I had one of those “put your money where your mouth is” moments when I read a very moving coming out story from a young prostitute in Australia (where prostitution is legal). It’s worth re-printing at length.
“Where is all this money coming from Grace? You’re only seventeen, you can’t be earning this from the bakery. What are you doing? I don’t believe you’re selling drugs, but it’s the only thing I can think of. You are saying you’re going to parties you aren’t attending, you’re not our daughter anymore, you’ve turned into something else.”
My mother paced the kitchen as I sat at the table playing with the runner, twisting its tassels between my fingers.
“No I’m not selling drugs mum, I’m a prostitute. I f*ck men for a living.”
My mother visibly retched, as my father leant against the back wall for support. I’ve never seen him grow so old in a moment since.
“Oh god, I’m going to vomit,” mum said. She steadied herself on the door frame, half running to the toilet.
My father began to cry. I’d never seen my father cry before.
A highly successful manager, and alpha male, he always dominated and led his men. He could walk into a pub and have a bar surrounding him in a few minutes, engaging, talking. People were attracted to my father like moths to a flame. There was something strong, good and fiercely independent about him that women flirted with and men followed.
“You’re my daughter Grace. How, f*ck. How can you let them do that do you? What did I do wrong? Oh god. Why? Why the f*ck are you doing this? Oh sh*t, I need to sit down. How can you be a whore? Don’t you know how they see you? How they talk, oh god, I feel sick. Please tell me I’m dreaming, for the love of god please tell me I’m dreaming.”
“No I’m not selling drugs mum, I’m a prostitute. I fuck men for a living.”
“I’m sorry daddy,” I responded. I could hear my mother retching in the ensuite up the hallway, her convulsions only broken by her sobs.
“Oh Grace, god, I love you so much, why? Why are you doing this?”
Tears continued to roll down the face of the only man I’d ever loved at that stage. It broke my heart.
“How? How the f*ck are you doing this? How can they let you do this? You’re f*cking seventeen for God’s sake, you’re not a f*cking whore.” I had never heard him swear so much in my company.
“I just rang them up, had an interview. They didn’t ask for ID.”
“Oh god. Is this some sick nightmare? How long have you been working?”
“A few months.”
“You know you’ve broken your mother’s heart? We gave you everything, love, a home, values, a good upbringing, fuck I even worked my ass off to give you a good school. You are so intelligent, what, are you going to throw all these scholarships, all these programs, all this time, all these people who just think you can be everything you can be, and you want to be a f*cking whore?”
“Dad, it’s not like that.”
My mother emerged from the bathroom, bloodshot eyes and as old as my father. For the first time I was no longer their daughter, but a very alien stranger.
Finally my mother spoke.
“Please leave Grace, you need to move out if you are going to keep doing this. This is not what we brought you up to be. We love you, but cannot have you under our roof any longer if this is to continue. “ I looked at my father.
“Please leave, for we do not know what you have become.”
You can read more of Grace’s wonderful writing at her NSFW website:
And more about coming out stories at The Honest Courtesan, by the very smart, very articulate Maggie McNeill.
In fact, Maggie is so smart and so well-spoken, she may not even be a whore! The whole thing could be an elaborate front for…well, I don’t know. But a clever, lucid hooker? Pretty suspicious, amirite?
Back to Grace.
When I read Grace’s story, all my compassion was for Grace. Why were her parents reacting so strongly? How could they be so cruel? Would they really prefer if she were a drug dealer? Did they not think Grace could make her own decisions about who and where and why to have sex? How could they kick her out? What is wrong with them?!?
And then of course, my next thought was, well JudgyBitch, what if seven years from now PinkyPinkyPie came and said those exact words to you.
I wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t like it one bit. But not for the same reasons as Grace’s parents. I wouldn’t think she had failed morally. I wouldn’t think I had done a bad job with her. I wouldn’t think she was stupid or naïve or psychologically damaged in some way. In fact, I might even admire her entrepreneurial spirit.
What I would hate is the stigma. The world is not kind to sex workers, and it seems to be one of the sole areas where women are denied autonomy over their own bodies, where it is acceptable to call them stupid and vulnerable and simple and abused and understand them as nothing more than tools, objects deployed by other people to satisfy the desires and needs of men.
And no doubt, that IS the case for horribly abused, drug addicted, mired in poverty, trafficked whores, but the problem there is that they are abused, addicted, poor and trafficked. Not that they are whores. Grace is not one of those women. She is a beautiful, intelligent, talented woman who understands the value of her beauty and sensuality and sexuality and claims the right to determine the price of that. And why the hell shouldn’t she?
It’s mostly middle aged women who object to young, gorgeous prostitutes, isn’t it? Now why would that be? Possibly because they know competing with someone like Grace might be awfully difficult? And yes, it is difficult. But not impossible. It requires some effort though. JudgyBitch is no longer 17 years old and nubile and lovely like Grace, but she isn’t altogether too concerned about Grace, because despite the extra years and the toll having three children has taken on her body, she is still slender and takes care of what little beauty she has, and she makes Mr. JB the center of her world, which reduces his interest in exquisite ladies like Grace. Although quite frankly, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with Mr.JB paying Grace a visit next time he’s in Adelaide, as long as I get an equal amount of cash to buy those new black leather UGG boots I’ve had my eye on.
Not everyone sees women as having the absolute right to determine the value of their own bodies, though, and that forms the basis of my objection to having my daughters work in the sex industry. I would hate the vitriol, the hatred, the victimization narrative, the assumption that they are damaged, immoral, and incapable of making their own decisions. I would hate the sneering looks of contempt, the assumption that they are sluts or wanton or depraved. I would hate all of that. I would like to see a world where it is safe for a young woman to decide the value of her own body. Until that happens, no, I wouldn’t like my daughters to be whores.
Of course, I wouldn’t like them to be personal injury lawyers either. Ambulance chasing, money-grubbing, corrupt ghouls. Ugh. On second thought, maybe there are worse things to be than a whore.
Lots of love,