IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was an Escort for Eight Years, Believing It Would Empower Me, and It Didn’t

Before becoming an escort, I had studied to obtain my SSTC in English on and off for years. This plan did not pan out for various logistic reasons and I gave up that dream to become a prostitute.

Before making the leap, I created and diligently followed curricula on feminism and every form of sex work. Like many others, I truly believed being an escort would be a feminist statement and would empower me. It wasn’t and it didn’t. Maybe this path has proven to embolden other women and help them find increased equality within the patriarchy, but this was not my personal experience.

I had been curious about the industry and my potential to be a sex worker for several years prior to entering the field. I voraciously read every book I could find on the subject. I had initially thought I would strip, but after much research, I realized strippers were working very hard for mere Washingtons in return. Escorting is where the real money is. And I was all about the Benjamins. I was blinded by the dollar signs, high on the dissociation, and determined to finalize my decision.

Within a week, I was an escort. It was far easier than I had even anticipated. I started off naively and on some unseemly websites, but soon I found the real forums on which to forge such a business and within a short period of time, my daily Benjamins were becoming Clevelands, and I did not have enough hours in the day to meet the demand.

I was soon one of the top escorts on the site and men were booking weeks in advance to see me. I was getting glowing reviews daily and my business was booming. I was single and actualizing my own sexuality while empowering myself as a woman, a business entity, and a feminist. I was doing it all. Or so I thought.

Once established, I continued to study sex work and feminism. Like so many other feminist sex workers, I believed I was fostering my own potential as a woman in a patriarchal society and that I was somehow helping to advance the feminist movement through my career.

I thought that exploring, owning, and selling my identity and sexuality was an act of power. I remained convinced that what I was doing was an example of everything I was reading about women being their strongest, most powerful, and most actualized and that, through my example, I was helping women have a more equal foothold in the male-dominated world in which we live. Once the high of dissociation, success, and infamy wore off, however, I realized I was very wrong.

After several years, the delusion dissipated, and I woke up burned out and exhausted, disillusioned and bitter, and lonely and horribly depressed. The egocentric gratification the work had given me, for so many years, was simply gone. I no longer felt successful, smart, or sexy.

Sex work is a relentless game of pandering to male narcissism. As a sex worker, it is literally your job to make a man feel special, superior, and satisfied as if he is the only being on the planet. This aspect of the job really leaves no room for the self. There is no space to explore or identify or evolve any aspect of your own being, because there is no room for you in the equation.

The idea I had that sex work would allow me to explore and discover and grow within myself was a complete myth in my experience. The buck stopped at my physical appearance.

So, after several years, I was literally left with a hollow shell looking back at me in the mirror. I had not even learned much about my personal sexual likes and dislikes because, again, there is no room for self-expression in the transaction between a whore and her john. It is all about HIM and his sexual desires, kinks, and needs.

Then there are his emotional needs. And these are far more exhausting to try to meet than his sexual proclivities. There is the old joke that a john pays a whore to leave, but the truth is, most of the men I met with over the years had bottomless emotional needs that were not being met in their separate personal lives.

Being a prostitute is very much like being a bartender in that it is very much like being a therapist. The sexual part of the appointment would usually be somewhat brief because of physical limitations. But what does a man that just became sexually intimate, open, and comfortable with you do to fill the rest of the hour? He starts to talk about his emotional life. And this, while a welcome break from the physical demands, is the truly draining part of the date.

I did not really want to know these men on this level; I have my own life to care for and I was really not interested in expending the energy it required to pretend to care, to try to comfort and to attempt to fix. Then there is the dangerous tightrope one walks when sex, intimacy, and emotion get mixed together but there are boundaries pre-established and agreed to in the exchange.

These men, who were paying for me to leave, soon became aware of their inability to penetrate my psychic, emotional, and spiritual being and their perception of the fantasy versus the reality began to blur. After getting the physical, they wanted everything else. And once they realized they couldn’t have it, they wanted it that much more. They bought me, so they wanted to own me.

Men would start with a vague interest that soon became a need to pry and sometimes became an obsession. I have had to physically fight, obtain restraining orders, move, and change my number, and I have even legally changed my name. Ironically, all of this perverse intimacy with complete strangers helped me to stop blurring the lines between my own perceptions and wake up to a very stark reality.

The reality is that we live in a patriarchy and sex work simply feeds this dynamic. I thought making men pay me would level the playing field, but the money became superfluous to working so hard to protect the very things I had initially believed would benefit from this line of work: my independence, my freedom, and my identity.

My experience of being a sex worker was that I was being paid to satiate male narcissism and, thus, to uphold the very foundation of the patriarchy in which we live. I was paid to make a man feel safe, sexual, satisfied, and superior — no matter what.

Yet, in the exchange of money for these things, I was expected to relinquish my own rights to all of the above. I was being paid to be a nonperson who lived to serve the man of the hour. My ability to dissociate, perform, and be subservient is what allowed me to shoot to success so rapidly — NOT my intellect, intelligence, humanity, or even my sexuality.

Bottom line: In my experience, I had to have no identity in order to be a successful escort. And in agreeing to this, I merely fed the patriarchy and condoned the reasoning and behavior of the men within it — all while embodying the stereotype of the passive, subservient, and objectified female the system needs a women to be in order to maintain dominance and power.

As disillusioned and disappointed as I was after devoting eight long years of my life to an industry that ended up being a lie, today I live a life rejoicing in my hard-earned authentic freedom.

Getting out of the sex-work industry (even as an independent without a “manager”) was the most challenging but most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. The strength it took to leave behind the money and the comfort of the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to, while taking the risk of dropping it all and starting over again, showed me the limitless depths of my genuine strength and true internal power.

Today, I am free to exist and explore and evolve emotionally, mentally, and physically without the limitations of gender roles, sexual stereotypes, and the system’s power dynamics.

It’s been almost four years since I last sold myself to a man and I have learned more about myself over these past few years than in my entire life prior to this transition. Ultimately, I am still grateful for my past choices for had I not lost myself the way I did, I would not experiencing the fullness of my person the way I do today.

And walking away from the field was the truly empowering move that finally began to help me realize all of the things about myself, my gender, and my place in this society that I had hoped to find within the work.

I would not be the woman I am today had I not lived such a falsified existence for so many years. I was literally enslaved by the work, but today I am free to live life on my own terms. And I am here to tell you that you do not have to conform, sacrifice, or live enslaved in society’s confines to discover and celebrate your own unique self and inherent freedom.

 

Femme Fatale writes under a pseudonym because, after her arduous escape from sex work, she has made it in the straight world (without losing a leg or an eye!) and needs to remain discreet about her past. She graduated from a university about 20 years ago with a BA and has studied in both the USA and in the UK. She has excelled in her new vocation for the past few years and is embarking on studying for a future in the animal care industry.

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