My best friend moved to Egypt last week. She told me everyone had treated her as if they would never see her again, telling her how special and amazing she was. It was obvious they were preparing themselves for the possibility of her not returning home from Cairo. As many of us know, that area is volatile right now, but regardless she chose to take a teaching position at an English speaking school for local children. Laura has always been incredibly adventurous as well as fearless. She has a passion for learning about other cultures and helping others broaden their ideas about the world around them. Growing up these traits were apparent, and it didn’t surprise me to see her take an interest in middle eastern and women’s studies and political science.
I am so proud to see her delve into such an unconventional lifestyle where she can experience situations that many choose to ignore or not understand. Most see her decisions as risky and dangerous, but she has a greater mission in mind. Through her endeavors she will learn more about the person she is and who the people are around her, two things many don’t have the opportunity to ever do in their lives. So many individuals choose to stay inside a box that truly disables you from ever challenging yourself. Placing yourself in a situation like Laura’s forces you to face moments of uncertainty, discomfort, and vulnerability, and in those moments you can find yourself more cognizant, as well as humbled. These experiences are an effective way to reach inside you and recognize a catalyst for transformation. Through her experiences she has, and will continue, to touch those around her and influence the way they think about things.
It is very clear we have both taken very different paths in life. She immediately went to college, graduated, and continues to travel the world. I immediately went to work in bars, eventually became a stripper, and then moved on to the porn world. Some would say it is a far reach to even consider that our lives parallel each other’s at all. Laura and I grew up and went in opposite directions. However, like a circle, those paths will wrap around and soon begin to travel closer where we may eventually both end up at the same place once again. Many look up to Laura and admire her for her tenacity and fearlessness, and they should. However, there are those who have a greater purpose behind what they do and, like Laura, work towards changing people’s attitudes even if they are never recognized as doing so. As a sex worker, I may not be at high risk for being kidnapped by a gang of guerrillas while teaching in a small Panamanian village, but if I were, it’s very possible I would be overlooked. I don’t think Bill Clinton would be doing any bargaining to get me back on U.S. soil.
Sex workers are never seen as doing good for society. It is always the opposite. We infect society with immorality and are blamed for many problems that stem deeper than a person choosing to sell their body. America is an instant gratification country; if we don’t have answers, results, or something to blame, then we are not satisfied. Criminalizing all sex work gives people a faulty answer as to why they’re so uncomfortable with it. That answer being “because it’s wrong.” As long as you’re working to stop it through criminalization, then it looks like progress is being made. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As a society we make sex work as dangerous and perverse as we choose to. We are in control of all the hype around it. As history has shown, when you shame something there can be a crippling domino effect. Soon everyone will follow suit to shun and scorn the subject. Opportunities are taken away and lowly people are drawn in. We can change this about the sex industry. We can make it work for us, but first we can’t be afraid to accept the realities surrounding sexuality.
Everyone knows we are naturally sexual beings, yet we constantly work towards suppressing that side of ourselves. It is important we understand this aspect of human nature and are given the freedom to explore it because without out it, we are causing more harm to society. Many of those in the sex world have risked family, friends, reputation, and their own sense of being a person to do what they do. Not all of them intentionally came in with convictions, but in time recognized a side of society that needs a lot of repair. Of all the industrialized nations, America has the highest rate of STDs, teen pregnancy, divorce, and sexually violent crimes. Something we’re doing is not right and changes need to be made. There is a lot happening all over the world, but there is also something happening right here in front of us. More than anyone else, as a sex worker we see the attitudes people have about sex on how we are treated and viewed. Despite the negativity we sometimes receive, I feel there are a lot of women and men in the sex industry who work towards helping people abolish the suppression we are initially conditioned to feel and represent what it really means to have a healthy sexual attitude.
Like Laura, I have put myself in a position to experience moments that have allowed me to challenge myself, and through porn I have discovered a person inside me who wants to influence those around me. Even though the traits are there, I may never be admired for my fearlessness or adventurism because of the area I’ve chosen to utilize them in, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like I can make a difference in how people think. I know getting a cock shoved down my throat doesn’t seem like an act of humanitarianism, but the point I want to make is there are many ways in which to influence how people see the world around them. Although my journey may not be as foreseen as Laura’s, she and I will one day meet on the other side of that circle. Her in one direction and me in another, we will soon find each other at the same point where we can both look back and see all the changes we have contributed to.