Why I'm Happy I Became a Prostitute
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I was in my early 20s, teaching undergrads in the morning, taking graduate classes in the afternoon, and selling nighttime webcam sex shows on a site that regularly featured professional porn stars like Jenna Jameson. The man watching me that night bought 90 minutes, which would have cost him nearly $600. I’d landed a big fish, and I didn’t want to lose it. But when he told me his request, I froze.
“Why don’t you take a nap?” he wrote.
It was the most unusual request I’d ever received. And, as you probably know, people feel free to get veryunusual when they’re anonymous online.
“You look like you could use some sleep,” he continued.
“Don’t you want to tell me your real name?” I asked, smiling, shaking the ends of my wig around my face. I doubted my sleeping would actually keep him interested.
“We can get to that later,” he replied. “Just nap a little for now. And put some clothes on, or you’ll get cold.”
I arranged my body in a flattering position and laid my head on a pillow. What is with this guy? I thought.
I wouldn’t figure it out until much later.
Disclaimer: coercion is wrong, kidnapping is wrong, and hiring someone underage is wrong. There are men (and women) in the world who want to inflict suffering on others, and hiring a sex worker gives them an easy way to do it.
But I’m tired of seeing men and women buy into the lie that male sexuality is inherently violent and sadistic. My experience as sex worker has taught me the opposite.
When I first began working in the sex industry, I believed the cultural script about the men who made it profitable. Male sexual desire consisted of seeing thin young women naked and suffering, handled roughly, used callously. I read and trusted every word by Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon. There was so much evidence to support their theories of how male hatred of women was expressed through abusive sex.
Frankly, men terrified me. I suspected they were incapable of compassion. To get them off, I thought, they all needed cruelty.
I started working online during the peak years of anal-sex mania, and requests of ass-to-mouth (ATM) and double penetration (DP) with toys were common—not that I (always) honored them. One of the pleasant things about webcam was that it was possible to fake almost anything, especially penetration.
On the webcam site, non-paying visitors could type anything they wanted into the un-moderated chat windows: “Your family must hate you.” “I bet you have AIDS.” “You’re a fat whore.”
But not every man treated me this way, even with the luxury of complete anonymity. My first regular client was a man who talked with me for up to an hour before asking me to bring myself to orgasm. He wanted to see an orgasm, and he didn’t make demands about how I achieved it. Then came another regular who had only days earlier attempted suicide after a breakup with his fiancée. A year after we first met, he told me that our friendship—which many people would dismiss as illusory and degrading—was sometimes all that kept him from making a second attempt.
One young man in particular left a deep impression. He was younger than I was, working a blue-collar job in New Jersey, and he couldn’t afford much private time. But he would stay at his computer for as much of my shift as he could, cracking inside jokes and distracting me from other users’ insults while I was in free chat waiting for someone to pay for a show. We talked about music, his puppy, and the girls he was dating.