I met a beautiful young man recently who was, in every respect of the word, beautiful. He was tall, had a big boned, big frame body, strong, large hands, classically masculine jawline, beautiful eyes, quick as a whip and had a personality so gentle and modest, it would make any future mother-in-law weep with delight if her daughter brought this guy home. The babies he would help produce would be nothing short of a grandmother’s dream. It was clear that he had no confidence in himself and that in some ways, he was ashamed of the way he looked. Before I could begin a subtle investigation into where the issue was hiding, he laid it out in front of me with an apology.
He softly said to me as he pulled his shirt off, “I am sorry, I am so hairy. I know its a lot.”
His words caught me completely off guard. I was already running my fingers through his back hair in delight before the shirt was completely off. “What?” I said and continued playing in his body hair with admiration, “Don’t be silly. You are a man. Men are supposed to be hairy. Can you imagine if it were ME that were standing there with hair on my chest and back? Only men can grow hair like this. Now, get on the table.”
I am not sure but I think there was a sigh of relief as he laid down, his black forest of back hair presented to me in full display. His body hair was as soft and silky as baby hair. It wasn’t rough like you would expect on a wild animal but soft like the pelt of a winter creature. He was a beautiful beast of a man who had been suffering through random encounters with young women. All of whom are still following trends because they haven’t finished learning who they are and what their genuine tastes are yet. These young, ignorant girls (I was one once, also) who all wanted a hairless cat in bed with them instead of a man with the marker of manhood, body hair. They offered him nothing but humiliation or mockery in private upon first sight of his uniqueness. For a young man, this kind of repeated sexual rejection from multiple objects of your desire for such a small difference is a special kind of hurt.
He could always get the hair on his body waxed or lasered off but do we really want to mutilate ourselves to pander to an audience that doesn’t think we are good enough in the first place? Body hair is a minor, aesthetic issue and depending on the audience and current fashion trends, it is either a very good thing, or a very bad thing but in all things, it is not the defining thing when it comes to what brings us pleasure.
Unless we are looking for something that is missing. Personally, I struggle with the absence of male genitals. I have grown quite fond of them and would miss them if they were gone. Even if they don’t work, they are still amusing to play with and decorate. 😉
“Oh my god! You are so hairy! ::makes disgusted face:: Oh no! I can’t. That’s horrible! ::laughs::” (Imagine being on the receiving end of this when you are in the process of disrobing for intimacy. Not good, right? It is the same level of hurt in the following other scenarios.)
“Damn you are dark. Naw, I don’t mess with midnight” (or something equally damning because you aren’t fair enough)
“I’m not typically attracted to fat girls but you’re an exception.” (Everyone loves being second choice or a pinch hitter in someone else’s desperation)
“You look good for your age.” (And what exactly are you supposed to look like, at what age, over 25? Death? Kellyanne Conway? Their mother?)
“You are alright for a _______ girl/guy/person” (And what exactly was your opinion of every ______ BEFORE you met me?
“Oh I love _______ women/men. They are all so ____ and ______ and _____ and ______.” (All of these things are based on a fantasy that appealed to their ego or sexual selfishness that had nothing to do with knowing anything about you as an individual or whole person)
If you have never been on the receiving end of this, it might seem harmless to you. I mean, they are just words, right? But they aren’t just words. They are an attitude, an opinion, a damning condemnation and often a rejection of who you are as a person (or could be) as an actual, valued intimate partner. They are someone telling YOU to your face that you aren’t good enough to know, appreciate or value. You are, instead, only there in front of them because they couldn’t get what they really wanted at the moment, which is someone else; someone worth taking the time to get to know for all the things that make them beautiful and wonderfully one-of-a-kind. It is the mark of immaturity and shallow living to see people through eyes like this.
The upside is that once you recognize it, you also realize that you can’t fill that kind of emptiness in a soul. They will forever be hungry ghosts, chasing food they can never eat, starving for nourishment they can never fill up with.
