I’m a sex worker and a queer woman, and recently I sought out the services of another female sex worker.
I wanted to hire a sex worker for several reasons. First, as a sex worker of many years myself, I have no moral objection to sex work, and I do not feel that hiring a sex worker should be a big deal. What doing sex work has taught me is that most men have either contacted a sex worker, hired a sex worker, or thought about hiring a sex worker. And there’s no shame in that.
But we do shame women for the same desire to have sex without strings. Mainstream society sees a woman’s place as giving pleasure, not receiving it. A woman’s orgasm is often treated as superfluous, even unnecessary.
A 2017 study found that heterosexual men had the highest rate of orgasm during intercourse at 95%, with lesbian women reporting having orgasms 89% of the time with partners, and heterosexual women reported only having an orgasm 65% of the time with male partners. Heterosexual sex is defined to many people as having taken place when the man ejaculates.
So, it’s not surprising that a woman might want to hire a professional, someone who she can guarantee will be focused on her pleasure. I have spent my whole life, even outside of sex work, focused on serving and pleasing men, both in and out of bed, and I’m sick of it. I’m tired of my pleasure being irrelevant. I matter, and my sexual satisfaction matters.
People don’t think women ever want to just have sex, but we do. Women get horny, women are sexual, women want to fuck, just like men. Hiring a professional, as opposed to finding someone at a bar or from a dating app, is more appealing to me because after years of catering to everyone else’s sexual needs, I want sex without a lot of preamble. I want an (almost) guaranteed fun sexual experience, complete with orgasms, without having to engage in a lot of emotional labor.
I have always been queer, but never even started to piece that together until I was in my early 30s a couple of years ago. I have only had sex with a woman twice, both times during threesomes with men, with both of us pleasing him and fulfilling some male fantasy as the main objective.
Still, both of those times I had sex with a woman I enjoyed it much more than having sex with men. I liked the way a woman’s body felt better. Sex with women, for me, feels safer, more intimate, and I just enjoy the mechanics of it much more.
I thought about hiring a male sex worker, and maybe I will someday, but seeking out this experience felt like an important step in destigmatizing my queerness within myself.
So, I started looking around on the websites I myself had advertised on as a sex worker. Most of the sites have profiles of the workers, kind of like a Facebook page. It will usually say if a particular woman sees men, couples, women, or enby/trans folks. I went through dozens of profiles and only found providers who saw “men” or “men and couples.” Out of these, fewer than a handful indicated they would see women.
I contacted the few and here’s what I heard in return: Sorry, I don’t see women unless it’s a threesome; OK, but can you send some selfies of yourself first before I decide; or I will see you, but you have to pay more. These are not the responses male clients would likely receive. Of course, no one should have sex with anyone they don’t want to, but what else is going on here? After all, many of my sex-working friends are queer and have sex with male clients all the time. And many of the providers I spoke to were fine having sex with a woman as long as a man was there.
From doing research outside my area, I know there are providers who are open to queer women, enby or trans clients, but not only is the distance prohibitive for me, most of them charge A LOT more than the average person could afford. This leads me to believe that these services may not be accessible to most women.
And if I’m having this much difficulty finding a provider, I can’t imagine what those who are trans or gender-nonconforming would go through. This is systemic within the sex industry.
Gender is heavily policed for providers, too. When I do sex work, I am required to dress up in “gender drag” — including makeup, long hair, and high heels — and perform an outsize version of femininity. Even though in my everyday life I prefer to wear old T-shirts, baggy pants and no makeup. The sex industry has by no means come so far as to really make real, valid space for nonbinary and nonconforming ways of expressing gender.
I can understand that the individual sex workers I spoke with are making the choices that make them feel the most comfortable while navigating a difficult and also stigmatized industry. But the net result is a system in which entire groups of people are excluded. People (like me!) who would be kind, respectful clients who pay promptly and tip big.
When you imagine the “typical” client of a sex worker, you might picture a white, cisgender man. A lot of sex workers feel the same way. But white cisgender men are not the only people who can benefit from access to sex workers’ services.
Seeing a sex worker can be immensely healing, especially for groups of people who have been shunned, put down, or treated poorly by society at large. It can be therapeutic to have someone be with you, touch you, see you; even for just an hour. It can be a way to gain experience, safely explore fantasies, or access the intimacy we all need.
And keeping the gender orgasm gap in mind, it could stand to argue that women, especially women who have sex with men, could benefit greatly from being able to see sex workers of any gender.
I intend to keep looking, as discouraging as things seem. I know there is a provider out there who is a good fit and willing to work with women. And I hope that in the future, everyone will be able to find out what it’s like to have their pleasure prioritized, in whatever kind of relationship they choose.
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