In Conversation With My Friend, a Prostitute

Mary (not her real name) is a 22-year-old student, writer, and sex worker. She has no problem calling herself a hooker, or prostitute, or what her clients prefer: an escort.

“When I jokingly call myself a ‘prostitute’—or not even jokingly, seriously, with a client—he’d be like, ‘don’t say that! That’s not what you are! You’re an escort!’”

Mary and I met in a creative writing class in university. We talked about being writers, about being women, about being women and writers—the two, for us both, inseparable. It’s now been about a year since we met. We’re sitting in her apartment. By a lone student’s city-dwelling standards, it is enormous: double-storied, triple bedroomed, with a rooftop deck. It’s airy and cool, and the glossy hardwood floors are littered with empty wine bottles and confetti.

“I had a party,” she says. She’d offered to host one for her literature class, a course she still has to finish an essay for. She’s stressed out, because she’s only got until 6 p.m. on Sunday to finish it. “You’d be surprised,” she says, “Sunday nights get busy.”

She had started out wanting to strip. It makes sense: She has the body, a performer’s aplomb, a healthy ego, a desire to please. As a teenager, she had posted nude pictures of herself on 4chan as a, perhaps, misguided attempt to garner virtual high-fives; it worked. It was last April when she went to her first strip club, Jilly’s.

“It’s, like, the bottom of the barrel in Toronto,” she describes.

She was stoned and drunk, with a friend. Jilly’s is at best an eyesore, at worst a crime scene; a porno porta-potty comes to mind. But Mary’s take on this shithole is near revering. Temple is the word she uses.

“No, seriously,” she says. “To me, watching a woman masterfully work the pole—a woman who is considered, by society, as the lowest form of woman; the woman who doesn’t have any other options—how do you explain the fact that she can get up to the top of the pole and hang upside down and stay there and spin? That takes dedication. That takes work. That takes strength. How can anybody say that this woman is a low kind of woman?”

By the way: For all her unbelievable joy and enthusiasm about the job, Mary has never, ever seen a single episode of Showtime’s prostitution-glamorization vehicle, Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She’s never seen Buñuel’s Belle de Jour; never read Tracy Quan’s columns on Salon. She’s never read a fictional account of being a prostitute; never had an interest, she explains. At least, not before going to Jilly’s, and it was easy enough to Google for a firsthand account of a real stripper. She began her education through the considerably more grounded chronicles of women like Kat (of Tits & Sass) and Holly O’Hare.

“Through them, I realized there was a way to do this without being degrading.” It was simple. Perhaps frightfully so, for some people.

Shoes were bought, a white pair with neon yellow straps that wouldn’t look all that out of place at a Preen show. With a barista’s salary, and a timely birthday present, she bought pole-dancing lessons and her own pole to practice with. I vaguely recall her playing me a song, something mellow and reggae-y, when I asked her back in November what kind of song she’d strip to.

This all happened in a period of eight months, and at the end of it, she met a series of people who all asked the same question: Why didn’t she just become an escort?

“Now, stripping seems almost… comical,” she says. “Clownish. It was the kind of thing I could tell people; joke about it. Telling people you want to be a prostitute is a totally different ballgame. There is such a difference between teasing people and actually… doing it.”

But she doesn’t strike me as ashamed. She never did; I wouldn’t have asked her for this favor otherwise.

“Well, not anymore,” she admits.

She told me a few weeks ago that she’d told her parents; her boyfriend already knew, and is fine with it. Her mom reacted as expected: worried and confused.

“She called me one night at 4 a.m.,” she says. “She’d felt like a failure as a parent, and I had to remind her: Mom, I’ve got dreams. How could you have forgotten so easily? It was like she’d erased it from her memory because she thought it was my end-all. Like, ‘hooking is something you can do with a grade-six education; why did she spend all her money on a post-secondary education if this is what I was going to end up doing?'” Her dad, in contrast, handled it well. She wasn’t surprised.

After Googling toronto high class escort agency—much like a john—she’d decided to call the agency with the spiffiest website.

