Sunday, January 30, 2005

better-ing myself

So i originally just replied to this comment, but dacia suggested i re-post as a blog entry, you know, for educational purposes.

vj responded to a recent post:
I'd be intrigued to know what you might be studying, but I think you've indicated a number of options that you were interested in. But I heartily concur that among the better options that we could hope for from anyone in a similar situation 'in the life', is the continuation on in their education to meet some higher life goals that will bring you into a better and more rewarding professional service to the public and yourself. This can be teaching, (gee you've already got a good start there), or the example of the woman lawyer might be instructive. But those would be my queries, about how you might be able to integrate this experience into something you might be able to do without going out on a cold night when you're 45 or 50. You know, some comfortable indoor work where you can occasionally develop some real mature relationships, be of service and possibly teach people useful things.OK, OK, alright how about some slightly less hazardous work in the same vein, right? Good Luck in your studies!--VJ

So, my reply:
hey, vj.

while i appreciate your support, i was a little offended by some of your phrasing. maybe i'm being overly sensitive/analytical. anyways, let's discuss.

"the continuation on in their education to meet some higher life goals that will bring you into a better and more rewarding professional service to the public and yourself."

honestly, my life goal of helping people understand and explore their sexuality in an informed and supportive environment is well-supported by my current sex work. one of the reasons my therapist believes this is a positive choice for me right now is that it is in line with my goals. i feel i am already providing a rewarding professional service to the public and myself, both through my direct work with clients and through my blog. just because i'm considering changing my approach, does not devalue my current work. future educational efforts, such as the more traditional class-room workshop setting, may reach a wider audience, but may not have as deep an impact upon them as one-on-one sex work.

"how you might be able to integrate this experience into something you might be able to do without going out on a cold night when you're 45 or 50. You know, some comfortable indoor work where you can occasionally develop some real mature relationships, be of service and possibly teach people useful things."

three prongs.

first the aging sex worker stigma. many sex workers who chose to stay "in the life" build up loyal client bases and hone their services so that those still providing in their later years (although they may appear to have lower market value) can be making a comfortable living. they are not necessarily stumbling out to the corner to give blow jobs without their dentures.

indoor-work vs outdoor-work. sex workers who provide in-call do not have any commute. they can live in their apartment/studio/office, have food delivered, have clients come to them, and only have to expose themselves to the elements for personal entertainment (ex. going to a class or a concert). sex work is not always an outside job.

the phrase "real mature relationships" sets my teeth on edge. do you mean with clients and co-workers or are you referring to my personal life outside of sex work? because i feel a sex worker can have "real mature relationships" of all kinds. dacia over at wakingvixen.blogspot.com is just one shining example. what would make a sex worker's relationships any less real or mature than a lawyer's?

"slightly less hazardous work in the same vein"

every job has its hazards. i am not pretending sex work is risk free. but working as a gynecologist who provides abortions or teaching sex-ed in an abstinence-only district or doing sexual diversity outreach in a homophobic community carry some extreme risks of their own (all options i am considering).

sex work is a part of my life. when i choose to make a career change (such as pursuing my masters in public health), it will not be because i believe sex work is not a valuable profession. it's not better or worse, but different.

4 Comments:

Blogger Librarian Babe said...

You are fabulous because even at a young age you know what you want to do and have a clear view of what it entails. :-) You are the Queen of Educated Sluts everywhere. *smooch*

1/30/2005 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jane, I appreciate your remarks. I'm well aware of most of what you're stating above. Not having the benefit of ever taken classes in Lit crit, all I can say is that the post was meant to be generally supportive of your life goals, and as helpful as any voice coming from the ether on the net can be.

So I do have some additional thoughts. I like the MPH path, that would be fairly useful, and perhaps yes, more useful to more people than you can contact currently. Goodness knows it's sorely needed, right? I do well recognize that what you do is finely integrated with sexuality education and that's very valuable too. (I appreciate this of Dacia too). It's a fairly unique perspective to bring to a professional understanding of Public Health, and even a highly prized one at that.

But let's get the usual stereotypes dispensed with here, right? I went rounds defending sex workers over at Feministing. But we all should well understand that this work is naturally hazardous in a unique way that does have some unfortunate prejudice against age, disability and various other infirmities that accumulate with age. Some of these latter types of impediments may be unknown to you (or myself). These will include the degradation of support networks as people naturally age and do seek to cycle in and out of that area of the economy. (And Yes, it's very valuable to recognize different sectors of the work, and how people can be sustained by it for lengthy periods of time).

But just as I do not still need to be a miner to be a mining safety engineer, most of the sexuality education that you can ably and yes, perhaps better provide the 'punters' of NYC and beyond need not personally expose you to the continued hazards of the mine. While we all have heroic visions for our work, you should not need to sacrifice your health or indeed your life to do so. It's a fairly quantifiable risk, and you should well understand that. (That's what all those yucky statistics will be for the MPH).

The 'mature relationships' bit was meant to be funny. So if I sounded perhaps a bit condescending, what I was talking about were issues of health, and yes the very real hazards associated with 'being there'. And yes, of course I do well recognize that every job has it's hazards, as I stated emphatically in the very long Feministing string on the topic of sex work. See: [http://feministing.com/archives/000836.html]


And Living deep in one of the 'Red states', I can tell you that I not only do battle on these topics on a regular basis, but I belong to every blessed sex positive, pro choice, pro-sexuality educational organization state and nation wide. It's part of the work we all have to and must do to help all the citizens of our land live free and retain the blessings of liberty that are the birthright of us all. Again, good luck in your studies Jane.

[Contact me if you want some recommendations for some of those dreaded stats. books too!]

1/31/2005 2:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, I forgot to sign that one, the post above. It was from VJ here in deepest darkest Ga.

1/31/2005 2:14 AM  
Blogger Dacia said...

On "mature relationships" - something else to think about with this issue is not the maturity and coping skills of sex workers in relationships, but the maturity of sex worker's partners. It's difficult to date as a sex worker because of the reactions, misunderstandings and insecurities of other people.

1/31/2005 9:36 AM  

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