This is our truth, tell us yours
Sex workers, or at least ones like me who specialise in that most undefinable niche of “girlfriend experience”, are shapeshifters. Part of the trick of selling the experience is judging, often within seconds, exactly who someones fantasy girlfriend is. Some clients of course just want a fuck, half an hour with little more than a smile and an offer of a cold drink to fulfil social niceties. They are the easy ones. Others however, they want to “connect” and thus the shape shifting commences. Does this one want the demure woman brought to the edge of ecstasy so she abandons herself? Or is it the savvy sex worker, who choose a job which fits her high sex drive? Am I well educated or making to money to return to college after a misspent youth? Not every sex worker of course is like me, I choose to keep a veil between myself and the client, a veil which cloaks me even when I am stripped naked, perhaps a veil I chose so I am never truly naked.Its like the artifice of my name, known by so many as Jem that I reply to it, see it as my name, and yet, it too is a veil, one of many, if not quite seven, which means I can chose what is revealed and to whom. Jem, or my sex working personas are all however close to me, compartments of me, or perhaps most accurately famular outfits which I can slip on unconsciously, so used am I to wearing them.
I believe that I prefer this, slipping between roles, between personas, keeping an awareness of the performative nature of sex work even whilst sometimes it has to be a metawareness, partly because of my neurodiversity. As I discussed here “girling” the process of being a girl, never came naturally to me. Each time I tried to observe the rules, work out how this girlness should be expressed, I learnt to be a shapeshifter, to try to conform the the rules that seemed to come naturally to those around me. I have to say I generally did not learn these rules. My peers it seems did not take well to me explaining that not eating all day then having chips was not going to lose weight. Nor did I understand the sexual rules which said a blow job should only be given to someone you “liked” and not in exchange for not paying the train fare home. (It suddenly occurs that I was trading sex at 16, a pity I did not put a higher value on it than 2 pints of cider).
When I discovered BDSM it was with an interest in exploring the interplay of pain and pleasure, however, I think a way of relating to other people where there were explicit rules also appealed. Instead of the magical mind reading which so many human interactions falter on, at least for me, here were people with checklists, with rules of interaction, explicitly set out. Carter and I have upon occasion joked that it’s a wonder he ever found me, surrounded as I was by people who genuinely used slashy speak (and this one is very grateful the He did so) but, of course I was as interested by the sex as by the idea of sex with rules.
The thing which constantly surprises me however is that in this thing that Carter and I do, bourne from a place of ritual and rules, the shapeshifting, the need for guidance on how to be has been replaced with something far more fluid, and at the same time far more secure. He wrote here of how if I did settle into a set role, he would want to break it. Indeed having been on the receiving end of how he breaks me from a role I see myself in (most recently by clasping my hands over my ears so as not to hear him) I know this would be true. How often do we actually exist in a space where fluidity is not only accepted but desired? Far more often it seem people wish to pin us down to one way of being, demanding that we remain always “this” whatever “this” may be. Instead of embracing fluidity, or the many contained within the one, instead we say to others, this is how I encounter you, so this is how you must remain. Be it gender, sexuality, class, or any of those things we pile under the label of identity any desire to be more than the first presented face meets with resistance. The reality, that in fact we are a complex interplay of different parts,which may be seen at different moments, in different spaces, is not about deception, or pretence, but in fact about truly accepting another as they are, not as the fantasy you wish them to be