It’s always interesting for me to get that “fly on the wall” view of a situation — especially when I am both that “fly” and an active participant. It’s a unique experience to be able to hear a person’s genuine feelings on a topic, the things they won’t generally speak except among friendly ears…
Like the time I’d gone with a friend to check out a 12-step program, to see if it was something that might benefit me, and later I had briefly mentioned something about that type of program in front of my roommates and their friends — and pushed myself to stay through the stomach-turning onslaught of hatred and insults which followed, knowing that they had no idea they were speaking against me with their vitriol.
I’m reminded of this today because of an unpleasant encounter with a couple of friends on Facebook this morning — comments on a link I shared related to sex work and workers’ rights quickly devolved into name-calling and personal attacks, and I barely had time to type a few words in an attempt to moderate the discussion before the bickering had gotten really ugly. I think at least one of the participants was much like the group of folks ranting about 12-step programs who didn’t know the impact on their audience — so I’d like to potentially help clear things up.
I have, on multiple occasions, knowingly exchanged sex for goods, services, and/or money.I have had more than one relationship which was based primarily around that exchange. I have no guilt about doing so, and if another opportunity presented itself for a similar relationship, and I felt comfortable with the situation, I would not hesitate to do it all over again.
I have learned essential life skills through these exchanges — I’ve had practice in understanding, defining, and enforcing personal boundaries. I’ve gotten better at asking for what I want — and more importantly, being able to acknowledge that I have desires, and that my desires are legitimate and worthy of being fulfilled. I’ve learned how to articulate myself more clearly, how to check in and make sure that I have understood what other people mean and that my own words are interpreted correctly. I’ve gotten better at handling rejection — whether that’s being told “no, you can’t have that” or “get the hell out of my life, I don’t ever want to see you again,” the skills for coping are much the same, differing only in degree.
I know of easily half a dozen good friends — just off the top of my head– who have supported themselves financially through sex work, both “legal” and “illegal” kinds, though the laws change so often and arbitrarily that those little boxes are rarely useful for anything other than persecuting those who don’t see the world as you do. Because these are good friends, and because the current laws (and public attitudes) are what they are, I’m not going to rattle off a list of names; to “out” my friends is to endanger their well-being, and possibly even their lives. Kitty Stryker could tell you a thing or two about that.
So yeah, if I take offense to being told that to “refer to hookers as ‘lady'” is “pushing it,” or that a non-paying client isn’t stupid, or to hear insults to sex workers casually dismissed as “just a viewpoint,” there’s a reason. I don’t generally respond well when I’m insulted along with many of my friends, colleagues, and respected leaders — and I don’t care whether those insults come from pure ignorance or intentional malevolence… my response will be the same. Either shut your mouth and leave, or expect to see me gone. I won’t tolerate that kind of hate.
One of my daily affirmations is a reminder to purge my life of that negative influence: Every moment today is priceless. I will not waste my time with anyone who does not find value in my company. Anyone who cannot respect me for all of who I am, and all of what I choose to do, does not value me or my company, and has no place in my life and deserves not a moment of my time.