I'm Not Your Daughter, And Neither Are Sex Workers

"Would you want your daughter to do what you're doing?" or its variant, "Would you want your daughter to have access to your work?" are meant to call out hypocrisy in those of us who support sexual freedom.
Publish date:
April 23, 2012
motherhood, sex work, not your daughter

I am aware of and truly appreciate the fact that you readers cut me so much slack when it comes to the voicing of unpopular ideas.

I think of it as a sort of deal we've struck: I'll be always totally 100 percent honest and put every questionable detail out there even when it is embarassing, shameful or my back fat, and in return, you'll ... hear me out, or at least not visciously attack me for having a difference of opinion.

Believing in this hypothetical deal is what allows me to keep putting my iffy parts out there, as in last week's piece about why I think hustling is a viable career option for women.

So those of you who disagreed for the most part disagreed very nicely, including the person who said something along the lines of "It will be interesting to see what happens as you grow up and if you would encourage this for your own daughter."

But it's a funny thing, this daughter question. It gets asked of nearly every sex worker with a public persona I know, and beyond that, sexual women in general, including sex writers.

"Would you want your daughter to do what you're doing?" or its variant, "Would you want your daughter to have access to your work?" are meant to call out hypocrisy in those of us who support sexual freedom. And in truth, if initially gave me pause: Do I really really believe in a woman's right to do what she wants with her body? Even when that body is of my own?

I don't know. I can't know, because I don't have a daughter, and I can't be sure what rush of feelings I'm likely to experience if I ever do have one. I do know that I'm likely to be paranoid about sexual predators, likely to fight, scratch and growl at anyone I suspect of sexualizing her before her time. I will want her to value herself in ways I never did, to have boundaries around her body that I never had. I would want her to navigate her sexuality better than I did. I don't think those things are incompatible with sex work, but again, I can't say what I will want for this hypothetical human.

The good news is, womankind as a whole is not my daughter. And I shouldn't treat them that way.

Neither should the state for that matter, although legalizing prostitution is a much bigger issue and for the moment I'll just say that there are lots of legal professions I don't particularly dream of for my children either. But treating all of womankind as our proverbial daughters is just an excuse for paternal, "well-meaning" control of our bodies, from reproduction to fornication.

I mean, imagine a world where parents run sex. We'd all be virgins until we turned 35. There'd be no one-night stands, no kink, no premarital sex or homosexuality for those of us who grew up in the Bible Belt.

My own mother and I have come to an amicable agreement in which we never, ever discuss the fact that I write filthy, slutty articles all day long. Or as my father told me in one of our rare conversations, "I went to your website one day and it was an article about you and chubby chasing and I figured it wasn't really a place for me."

We have a bit of an unusual situation in that the details of my sexual exploits are located on the Internet should my parents choose to keep apprised of them. (Hi mom! Sorry about the sex.) I assume that most of you out there just keep the details of your sex life far removed from those that hath borned you. Either way, I doubt any of you want your mother (or your father, although publically sexual men never seem to get asked these questions) deciding what's acceptable behavior when it comes to sex.

But when it comes to female sexuality, thank the sweet Lord our mothers aren't in charge. We are. So in the end, I'll adopt the answer given by my friend Melissa Petro, who gets asked this question on a regular basis:

"I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to be a sex worker. I wouldn’t discourage her either. Ultimately, every woman is free to choose how she makes herself sexually available, to whom, and for what in exchange– and we all do, all the time, sex worker and non-sex worker alike."

(That said, if I catch her "wrestling" on my bed with her 19-year-old boyfriend like my Dad caught me one time, she's grounded for life.)