“This madam had a fucking Twitter feed. She would say things like, just hired three new girls!” Mary never heard back, though, so she called another agency. “We had an interview the next week, and I started the day after.” There were, seemingly, few requirements: All she had done was show up, and she was hired without having to answer any questions.

A bullet dodged, then?

“Oh, yeah. I love my manager. Um, madam. Pimp?” She throws her hands up in the air in confusion.

Financially, the sex industry in Toronto is fairly self-regulated. There’s little variation of pricing between agencies. The first couple agencies that pop up on Google charge between $240 and $270 an hour. That’s not a lot, you might think. What about the Ashley Duprés and Sophie Andertons of the world? What about the filthy lucre that’s supposed to justify the  appeal of this ‘whoring’ business? If not money, what else does it take for somebody to do something like this?

I ask her what was the most extravagant thing she’d bought herself with her earnings.

“Gold medal ping-pong game at the London Olympics, baby.”

She insists she’s good with her money, and I believe her. Her earnings are split into fours: one for bills, one for her travels, one for long-term savings, the last for instant gratification.

I ask her how much she earns.

“About a grand a week.”

Her clients pay $260 an hour. From that, the agency takes 40 pecent for advertising, photographers’ fees, gas if they’re an out-call agency, rent and utilities if they only do in-calls.

“Have you ever thought about going independent?” I ask, when what I really meant was, don’t you think you deserve more?

She says no. She’s grateful for the security and relative stability of business that an agency provides her, and doesn’t have the time to run a business.

“Because that’s what you are when you’re an independent escort,” she says. “You are selling yourself as a product. There needs to be advertising, management—it’s too much of a hassle.”

She speaks of “career hoes”. Those are the women whose faces are in the pictures, unobstructed and clear. Once, she dared give out her number to a client who seemed safe enough; he was a guidance counselor. He was fine, and handed over the envelope gamely—likely a decent fraction of his yearly salary—but treated her “inappropriately.” Intimacy: What’s too much when it’s perfectly okay, even preferred, to provide too little? She shudders, reliving the memory. “It was weird. The day after, I saw him at a psych conference.”

If you consider Mary’s resume, escorting doesn’t seem too far of a stretch. She had been a waitress, an actress, a barista. “They were all the same thing—jobs that rely on a woman teasing men—just socially accepted. And aren’t we all whores, to an extent? We’re selling energy, talent, time for cash. With this?” She gesticulates towards Meyer-esque breasts. “I’m just getting straight to the point.”

At the height of her sex-work daydreaming, she had been working at a restaurant that had introduced its employees to a new uniform. It was a t-shirt that said this is a delicious body. She had refused, politely, with an eloquently worded e-mail. And was then promptly and unceremoniously fired.

“I thought that was wrong on so many levels,” she says. “I’m fine with sexualization. Obviously. But that message on the t-shirt was not something I consented to. I did not want people ordering food by looking at my tits and thinking, oh yeah, I really like where this is going.”

I ask her how much she was earning as a server. She says minimum wage. She hated it—hated the smallness of that amount, the smallness of the validation, the smallness of her importance.

“Every table was a battle,” she recalls. “You don’t want to build yourself around how much you make. That’s incredibly dangerous. But you get old, and for various reasons you can’t work, and then what? You fall. Your entire world falls apart. Fuck that. That’s not what I want.”

There’s fear in her voice—a fear that she does acknowledge and battle, and a fear that I’m sure we all can sympathize with every time rent is due, a pet gets sick, or the gas tank empties.

“I would like to live comfortably,” she says. “I would like to make money doing something I like, doing something I’m good at. And I’ve found it. I’ve never been better at any other job.”

I click around Mary’s agency’s website. The pictures are lit extremely carefully. There are pinks and browns, highlights and shadows; there are hollows and excesses, the obviously fake, the surprisingly real. There’s a site out there where one can buy a steak and have it delivered overnight in a cooler. The same magic applies here. With the faces blurred and the body parts contorted to maximize appeal, they look like fabulous pieces of meat. In their bizarre focus on the mammalian they have ended up looking like aliens.

“Tell me about the worst client you’ve ever had.”

She was never quite sure of what he did for a living; he did not make much conversation. He was affluent—that was for sure. He lived in a condo with a doorman who she mistakenly gave her real name.

“I think he was one of my first clients, actually,” she says. “I wasn’t used to my fake name yet.”

He had a routine. She would knock on the door, and he would holler at her to come in from the bathroom. She would enter, a CD of thumping bass music playing in the background, and head into his bedroom. The money would be in an envelope by the bedpost, and she would count it. Then she lubed up and lounged on the bed, posed, waiting.

He would enter in a white bathrobe. A small Korean man, with impeccable English, she recalls. The lights would be dimmed, but he would always tell her to turn them off. A little white dog in the corner watched. And then the routine changed.

“He would fold me up in a box, almost,” she says. Her legs in the air, straight back, like she was in the middle of a backwards roll. “It was hell on my hips. Then he wanted to switch positions, which never happens. He wanted me from behind. I was in pain. He was my fifth client of the night. I told him that I was hurting, and he went fucking ballistic. It became vicious. He wanted to hurt me.”

I ask her why didn’t she just leave.

“I thought I’d tough it out.” She shrugs. She did not say goodbye politely that night. She broke down in the elevator, sobbing. Her madam said she never had to see him again. Since that encounter, he’s been blacklisted from a bunch of other agencies. She wasn’t the first girl he had done this to. The owners do talk; some of them even get together for ‘TERB parties’—TERB standing for the Toronto Escort Review Board, a forum clients and prostitutes and agency managers all frequent.

“I had talked about him to another girl at the agency, before that happened. She said he’d treated her like shit. He, like, fisted her.” Her own fist moved in imitation—not even a swoop, but a punch, rough and hard. “I didn’t think he’d do anything like that to me. Or so I thought.”

That is unquestionably rape, I thought. I look at her. She’s moved on from the memory. Now she’s talking enthusiastically about some psychologist she saw the night before; her eyes aglow, her hand gestures frantic, the jokes and impression of his O-face forthcoming.

“What about the wives?”

“I can’t afford to think about the wives,” she replies brusquely.

When Mary talks about her clients, she describes them as “her guys.” She is almost protective, which some might see as un-businesslike. She takes ownership in the relief she provides them. One of her most faithful regulars is in a wheelchair. These men are absurdly, amazingly grateful. Her reviews read like genuine erotica; hardly the scoreboard relay I was expecting from men who prowl around a forum that literally rates women’s cocksucking skills with Pitchfork-style precision.

“Let me explain,” she continues. “I am not responsible. The sad, pimply 16-year-old serving Big Macs to obese people? That’s me. This is a game. This is a system. And I’m just a pawn; he’s just a pawn. It was his choice, paying me to do a service. I’m just trying to make money.”

She does believe in monogamy, but she’s realistic. When I ask her how she might handle her own significant other seeing an escort, she shrugs. “Well, at that point, you have to question if you should be with that person at all.”

Prostitution’s recently resurfaced as a legal hot topic in Canada. Tits & Sass has a great post on it here. Long story short: Prostitutes are one step closer to being recognized as workers, with actual needs for security, in the name of the law. But it’s not exactly a victory for Mary, or even people like Mary’s boss.

“They’re talking about licensing, which might cost up to $10,000 for the year,” she says. And my manager’s, like, what prostitute starts hooking with ten grand already in her pocket? If that’s the future of the industry, that means it’s going underground. It’s going to be more illegal, there’s going to be less protection.”

To be licensed also means to go public with your profession, which is even more of a repellent. For many, the secrecy is sexy. Or necessary. And if, in some alternate world, it was to become legal? What then?

“More girls,” she says. “And I think that’s great. That means better product.” It’s striking how little anger she feels towards the system, and I ask her how she could be so optimistic.

“I think my industry deserves a better reputation,” she says. “I see it happening for porn, and it’s remarkable. Prostitution and pornography aren’t that different; we’re essentially doing the same thing.”

Is it her dream job?

