The Sex Work Alphabet
Last night, before we launched the site, I had a nightmare. I stepped off the stage from a pole show in a nightclub to see a sea of familiar faces, all looking upset and disappointed. Old friends that I’d fallen out with, my parents, my Aunts and Uncles and some non sex work colleagues holding a tabloid paper each. The image on the tabloid front cover was my arse.
It was undoubtedly my arse, I’d know it anywhere, squeezed into a rather tight lace black thong, next to this image were several smaller images that had been taken from various sites that I’ve advertised on or covertly taken during sessions with clients. I’d been outed and splashed across the front of every red top in the United Kingdom. Oh, the horror! Pulse racing, I ran from the club only to see everyone else on the street stop and stare, talking in hushed whispers.
My panicked mind ran through a series of possibilities, I’m going to have to move to a new country, change my name, get facial reconstruction surgery, never speak to anyone again. Or worse, I’ll have to become a nun.
Thankfully, this didn’t really happen and my heart goes out to anyone who has ever been outed. Whether to one person or a thousand; whether it was for sex work or something else; It really doesn’t matter, the sting, the indignation and the anger cuts just as deep.
A is for Abomination
When I first started stripping, I tried to keep it a secret from everyone, save one person. Well, we all know how that goes. One person knows and soon the whole university knew, too. This was a horrible realisation for me. A lot of the same panicked thoughts as in my nightmare went through my head then. I hid in my room for about a week with several packs of cigarettes and a bottle of bourbon.
I was made to feel like an Abomination for choosing to be in sex work. Feelings of shame about our work can be a constant and unpleasant companion of being a sex worker.
However, in the years that followed, I learned to separate what I thought was shameful and what the rest of the world thinks is shameful. No one should make you feel like an Abomination for being engaged in sex work. I truly believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with selling sex but the stigma surrounding the work can make you feel depressed and lethargic.
Find a support network of likeminded people, people you can come out to and talk to about the tough realities of living outside the ‘charmed circle’.
Although my fears have never gone away, I don’t feel like an Abomination anymore. I learned to take control over how and when I came out so that I wouldn’t have that agency taken away form me again. Guard your own opinions jealously and don’t let them be corrupted by a media that is intrinsically against sex work and sex workers.