I would like to share my opinions on sex work and stigma, based on my own personal experience of being an escort for several years. I would also like to share some revelations on how much money escorts actually make, and how difficult it is when clients don't treat us with dignity and kindness.
Choosing to be a sex worker involves taking on the stigma that is attached to sex work. Dealing with this stigma is one of the biggest drawbacks of my profession, although there are other significant burdens as well. When clients complain about “high” rates – and often they are complaining about rates as low as $200 for an hour of sex – it breaks my heart. It really does. They don't understand the sacrifices we make in order to do this job. Complaining about our rates is like the kick in the face to top it all off. I've had men respond to my Internet ads with really rude emails. They say things like “Do you think your pussy is made of gold? Your prices are outrageous.” I just hit the delete button because I know I won't be able to change their point of view. They are looking for the best experience possible for the lowest price possible. I understand this mentality. Every commercial transaction in our culture is governed by this attitude – we want value for dollar. That's fair.
What I wish I could explain to the men who complain about rates is that it's not just an hour of my time they are paying for. It's every minute of every day that I am a sex worker. The work extends into my entire life, and every aspect of my life is affected by being a sex worker. I never thought I would sell sex for $300. Are you kidding? I would have slapped someone in the face if they had even suggested that amount to me. I remember sitting around with my friends when we were teenagers and playing this game where we were asking each other titillating questions. One that I remember very clearly was “How much would it take for you to have sex with someone for money?” The girl sitting next to me said “a million dollars!” Another one declared “no amount of money. I would never do that.” I mused for a while before speaking up, and then I said “I don't know. Fifty thousand?” My friends exclaimed at my low price. I responded, “well, fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money! You'd really turn that down?” To top it all off, complaints about rates aren't even based on a real understanding of how much we actually take home. For all the sacrifices we make, most escorts I know earn around $3,000 a month. For some reason a lot of clients think we're all rolling in cash, like our lives are an episode of the TV show Secret Diary of a Callgirl. No, most of us are not being flown all over the world and being paid to drink Champagne and have fun sex with billionaires. Most of us are just working a tough job and making a middle class income. Many of us make a legitimate choice to do this work, but it doesn't mean we love it every minute of every day or that it's easy. In return for our modest salaries, we get to expose ourselves to health risks, dangerous clients, legal trouble, and unpleasant working conditions. We get the pleasure of awkwardly fumbling for a response whenever someone asks, “so, what do you do?” If we want to leave the sex trade, we are burdened with the ever-terrifying resume gap. What have you been doing for the past five years? Where are your references? What are your skills? The work also affects our ability to date. Many partners can't or won't handle what we do for money. It also affects our friendships. Some people who are “friends” judge us for what we do, and can't understand our choices. Even when friends are not judgemental, they often just can't relate, which can result in sex workers feeling isolated and alone. We cope with the guilt of lying to our families about what we do. The stigma is really, really difficult to cope with. I wish people treated us with more respect and compassion. We are human beings, we are workers, and we are just trying to make the best of things, like everyone else on the planet.