In sex work, there is a lot of racism. I mean ‘Southern plantation slavery days’ levels of it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the culture and the world we live in. But with sex workers, we expect more tolerance for diversity especially since we are dealing with the entire spectrum of humanity from the extremely affluent and world sophisticated to the coarse day laborer who is struggling. We make ourselves available to the individuals who are so well appointed in life and genetics that they can afford to have relationships with beautifully manicured socialites who are dying to capture their sperm and start families with them all the way to the physically different who do not enjoy such a robust audience for their potential affections. “Blind, crippled or crazy”, as an old girlfriend used to say. We see them all. We don’t discriminate. Everyone’s money is green and if you aren’t presenting as a threat to our life and well being or being an insulting, demeaning jerk, we will give you the one thing a vanilla woman will not. We will give you a chance to be more than “just” what you look like in life and we will honor your dignity as a human being like it is our own. Common decency and basic respect is the currency of a sex worker who isn’t a sewer crawling hustler constantly on the take and looking for victims. Those kinds exist too and they are the fitting lid for a specific pot of men called “slobbyists” (the loathsome version of hobbyists to SW providers). A lid for every pot. So, outside of the bottom dwellers and mouth breathers that exist in every social class (no, money doesn’t exempt you from being a bottom dweller or a mouth breather. We are witnessing this in the USA right now in 2019 in painful, larger than life display by multiple “famous” people), we expect sex work to be a haven of basic tolerance for diversity in our intimate connections that we won’t see in vanilla or traditional circles.
And here we are, with a playing field that is dominated by a majority of middle aged white men as the audience (because they are currently the ones with the most disposable income and specific reasons to see sex workers instead of pursue love affairs) and a provider class that is disproportionately better financially supported when they are White females; even if they have faces like jack-o’ lanterns and the IQ of houseplants. Fact, not jealousy. This isn’t to say that exotic (non-White) females don’t achieve similar levels of success and patronage but it is to say that in statistical terms regarding volume of successful participants and what they bring to the table comparatively, being a young and White female is a faster, easier sell with a lot less work and a significant resulting disparity in what is achieved financially compared to their exotic peers. This is notable because financial successes show us where supply and demand considerations are operating most clearly. When an unattractive White female can make 10x more money with less insult or abuse than her exotic (and actually attractive) peer, this says something specific about cultural standards and values. It is a sociological consideration and too much to go into here but worth examining because its roots are deep and say a lot of fascinating things.
Note that this IS changing as I write this because the playing fields are changing for both audience demographics and provider demographics but for now, this racialized climate that dominates sex work is where we break in actual practice from this expectation of sex workers as being tolerant of diversity. Seen recently on websites and ads of sex workers in clear, unmistakable words, “No __ insert race__ men!”
Naturally, when this phrase or any variation of it was banned by an ad platform because it is blatantly discriminatory and the ad site owner was NOT going to be associated with that legal land mine that the individual provider created, all manner of provider/client outraged discussion ensued with many coming down hard on any provider publicly putting such pre-restrictions on the audience they would entertain. Personally, I am in full support of the public statement of this as a provider’s personal preference (but not the sentiment behind it) for two very solid reasons.
unpleasant experiences. In its own way, this IS a public service announcement. Let them announce themselves ahead of time, please.
One of the many valuable things I have gained from my time as a 40+ year old sex worker is the ability to appreciate decency and kindness in people. In this corner of the world, behind closed doors or in shadows and away from prying eyes and the awareness of anyone who matters to them, our audience is filled with people who feel liberated to be their honest selves, not their socially acceptable facades of suburban respectability politics. Just like the individuals who travel to other countries and behave in ways that they would never dream of acting out at home, they treat the absence of folks ‘who matter to them’ as license to act out their more base, vulgar or otherwise unacceptable behaviors. They know what they are doing and they don’t care because those people mean nothing to them. They are all props in their personal fantasies of being treated like royalty and above reproach. The worst ones will make no attempt to get to know the people in the world they are asking to be invited into. Instead, they will discard their inhibitions without ever checking to see where the lines of offense are for the other person. From the gang of Americans that travel to Mexico and spend their entire time there drinking to incomprehensible stupor and acting like shameless animals in heat, to the tourists in Southeast Asia that proposition women on the street and ignoring the family in accompaniment, or molest religious sites to entertain themselves for picture opportunities, these people operate with a self imposed blindness to the ‘unimportant’ people around them. These people will also behave with the same disregard toward sex workers. They are prisoners of their own neurotic repression and toxic constraints about appearances and living up to someone else’s idea of what a good life is. They are hungry ghosts.
