This post contains very graphic, sexual language and descriptions that may trigger any of you who have not healed from any kind of sexual or mental trauma related to it.
Please proceed with caution.
Previous Read: Part One – The Industry
Recap of the story:
This is the second part to the series about being a sex worker in the industry. I had posted in my Story about how I thought it wasn’t worth it to be beholden to men for money in anyway, but particularly being a Sugar Baby
Review of terms:
- Sugar Baby: Someone who takes money from a Sugar Daddy (usually just one), in exchange for company, perhaps sexual favours, etc. I liken it to a demimondaine as learned in this fascinating historically-based fiction The Paris Apartment. There are no set rates per se, and no client roster from what I know.
- Sugar Daddy: The one who pays for his Sugar Baby.
- Escort: More than just a streetwalker or prostitute, ‘escort’ denotes women (usually) who are very well-paid for their sex and company. I guess they can also be demimondaines in a way, but they do it more as a career, rather than a Sugar Baby who may have only one Sugar Daddy to funds her. Escorts have clients (?) and meet with them regularly if they have such an arrangement and it’s more business-like. They set rates by the hour, night, etc.
- Camming: Where you perform sexual favours or acts via a webcam that they pay for by the hour, act, etc.
- Sugaring: When you are in an arrangement of being a Sugar Baby
- Dox: When someone reveals the private identity of someone else who was trying to stay Anonymous as revenge.
Et voilà, thoughts…
Note: All of the following are her words with some minor editing done to preserve her identity, or to spell out acronyms like “idk = I don’t know”. Anything I am adding or asking, is in bold, italics or in another colour completely so it’s clearly separated and I usually put “Ed” as in “Editor”.
So that’s my beef with it.
Women empowerment = yes.
Women being exploited under the guise of feminism = Get the F out.
I’m super passionate about the topic because I’ve had such an up-close view of it and its effect on women.
My general conclusion is that I will NEVER support the sex industry being legalized for the sake of feminism; re-objectifying yourself and other abused women to men isn’t feminism in my opinion as it only reinforces a patriarchal power dynamic and plays into socioeconomic classism.However, I support the sex industry being legalized for the SAFETY of women so that women won’t be afraid to turn in the perpetrators out of fear they themselves will be arrested, and so the industry can be regulated safely.
[Ed: I had never ever considered this, and was always on the side of “legalize it to support women to make their own choices”, when now, I am realizing how naive of a view that is.]
The sex industry highlights a classist/socioeconomic issue because I have never personally met someone who chose sex work who wasn’t super strapped for cash and struggling financially. At no point in time should women ever have to sell their bodies to pay their rent or pay for student loans. All it does is reinforce the financial power dynamic between men and women/the patriarchy.
Men have all the money and women have to take off their clothes to get the money. It’s dumb.
The sex industry is very deceptive in regards to women’s empowerment and feminism, mainly because women’s sexual rights have literally non-existent. But, to me, being paid for sexual acts is very rarely empowering, although it may easily be mistaken for that because you’re making money.
The sex industry IS a power trip for men, though. It turns women into a circus act. Women think they’re being empowered by making money off their incredible appearances; men are feeling empowered by seeing what they can get a woman to do for a certain price.
My friend switched to camming during COVID and I literally watched men beg her to put toys in her ass. “How much for the vibrator in your a$$”, “Spread your a$$ for me” etc. They wanted to see how far they could push her; how desperate she was for the money. It was the opposite of empowering.
[Ed: I was always focused on financial independence so you don’t have to depend on anyone else, and are confident in your own abilities, but this really drives the point home of why it’s so important.]
What about escorts? Are they all in the same boat?
Escorts are next level players. They play the roles of therapists, girlfriends, and sex toys all rolled up into one. They listen to crap I got tired of after like, 2 months. Especially when it comes to rich white men, and they tell me all their problems and all I can think is: “Life must be sooooooo hard for you” /sarcasm.
What’s an ‘insane’ level of money?
My friend was making about $12k-$16k a month in cash. But she was so deep into that lifestyle that she could only tell you where about $5k of that went. The rest all went to just… spending. If that were me, I would’ve invested all of that.
It all depends on demographics. When my friend was stripping here in the Bible Belt, $100k was considered a lot for her because $60K was a baseline but in a bigger city, $100K is the baseline, and in NYC or Vegas maybe it would be $250K at a baseline.
Like, being in the sex industry can make you so much bank. But at what cost to your own mental health and safety?
