let’s get this out in the open: i am a rape survivor. i have heard the many theories on the sexual assault histories of sex workers (blah blah, unfounded presumptions and accusations of “damaged goods,” etc. etc.), and of course, the many theories on how sexual assault/rape survivors develop connections to BDSM in ways that could seem surprising. i am not particularly interested in rehashing that discussion that has been had over and over again on these subjects. in short: if you’re making shitty presumptions about the trauma history of sex workers, you’re an asshole. if you assume that you must be “fucked up” or otherwise irreparably damaged to be a sex worker or to be interested in BDSM, you’re an asshole. if you feel like you need to “understand” why sexual assault/rape survivors have a tendency toward certain sexual proclivities, you should consider minding your own goddamn business. also: you’re an asshole.
now that we have that out of the way:
at our house, we can be hired as switches or subs. initially this granted me some anxiety; in my personal sex life, i am far more on the submissive side of the spectrum, but that is within the context of trust and a personal sexual relationship. obviously, that trust doesn’t exist with a client that i have never met before. while they may not have that with me either, i am also more likely to be preyed upon than act as a predator. if we factor in male privilege and the effects of rape culture, and then consider how sex workers are treated, and how they are at a higher risk for violence than other women due to the work being illegal and deeply stigmatized, my reticence makes perfect sense. i admire those folks who are willing to be professional submissives, especially if they are offering full escort services as well. yowza. i haven’t got the salt for it.
even so, i can be hired as a switch or a sub, but i have to tell you that i don’t enjoy being hired as a submissive at all. i have had numerous sessions that pushed my boundaries, including one that left me in tears, and putting the client on my “do not see” list. i am not sure if it is from having a background filled with trauma, but i was surprisingly unable to enforce my boundaries during that session as well as i would have liked to. things were happening so fast, and there was a delay time in which i had to process what was happening, how it made me feel, why i didn’t like it, and then, should i still say something even though this is a client? how should i say it to the client? how much more can i tolerate, even though i am starting to feel very uncomfortable, or should i just outright end the session? i found that even the activities that i typically enjoy lost their flavor, and felt violating. at the end of the session, there was no real check in or aftercare. the client openly told me that he liked to push boundaries to get a “real reaction,” and that he got the most glee when he could tell i was genuinely upset. he tipped me $40. i walked him out of the house, went into the office, and cried.
what especially struck me as interesting is that my latest relationship has involved much more kink than the ones prior to it. there’s lots of choking, slapping, holding me down, throwing me around, and generally bossing me about. i enjoy subbing, on a personal level, far more than i do domming, and i seem to have found someone who isn’t lifestyle, but isn’t vanilla. i have trouble explaining what i love about being submissive in my personal sex, but i do think it has some to do with being a rape survivor. some of it is the re-creation of my traumatic experiences, and processing those feelings in a safe place where i actually have power and control over the dynamic (even from the bottom, the nature of consent and being with a partner who respects my wishes allows that).
i also have known for a long time that i have a tendency to disassociate during sex, which i think is a response to the trauma that i suffered well over ten years ago. there have been many sexual experiences where perhaps physically, i experienced pleasure, but intellectually, i was on another planet. i was watching myself fuck them from afar, with no real connection or tethering to what was actually taking place. i haven’t discussed this much with previous partners; i think it would upset them to know that i was mentally checked out while we were having sex. as i have gotten older and more sexually experienced, i have started to learn to recognize when it happens, and keeping myself in the moment has gotten easier. pain and restriction and kink, as a whole, helps me to maintain that disassociation at bay. the stimulation that comes from a good slap across the face or a yelp-worthy bite is enough to bring me back from leaving my body. the more that i participate in kinky things, the more that i learn how to integrate what i need to keep me present, as well as what i enjoy for its own sake.
i am sure that the intimacy i find in this is part of why i hesitate to be hired as a submissive. the delightful cruelty and warm aftercare provided by my current lover is sexually satisfying and emotionally restorative in ways that i cannot entirely explain. all of it hits something deep inside of me that entirely changes our sexual experience (from my perspective, anyway). i wish i had more words to explain it.
sexuality is nuanced and complicated. i enjoy this work for more than sexual gratification. there’s a strange space where acts offered for the sexual pleasure of others is joyful and satisfying, even if it doesn’t do anything in particular to turn me on, and where acts that are not inherently sexual take on levels of intimacy when shared with a lover. if we’re going to put labels on it, i suppose you could say i am a professional switch that prefers to be dominant, and a personal life switch that prefers to be submissive. does that make sense?