And when those hungry ghosts get tired of unsuccessfully feeding off each other, they search out the sex workers with no understanding or effort to learn about the people or the culture they ask for invitation into. The providers are all props and backdrops with no value for all the things they don’t feel liberated to express in their normal lives.
They get angry and abusive when they are asked to identify themselves before being given access as if their privacy and the possible embarrassment in exposure for having a normal sex drive and desire for an emotionally clean arrangement were more important (and detrimental) than the real and reasonable efforts of the provider trying to avoid being harmed or murdered. There is no job where being physically attacked or murdered should be dismissed as “expected and comes with the territory” unless being armed and ready for actual death inviting combat is licensed and socially sanctioned. Outside of police and military, there is no other job where this is casually dismissed as a ‘downside of the job’. Except here, it is and simultaneously offered no protection, support or ability to be trained or armed adequately in the event that you ARE being threatened with harm. But sure, please be a hostile, abusive cretin because you couldn’t get intimate access to me without giving me some kind of verifying information for law enforcement to find you if my body ends up dead in a river after meeting you. I don’t work in a massage parlor. I don’t have a gangster as a manager-silent partner to call if you get out of control and I am not surrounded by a dozen other folks to help protect me in a controlled space before you get to the parking lot. Even your license plate and make/model of car is conspicuous there. You aren’t getting away with anything and you are NOT anonymous. The local police patrolling the area have also seen you, watched your car and scanned your plates. Everyone knows who you are in that so called “anonymous” massage place. There is no “anonymous” in the electronic world and even my advertisers can identify me if there was ever a problem. I can be identified. But you?
The only people who demand total anonymity are psychopaths on the hunt and people who are up to nothing good, or harmless. Which are you?
Sex workers are conveniently viewed as having no value, so how could we think threats to our life and well being would be more important than their potential embarrassment? After all, good girls and bad girls. Only good girls get protection and respect. Bad girls get used and discarded like convenient trash receptacles for everything we are ashamed of, and sex workers are, of course, the worst girls of all. So much disregard, disrespect and dismissal of us as human beings who have any value. So much ingratitude for what is made available to them when they visit us here, in our foreign land so safely distant from their own native soil. So many hungry ghosts who come to us chasing food they can never eat, starving for nourishment they can never fill up with. Hungry ghosts will never be satisfied no matter what you give them. You can’t fill that kind of emptiness in a soul.
The patrons aren’t all like this. If you are willing to hold a personal standard, willing to forego the empty, material compensation for the piece of your soul you must give up to the bottom feeders and mouth breathers in exchange for your time, if you are willing to endure the gritty, foamy wave that will come down on you often and without mercy as you stand on the shore of the island, waiting for the visitors to your land; you will find that behind the loud, dirty and noisy ones who dominate sight and sound upon arrival are the ones you have been waiting for; your audience. The people who have been looking to experience you as much as you have been waiting for them to find you. Redemption for every insult and offense that you both have to endure in the between times. Not everyone conveniently gets the one, big romance in life. Instead, we run the length of our lives and must take each soul fortifying experience and person along the way, filling up like camels at an oasis in the desert. For survivors, those moments are no less valuable than the never forgotten promised land of the one, great romance in life.
At the end of our time together, I point out to my very hirsute friend, that he is gorgeous in that lumberjack man sort of way and there are women who would go crazy for a man like him, and to stop apologizing for what he thinks is his handicap. He should be celebrating the things that make him different and singular because it really is a delight and a source of pleasure, and it should be seen the same way by anyone who is going to find value in who he is. His body hair isn’t the problem. His audience is. He just needs to find the audience that is looking for him and stop entertaining hungry ghosts that no one will ever be able to satisfy.