I wanted to share some thoughts on theReader’s Digest most trusted list for 2014 which was published today, announcing that Politicians and Sex Workers are ranked equally lowest trusted professions. I can understand what is untrustworthy about politicians, and agree that a certain mistrust is reasonable based on the common public knowledge of politics. Contrast this with the minimal public profile of Sex Workers and the only conclusion can be that this is a purely emotional response – fearing the unknown.
Politicians as a group have a reputation of saying and doing anything to protect their self-interest and those can promote their own self-interest through lobbying or purchasing influence. Pop culture stereotypes – think Frank Underwood in House of Cards – are a caricature of the political animal, and cannot be relied upon to form an accurate opinion. They’re entertaining, brilliantly written and played by actors, but are fictional. The hypocrisy of politicians who promote ‘family values’ or a puritanical approach to life while living a lifestyle at odds with their public profile deserves derision. This is different to the assumptions people make about your life and behaviour while enjoying private indulgences – that says more about other people imposing their views on you… while not knowing enough to comment.
The negative perception of Sex Workers is also understandable – but nonetheless wrong. The negative publicity and occasional antisocial behaviour of those who act illegally feels threatening to mainstream culture. Somehow it is seen as reaching the lowest ebb of your existence, reaching a state of true despair. For some this is true, and the social safety net has failed these women and men. (Or am I wrong about this Mary?)
For the overwhelming majority of Sex Workers however, there is a reasoned and informed choice made to join this potentially lucrative industry. There is nothing wrong with this. Sex is a service industry, just like hospitality, fitness, sales or marketing. Like these there are dodgy operators, whose unscrupulous practices and poor treatment of workers stains the reputation of the whole industry. There are also those who make this an honourable profession – like Mary and the team at Funhouse.
Trust (along with Safety) are the fundamental building blocks of any culture, and form the basis for our beliefs, the way we behave and provide us with a sense of belonging. And trust is a core tenet of sex work; as a client and consumer of these services, I put my trust in several layers of Sex Workers. I trust that when I make a phone call my phone number will be treated with discretion, that the Madam will listen and make the right choice of companion, and that my companion is as described. I also trust that person with my name and face, with personal details which come out in conversation, and perhaps most importantly my safety.
I have said before that the most honest conversation a man can have is with his Madam and his ‘girl’. If you’re not going to be honest you might as well stay home and ‘take care of yourself’, dishonesty will only lead to a poor experience for everyone*. This honesty can only be based on trust, and in this I think that Sex Workers should be ranked among the most trusted professionals.
I suspect that it is Sex Workers who should be offended by being ranked with Politicians rather than the other way around…