It’s like modelling on steroids. You are a walking product you have to sell. It’s not about just being pretty – it’s about feigning the perfect personality and interest in the men, having the perfect boobs and a$$ and skin colour and hair and nails, it’s about presenting yourself as being cute and innocent while also being sexy and alluring.
[Ed: It’s that elusive Madonna/Whore complex where they want to be virginal but crave something completely different and cannot bring themselves to admit it or to accept that women can be sexual creatures.]
When you’re constantly having to shape shift into a man’s idea of sexy, and beautiful, and hot, are you really empowered? For sure you’re learning to make it in a man’s world, but only by being an object they pay to watch perform degrading acts.
I once got into a fight with my friend as she was dolled up in a sexy schoolgirl’s uniform. She said that this outfit drove the men absolutely crazy. She’d wear minimal makeup and the biggest push-up bra and the shortest school girl skirt she could find. Then she’d put her hair in pigtails. She refused to ever get a tattoo even though she really wants some because she said that would make men tip her less because she wouldn’t look so innocent.
I asked her if she thought intentionally trying to look as young as possible and then performing sexual acts promoted pedophilia, but she had no answer for me. She sat in silence, in tears. She had never thought of that before.
She also started crying when talking about turning 23 because she is terrified of losing her youthful body. Her entire income revolves around looking pleasing to men. And even if she’s beautiful for a 25- or 30-year-old, there will always be a more desirable 18-year-old in her industry.
[Ed: This is why modelling is also another industry rife with issues, body dysmorphic behaviour, bulimia, anorexia, etc. The documentary “About Face: Supermodels Then and Now” is heartbreaking about the impact on young girls who model.]
The body dysmorphia in the industry is WILD. Boob jobs, butt jobs, lip fillers, plastic surgery, fake tans, hair extensions, eating disorder galore. I was only in the sugar baby industry for less than two months, and the remarks you’d hear about your body… insanely hurtful. They’d ask for your cup size before they’d even say “hello”.
[Ed: That’s degrading.]
Also, I think it’s really hard for women in the sex industry to admit this to themselves. Imagine fighting tooth and nail that this is your sexual empowerment just to one day be told/realize yourself that it’s actually all stemming from sexual trauma and actively working against your healing. Every person I know in the sex industry vehemently REFUSES therapy.
Even if they think therapy is great for everyone else. They won’t actively and honestly participate in it themselves.
I did my stint in the industry because I was strapped for cash at one point and my friend made it look easy. But trying to talk to hundreds of guys online just to get one that doesn’t want a prostitute that you jive with was exhausting.
You have to market yourself like crazy. I probably put in about 10 hours a day some days. And it was all just so devastating to my self-esteem and identity. Not empowering, at all. But I loved the money lol.
[Ed: TEN HOURS A DAY? If anyone calls this easy money, they’re out of touch. ]
I’ve always been told I’m physically attractive, but I’ve always been much prouder of my brain. But for those months, I was belittled down to nothing more than my bra size, my lips, how many blowjobs I’ve ever given, what the wildest sexual thing I’ve ever done was, and if I’d do anal. It was the first time I had ever been so obsessed with my appearance.
I was consumed by how I looked and how I came across. Because they don’t want you – they want the illusion of you.
They have a fantasy in their head they’re looking for you to fulfill. They want to feel power over you, even if they’re seeking companionship. They’re seeking an arrangement.
[Ed: I suppose that’s what they pay for – to control someone with money, and to have them do exactly what they want because they can’t really get someone to be totally under their control for money in this way. It’s a bit like paying to financially abuse someone, yet sexually. ]
Ultimately, the sex industry is for two types of men: the lonely ones who are both exploiting and being exploited, and the power-hungry nasties, looking to see how much money they have to shell out to break you.
I asked my friend once if she were married, if she’d sleep with someone else if that someone offered them $10K. She said yes, and she’d expect her spouse to understand.
[Ed: Reminds me of an interview a reporter once did with a rich guy, and he said something along the lines of everyone having a price. He asked the reporter if she would sleep with him for $10K or something like that, and she was horrified and said “No!”…. then he said: “What if I said one million? You may not do it anyway, but you’re sure going to think about it.” That kind of power trip of what they can do with their money, is what they really get off on. ]
And that’s exactly what these men look for: how far can I get you to go for money? They don’t see you as human, just as literal objects of pleasure. “How much do I have to pay to get you to take off your clothes for me? To suck my dick? To let me stick it in your a$$? To cheat on your husband?” And on and on. How far can they push you? They hold the money, and you work hard for it. It’s a power dynamic.