“No. But it’s a damn fine one in between,” she says. “It’s the best in between job I could ever have. It’s the pre-show—an essential part of the foundation of what is already being built. I’m a writer,” she says.

Her job gives her stories every night: the man whose paltry inheritance pays for her visits, the curator with the white thong, the cable TV star with a penchant for double-ended dildos. She’s a discoverer of strangely-shaped birthmarks. She’s inspected a thousand bookshelves. She’s answered fucked up questions, and has been a solution for fucked up problems.

She genuinely feels blessed.

“You know,” she says. “There’s this new driver. He’s a rambler, and old, and he can’t really see the street signs. He has these false teeth that jut out, like this, and oh God, it’s so grotesque. I think he’s about sixty. And he would say things like, ‘you’re a dollhouse, sweetie. You’re a dollhouse.’ And I’ll say to him, ‘I’m all the dolls, baby. I’m Barbie, Ken, and Chelsea.’”

“We were sitting on the highway last night, like three in the morning. Nobody was calling, and we were just going. I had no idea which direction we were headed. I had no idea where we were. And then he puts Roy Orbison on. Roy Orbison, man. Fucking Roy Orbison. You can’t make this up.”

And then she sings, in a beautiful impression of the deep, aged baritone of the men who make up her economy, “Only the lonely.”


Caroline Leung is an aspiring barfly living in Toronto. She still uses air quotes when she describes herself as a writer.


47 Comments / Post A Comment

orangezest (#317)

This is fascinating and really well-written, but I can’t help but be worried about her physical safety.

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

@Emma Peel: I completely agree with you on the first two counts, but I definitely feel more at ease about her physical safety after reading the part on how they blacklisted one client for mistreatment. Overall, a really interesting profile piece. Very well written and a welcome addition to the Billfold.

NoReally (#45)

This column in McSweeney’s by an escort made it sound fairly safe for a woman working for a company. Clients have to prove their identity, a driver drops them for out calls and stays until she says she feels safe. It is much, much riskier for women working on the street, even with a pimp.

EmmaG (#1,023)

I also just wanted to chime in on how wonderfully written this is. I’d love to read follow-ups as Ontario/Canada stumbles towards protecting sex workers.

Jutty (#1,932)

@EmmaG ‘stumbles’ is right, but I guess at least its being discussed.

Also, this has to be the first time in over 20 years that Jilly’s has been mentioned in any form of media whatsoever.

Megano!@twitter (#1,923)

If I were even remotely attractive enough, I would be an escort in a hot minute.

hershmire (#695)

Something doesn’t add up here. If she’s clearing $1000 a week, she’s only working 6.4 hours (after 40% taken by the agency). With one day off a week, that’s just over an hour a day. If she’s seeing 5 clients in a night, then she’s probably doing the 6 hours in a night (unless these guys are seeing her 12 minutes at a time).

Why not just work an extra 3.6 hours on another day and clear $1500 a week? That’s an extra $26,000 per year which you could put towards anything.

These numbers seem funky.

deepomega (#22)

@cdarcy My guess is it’s a scheduling thing – this is, basically, a part-time job where you have to work to get the “shifts.” So just asking for another four clients in a week might not fly. I’m also guessing there’s a lot of time overhead – like, clients aren’t all paying for a solid hour, and then there’s transit to and from the prostitutionarium or whatever. This business model actually sounds a lot like any skilled job where you have to schedule time for one-on-one with clients (masseuse, therapist, etc.)

“If you consider Mary’s resume, escorting doesn’t seem too far of a stretch. She had been a waitress, an actress, a barista. ‘They were all the same thing—jobs that rely on a woman teasing men—just socially accepted. And aren’t we all whores, to an extent? We’re selling energy, talent, time for cash. With this?’ She gesticulates towards Meyer-esque breasts. ‘I’m just getting straight to the point.'”

Great read, but this part made me kind of mad. Like, there are waiters, actors, and male baristas – are they all relying on teasing women? I mean if you want to sell your body, it’s your body, but it’s not fair to equate tending bar to tending dick.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Steph Cha@twitter Yeah, I read the “aren’t we all whores?” line and was just like, “No, actually, we’re not.” Fine if you want to be an escort, but it’s way too facile to pretend that it’t not any different from working at McDonald’s. I think it’s a bit different!

