Blog Post Written By: GoAskAlex
I’ve always considered myself to be an extroverted person, but there is one topic that I always try to avoid when I'm meeting someone new. When making introductions I quickly find myself dreading the inevitable question that has become such a staple in small talk: “What do you do for work?”
It’s a far more intimate subject than you might assume. Questions such as “what do you do for work” or “where do you live?” are based on assumptions that can be alienating for some. In that way, these questions are actually very personal, and may even further perpetuate classism.
For a Sex Worker like myself, ‘What do you do for work” is a loaded question. Friends and customers alike have told me that I shouldn’t care what others think; If they have an issue with my job, that’s their problem! Right? Not always.
While I agree with the sentiment, unfortunately it’s not always that simple. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to be made a spectacle, or to answer prying follow-up questions.
Regardless, there are situations where the topic arises, and honesty is the best option.
If you’re a seasoned Sex Worker like myself, you’re all too familiar with the varied reactions that come along with the “I am a Sex Worker” conversation. Assuming that they don’t respond negatively, there are several typical follow-up questions we can expect to encounter. Despite often being well-meant, these questions can be invasive and downright whorephobic. Unfortunately this further perpetuates the stigma attached to our industry.
When someone is uncomfortable with my work, one of the questions I’ll often hear is “what does your family think of what you do?”.
The question itself implies the assumption that my family must be ashamed of me. After all, would you ask a pharmacist or a mechanic what their family thinks of their job? This is a sign for me that the person I’m talking to is generally uninformed, or likely to push my boundaries.
When I was in a partnership, the question would extend to my relationship through questions like: “How does she/he feel about that?” It was as if my romantic relationship had sole authority on my career and bodily autonomy. In the most severe circumstances, I’ve even heard “I can’t believe they let you do that!”
All iterations of that question are particularly invasive, but they pale in comparison to what is by far my least favourite question - and the one that I hear the most frequently.
“Do you actually like doing that?”
If you’re wondering why that is offensive, consider this: Sex Workers are among the only professionals held to this standard, despite the fact that everyone works in order to survive (at least, I have yet to meet someone who only works for recreational purposes). There are things that everyone dislikes about their job, and as long as we live under capitalism, we will be forced to work in order to survive.
Would I like to spend every day hiking with my dog instead of working? Of course! Would I prefer to sleep in and spend 48 hours watching ‘90 day fiancé’ in bed while surrounded by chocolate? You bet! Does that mean that I hate my job? Of course not!
As it stands, I have to pay rent, medical bills, and save for my future. Just like everyone else, there are days where I don’t want to work. And just like everyone else, I do anyway.
If it blows your mind that I don’t love every aspect of my job (does anyone like filing receipts?!), you’re not the only one. A lot of people assume that Sex Workers are either victims, or nymphomaniacs. The nymphomaniac fallacy is perpetuated for one very simple reason - our clients don’t want to think that we’re ‘just in it for the money’. On the other hand, the vast majority of fast food consumers aren’t worried that the person on the other side of the drive-thru window is ‘just in it for the money’.
Sex Work customers want to believe that we are receiving sexual gratification from our encounters with them (and hey, sometimes we are!). It is part of our job description to fulfill their fantasies, and our attraction to them is sometimes one of them. I believe that this is also how some customers justify their own conflicted beliefs about Sex Work. Clients generally won’t want to sext or buy a lap dance if they think that you aren’t finding pleasure in the experience. This begs the question, do they have the same concerns for the server at their favourite restaurant? Do they enjoy their dinner less knowing that the chef only works there in order to pay their rent?
Of course everyone should find pleasure in their work, but sometimes pleasure is expressed in the ability to pay your bills, take a vacation, or stock your fridge with healthy groceries. At least, I know that those things make me happy.
I can’t say that I love every moment of my job, who can? But at the end of the day there is nothing I’d rather be doing. If I could start over, I’d choose Sex Work every time. There are so many facets of my job that I love, and none of them are negated by the parts that I don’t.
Next time you hear someone ask “do you actually like doing that?” I invite you to share this with them. And for crying out loud, stop asking people what they do for work!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog post above are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SexWorkCEO or MelRose Michaels. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.