Essays & Confessions

How Sex Workers On Tumblr Made Me Better At My Job

By | Wednesday, September 30, 2015


In case you weren’t privy to this information, Tumblr has an active sex worker community. The community is largely comprised of escorts, strippers, elite companions, cam girls, fetish models, professional dommes and subs, sugar babies and aspiring trophy wives, to name a few. Fascinated with these women, I started following them. They are courageous, and unapologetic sexual service providers and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I was quickly blown away by their wit, charm, and charisma. Many of them are also stunning, but that ends up being the least noticeable part. They are businesswomen, plain and simple.

As I became a first-time entrepreneur, I realized just how many lessons the sex work community had taught me. Here is what I learned from them, and exactly how it helped:

1. Take control
Sex workers do sex work for a variety of reasons – they are people, and people are complex, after all. However, there is one common thread: these women are highly independent. They rely on themselves and refuse to take the ‘oh pity me’ route. They realize that they need to take charge of their financial life, and build a business out of supply and demand. Most importantly, independent sex workers (as opposed to sex workers tied to an agency) are incredibly good at managing their time to run their business smoothly.

How this helped:  As a first-time entrepreneur, and one-woman show, I knew that I had to do everything myself. But I didn’t fully realize it until I was in the thick of it. Effective time management to handle every aspect of my business is crucial, and these ladies are pros.

2. Minimize risk
Many of the sex workers operate their business from countries where prostitution is illegal. Because of this, sex workers have to take extra precaution to avoid getting busted by a LE (law enforcer). Due to the lack of protection, sex workers are meticulous about screening their clients. Furthermore, they take precautions in avoiding STDs (sex workers from medical backgrounds are very helpful with this), and ensure they aren’t being flagged by the bank when making hefty cash deposits.

How this helped: I realize that minimizing risk is important and it should be ongoing. Leaving risk unattended is a recipe for disaster. For example, I’ve become more attentive in checking my online bank account, to avoid late fees and penalties. I read every finance-related T&C documents. I’ve checked a contract, found loopholes and successfully negotiated for additional necessities, because they were essential for the job. You have to see what could go wrong, and fix it before it does.

3. Hustle hard
Some haters say terrible things about sex workers: ‘That’s an easy job – you just have to lie down and spread your legs!’ After following their blogs for a while, I found that the most successful sex workers are the hardest workers. They put in time to take care for their product (their body), to produce marketing tools, to network, to maintain relationships with returning clients, and perform menial, administrative tasks like answering their emails on time.

How this helped: It is a friendly reminder that there is no substitute for hard work – there is no reward for simply being ‘a pretty face’ (at least, not sustainably). Glamour is superficial. The lesson here is to be humble, because no small task is beneath me.

4. You have to look out for your fellow women
Sex workers warn each other about horrible clients, especially physically abusive clients. They provide advice to new sexworkers – ranging from tips on being discrete, to photography referrals, to verified websites that will get them clients. Some even provide mentorship. Generally speaking, despite the few bad apples, the sex worker community on Tumblr is very supportive of each other. They maintain that low-paid ladies are not beneath higher-paid ladies – and give advice to help improve the situation. It’s honestly heartwarming and feminist. Some are also anti-trafficking activists, helping to stop non-consensual sex trade.

How this helped: This is the biggest lesson of all: putting other women down in order to get ahead is not cool. In the corporate world, women often fight for that one seat open on the board. We have to realize that the solution is to have more seats, not to have more fights.

5. Your personal branding is important
This helps sex workers attract the types of clients they want. One worker I follow charges $500 an hour, and brands herself as an educated multi-linguist. She’s incredibly successful because this niche expertise enables her to charge more, and appeal to clients who are not intimidated by educated women.

How this helped: I feel that in this globalized economy, telling clients what you can do will no longer be enough. There will always be competitors who are willing to charge way less than you. So I’m going to shift my strategy – I’ll work on my personal branding instead. After all, I don’t know about you, but cheap clients are not the clients I want to target.

All in all, whether you are pro or anti sex workers, taking an in depth look into their lives reminds me that they are role models in terms of branding, hustling, and being entrepreneurs. And that is why I have mad respect for sex workers.

Founder of Kotak Koffee, Suraya is a Malaysian personal finance enthusiast hoping to make the world better for women, a bit at a time.

Image via Pexels

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