Sex Work, Vulnerability, Shame, and Being Awesome
When we close ourselves off to others, we make ourselves smaller than we are.
Vulnerability is cool.
Imagine for a moment how it might feel to put down your walls and let people see you. When other people do this around us, they’re cool. Maybe we wish we had even a little of their courage.
But the thought of opening ourselves up feels risky. The three things people fear most in the world are death, rejection, and losing control.
We will do almost anything to avoid the potential of rejection by other people. For myself it was extreme social anxiety that made me think I’d almost certainly be shut out if I did anything wrong or even a little weird.
Discretion ≠ Shame
We’re taught that the act of hiding is itself an indication that we’ve done something wrong. If you’ve made the decision to keep your involvement with the adult industry to yourself, it does not necessarily mean you are ashamed of it. I credit this realization to Lola Davina’s “Thriving in Sex Work,” where she discusses this in more detail.
The reality is that most of society is simply not ready to process this information. Most of society is hanging on by a thread and flailing for something they understand. This industry isn’t one of those things, and so it scares them. We know this. We protect them, and ourselves, by carefully selecting the people with whom it’s safe and okay to be vulnerable.
The need for discretion is a reflection on society’s ignorance and society’s shame.
My Personal Story
At the precipice of my personal journey toward becoming a cooler person, I came to the conclusion for myself that I would no longer hide in the shadows and make myself small on account of others. I came out as a sex worker in February 2016, by posting an expose of sorts on the old OCamgirl blog. (It seems the new owners have since taken that one down, but I’ll try and track down a copy to share next time.)
This was by no means an impulsive decision – I’d been planning it for weeks.
I wanted to give those who loved me the opportunity to love the real me, to love me fully and unconditionally. Who doesn’t want that? It was a rude awakening to me when I never really heard from my own mother again. She closed herself off to me entirely, despite my repeated efforts to reconnect and communicate. And she never had the balls to explain to me what had even happened from her perspective. To this day, I have nothing to go on but my dad’s explanation that she just doesn’t know what to think of the online adult entertainment industry. It’s a non-explanation, a placeholder. Silence is the cruelest thing we can do to another human, especially one we claim to love.
I’m a bigger person now.
And not just around the middle.
As much as it tears me apart sometimes and I feel utterly rejected, I know I did the right thing and I have no regrets. My only regret, in fact, is that I didn’t come out from the shadows sooner. I spent three years hiding and making up stories to explain away my success. To make myself small.
In losing one relationship I thought I could never live without, I gained self-respect and freedom of self-expression in my other relationships. I’m a bigger person now.
It will never excuse her for being an actually terrible mother, but I digress.
We’re All In This Together
Dealing with society’s bullshit is hard enough without those of us involved with the adult entertainment industry being at each other’s throats and not in a hot way. Performers, clients, everyone. We’re all in this together. Let’s support one another and, you know, play nice. Yes, we’re still people and we are entitled to our own opinions I guess, but we have this thing in common. So I think we should focus on that.