Last year I posted a survey asking for article ideas and a respondent asked me how I deal with shame in my work.
At the time, I thought he was referring to my own shame. I responded truthfully that I do not experience any shame for being a sex worker.
I am a whore with pride, relatively speaking. (Massages only, naughty boys!)
Yes, I'm actually proud of what I do. I find purpose in pressing my naked body against yours.
One of the benefits of being a sex worker for over 20 years is that I have no shame.
I've been shamed. Certainly.
To this day I continue to be shamed for choosing this work.
People who find out what I do often judge me harshly, assume I am a bad parent, or that I was raped as a child and now I'm acting out.
Or maybe I have daddy issues. I've even heard strippers who had daddy issues say that they think all strippers have daddy issues...
LMAO! NOT TRUE!
Do we examine why janitors scrub toilets for a living? Maybe they have latent potty issues that inspire them to work in such a degrading career. (I hope you sense my sarcasm here.)
Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn't it?
There's no shame in being a janitor even though some people would find it degrading. There's no shame in being a sex worker even though some people find it degrading.
The most degrading jobs I ever had were the ones that I made shit money and wasn't allowed to sit down for hours upon hours at a time.
I am a sex worker, but I am not ashamed.
It all started with a book called "Whores and Other Feminists"; a book that released me from seeing myself through other people's eyes.
I read this book in 1998. A TA (teacher's assistant) in my Women's Studies class told me about it after I came out to her privately as a stripper.
"I don't feel degraded or oppressed," I confessed.
Thanks to that TA and her book recommendation, very early in my dancing days I embraced my sexuality.
I shed the shame my family and friends (and greater society) tried to force on me.
I was the silent stripper in Women's Studies' classes at university, quietly knowing that the other women in the room didn't know a fucking thing about my industry.
I was told how degraded and exploited sex workers were. But my experience as a stripper felt a lot like empowerment (financially and emotionally).
The truth is I felt more exploited in the minimum wage jobs of my youth and even the more "prestigious" positions I held as an adult (between sex work gigs) that were ultimately far more degrading than getting tastefully naked for $40+ per show.
I'm not saying the strip industry is a pillar of dignity! There are inequities and bullshit that can only be appreciated from a stripper's perspective.
But, in my experience, square jobs are MORE degrading. I had less control and less financial remuneration in square jobs.
Long story longer... After my own paradigm shift, I spent the rest of my life teaching others not to be ashamed.
That seems weird, doesn't it? Just this moment, I realized that my life work has been neck deep in deconstructing shame.
If I break it all down to it's smallest parts...
...I started The Naked Truth in 2001 because, at the root of everything, I wanted to give other strippers the right to enjoy their jobs.
I wanted to teach strip club customers how to be respectful to strippers; that we are human beings just like everyone else.
And I wanted us (strippers) to support and encourage each other.
Being a tool for positive, emotional growth, the Naked Truth community grew to include sex workers of all genders and genres.
My Hallelujah Annie articles are now an extension of that work.
As you can imagine, sex work is a very isolating vocation. Most of us don't even tell our family or friends that we do this work!
Nevermind, talking about our day. Who can we share our day with?
Did you know there are "feminist" organizations that think I am a victim and also a perpetuator of rape at the same time?!
How is this possible?
The same people who say they feel sorry for me and want to "save me" are the same people who try to make my job illegal and attack me publicly.
They call me a whore. They think it hurts me!
The joke is on them.
They are the ones who should be ashamed for oppressing people in the name of feminism.
These organizations exist still today despite governments withdrawing their funding!
They try to make anyone born with a penis ashamed for existing.
They masquerade as Women's Rights organizations but their hate spreading makes them weak.
What you put out is what you get back, right?!
In the past few months, I've been thinking of that original question [How do you deal with shame in your work?].
I've certainly had clients who displayed feelings of shame or even expressed those feelings during our visits.
Some felt guilty for going outside of their relationships.
Others were embarrassed that they have to pay for sensual services.
Still others were ashamed of their kink, their high libido, their need to be touched... as though any of these things might indicate a lack somehow in them.
Most recently, I've spoken about shame with a male sex worker.
He informs me that admitting his bisexuality out loud and doing sex work were two things he struggled with immensely due to shame.
Furthermore, he says that many of his male clients feel shame for seeking his services. This is a private part of their life that no one sees except the sex workers they hire.
What a heavy load to carry!
Most shame, I've come to realize, is very subconscious.
It was planted in our childhoods and blossomed in our teens, when our bodies and sexuality became suddenly very important.
My mother taught me not to be ashamed of my sexuality.
