Not Your Rescue Project
As someone who has chosen to be in the sex industry, by my own accord, I too often have to defend my choices and clarify the difference between myself and someone who is in the industry against their will. For many, it’s unfathomable that anyone would want to have sex for money. They assume if sex workers were happy, had better opportunities, or were more educated, we wouldn’t dream of doing sex work as a job. Thus, begins the rescue project. The most aggressive forms of the rescue project are carried out through politics and law. Through politics, the government takes rights and opportunities away from sex- workers, asserting their opinions are best for the sex worker and society. Through the law, types of sex work is criminalized, which leads to fines, arrests, and “rehabilitation”. Some of you may be thinking that you have never tried to rescue a sex-worker. However, most rescue efforts are disguised by degrading questions which people ask thinking they are “helping”. Anyone who is a sex worker, has experienced the rescue project. The rescue project comes in many forms, and besides walking too slow in front of me, it’s one of the most irritating things a complete stranger can do to me. If you have asked, or made any of the following comments to someone in the sex industry, then you are a contributor to the rescue project.
“Are you saving your money?”
I most frequently am asked this question by taxi drivers, and I have no idea why. I could just as easily ask them this question, but I don’t because I’m not an asshole, and frankly, I don’t care if taxi drivers are saving money or not. They ask me this question because there is an existing stigma suggesting girls who provide sex work get large amounts of money, very quickly, and therefore haven’t learned the value of money and may have a habit of buying frivolous or unnecessary things. However, this entire nation is plagued by over spending on frivolous and unnecessary things. Just because someone has a nice home, a nice car, a boat in their front yard, and a summer cabin at the lake does not mean they know how to spend their money any better than the girl who lives in a 400-square foot apartment, with no car, and five Louis Vuitton bags in her closet. Yet, which one is mostly likely to be asked if they’re saving their money? What I’ve learned from this experience is if I create a comfy facade, which society accepts, then people will not mistake me for a needy, irresponsible consumer.
“What are you going to do when you’re done with porn?”
This is the most common question I get asked. It’s usually preceded by, “Wow, it’s so awesome you do porn!” Sometimes it seems as if those who ask this question think my porn career is just play time, and they want to know what I’m going to do once I get serious with my life. As much “playing” as I do in my job, I consider it a career. I’ve worked hard to get ahead and be successful just as much as any career would require. For someone to ask me what I’ll do when I’m done demeans the work I’ve put into it. Sex workers are capable of doing other work. We can do anything anyone else can do. I just don’t see it necessary to emphasize the “after sex work” conversation if you know we can do whatever we want if or when we think it’s time to step away from the sex industry.
Why can’t you be a real model or a real actress?
This question is extremely patronizing as it implies what I do is not real work. It also further enforces the idea that women would never actually CHOOSE to do this type of work. The real question being asked here is, “why don’t you do real modeling, or real acting, so you have a more respected job?” – Rather than have sex workers who want to be respected switch to REAL work, why don’t people just start to respect us?
“You’re too pretty to be in porn.”
I get this a lot from fans who think they are being complimentary, but it’s a very back-handed compliment. They have to let me know I’m pretty in case I’m not aware I don’t have to do this kind of work, and I can, and should, do other things…because I’m pretty. This is offensive because it means I don’t value myself, and I do value myself. I love myself, and I love what I do!
“You’re too smart to be in porn.”
Obviously, similar to the, “you’re too pretty” comment, they’re informing me it’s possible to do other things with my life, as if I never knew this, and once again, don’t value myself. This also perpetuates the stigma that women in sex work are not smart, because anyone who sells their vagina doesn’t have a brain. I’ve never understood how understanding your pussy is a commodity means you don’t have a brain, but this seems to be the general consensus. A big aspect of sex work is to create a persona that appeals to men, and a lot of men would rather objectify (use the product we’re offering) women who they don’t see as particularly smart, or at least smarter than they are. So, based on what I’ve noticed, smart women have succeeded at recognizing what’s in high demand and have marketed their product to meet that demand in order to maximize earnings. That takes some brains.
I know there are women who have been forced, or coerced, into sex work. It’s sad and disgusting, and rescue efforts should be made on behalf of these people. However, consensually being a sex worker is very different and should be treated differently. If people continue to think of coerced and chosen sex work as the same, they will be ineffective in making an impact on the individuals that need it most. I don’t need people to tell me that I could do other things with my life, “better” things, and I don’t need people to worry about where I’ll end up because of the choices I’ve made. I am a smart and capable person, who is fully aware of the decisions I’ve made and how they will affect my life. I am not your rescue project.