Talking to SW's Outside of their Workplace
You may run into someone who identifies as a sex worker at a zoom party, thru a socially-distanced bbq, thru a friend, or at home with a roommate. Here are some things to keep in mind when talking to them:
- Don’t spill your trauma (sexual or otherwise) - people often feel they can be most vulnerable with sex workers bc we intentionally create spaces and skills that foster intimacy. Similarly, people often get excited to bond with someone who they feel they can share something very intimate with. For this reason, sex workers often engage in tons of emotional labor and sometimes heavy trauma processing with their clients and existing relationships. Don't assume they can or want to take on yours as well.
- Don’t start talking about fantasies you want. Don’t assume we are always in a sexual headspace and always want to talk about sex 24/7, particularly with someone we don’t know well. Sex workers are often very well sexually sated and may have boundaries in place around sex and intimacy that look much different than yours.
- You may be in a sex-positive environment like a party, class, work/ meeting on porn, sex work, sacred sexuality, kink, etc. where people are talking about sex. If you’re not sure if this is an appropriate time to share your sexual fantasy with a sex worker (or anyone), ask yourself, “did someone ask me to share my fantasy? Does this contribute to what the other person or group is talking about?”
- Do try and connect with sw's on something other than work. There is literally everything else to talk about. Here are some starters: art, pets, music, crafts, weed, pizza, memes [in fact if you literally have no idea what else to talk about feel free to steal this idea and say that one of your favorite sex workers would love to know if he/she/they have any favorite memes atm].
- If you end up getting along with this person and are interested either in booking them for their time and/or purchasing any of their services: 1) be cool and keep on how you normally would - it happens to us all the time and it’s totally normal 2) keeping in mind that some sw's keep very strict boundaries around clients and meetings/social gatherings such as these 3) politely ask before leaving if they’d be open to taking on a client/subscriber from a meeting such as this and IF SO, what would be the appropriate method of contacting them about purchases/booking/scheduling? [Never contact a provider if you have no intention of booking. It shows you don't value their work].
- There are many fantastic reasons for booking a sw, but especially if you’re curious about what they have to say about the industry, work, relationships, etc. In stead of asking them to educate you about sw at this bbq, consider booking them for a video session and asking them then. Compensating sw for their time, experience, and insight is 1) an easy thing you can do to start changing narratives around sw and 2) shows your provider that you’re the kind of client who understands the value of what they do, thus encouraging better experiences for you and them.
- If they say no, that means no, which is a good reminder to respect any and all boundaries they may have when speaking about sex, work, family, relationships, etc. It’s a good rule of thumb to let sw's lead on these topics and volunteer information when and IF they feel comfortable doing so.
- Don’t talk about how “you could/n't be a stripper/ escort/ whatever” bc “your partner would never let you/ you’re insecure about ____ /other thing that no one cares about.” Sex workers already have enough messages from society about why we shouldn’t do what we do. We don’t need any more echos on the subject, especially from someone who has no experience in our industry or interest in paying us for our advice on the topic at hand (unless you DO plan on paying us, which, if that is the case, AWESOME, see above!)
- Do keep these things in mind and lead by example for others.
Coming soon: talking to a sw in the workplace/tips for booking /etc
Thanks for reading, friends! Talk to you sooon <3
(For those of you s3xy overachievers looking to do xxxtra homework on being cool to sex workers, I LOVE YOU! Here are two fantastic, informative, and easy-to-grok media kits on sex work by the Sex Workers Project as well as everything on SWOP-Brooklyn's "Learn About Sex Work" page).
Why I wrote this:
As our world evolves to one where sw's feel more comfortable coming out, you're likely to run into someone who identifies as a sex worker. Lucky you! We're awesome. We have tons of wonderful skills, insight, and overall badassery that make social gatherings spectacular.
I figured I could offer some tips on avoiding miscommunications and misunderstandings I started to see more frequently happening in casual/hangout/party spaces, (tho most of these things applied to many other areas and folx engaged in sex work). Due to the current stigma around sex and sexuality, sex workers are often cast in many different roles and masks shaped by our collective and perhaps unconscious relationship to sexual health and wellness as a society. Without many resources or opportunities for direct communication around who sex workers are and what we do and why [often due to this same stigma], people outside of our community tend to place us in roles, corners, or pedestals we never asked to be a part of, leading to less-than-ideal interactions.
Even tho if feels like the majority of people have no idea that their questions or actions are intrusive or uncomfortable, it can be incredibly draining to politely redirect this energy when it happens, especially in a setting where we're not being compensated for any of it, and especially in an industry where self-care and boundaries are vital to our personal and professional health. I thought this blog post would help me gather some thoughts around loving my own boundaries and practices of self care as well as showing others how they could help me and some other sw's in that regard as well.
[ IMPORTANT - Remember that your gender and orientation do not determine whether something above applies to you. Speaking from personal experience as a (she/her) cis-femme-y woman, other cis women have often not tipped (or paid at all) for my time/services, and/or have ignored or not asked for my boundaries based on this very principle ] .
(Ugh side confession tho: I rmember exhibiting that exact same attitude and behavior when I was a late teenager/young adult and still wayy in the closet about being queer. We all make mistakes and I certainly did here, but if you ever did make this same mistake I did… - perhaps saying things like, "well I'm a gurlx! It doesn't count " - it is now time to remember that your dancer/provider/specialist is a skilled professional hired for their time, insight, and experience that you're currently enjoying and benefiting from, regardless of how you personally prefer to be penetrated. So transform into that fine-ass, grown-ass person/man/womxn/mxn/magical GodDexx you are who pays and tips all sex workers for their time and mad skills. For xxxtra fine bonus points, dress smart and sharp while doing it. We LOVE people who look great and tip well.
(As always, keep in mind that I am one person sharing a narrow perspective that consists of my own and maybe a few others. Providers and clients alike will have different perspectives, experiences, and boundaries. Be sure to check and ask everyone about theirs).