Is it possible to tell which sex workers like what they do for a living? I imagine that lots of them hate it and I wouldn’t want to hire somebody who hated being with me or hated what we were doing.
What are the signs that somebody enjoys their work and will like to be with me?
First, dear reader, let’s talk about the concept of “authentically” enjoying one’s work, and the unfair standard sex workers are often held to.
Because sex work is still so stigmatized and divisive, sex workers are typically expected to fall on either end of a strict binary. Either we’re presumed to be victims of coercion or circumstance, or we’re seen as the “happy hooker” stereotype (these are the workers showcased in pop culture always shouting from the rooftops about how much they love their job while uploading Instagram photos of themselves in expensive lingerie throwing wads of money in the air). Both narratives work against sex workers, as they don’t allow for us to express how we honestly feel about our (very nuanced) jobs on a day to day basis in the same way that workers in almost any other legitimate labor industry are given permission to.
Let me give you an example: Imagine you’re a waiter, and after a long shift at work you come home and immediately start venting to your roommate about how much your feet hurt and how shitty the tips were that day. Your roommate is likely to be patient, understanding and supportive of your difficult day. Now, imagine that you’re a sex worker who just finished with a laborious shift at the strip club. You come home from work and immediately start venting to your roommate about how much your feet hurt and how shitty the tips were that day. Your roommate is MUCH likelier to demonize your profession (“It’s that work you’re doing that’s making you miserable!” “Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” “If you had a ‘real’ job, I’m sure this wouldn’t be an issue!”) simply because of the nature of the work, and that’s just plain unfair.
We don’t chastise bank tellers or social workers or massage therapists when they share a difficult day with us, nor do we try to convince them that their work is exploitative or oppressive. As a consumer, you don’t hesitate to watch your favorite TV show because it’s possible that the actors were having bad days during filming. It’s this pressure that makes sex workers reticent to share the reality of the job with those around us. It’s this double standard that forces us to maintain a publicly performative exuberance with inhuman consistency. To be perfectly honest, sex workers’ main job is to sell a fantasy that feels authentic to their client, customer or fan base. It’s really no one else’s business how we “really” feel, and to believe otherwise is its own special version of entitlement. If we’re choosing to spend our time with you, your half of the bargain (after you’ve paid us, of course) is to trust that we want to be there.
Additionally, you know they say no two snowflakes are alike? That same adage applies to people, too! I can’t tell you how to universally perceive genuine workplace enthusiasm any more than I could tell you what first comes into Donald Trump’s head in the morning (although I’m almost certain it’s something self-masturbatory). Applying generalizations to the human experience detracts significantly from each person’s unique background and character, as well as their individual agency and autonomy. While this may not be the answer you’re looking for, dear reader, this is undoubtedly the answer you need.
Best of luck to you, and thanks for patronizing your local sex workers!
If you have your own questions about sex, love, relationships, or any of the moving parts involved therein, drop Andre a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to use the subject line "Ask Andre," so we know where to direct your thoughtful questions.