"So if you've got so many qualifications, why are you... doing this?" I try really hard to keep smiling at the gentle, middle aged client in front of me. He's honestly lovely; extremely polite and well mannered, soft spoken, and generous - he even brought a bottle of wine that he thought I might like to try (it was really excellent). But this question is asked a lot, and it hurts a little every time. You see, I do plan to leave eventually; but right now this is exactly what I want to do - it isn't wasted potential.
Some strange, internally whorephobic part of me feels hurt because it sounds like I've "failed" at life, that this is the job you take when you can't do anything else but "sell your body". I know that isn't true, and it's a result of being saturated with society's persistent disdain for morally loose women (hah, shove those morals), but you internalise some of that shameful feeling anyway. I didn't choose to do this because I failed at everything else - as some of you know, I even had a day job a few months ago before I moved, and it made decent money - but even if I had, that does not make my taking up of sex work something to be ashamed of. If a sex worker did not succeed in other pursuits, after which they turned here, they are not less worthy of your attention or respect; they found their niche, and you found them because they are what you were looking for. Perhaps that makes them good at their jobs, yes?
Some clients ask us this question out of a bizarre need to sort of rescue us. Please know, we are not damsels in distress, and although I'm sure your life advice is really, really good, it is also unsolicited. Those who wish to rescue us are strangely silent when we ask if they'd like to pay for our rent, food, and fees to re-skill - the cost of stopping this "degrading" work in order to undertake training for something you consider more worthy is nothing to sneeze at. Unless you're interested in paying for those expenses, I'm afraid many of us have no use for your advice.
So why am I here, specifically? Yes, I know most of you ask out of curiosity (brought on by unconscious whorephobia, but we'll let that one rest). I decided, after several horribly unsuccessful and short relationships, that I wanted to come across older men. The thought was that older men are more experienced, and therefore better both in the bedroom and more considerate; perhaps they also wouldn't mind me staying the night, but would also not mind if I didn't actually date them in an official sense. Unfortunately, the specimens on Tinder and other dating sites were... less than exciting. Often a little unstable. Definitely extremely weird.
So I turned to sugaring - maybe these guys would be a little better put together? At least if many were married, they wouldn't mind that I didn't want to settle down and look after their children immediately! And, if I wasn't that into them, at least I could save that money away for myself. Well, it turns out that sugar daddies are some of the most manipulative and paranoid people I have ever come across. Sure, some were absolutely lovely, and I really valued my time with them; but others wanted me to have unprotected sex and would hold the money over my head. Some deliberately didn't even bring up money because they knew they had all the bargaining power and they could get away with at least one date before I meekly asked if I was being compensated. None of them ever entrusted me with their real name or phone number. The emotional labour was immense as well - it was like having several boyfriends who wanted you to be available to chat at any time of the day. No thank you! On to a little brothel work...
Which I hated. Not because the brothel was terrible, no; because the hours were utterly killing me. I am not a person who can spring out of bed looking fresh as a daisy any day of the week, let alone after working a 12 hour overnight shift. I simply can't function without sleep - an ex partner found this out after I drove six hours post late night and a physical day, then cried because I couldn't figure out how to turn the shower on... the one I used every day. So after literally one week, I decided to take up independent work so I could set my own hours.
I stay in this industry because I can set my own hours, and I truly enjoy spending time with new and interesting people. There are clients whom I connect with on so many unexpected levels, and whom I really look forward to spending an evening with. There are so may who introduce me to things I'd never even considered, to great books to read, and to interesting new perspectives. I like being naked, I like sex, and yes, I like money - what, you think that isn't a part of it? Please, tell me the reason you work 40+ hours a week out of sheer altruism? I'm sure you wouldn't do it for free! Of course, the money is a nice draw, but I'm very glad that I can make my money doing something I enjoy, instead of something that I just feel lukewarm about.
Yes, I have a number of tertiary qualifications that could get me "somewhere", in whoever's eyes. I know you're curious as to why I'm not using them, just like anyone would be - though I'm afraid that's none of your business. But when you act like this job is somehow beneath me simply because I've finished university (and I haven't, I've gone back), you insult everyone who chooses this work. You insult the people who got into sex work because their rent was due tomorrow and their bank account was overdrawn. You insult those who really, honestly enjoy this work and find it rewarding. You insult the people who do this temporarily, as a stopgap between other jobs. You insult the people who choose this for a career, because they love what they do. If this work isn't beneath them, it isn't beneath me.
I turned back to my lovely, well-intentioned client, and said, "I chose to do this so I could meet wonderful people like you, and give them a rewarding experience they wouldn't forget. If I wasn't doing it, we wouldn't be here together right now. Is that not enough?" He smiled and agreed, perhaps not satisfied with my answer; but it was all I could give him without making it a speech. Perhaps now, he may understand.