Written by MLNPstar Tabby of Tabby + Monkey.
Last week I was at the post office posting a pair of my underwear to a customer in the UK (my own country) when, to my surprise, I was asked, “what are you sending?” by a well-meaning postal worker as she groped my package as if to see what was inside. I was taken aback. Because, while I’m used to being asked this when sending internationally but not a domestic large letter. My first response was to blush and stutter.
“Umm….a gift item.”
When I realized this was not enough information for the person behind the desk I offered, “textiles.” At that point I think she noted my awkwardness and appeared satisfied with my answer.
I left the post office, bemused, wondering what the response would have been had I answered plainly and said, “a pair of knickers.” It probably would have been a bit embarrassing, but it would have been honest and unambiguous, perhaps a little empowering too.
Though I like to think of myself as forward thinking and proud of my small involvement in adult entertainment, when it comes down to speaking up about it, I choke.
Here’s another example. I’m involved in some voluntary work a couple of days per week. The subject of fetishes came up in conversation at tea break. I said that I found fetishes fascinating and said, “did you know that there is a fetish for being wrapped in clingfilm?”
This piqued further interest and I was asked suspiciously, “how on earth do you know that?” Oops! I now had to decide whether to give the honest answer or quickly find a believable lie. I went for the lie.
How can we begin to live in a world where adult work is socially acceptable when we can’t even admit to being a part of it?
The people in question probably wouldn’t think less of me but I didn’t want to risk making them feel uncomfortable.
How would it be received if I answered honestly in a job interview to questions like, “tell me about a time where you had to develop a rapport with a customer,” or “what experience do you have taking phone calls/keeping records/working towards deadlines?” Would you draw on your experience in adult entertainment? I have been in situations where I’ve had to bend the truth, and fortunately I’ve also had other experiences where I could talk openly about my sex work. Would you be happy to include camgirl/porn actress/phone sex operator, etc, on your CV? Or try to explain a feasible reason for a gap in your employment history spanning many months or years?
Talking about working in adult entertainment under these sort of circumstances could be a great way to inform people about what it actually involves. It could be a great way to begin shattering stereotypes and prejudice. Or it could be a great way to talk yourself out of a job.
I ask because I am genuinely curious and, much as I enjoy adult work, there are other kinds of work I want to do, too. I want to know how other people answer similar questions. I would love to be able to talk openly with friends and strangers about what I do. For one thing, I don’t like people thinking I sit around doing nothing all day. But also, I LIKE talking about the work that I do.
Fetishes are interesting. So is the infinite diversity of sexual desire. Many people I know will happily have giggle-some tea break conversations about sex and fetishes but squirm if the conversation gets personal and you ask them, “do you watch porn?” I hope one day this will change. One of many reasons I am hopeful for this change is it will make my trips to the post office much less awkward.