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