@WaityKatie Yeah, that part was interesting because it was the only piece of really blatant, unconvincing rationalization from a person who seemed otherwise pretty ok with the whole thing. Giving a stranger head and serving him coffee are not equivalent, regardless of the fact that he’s liable to be attracted to you in either situation.

City_Dater (#565)


Yep. I could pretty much hear Caitlin Moran’s voice in my head hollering “Are your male classmates selling the use of their bodies for sexual purposes to pay for their educations? NO THEY ARE NOT.” It’s not empowering to profit from a culture of sexism and misogyny; it’s just sad and helps perpetuate the crap.

@City_Dater But, some of them are. Male prostitutes exist, and many of them are paying for their education that way. They just usually also have male clients. Granted, it’s probably a much smaller number of men than women, but it’s not fair to say that no men are ever selling the use of their bodies for sexual purposes.

City_Dater (#565)

No shit.
You’re missing my point, and Caitlin Moran’s point. The is no pop-culture cliche about the “smart guy earning his education on his back” because there’s no need to try to encourage “nice” boys to willingly participate in a sick system.

Megano!@twitter (#1,923)

@City_Dater Well they would like to, but ladies ain’t buying.

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@anonymouscoward I don’t know, I’ve been a server and a barista, and I think flirting was a huge part of those jobs. And yeah, I get her point about hating it due to little validation and compensation. You are expected to do a lot for your 7.25 an hour in service jobs. No, it isn’t the same as sex work and that sentence was poor, but I think there is a similar misrepresentation about disposition and desire that takes place, along with perhaps more degradation. I couldn’t complain about an inappropriate customer and have them banned in my service industry jobs.

@MissMushkila Sure, and I’ve been catcalled on the street, but that’s not the same as being a stripper. Women are objectified and feel an obligation to be pleasing to men in all sorts of situations. The fact that it happens in the workplace (and, by the way, not just to baristas and waitresses but also lawyers and doctors) doesn’t mean that doing those things for money bears any meaningful resemblance to actually having sex for money.

Master Luke (#1,939)

@Steph Cha@twitter Do you how many people want to hire this highly skilled and trained barista? NO ONE. Do you know why? I’m a beefy dude, not a hottie with giant boobs. Same goes for bartenders. More and more these days, all baristas and bartenders must be at least 50% Hooter’s level.

Danzig! (#1,938)

@MissMushkila Ah, to live in a country with a living wage for waitstaff. My European friends only flirt at work when they want to!

sweetpea (#1,940)

@anonymouscoward There is *some* continuity, I think – working as a barista, I try to please (indeed I try to act much like my username). It’s part of my job to be reasonably nice even if I’m feeling tired or moody (then again, that’s also part of just being a pleasant human being). Male baristas do this too, and indeed care workers, nurses, it’s not an exclusively female thing – we’re meant to make people feel better, there’s something very nurturing about the job (this is part of why waitresses get hit on a lot, I think). For me the reward is not purely financial (on minimum wage how can it be) – you get a kick out of being nice to customers, as long as it’s met with gratitude. I guess this sex worker feels the same way about her customers, though.

The big difference is that it does not put me personally at risk to be nice, whereas sex workers are in a very vulnerable situation. I can’t see prostitution as just another job, I see it as risky and potentially very damaging as sex can be such a viscerally affecting thing. But I do think sex workers need as much support as possible to minimise the risk to them; I don’t see it as an empowered choice, but neither do I see it as degrading.

sweetpea (#1,940)

@sweetpea Also, this is a really interesting and well-written piece!

