This series presents first-person stories from current and former sex workers across the US. The following is from Jenny, a graduate research assistant currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada. She grew up in Omaha, and studied in Amsterdam and the Czech Republic. She is an avid independent student of quantum physics and relativity. She has an MA in Sociology and a dog named Lulu.
I started dancing seven years ago. On the topic of prostitution, I generally say, you know, I have sex for many different reasons in many different contexts. I guess that's a buffer, a way of easing discomfort. I suppose I like that people are interested in my work, so long as it comes from an empathetic and genuine place. But there are so many other aspects of my identity. And so often people's curiosity does not come from a good place.
When people find out I'm a sex worker they think: 1. I'm hypersexual, 2. I'm a survivor of sexual abuse or otherwise damaged, and 3. I make no distinction between commercial behavior and non-commercial sex. I suppose they also assume that I can speak to the experiences of all sex workers.
There is definitely a preconceived notion that because I'm a sex worker, I'm somehow less shy about my sexual behavior or more interested in talking about it. This is quite frustrating to me because, more often than not, I find discussions about sex to be irrelevant. Sex work is my job. That's how I ought to be able to answer when people ask me what I do.
Sometimes I say, "I'm a researcher as well." Of course, the assumption then is like, "Well, ok, so you study the sex industry," which seemingly makes it alright, easier to digest.
I am not an open book. It is not my responsibility to give away my time and energy educating people (or simply mentally jerking them off). I am not required to speak to strangers freely about my childhood or any other defining moment in my life. I am entitled to privacy just like anyone else.
Either I tell you I'm a sex worker and you make my work my primary identity, or I don't tell you and so I am forced to hide a major part of who I am. I do wish for a society where I can say I'm a sex worker and have the conversation continue without awkwardness.
Read more from Jenny at her blog, Tsk-Tsk.com.