Yet when I became a stripper at the age of 23, that woman shamed me with an intensity I'd rather not describe.
It was intolerable and still affects my relationship with her to this day.
It is not good for anyone to dwell in shame.
I think to be human, we must all know what it feels like. It's that especially deep, dark secret we've never shared with anyone.
Sexual shame is a huge obstacle to nurturing healthy relationships.
Our parents and grandparents did not talk about sex with us and if they caught us doing anything sexual, it was extremely embarrassing!
They may even have said things to make our shame and embarrassment worse.
Most of us were also taught to judge and condemn sex workers (who were all women, according to the accepted narrative).
Whore stigma exists!
The worst of all possible things, apparently, is to fuck for money.
I giggle even typing that ridiculous statement.
How is it horrible to perform intimate or pleasurable services in return for a livable income?
Nurses, therapists, masseuses, nail technicians, and even bartenders offer intimacy, pleasure or both for money.
It only becomes "wrong" when sexuality is attached to it.
Whore stigma is practiced even amongst sex workers, like when a domme or stripper or adult film performer says "At least I don't fuck my clients."
The whore stigma is a theoretical paradigm.
It is based on the false stereotype that sex workers are some of the lowest people in our society.
It is perpetuated by people who have not been sex workers or they were sex workers but did not enjoy it.
Whore stigma for clients goes something like this...
"I'm so unattractive/shy/awkward/unlovable I have to pay for it."
The whore stigma assumes that clients who enjoy our services are depraved. That they are using their power over us (money) to control us (with their penises).
Sorry for my parentheses. It's just so ridiculous!
First of all, not all clients are men. I am a client FFS! (for fucks sakes)
Secondly, clients come from every walk of life. All classes, all races, all occupations, etc. We all have the potential to access the services of sex workers.
And finally, some of my favourite people on the planet are my clients!
Obviously, you are not controlling assholes or I wouldn't care about you so much.
Fun fact: Indoor sex workers (90% of us) are MORE LIKELY to be university educated than non-sex workers!
Are you surprised that the lowest in our society are so privileged to be educated?
Not to mention, we are intelligent and driven enough to make it through post secondary!?
Of course you're not surprised! You are a client!
You know us as real human beings. You know the whore stigma is a whole lot of bullshit.
But it's different when you turn the whore stigma on yourself. Right?
I learned about something in university that many of you may not have heard of before.
It's a term used in academia called "internalized oppression."
Essentially what it means is that you take a negative stigma and turn it on yourself.
Some sex workers and clients fall victim to internalized oppression.
"Humans are different from one another in many ways. These differences are neither inherently good nor bad. It is only when we attach meaning to these differences that they become negative or positive.
"People are treated differently owing to these differences within them. These differences are used to classify people as either superior or inferior, and the inferior ones are continuously targeted and oppressed. This system of oppression bestows more or less power and privilege to a person depending on the social group to which he is perceived to belong...
"When people are oppressed in an ongoing manner for a long time, they come to believe the stereotypes and myths about their own group that are communicated by the dominant group. They accept and inculcate the negative image of themselves and absorb their subordinate status as being deserved, normal and inevitable.
"When the oppressed begin to believe that the inferiority imposed on them is a natural way of life, they have internalized that oppression."
Do you see how this pertains to sex workers and clients?
The dominant group (society) perpetuates myths and stereotypes about groups that are perceived as inferior (sex workers and clients).
When we begin to believe in this inferiority, we are internalizing oppression.
I'm here to tell you...
...unless you're a fucking POS predator who targets sex workers to harass, rob, rape, or otherwise harm us...
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF!
There is no shame in sexuality; nor in those who seek it nor those who sell it.
I can't take your shame away, of course. That work is yours alone.
If you feel shame for our time together, that is something I hope you will explore with an open mind and heart.
I am not here to replace your partner. I am not here to point out your inadequacies.
The reason I am here is to bring extra joy and pleasure to your life. I am a professional.
You hire me to assist in meeting basic human needs.
Needs that we all have! Needs for intimacy, touch, pleasure, kink, sexual release, etc.
What we seek from each other is a beautiful thing that does not deserve such stigma.
Our mutual (naughty) friendship should bring good to your life.
That's what I offer... Goodness (in the form of naked hugs).
I hope you enjoyed this article and even if you do not experience shame as a client that you may have learned something.
I have so much to learn from you! Tell me what I'm missing in this article. Give me your honest feedback.
It's a tough subject but I wanted to address it openly and with care.
Please have an amazing week and book a massage soon!
Text or Email today!