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Last summer, many crucial life events happened for me. I graduated college, turned down a graduate school offer, accepted my absolute dream job and was newly single for the first time in five years. This resulted in a series of memorable, slightly irresponsible antics, a time period I lovingly call "Slut Summer 2k14." I was 22, horny and brave.
One day, I was doing my daily browsing of OkCupid and Tinder, which served as avenues for my adventures. While on OkCupid, a man whose avatar was a moose with human teeth messaged me. I never found out his name; let’s just call him Mike.
Mike insisted that he was a “normal guy.” A normal guy who buys women’s used panties off dating websites. He offered me $40 and said that if I was “good at it,” he would ask me for weekly “products.” He described himself as a “pretty normal, moderately attractive white guy” in his 20s.
I originally rejected him, and thought he was gross. Who knows who this guy was. What if he was trying to hurt me? Did I really want to give up a pair of underwear for this guy? What if I was kidnapped, or if he was a cop? How would I explain this to my parents? My gut reaction was to be hesitant.
I spoke to some of my friends, who were shocked that I would turn him down. They said 49 dollars is a lot of money. They asked for his information so they could sell their panties. My friends convinced me that this is an opportunity of a lifetime and that I should rethink my options.
I decided to reach out to Mike again. We talked more about why he wanted to buy the panties, and he said that this was part of his masochistic fetish, and he wants to be "punished" by women but this was the closest thing he could get to that. He had a fantasy of a woman sitting on his face and demeaning him.
I started to sympathize with him; when your opening line is “Can I buy your panties?” you probably don’t get a lot of dates. He did his best to make me feel safe. He texted me from his real cell phone and sent me a selfie to show he was “normal.” He was right – he wasn’t particularly interesting-looking or notable. He actually appeared to be very boring.
We made plans to meet at the local Hobby Lobby parking lot at 5:00 pm.
When we met, we made the quickest exchange of my life. I tossed him the plastic bag with my panties, and he handed me $40 in cash. He wore a pair of sunglasses and a hat, and sped off as soon as he got into the car without saying a word to me.
He texted me within a few minutes, solidifying one of the longest ongoing inside jokes between my friends and I. His first words were "butt too clean lol,” a nice way to say, “Hey, your panties weren’t dirty enough for me.” He explained that his fetish was not about vaginal discharges…but it was about fecal matter.
I apologized, reminded him that I’m not exactly familiar with this process and explained that in future interactions, I could do better to satisfy him.
My favorite part about this is that it happened on the same day that the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case decision was released. It felt subversive and like a giant middle finger to Hobby Lobby for opting out of birth control coverage for their employees. I was going to be unapologetically sexual, on your property! And you can’t stop me, Hobby Lobby! I was bold, and young, and wanted to make rich old white men squirm!
Not surprisingly, things didn’t pan out for Mike and I. I had planned on continuing our exchanges, but shortly after he bought my underwear, he messaged me asking if I could urinate on him for $100. That crossed a line for me and I politely declined.
I was also just grossed out that he wanted feces in my underwear, and not just vaginal secretions. I didn’t think I could muster up the courage to wipe with my underwear and transport it in my car to him.
This experience really tested my boundaries in terms of sex work. There are plenty of women out there who talk up a big game about wanting to do sex work.
“I’d totally strip!” is a common phrase I hear tossed around among my friends. But most women don’t take the first step into sex work; something stops them.
Selling my underwear was one of the easiest ways I’ve ever made money. While it’s not really that close to stripping or other types of interactive sex work, I don’t judge people who choose sex work as a path to economic freedom. I do believe that sex workers’ right to safety is absolutely crucial.
And trust me, if someone asked me today if I would do it again, my answer would be an enthusiastic “Hell yeah.”