Danzig! (#1,938)

@City_Dater Oh shit Caitlin Moran said something? We’d better tell people exactly how they aren’t empowering themselves

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@sweetpea I mean, there is *some* continuity in that these things are all jobs, but I really don’t see an intense amount of similarity between pouring someone’s coffee with a smile (or writing someone’s legal briefs for pay) and, well, sucking someone’s penis for pay. I’m not saying that everyone feels degraded by doing that, but I can say that *I personally* certainly would pour an endless amount of coffee rather than resort to that, even if it meant I would have to live on minimum wage, because money is just not that important to me compared to my bodily integrity. And I find it pretty offensive that there’s any implication that any work women (or women and men, fine) do is equivalent to prostitution, because we’re all doing things for pay. No, it’s just not equivalent, and I don’t think it serves anyone to pretend it is. I mean, I would gather all the garbage from all the garbage trucks in the world for pay, all day long, before I would ever have sex for pay, and that is just how it is. I think a lot of women feel that way, and it’s not because we’re prudes or not evolved or don’t believe in self determination for women. It’s actually more because we *do* believe in self determination, and as long as sex is a commodity sold by women to men, we are still not equal to men.

Danzig! (#1,938)

@WaityKatie Radical feminism may be my first love but I still have not found a way to reconcile its descriptive values with its normative ones. To wit, that power and privilege are phenomena endemic to the design of deeply embedded social structures is indisputable, but the abstraction of the problem seems to necessarily lead to a determinist analysis of behavior.

So in other words I totally get that sexual power dynamics are a problem, a structural problem, but it necessarily clashes with the concept of “self-determination”. There are many things, things that people want, that we would have to deny in order to effect radical change, because we ascribe some source (patriarchy) that places itself before the wants and needs of people.* They don’t really want these things, they just don’t know it yet. There’s no real way around it.

*ex. a woman might say she finds prostitution empowering, but in fact that is not her true feeling, it’s a false one programmed into her by the culture. She does not respect her own body.

sweetpea (#1,940)

@WaityKatie No, I’m not saying it’s the *same thing* at all and I agree with you on that, it’s not something I could ever do. But I think that the motivations for the work and the neccessity of pleasing others are at least comparable even though the act is not comparable at all. I worked with a waitress who openly flirted for tips; another waitress deferentially referred to her customers at the cafe as ‘Sir’, it’s a culture of deference to the desires of others although what we are doing is nowhere as extreme and gives up much less of ourselves.

What I mean by it not being degrading is that, as long as it’s genuinely the sex worker’s choice to do it, that’s her right to decide, even if it’s a decision I would never make myself. While I might worry for her safety I would not consider her any less of a human being worthy of respect. I find the existence of sex work depressing, but I also recognise that the narrative that demeans prostitutes as lesser or self-degrading people denies them protection from harm and promotes the idea that it’s ok to treat them like shit. The violence they’re subjected to is an attempt to degrade them. They should have autonomy and respect and a say in what happens to them even if they’re having sex for money.

sweetpea (#1,940)

@sweetpea (I realise that’s quite a big ask, but just as I can throw a customer out of my cafe if they’re being rude, a sex worker should be able to reject his/her customers. I do recognise that coffee is by no means synonymous with bodily fluids! I just feel that the right to control the exchange should be the same :-) )

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@sweetpea I completely agree that women who choose prostitution, be it voluntarily or involuntarily, should not be seen as “less” than anyone else. Of course they shouldn’t. And you’re right about the culture of deference. But I just get really uneasy with the glamorization of prostitution in pop culture, and in articles like this, because I don’t think saying “hey, everyone should just try being a prostitute! It’s a fine way to make money and has no unpleasant political or social ramifications!” is the way forward. I mean, “need money for college? Are you a woman? Ok, be a prostitute!” is not something I ever want to hear from anyone’s mouth, because, as others have pointed out, that is something that has never been said to straight men in our society. No one ever has or likely ever will go up to a laid off construction worker and say “Hey, have you ever considered stripping? Hooking? Light bondage?” (Notwithstanding that “Hung” show on HBO, which was actually sort of good.)

sweetpea (#1,940)

@WaityKatie It still doesn’t sound good to me, even given the enthusiasm of ‘Mary’ in this account. More like “hey, you get these weirdly intimate moments and MATERIAL FOR YOUR WRITING but you will encounter people’s worst instincts, too.”

Iglooramous (#1,397)

Take those air-quotes away from writer, Caroline. This is beautifully written.

