Are you a sex worker if you don’t get paid?

“I want you know that I just invited you here for your body,” she said, as we pulled down the covers and snuggled into bed.

It’s understandable; she’s in a monogamous relationship that had become sexless. We had previously only exchanged vanilla massage, so it was quite flattering that she reached out to me when her partner consented to her finding intimate touch elsewhere.

Even more curiously, it was the second such request for the same weekend. The other came from a friend who is single, visiting town, and looking for some relief. In each case, they wanted contact comfort and a certain degree of sexual service, but wanted to be clear that this wasn’t about romance, a deeper relationship, or even reciprocal attentions. They had needs; would I meet them?

Yes, they’re friends. In each case, however, these requests went beyond the bounds of the existing friendship. To be sure, I am happy to meet the needs and flattered to be asked, but it was also clear that these were principally one-way transactions, and my main source of my pleasure would come simply from knowing that they are happy.

I can’t imagine, were the roles reversed, ever asking for similar favors. I’m just not wired that way. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to rely on the kindness of friends; providing good touch is part of the great service sex workers can provide (and just one of the reasons their work should be legal.) Is helping meet people’s needs any less honorable if money changes hands? (Hint: Ask a doctor, therapist, massage tech, etc., etc.)

So the question is less whether I can now call myself a sex worker… than why anyone would be forced to not call themselves that.

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