In this post, I’m going to explore how and why I and other virginity sellers are different – and the same – as other sexworkers.
Why I’m Different
In this blog, I’ve been calling myself a sexworker so it might surprise you that I’m suddenly claiming to be different. And I am. But I don’t think I’m different because I’m ‘only’ selling to one person, so I’m ‘less bad’ than ‘real prostitutes’. -Not that such a line of thinking makes any logical sense outside of the conservative-patriarchal framework, anyway!
But I’m different because I’ll be judged less. Plenty of people DO subscribe to the ‘selling once is less bad’ idea. And Rhoda Grant’s Bill is only going to affect me up until I sell it. I also won’t have the same experiences as someone whose career is sex work; for me, it’s a game. I’ve admitted that over and over again, and I’ll admit it once more: it’s a thrill, it’s a game I am playing with life itself. For other sex workers, it’s work while for me it’s play. Ironically, the glamour and fun that so many attribute to sex work is probably more true of virginity sellers or newbie sex workers. For us, it’s all novel and we’re less likely to know other sexworkers. For ordinary sexworkers, it’s just work.
This is what differentiates me from other sex workers. You cannot compare someone who has built up their skills, business and reputation for years – perhaps decades- and whose earnings depend on their work, with someone who’s having a bit of fun for a few months. I’m never going to feel the same way about the Nordic model or potential violence from clients or social stigma as other sex workers. This is why I won’t do any media work unless it’s in the context of selling virginity or unusual approaches to sex work. I’m not entitled to speak for other sex workers except on issues which affect me too, such as safety.
Why I’m Not
Catarina Migliorini, who is selling her virginity as part of a documentary, said “I do not consider myself to be a prostitute.” She used the analogy that taking one great photo in your life doesn’t make you a photographer. However, as one internet comment pointed out, committiing one murder makes you a murderer. And anyway, paid-for sex is prostitution. So you are a prostitute for the duration of selling sex, however short that may be and however you wish to calculate the start and end times of that duration. I suspect that Migliorini, as well as some students who have sugar daddies, do not wish to call themselves prostitutes because of social stigma. They have good self-esteem, so refuse to call themselves by a name which indicates worthlessness. I wonder if Migliorini knew the term ‘sex worker’, would she be willing to call herself that?
So, though we face different challenges to “regular” sexworkers, there is no getting round the fact that us virginity sellers are sexworkers.
Why It Should Suck But Doesn’t
As I’ve said above, we virginity sellers (all six or so of us who’ve been documented) have it easy regarding social stigma (and possibly hate by antis and radfems). But we also have to negotiate an industry we know nothing about, usually isolated from other sex workers and ignorant of websites and organisations that could help us. Because, like most sexworkers, we work/play/whatever in secrecy, it could be hard to find someone to talk to about it.
I was lucky. My friends Lochlan and Leanne were open-minded about it. Then after blogging for a couple of months, I joined Twitter and found other sexworkers on there. I was really irritated by Roland’s contract-breaking and although I knew I should be ringing escort agencies or starting an auction or joining sugar daddy sites, I just couldn’t seem to get motivated. I’ve always had a fear of failure, criticism and rejection, and this was public. I’d never seriously imagined Roland would break the contract, and since I wanted to retain my anonymity (as well as not having the money) there was no way I could legally enforce the contract. (Which is impossible anyway, as it would be rape to compel Roland to fulfil it. I would only get damages for breach of contract.)
Luckily, there were 2 or 3 people on Twitter who I could offload all these sadfeelz onto, and they gave me great advice as well about how to proceed with finding a new buyer. I think that if someone is a sex worker or has done sex work at some point, they get it. I was quite ashamed about my personal failure, but they helped me see that I could so easily bounce back and continue with what I was doing, and that it wasn’t anything to be embarassed about.
So, from what I’ve experienced and what I know others have experienced, the sex worker community is a great source of support and I learned basically everything I know about staying anonymous online and negotiating with clients from other sex workers (both directly, through them tweeting links at me or DM’ing me, and indirectly through reading their blogs and tweets.)
As for the (online) sex worker community itself, it seems much more inclusive than other groups or movements such as feminism. Nobody’s ever said I’m not a real sex worker since I’m just selling virginity, or that I don’t ‘get’ stuff like they do because of my difference. Or that the Nordic Model won’t affect me because I won’t be selling sex by the time it’s implemented (not that it will be).
Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be the fragmentation in the sex worker community as there is in other groups such as anarchists or feminists. All sex workers seem to agree on most things, as do I. This whole selling virginity journey has been like coming home.
It’s just diluted sex work, and also much more than sex work
There’s also a certain novelty about exploring this corner of sexwork. This is probably the world’s first selling virginity blog (given the relative youth of blogging as a mainstream activity) just as the documentary Migliorini has yet to participate in and the American live streaming of a cam girl losing virginity are world firsts. This means that some of the posts I make about selling virginity are the first (documented, online) thoughts on the issue.
Selling virginity can be made into an art form (e.g. the live streaming) an experiment, documentary, or political statement. Sex work has largely lost that power through its ever-present existence in societies for thousands of years. Though sex work can still be explored in the same ways as selling virginity through new technologies (eg documentaries, fiction, blogs) these mediums have, at this stage, been exhausted to the point where little novelty remains and every angle has been looked at (with certain perceptions of sex work getting much more attention than others.)
The juxtaposition of the virgin and whore has been entrenched in social morality, media portrayals and art for centuries, and doubtless it will continue to fascinate.