7 things sex workers in Toronto wish you knew
For a city that loves to preach about how progressive it is, Toronto still has plenty of outdated views - especially when it comes to sex work. Toronto's sex work industry is not only large, it's also important.
To clear up some misconceptions that people may have about sex work, Lady Pim, a dominatrix with The Ritual Chamber, offered blogTO her insight on seven things that local sex workers wish people in Toronto knew.
At its core, sex work is a customer-service job that requires many different skills. Sex workers work with their clients in an intimate, hands-on way much like a masseuse, personal trainer, or therapist.
Many people may not even realise just how much administrative work goes into sex work. Everything from promotion on social media, to shooting and editing online content, to screening clients and sanitizing work spaces are all part of the job.
"For each hour put in to actual appointments with clients, we work dozens," Lady Pim says. "It's part of the reason our hourly is so expensive. We are not on salary. We don't have sick days. We need to be compensated for all of the behind-the-scenes work we do, too."
On the subject of admin work, the screening process is something many sex workers receive blowback about from customers who are uncomfortable with conducting themselves on someone else's terms.
"For sex workers, these procedures are literally about life and death. It's what we need to do to feel safe," says Lady Pim. "To put it bluntly, our physical safety is much more important than their uncomfortability surrounding discretion."
Just because you've seen a few movies about sex workers doesn't mean you know what the sex-worker lifestyle is like.
Unfortunately, sex workers are rarely consulted as writers or producers so their life experiences often go untold.
With so many sex workers also being people who create their own content, more productions should consider giving a platform to those voices.
Most people have an extremely limited view of what a sex worker is. In reality, sex work comes in many different forms, from stripping and adult content creation to escort services and kink work.
"Sex workers can be any gender, background, orientation, or body type," says Lady Pim. "We are your co-workers, family, partners, acquaintances and friends. Whatever stereotype you have in your head, throw it out, because sex work is way more diverse than you think."
On the subject of misguided views, sex work is not something people resort to when they desperately need money.
Plenty of sex workers enjoy their job and develop genuine working relationships with their clientele. There are plenty of other jobs that people don't enjoy and put up with so they can receive a paycheque, yet sex work is still the one most stigmatized.
"For the most part, we are hired to fulfill the fantasy of our clients," says Lady Pim. "If we are doing that successfully, then the reason we are engaging in our work shouldn't matter."
There are plenty of reasons people visit sex workers. From fulfilling a fantasy they aren't comfortable sharing with anyone else, to not having the time, energy, or opportunity to have a more personal relationship.
Sex workers can also help both individuals and couples learn new techniques or kinks, and explore specific needs and desires they've been curious about. Much like how there's no shame in going to therapy or hiring personal trainer, there should be no shame involved in seeking out help to have these particular needs met.
Sex work exists because it's something people need. There's a reason it's considered the world's oldest profession.
"It may seem like a very surface-level service that we offer, but the deeper implications of sexual expression are undeniable," says Lady Pim. "We provide a judgement-free space for clients to be authentic in their sexual identities, which can be impactful long term for confidence, happiness, and mental health."
Providing a shame-free space for people to explore their gender identity, sexual orientation, or power dynamics can help clients become comfortable and confident with who they are.
"And if this pandemic has taught us anything, it's the importance of physical touch," Lady Pim says. "Companionship, intimacy: All currency we are well versed in dealing in."
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