When Sex Work Gets Weird… on stigmatization & “normal” people

My boyfriend is an all-around awesome non-jealous human being that I’m deeply in love with. Part of the reason he’s so wonderful is that he doesn’t give me a hard time about my work. He accepts that I make good decisions and encourages me to do what I need to do within my limits to make money at this difficult and transitional time in my life.

Anyways, he has a roommate that has some mental and physical health issues. I suspect they’re connected. I fact, I know they’re connected. You know, she has that self-destructive in-denial behaviour thing going on. From what I understand, she’s a very talented artist with a MFA. But she gave up the dream (not even any side projects) and is working full-time as an administrative assistant. She has some serious physical health problems that have just emerged recently.

Coincidence? I think not. I’m not victim-blaming here, but when I’m unhappy it manifests as physical illness. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never taken a regular job. I have to figure out ways of supporting myself that don’t make me mentally and physically sick. Enter sex work!

Anyways, she fell in love with and started dating her shady alcoholic boss. (He gave me the creeps and I knew he was cheating on her. Not from personal experience but because I read men for a living.) So her alcoholic boyfriend boss suggested she get a new job so they could have their relationship. She found a new admin job, then he immediately dumped her because she was “too good for him.” In man speak, this translates to “he’s been cheating on her.” (The timing of the break up was convenient, no?) She started with the random Tinder hookups.

My boyfriend’s roommate has the usual hang-ups about sex and sex work; it’s OK to go home with and fuck random guys from the internet for free when you’re drunk several times a week, but fucking vetted strangers while sober for money? THAT’S WRONG.

Her new boss is a “bad boy.” He brings the employees out drinking! He buys them tattoos! He wanted strippers for the holiday party!

Knowing that I’m a stripper, she asked me about how she could get strippers for the holiday party. I made some inquiries and priced it out. I even offered to do it because it would be an easy, safe and well-paid gig. So now she knew that I was the person to go to for her boss’ girly needs.

I was out on some Sugar Daddy dates the other night. I got a text from my boyfriend. His roommate texted him asking if I knew where she could find a happy ending massage for her boss. I texted back saying he could google “erotic massage nyc” or I could do it. I named a price. The boss consented to it. She was about to send her boss my number, before she freaked out and “pulled the plug” on arranging this.

She didn’t “pull the plug” because her boss changed his mind, nor because my boyfriend cared, nor because I changed my mind. No, SHE pulled the plug because “Strippers were one thing, but I can’t do this.” She had moral issues with arranging an erotic massage for her boss? This woman that gets drunk and fucks strangers all the goddamn time? REALLY?

Her boss was probably pissed. I was pissed because giving her boss an erotic massage would have been a really easy and low risk way for me to make some money. My boyfriend was pissed because it would have been a really easy and low risk way for me to make some money. And she wasted EVERYONE’S time. And really, who is she to judge? Everyone else is a consenting adult. What the fuck?

In retrospect, my boyfriend thinks she feels out of control of her life, her job, her health and relationships. He didn’t tell her that I was the girl that was going to do the massage, but he suspects she knew it was me. This is a way of her exerting control. She was exerting control over her boundary-pushing “bad boy” boss that pressured her into getting a tattoo she hates. She was exerting control over her roommate that she owes money. And she was exerting control over me, her roommate’s sex-worker girlfriend that is happier and healthier and more free than she is. Or maybe she thought she was protecting me and doing good? That’s even worse, as far as I’m concerned.

My boyfriend was more angry over the situation than I was. I’m, unfortunately, used to people flaking out and wasting my time. I consider it part of my job.

Anyways, people have weird hang-ups about sex and sex work and I wish we could destigmatize it. Maybe she’d be happier doing sex work than she is satisfying every other need of her shady bosses. I mean, when she was (consensually) fucking her boss, couldn’t that be considered sex work? Why is that OK but arranging a erotic massage is not?

I don’t understand “normal” people and “normal” hangups and “normal” sexual practices. I don’t think “normal” people  understand themselves either. This is why they are unhappy.

On Being Labeled Crazy / On Labeling Women Crazy

On Labeling Women Crazy

Part of the reason I ended up in an abusive relationship with a sociopath was because I was emotionally and verbally abused by my family for years. Abuse felt “normal.” Abuse was how your family–the only ones that truly loved you–told you the awful truths about yourself. My parents started with emotional/verbal abuse around puberty. It didn’t get bad until I went away to college and started making my own decisions. It ended when my father assaulted me when I was in my late 20s and my entire family blamed me for it and shunned me. (I must have provoked him and/or deserved it… but more on that and victim blaming later on.)

A friend posted the above link on Facebook, and it perfectly describes how my family treated me.

Gaslighting is when you abuser tells you that your reality isn’t happening, possibly that you are “crazy.” This makes you doubt your memory, perception, and sanity.

My controlling, narcissistic mother liked to tell me that I was bipolar, “crazy” and needed psych meds. She told me that all of my behaviours were derived from mental illness and were not true expressions of myself. This is directly at odds with the mental health professionals that I worked with over the years. They determined that I was not mentally ill and did not need daily medication.

Yes, with all of the illnesses I’ve suffered and the abusive relationships I’ve been in, I have had PTSD and several spells of circumstantial depression and anxiety. But I do not and did not have a mental illness that requires daily psych meds. Whenever a psychiatrist suggested medications, I took them. Three months of Zoloft coupled with 8 months of talk therapy got me out of my last depression. That depression was induced by being trapped in an abusive relationship for 4 years. I’m proud of all of the work I did to get out of both the relationship AND the depression.

I still have trouble sleeping (Shift Work Sleep Disorder) and very occasionally suffer anxiety attacks. I have Xanax on hand for that reason. I’ve downgraded from Ambien to Benadryl to sleep. But otherwise, my life circumstances have changed. I am not currently being abused by anyone, broke, sick, and/or homeless. In fact, I’m in an extremely supportive and loving long-term relationship, I have my health, a good support network of friends that care about me, a nice place to live and relatively consistent income. It’s amazing how having your basic needs of love, food, health and shelter taken care of can abolish depression and anxiety!

Now I realize that my mother would simply label behaviours that she did not like as “crazy” or “mentally ill.” Which behaviours were manifestations of my mental illness?

  • Teaching English in Asia
  • Going to Burning Man
  • Not taking an office job straight out of college
  • Trying my hand at entrepreneurship
  • Identifying as bisexual
  • Having an abortion in my early 20s (best decision I ever made, FYI)
  • Drinking wine on holidays
  • Going to nightclubs and seeing DJs on the weekends as opposed to hanging out at my parents’ house
  • Crying when Mother verbally abused, emotionally blackmailed and publicly embarrassed me on holidays and at family events

In retrospect, there’s nothing wrong with any of these so-called “crazy” behaviours. They certainly do not signify mental illness. They’re simply a young woman enjoying life, exercising her rights, making mistakes, traveling, becoming independent from her family and finding her identity–an identity that’s very different from that of her conservative family.

Anyways, while I’m sad that I don’t have blood family in my life anymore, I’m doing my best to create my chosen family. I’m glad that I don’t have my mother in my life anymore questioning my sanity. That caused me more mental instability than my synapses ever did.