RN is a 48 year old, white, Canadian, cis-female, femme, with 2 children and one divorce under her belt. RN is also a successful sex worker.
RN began sex work when her children were 8 and 15 years old. For the most part, RN started sex work as a means of supplementing her income after her divorce to pay the bills:
...my sex work has made me feel confident and given me a sense of financial security. I know I could make a good living at it if I ever had to and that gives me a sense of pride and financial security.
RN also really enjoys the work that she does:
I am 48 years old and I have two kids and a demanding day job. Most people my age, with kids and jobs state that they have no time or interest in sex. My peers literally shudder and say stuff like “Oh, I can’t be bothered to have sex”, “I’d rather watch Netflix” etc. Because sex is money to me I have an active interest in it, I watch porn to keep my skills up, I have nice sex out fits and I have sex several times a week with various partners and as a result I enjoy and look forward to it. I don’t dread it or consider it a hassle like my non [sex trade worker] friends. I think [sex trade work] has kept me sexually active and I think if I stop doing [sex trade work] I will really miss the sex.
RN was initially worried that her post-baby body wouldn’t be attractive to clients, but was pleasantly surprised to find out this wasn’t the case at all:
I worried that my child bearing body would be less appealing to men who were paying for sex but it really isn’t. Which is weird. That kind of info might be good if you are working with a pregnant [sex trade worker] who is worried that her post pregnancy body won’t sell. It will…and how!
For the most part, RN feels that her sex work is “invisible,” meaning not a lot of people in her life know about it so she doesn’t feel she is discriminated against based on her occupation:
my very close friends know and a small group of sex positive people… Some of my friends are concerned that my children will find out and be devastated or disrespect me. There can be a sense that I am a “fallen” woman sometimes but I prefer to think of myself as a badass that needed cash, likes sex and added two and two. People are also concerned that I will get injured or killed by a client or arrested. That was a concern for me but I just see the same guys now.
However, RN is selective about which of her romantic partners she tells about her work:
I met a guy I dated for a long time because of the work. The way my friend and I would do it is that we would advertise in the back pages and see a bunch of strangers, then keep the numbers of the guys we liked and then see them at my friend's condo. Then we would just see those guys over and over (like regulars). Then if our numbers dwindled we would advertise again, get new clients then cherry pick the ones we like for ongoing condo visits. So I dated a guy for 14 months that my friend and I had hired to do security for us when we were having a “New Client week end blitz” at a hotel. He obviously knew and he was very sex worker positive and had in fact dated another sex trade worker in the past. He generally seemed okay with it but he experienced a bit of jealousy and made a snide remark about it once and only once because my indignant rage was torrential and difficult to swim out of. I never forgave him. I probably wouldn’t tell future partners because I just see the same 6 guys now and I will never advertise again. So I maybe consider that I would wind this up in a couple of years and so maybe wouldn’t mention it… but then again the two people who I currently have flirtations with and will probably date in the next six months both know.
One part of RN’s story that I found particularly touching was how some of her clients went beyond financial support to help her and her family on occasion:
… most of my clients know that I have one child (the younger one) because I have obvious stretch marks and so I tell people. I have also run into two clients in public with him and they have seen his picture on my phone. One of my clients is a hydro worker/manager and during an ice storm when the power was out he contacted me saying that if me and my son didn’t have power he would send a crew to our neighborhood first. This was very touching to me. Another time when there was torrential rain storm two clients offered to drive me and my son where ever we needed to go. During weather emergencies almost all of them contact me to see if I am okay and if me and my little boy need anything. I did not expect that. It’s kinda like a weird back up support (that I would never use unless totally desperate but it’s there).
Although RN enjoys her work and has had many positive experiences, parenting a daughter highlighted an internal bias she wasn’t previously aware of:
I found during sex work while parenting a 15 year old (now 20 year old) girl to be extremely complex as I am completely comfortable with myself and my peers doing sex work I was very nervous that she would find out and “end up” doing sex work because I was/am a bad example. This caused a lot of self loathing but only in regards to being a parent to a daughter not in any other aspect which was difficult to explore and in fact I sometimes wonder if not wanting my daughter in the work means that I have some whorephobia in me. If I didn’t have kids I would never have had to explore these feelings as they are only in regards to her. It’s kind of like it’s okay for me and other woman to do but not my daughter and I recognize that that is a bit messed up.
If there’s two things RN could have told herself before she started it would have been:
Man, if I could go back and re-assure myself that sex work is gonna be okay and I was gonna meet great guys that I would see for years at a time, I think I would have had an easier time those first six months.
be so careful with your phone. I have been super careful with my phone and have all my clients in my phone by their first name “Bob” and the they all have the last name “work” so if my kids see that my phone is blowing up with calls/texts and they look over they always see the word “work” and because I work at a hospital they know that I could get calls 24 hours a day. If they see xoxo on a text from “work” they just think its my colleagues and I joking around or “missing each other”
Although RN did look into some resources on sex work and parenting, such as with the Canadian Alliance for Sex Trade Workers, she did not feel comfortable accessing other resources for fear of being found out at her other job.
If you’ve given birth and identify as a person/woman of colour, nonbinary, trans man, sex workers, or polyamorous please contact me directly to inquire about participating in this project. For more information, check-out the original call for articles for details.