Walking on Eggshells: When Unspoken Rules & Social Consciousness Collide...
I think Alessia Cara is haunting me. No, I am so serious! Like most people of the internet age, unless you’re frequenting my eardrums, I may just forget you exist. Not Alessia though. Her song “Wild Things” is on repeat everywhere I go: work, the mall, the gym, and the drive home. Just shut my mouth wide open. With the universe booming all around me and the official start of Spring in Texas (I’m calling it), it’s the time of our yearly cycle to start shifting our focus to our individual rebirth, renewal, and growth. In my tribe, our “faith” tells us that Spring is abundant with positive energy, propelling us forward through forces of change towards our next evolution.
Lately, the vibrations and kinetic energy of the Heauxverse have been shifting and bleeding over in Heaux-Twitter. This should come as no surprise with the demise of Back Page's Adult Services section and Twitter's quarterly growth (which under performed actually). The Force is re-awakening my friends and we must evolve with it. Part of it is due to Mars and Pluto joining forces last week, the New Moon in Pisces this past Sunday, and Uranus and Jupiter doing some awkward things. Folks are getting real emotional, hella anxious, and it’s quite evident. That’s your Natural Savage coming out and that took such a left turn.
Highly observant, I have noticed over the past few weeks tweets referencing classism (and at times, racism) within the provider world have increased tremendously… again. This happens… often. When it does, I go sit in my corner with my scotch and watch it all unfold. Various opinions and memes will be swarming in my head, but I do not share them on a platform like Twitter. A social network where emotions tend to run high, and in 140 characters a person could blow their reputation or become an enemy of the state. Between those debating if they “sell sex”, what it means to be “elite”, “VIP”, “high-end” and/or “low-volume”, or just the plain lack of acknowledgement of where a fellow companion falls on the class and privilege spectrum, I have been both entertained and sometimes ashamed at how flippant our community can be at times.
How does Alessia Cara fit into this? Her song “Wild Things” is an anthem for those of us that are on the fringes of society. While privilege is a strange and sometimes emotionally straining topic, we have to recognize that some of us have more privilege than others. Whether our level of privilege is due to our race, skin color (colorism is a thing y’all), size, gender, sexual orientation, outside income, etc., is based on the cards we are dealt and how we eventually play them. Regardless, as sex workers, we are in some form and fashion, outcasts. The theme of the lyrics revolves around owning who you are and not conforming to this idea of what others say you should be to be accepted. However, even as outcasts, we have our own social structures that can pressure us to conform.
When I first became a provider, I was informed of some unspoken rules: that I had to embody a certain persona, distance myself from providers at lower price points, and know the elite women to be considered a “high end/class” escort. Add on my identity as a woman of color, there were even more hurdles. To either push back, reinforce, or reclaim the labels of “Jezebel” and “Sapphire”? To placate people, be spoken over and for, and not to give my opinion in fear of backlash. Oh, and do all this while also navigating the disturbing "crabs-in-a-barrel" mentality the plagues the Heauxverse. I won't even go into how being a "inbetweenie", usually a woman above a size 8 but below a size 16, impacts my life as a provider (proud size 12 right here). My intersectional feminism is peeking out but that’s a whole other topic for a different day; trust and believe. When I think back to that time, I remember the alarms going off in my head. Now, I feel this innate sense of disappointment and shame for even listening. I'll keep it 100. I tried to abide by these rules but found that not only did they bite me in the ass, I wasn't being true to me and I was missing out on some great relationships with other women. *To those providers I've been able to have this talk with, thank you.*
Let me say this now before people get things twisted: there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING wrong with being a "high-end" escort; especially one that is socially aware. Though it begs the question, "What does it mean to be a high-end companion?" I'm sure we could all agree on a few key factors but there is no right answer because it's relative to each individual and client. And if I may be blunt, since the BP shut down, I think we as providers perpetuate this insidious class war as often as our clients. As the official start date of Spring and our rebirth nears, I’ve noticed myself evolving from that enigma. Hell, when there is an account called “The Honest Escort” (I love this account by the way – it’s genius) and the bio states, “Just a few honest #sexworkers tired of hiding behind our high-end images”, anyone can put two and two together and realize that all of this equals four when folks have been trying to say it’s five. It doesn't matter how much you charge or where you work - at the end of the day, a Heaux, is a Heaux, is a Heaux (this is for you too, Sugar Babies), and we all have to deal with capitalism, black market economies, and Darth Cheeto (President Donald J. Trump). This isn’t an attack on anyone or anything in general. It just is what it is. Yes, there will be fights ahead that will band us together as providers across all lines, but there are still difficult and tumultuous discourses that need to be had before we all join hands and sing “Kumbaya.” I digress.
Alessia sings the following, “I lose my balance on these eggshells you tell me to tread." Since becoming a provider and watching what has occurred over the past few months (and Janet Mock - she's amazing), let's just say I have woken up a bit more. As a provider of color, I have wanted to speak often on issues but fear the backlash from colleagues and potential clients alike (walking on eggshells). Folks may like what the pot-stirrer says but will they publicly sit with them? I'm not so sure. Regardless, circumstances in my life are pushing me to change, evolve, and grow. With my daytime career taking off with opportunities I never though possible, I will now be able to pursue a different doctoral program in a in a field of study that focuses on our community. It means not getting so embroiled in being something I’m not, following unspoken policies, marching to a beat that doesn’t work with me or for me, or reinforcing myths that harm our community. A rebel at heart, it may mean speaking out even when it may harm my brand. Whether a person does it quietly from the shadows or they're out there like Viola Gregg Liuzzo was during the Civil Rights Movement, a person can manipulate their privilege to fight the power and help a cause.
As I begin to wrap this post, I am acutely aware of how my privilege allows me to say these things because my avocation is not my sole source of income. I'll tell it like my boss told me when we had a discussion on privilege within our field, "As the person in a more privileged position, when you do great, I will ensure all the glory goes to you. And when you mess up, I will serve as your sword and shield. I will take the initial blow to protect you as much as I can." I guess what I'm saying is I'm good with a bit of tarnish if it means I can speak truth and take action.
I’m not sure how great this life is going to get yet, but I know that I’m impressed and surprised by how good it has been to me. The future only looks to be brighter and I want to do what I can to give back through advocacy, research, and what have you. It's an honor to know how many people are invested in me as a person and a provider. This world has helped me grow, its given my depths depths, its placed me on a new path in my non-provider life that fits for me and made me more authentic and diverse in thought and execution. As I evolve, I know it’ll only bring those who vibe at the same frequency as me closer and that other people, clients, and providers who don’t feel the vibe, well... "I’ll leave the empty chairs to those who say I can’t sit there." But guess what: While I may not be someone’s cup of tea, I am someone’s glass of Henny straight. And that... that's more than enough for me.
Side Note: Shout out to my Provider friends that read this before hand. Especially to the one who was worried about the use of "Heaux" under the argument that white women keep trying to "class up" African American vernacular without regard to cultural appropriation and struggle. You know who you are. #Respect.