“After the punter* left it [the payment] seemed like such a small amount. I would look at it, contemplate it, and then hide it somewhere in my house. It never got used for anything worthwhile, despite all my reasonings earlier in the day. It would disappear as fast as it got there, on air, seemingly, or I would leave it hidden and forget about it. I could never say for sure where it went. I would never have used it on anything worthwhile, or special or anything that I actually cared about because I couldn’t put that money into something good. I couldn’t put that money into something I really cared about. Sometimes it went towards my bills or rent; necessities. Once I had it, I had no use for it, except for how it made me feel for that briefest of moments when it was handed to me; needed, valued. So much of our self worth lies in our sexuality, from when we are little to the first time we have sex, to being a student whore. Our sexuality is always there, forming and taking its cue from our life experiences. To say that our sexuality and how we treat it has nothing to do with how we view ourselves, our value and our worth, is just naïve and very sad. Unfortunately there are people who believe it, that sex work is just like giving a massage. It’s not. I promise.”
“Of course you are selling yourself, so you have to be the best self you possibly can be. If one girl is charging 300 an hour just because she feels she’s worth that much, that’s all well and good, but she’d better be a reasonably well known porn star or she won’t be getting any business when there are hundreds of others charge 200 or less for the same ‘time’. It is quite literally a meat market. A human meat market. A place to buy and sell women meat.”
“The money was my validation. It validated my existence. It made me feel special and needed and wanted and important.”
“I felt important when they came in and gave me the money, and I felt discarded and empty afterwards and would then discard the money, either by hiding it or by getting rid of it as fast as possible, just as they left as fast as possible, just as they forgot about me as fast as possible, just as they discarded me, just as they mentally discard all girls they ‘visit’, just as I discard them from my mind now, by writing all of my experiences out.”
These are all quotes from a recent post by the blogger I wrote about here. She’s a former prostitute who writes about her experiences as a sex worker and her perspective now that she’s left that world. This post dealt with the money part of prostitution.
I’m guessing a lot of us, even if we don’t think prostitution should be legal, think, at least part of the time, that an adult woman prostituting herself is her choice. This blogger thought she was making the choice to sell herself, told herself she was fine with it, but obviously she wasn’t. And I know she doesn’t speak for every prostitute, but I think it’s safe to assume most, if not all, prostitutes feel the way she does, even if they haven’t admitted it to themselves. So I share these quotes in the hope that we can all have a little more compassion for prostitutes and remember there must be a lot of pain in their hearts to make them “choose” the life they’re leading.
I’ve realized recently that I’m a lot like Britta from Community. She’s a do-gooder with a guilt complex who is often a bummer, reminding the rest of the study group of all the sad things happening in the world when they’re in the middle of something fun, like decorating for a wedding. And this blogger’s post is just one more reason why I find myself acting/thinking like Britta, because I can’t laugh at jokes or listen to songs that demean prostitutes when I think of why women are doing that to themselves. And while I don’t think we should all act like Britta**, I think we should be more careful in how we speak about prostitutes in popular culture and in our daily lives. If we don’t make light of prostitution, we’ll have to start seeing it as the tragedy that it is, and maybe we’ll have to do something about it.
I’ll post something happy next time, I promise.
* “Punter” is what the writer calls a john.
** “You are the human equivalent of tennis elbow. You’re the pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth. You’re the opposite of Batman.” These are the types of things your friends/family/coworkers may start saying to you if you say every Britta-type thought that comes into your head. You don’t know how much self-editing I do.