Phil K. (#1,740)

What It Feels Like For a Girl Who Thinks and Speaks in Cliches

DickensianCat (#971)

@Phil K. Mary seems very…polished.

Danzig! (#1,938)

This was really great. Thanks for writing it!

MissMushkila (#1,044)

This was really great. I really like Charlotte Shane’s blog about sex work at Nightmare Brunette.

Master Luke (#1,939)

How did you manage to write an article about sex workers – in Canada no less! – and NOT mention Chester Brown’s “Paying For It”? Have you read it? Has she? You both should. Do you have any idea the role he is playing in trying to get the Canadian government to reconsider it’s “licensing” idea? Jesus…

Danzig! (#1,938)

@Master Luke Pretty easily, I imagine, considering this article’s not about Chester Brown or even the legalization of prostitution in a broad sense.

Danzig! (#1,938)

I always tend to stick up for Jezzie-style scolds out Hairpin way but dang, maybe I’ve just spent too much time away from them. Some very concerned people in this comment section

@Danzig! I thought they were all too busy on Mike’s airline post, but nope, guess not.

RW (#1,945)

$1000/week is only 50 grand a year.
One can rent a 3 bedroom, 2 story apartment in Toronto with that income?

Never for Money (#1,936)

So your sex worker writer friend couldn’t have told her own story? She needed you to ask only about her WORST client, and about married men (tons and tons of non-sex workers sleep with married people and never give a shit, why is it her moral responsibility)? Why is it “frightfully” easy to become a sex worker? What exactly is frightening about it?

I know you are trying to be sympathetic…but, really, sex workers are capable of telling their own stories. In the words of the aforementioned Charlotte Shane, sex worker writer extraordinaire:

“Sex workers don’t need crumbs anymore. Oh you’re going to deign to interview and “not demonize” us for your byline? We are not impressed.”

ilovetobudget (#913)

@Never for Money I completely agree. This piece was fine but…I’d rather have had the friend write the story. I also found the “married men” thing weird–as if it’s at all remarkable that sex workers sleep with married men.

@Never for Money @ilovetobudget I asked those questions not because I was curious, because I thought others might be. And Mary does have her own blog; she does tell those stories her way. There are firsthand accounts out there if you want them. I’m not looking to please those who are looking for that.

Never for Money (#1,936)

@Caroline @twitter so what exactly did you contribute with your third person account? Earnest question.

Dexter Carter (#1,919)

I feel that certain elements of our society, namely, highly educated folks like to either glamorize sex-work, as way of making themselves seem more “edgy” or forward thinking.

After all the “I’m a highly educated woman who worked very briefly as a sex worker, and now I’m an academic in the field of sex and write essays, books, etc” is a well established cliche right now.

Thing is that’s not the reality for most sex workers. Very few are working as escorts while working on their creative writing degrees.

Very few are educated women who just “prefer” sex work.

Most are just poor women who have no other choice, and would undoubtedly rather not be sex workers.

After all don’t most of the voices in this field want to quit eventually, the woman in the article even disparages the “Career Hoes”.

So while this was a well written insight into one woman’s choices and rationalizations, let’s not pretend this is the norm.

Go to any minimum security prison and the cells are FULL of women who have turned to sex work at some point to pay the bills or buy drugs.

That’s probably more the norm than this article.

In fact one of the Ivy League “I experimented in sex work and now I write about sex” folks I mentioned earlier addressed some of these points rather nicely – basically calling herself out:

Kzinti (#1,805)

This is an interesting article, but I was surprised that a professional writer would write, “She’d offered to host one for her literature class, a course she still has to finish an essay for.”

The sentence seemed wrong to me, because it would be more grammatically correct as, “She’d offered to host one for her literature class, a course for which she still has to finish an essay.”

Nathy (#1,951)

What a fascinating post. I’m really happy I came across this site; it has really unique perspectives on a variety of topics.

And if/when this girl starts publishing things, she has enough material to outdo this 50 Shades of Grey crap. Because it’s real material.

kenza22 (#2,386)

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