrate the Food Network – and condemn overweight people for lacking will power and self control. We make laws against prostitution to satisfy the false pretenses of the religious right, while law-makers regularly hire sex workers. There is not enough storage on Word Press to list all of the ironies and hypocrisies in our Judeo-Christian value system.

    That said, I just wanted you to know that you have many brothers and sisters, suffering with you. The tragedy is that we all suffer individually, for fear of rejection if we were to publicly confess our sadness and insecurities. I’m here, like you, sad at times, overcoming my own demons, occasionally second guessing my choices , and ultimately finding that loneliness and pain are not just part of the human condition -they are an inevitable circumstance of the person I choose to be.

    I’m glad you’re here with me. Keep fighting the good fight. The world needs more of you.

  2. Go ahead and get a college degree, invent a cure for HIV, solve world hunger, have children, donate to charity, become an interesting well-traveled person. Prove to the world that sex workers aren’t just sex workers. That sex workers are bright, courageous, beautiful people who have plenty to add to the world.

    And when they say, “She’s a whore,” reply to them, “What’s your point?” No woman is just one thing. No woman is just a scientist. No woman is just an altruist. No woman is just a parent. There’s no person in the world who is “just” anything.

    Pave the way for the other millions of women out there who live with the secret that they did sex work. Pave the way for them to say, “What’s your point?”

    Because, ultimately, you’re you. The whole you. And the whole you is amazing.

  3. Because, ultimately, you’re you. The whole you. And the whole you is amazing.

    Very, very true.

    I feel your pain as well. I’d love to do porn (hard core bondage porn), but I know that that would memorialize my sex work for everyone to see, and anyone would be able to “prove” I was a whore and use that against me at some point in my future. With my escort work, at least I have the small glimmer of hope of plausible denial (assuming I don’t get arrested and end up with a record).

    You should take solace in the fact that there are a great many people, myself included, who view you as a person worthy of all of the love and respect of any other person on the planet. And, indeed, some of us even love and respect you more because you *do* elect to work at something you want to do rather than allowing someone else (or society as a whole) to dictate those terms to you.

  4. 4 deeppuddle

    Who isn’t sad?

  1. 1 Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2008-10-20

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