[Ed: It’s all in their favour because they have the money, and you want it. It’s actually for me, no different than women who purport to be gold diggers and to teach how to ‘hook rich men’. Sure, some rich guys are great, but when the power is all in their hands, it still makes you feel lesser than. I find it much easier to be my own rich man (thank you Cher!)]
How do you stay safe so they don’t harass you?
The sex industry is way more work if you’re attempting to hide your identity. Do you know how many photoshopped fake IDs, fake Facebooks, fake emails, and fake Skypes I had to make?! A million. Because they’d always want verification that you’re real and that you’re over 18. But they will dox you if you piss them off.
It’s like an abusive relationship with the industry, and you stay because you don’t know any better, and the money is good (at least for the short while)…
Sometimes they are locked in for dumb but valid financial reasons. Bought too expensive of a car, signed a way too expensive lease… now what? Gotta stay in to pay off that debt and the lifestyle creep is insane!
That’s how my friend got stuck going back… she took out $30K student loans, got into $10k credit card debt, and freaked out. She didn’t know how to pay it all back the “normal” way. She was in college for a degree, and she took a break to make money to clear her loans, then so she went back to school after a short hiatus, when she actually became a normal human.
Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten a full ride scholarship and gotten married, I probably would’ve joined her – the money was tempting, and there was a strong bitterness and resentment towards men (“all men are trash!”) because of my own sexual trauma. But in order to do that, I would’ve had to have turned off my conscience to manipulate and use people, just like she did. And after so long, I don’t know if you can just turn that back on.
My friend said if you’re in the industry too long, you go crazy. Ironic, in hindsight, because she’s now been in way longer than she said she’d be.
And I went to therapy.
The End: Notes on the discussion
I will say, I was always on the side of women in this debate, and I still am, but I was under the mistaken impression that it was empowering to legalize the industry to give them a chance to not be victims, or to be vilified for what they do.
Hearing what it’s actually like for the majority of women, how it is anything BUT empowering, is putting a whole new spin on it for me. I am sure there are women who do this and are empowered by it, but like modelling there’s a short shelf life to your ‘career’, and you come out having wasted your youth on something that quickly throws you into the bin when you’re too ‘old’.
Just like modelling, it seems.
I don’t think modelling is exactly the same industry, I just think the two industries have a lot of similar parallels that prey on young women, their looks, break them down into parts, and traumatizes them. I remember a supermodel in the documentary saying: “They told me my hair was crap, my nose was too big, my eyebrows were horrible…” … and it makes you realize that casting agents for models, are all criticizing your face, your body and your whole ‘look’ as if you aren’t a person. It can be quite dehumanizing and degrading, plus it creates insecurity in these VERY YOUNG girls who are quite impressionable.
Then I think: what do you do afterwards?
How do you make money if you haven’t gone to school, you’re mentally traumatized by what you experienced, too used to the flashy lifestyle they got you addicted to, and do not have an education to now pay the rest of your way in life, and how do you go back to “being normal”?
How do you reinstate yourself back into society, and take a job that pays a tenth or a sixth of what you used to make, at best? I guess it’s like coming out of prison, in a sense – how do you tell what is normal and what isn’t any longer? You were operating under such different rules, and things have all changed again with people around you who understand what the rules are but you haven’t learned them or been exposed to them.
In the end, it does seem that it is more harmful than helpful, to women, and yet, I think there are women (just like in modelling) who are empowered by it. I’ve been hearing snippets about this OnlyFans thing which I am surmising is a soft porn site of sorts where people pay (?) for videos or sexual photos of their favourite idols or influencers. On there, some people have even turned to creating accounts to show skin to make money to supplement, or just to feel empowered, which is another discussion altogether, I am sure.
Without a doubt, this conversation has made me reconsider what I thought I was saying, which was being supportive for women when in fact it may be encouraging an industry that is anything but. I still feel concern about the security of the women who do this, and the men who prey on them, as well as not having young women go into it in the first place, maybe.
Other accounts/messages I got:
I have actually had a relationship like this. It was…a learning experience. Would never do it again. And we remained friends for several years after the end of our arrangement but now that I’m a business owner and make every dime myself, it’s 10 times better than having a sugar daddy.
I was a sugar baby when 20. Can confirm. Making my own money is much nicer.
I did this for a short while, and being on call all the time was quite annoying because they expected to be able to call and talk to you and to get someone “fun” who cared about them and their lives for money, when in fact I couldn’t muster the energy or time to do it. I lasted maybe 3 months before I thought it was a complete waste of time, and I felt completely disgusted.
I’ve read/watched some things on these over the years: