You know me in the light of afternoon, over wine or scotch in a midrange hotel. You know me in a luxury suite in a strange city, a diversion during a business trip. You know me as patient and gentle, coaxing stories from you with soft caresses and empathic, active listening. You know me as the woman who understands you. The sex kitten. The fantasy girl.
You moan as I unzip your pants, your cock stiffens at my ministrations. You feel pleasure in these moments with me; perhaps you discover some lost part of yourself. Perhaps you talk about your wife, how she doesn’t understand you, how the sex has evaporated from the lovely home you share with her; how you walk the halls aching for touch, for connection. Perhaps she remains a phantom unacknowledged between us.
I do not ask, but I am happy to listen if you feel the need to talk about her. I will never show jealousy because I do not feel it. I may enjoy your company, but I am not attached to you. I am, after all, a professional. I want to give you pleasure. I want to create an oasis in your otherwise chaotic life where you can let your guard down and let the vulnerable, shadow parts of you out to swim.
I have spent time and money learning the arts of pleasure. I know the pressure points to press to intensify your experience, to delay your orgasm, to make it more powerful when it does arrive. I have learned the art of coaching you through your sexual shame, and I handle your shadows with care and tenderness.
What you do not say, though your words drip with the implication, is that you are ashamed of what you do in these rooms with me and that you expect me to keep your secret.
I smile and offer thanks when you advise me on exit strategies, tell me to go back to school, to get a degree so that one day I may climb the ladder and become respectable like you; perhaps even marry a nice boy who will never know the things I once did with powerful men in dimly lit rooms for the crisp bills they left behind in envelopes.
What you do not see, what you do not know, is that I am not of that world, and I will never be able to join the ranks of the respectable. I am a proud whore, a woman who has a calling to help others explore their sexuality and become more comfortable with themselves. My practice is every bit as valid as your psychology practice, or law practice, or whatever other white-collar profession you practice. The chief difference is that your clients regard your work as legitimate, while you look on me with a mixture of scorn and pity as you hand me the agreed-upon fee.
You tell me you appreciate my discretion, the fact that I carry myself like a lady, my stoic, tight-lipped dignity. What you do not say, though your words drip with the implication, is that you are ashamed of what you do in these rooms with me and that you expect me to keep your secret. The money you hand to me in the crisp white envelope becomes more than a fee for services rendered, services that enhance your quality of life. It becomes hush money, a bribe of sorts.
When you zip up your impeccably tailored trousers and step out of the room into the midday sun, you continue to enjoy the privileges of being male and wealthy. I, on the other hand, continue to live with a secret. I must make the decision every day whether to be honest with others and risk ridicule and shame, eviction, police harassment, while you return to your beautiful home in the wealthy part of town, to your wife who looks the other way. Your rendezvous with me does not taint you in the eyes of society the way it does for me. You are out a few hundred dollars, but otherwise untouched by the stigma of the sex trade.
There are days when I do not blame you for your reticence to admit to what you do with me in those rooms. After all, should you be discovered, your respectable world would crumble. You would be shamed. Perhaps you would face a messy and expensive divorce. You could even face criminal charges. Best to keep the two parts of your life compartmentalized.
What hurts me is not performing sexual acts with men I may have met only minutes before for remuneration. What hurts me is having my labor discounted as not being real work.
There are times, however, when my cool façade falters and I feel hurt that you urge me to keep silent, that you react with approval when I tell you that no, my parents do not know the true nature of my profession. You celebrate my silence, a silence that causes me more pain than the alleged negative impacts of my profession on my delicate feminine psyche.
What hurts me is not performing sexual acts with men I may have met only minutes before for remuneration. What hurts me is having my labor discounted as not being real work, as the last resort of a desperate woman. These derisive attitudes from the men who benefit from the softness of my embrace, my caring, my kindness, and my knowledge of cock reflexology, are what hurt me in subtle ways.
How would you feel if your clients came to your fancy office to seek out your psychological services, and, after you had given them the best care you could, they turned on you and told you that they hoped you would never speak openly about being a psychologist because it embarrassed them to be associated with the likes of you?
Even knowing that you respect confidentiality and would never out them as your client. Even after you treated them with kindness and compassion. Even after you used the skills you had spent years developing to help them work through their psychological issues, they refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of your work. Even if they expected you to lie about such a large part of your life just so they could continue to enjoy the trappings of respectability while you continued to live beneath the shadow of stigma and unjust laws.
I am not completely disappointed in you. I understand wanting to hang on to what you have. Still, I would like you to consider doing something small in defense of the ones who shelter you in their warm arms and create a safe space for you to explore neglected and disowned parts of yourself.
You could start by publicly acknowledging our work as legitimate, and perhaps using your influence to speak out about our human rights. You would not need to openly admit to having patronized the likes of us, but please acknowledge our struggle, and support us in some small fashion.
Even a donation to a sex worker’s rights organization on occasion would do the trick. Or, at the very least, stop telling me to go back to school.