[Editor’s Note: The following is from “One Sex Worker’s Experience” by Anonymous, as collected in “Speak Out” and reprinted by permission.]
I remember the first time I told my therapist I had been a sex worker. Immediately, her disposition changed; adjusting her glasses, she became brusque and businesslike. “How old were you and for how long?” she asked, pen poised by her pad of paper, body canted slightly forward so as not to miss a word.
Amused by her serious demeanor, I responded, “I was 21, and I only did it for three weeks.”
I feel it is necessary to explain a bit of my psychology, and how my early experiences created a perfect recipe for me to begin selling my own body for money. From an early age I can remember wanting to work. I used to play, “Going to the office”. In daycare I asked the teachers, women whom I saw every day taking care of children, what their “real” jobs were, if they worked in office buildings. I experienced envy in eighth grade when the fourteen-year-olds talked about their after-school jobs at McDonald’s and Wendy’s while thirteen-year-old me was still too young to “work.”
I guess you could say I felt possessed by the desire to support myself, to attain autonomy, to not be constantly asking my parents for money. So by the time I reached college, I started trying to take any odd job I could to make money. Babysitting proved to be the most lucrative gig around, and somehow I managed to land a job caring for a young teenager during my sophomore year. Unfortunately, he aged out by the time I reached senior year, and, despite weeks of interviews, I could not get hired by anyone else.
It was also around that time that I experienced a revolution in the way I thought of my sexuality and identity. I had just returned from a five-week trip overseas during which I “found” myself and gained a confidence I had been yearning for my whole life. Months of reading fashion blogs sharpened my sense of style and my makeup abilities. Suddenly, I wasn’t being ignored anymore at parties. Boys wanted to talk to me, to dance with me! I began going out more and making more friends, reveling in my newfound persona.
Right around that time I met “Miguel.” After a slew of one-night stands (enough to make up for my remaining a virgin throughout the entirety of freshman year) I decided two things: 1. No sex for the month of October. 2. I wanted a boyfriend. Unfortunately, Miguel didn’t exactly have the same goals of commitment and monogamy. He and I had a few sleepovers but we didn’t have sex: until one night it happened, against my will.
We had both been drinking, and we began playing a sexually charged game of truth or dare. I remember lying on his bed, on my back, and seeing him start to rip open a condom in the moonlight shining in through his window. I was too shocked to say anything. I never said no—but he also never asked me if it was all right. When it was over, I went to the bathroom and discovered a tiny bit of blood on the toilet paper. October had not yet passed.
I came to a realization after that night. If men were just going to take it, I was going to charge for it.