As a woman thinks, so shall she be.
— All The Wisdom Teachers
(Graphic content warning.)
My brief foray back into mainstream work — apparently, I wasn’t as self-deprecating as I believed, for I was fired after about 3 months — was painfully instructive.
Here are a few observations I made during my jaunt into mainstream phone sex nether regions, as further introduction to what inspired this entry:
1) The business has dramatically changed since my early days in the industry, when I started in the 1990’s. Porn’s untrammeled proliferation on the internet, as well as shifts in sexual mores, have made any meandering of the imagination available for free on the internet. However, “free” internet porn often comes on the backs of trafficked women, and the world’s most vulnerable. This isn’t to say that women don’t willing and successfully sell porn or freely participate in sexual acts that are then publicly shared; rather, I’m referring to some of the raunchiest most degrading stuff that’s available for free. Many of these women are not willing. They are slaves. One consequence for the paid phone worker is dealing with clients psychologically anesthetized by the most humiliating internet porn, so the phone worker will do anything, say anything, be anything for any price, and those prices are shamefully low, considering the costs on their psyches, and consequently their lives.
This is not a judgement. This is a fact about the prices paid by women doing some of the toughest psychological work imaginable. Having thought about these things for years, I’ve concluded that the work comparable to sex work would be inner city police work, “long term care” hospital work, psychiatric hospital work — in other words, any vocation dealing with the most demanding human behavior. The internet has exacerbated those for prices for the sex worker, near exponentially, or so it seems to me.
For bottom rung sex workers, be they legal or illegal, there are no inbuilt support systems, no unions, and, not only are the wages essentially slave wages, but in mainstream phone sex companies, the women compete against each other. Here’s a picture for you: stigmatized women often working below minimum wage, who are hourly bombarded by bad male behavior informed by internet porn, who must then compete with the very women who should offer camaraderie, the only people who can possibly get their predicament, all the while knowing they have to be a little dirtier, a little nastier, and a lot more clever than their comrade (i.e. competitor) if they are going to pay the bills.
Yet these realities seem never to sink into the worker’s minds. The company that I worked for this year glibly promoted group spirit, split itself into teams, and fashioned themselves as a business just like any other. “We’re primarily a marketing company,” I was told during my phone interview. “Sex is our product, and we market characters who provide the product,” my manager enthusiastically told me. Because they are a marketing company whose product is sex, they were able to conflate the most bizarre mix of presumed “business” talk, positive thinking, self-help enthusiasm, and sales jargon, while pitching the women against one another, all the while burdening workers with an intolerable excess of required behind the scenes tasks.
For the record, it was a company owned and managed by women, and this was their claim to moral superiority. “We women” are doing great together! We are independent! We have a product! We are sales driven!
Management hired women on the premise of a dollar a minute, but the amount of back work necessary to generate that dollar a minute, that is, the promise of needed livelihood for the workers to support themselves and, usually, their children, ends up taking a good ten minutes or so, at the very least. At the very least. All of this, as an independent contractor, i.e., no benefits, no withholdings, nada. I never saw one of the women question that they had been marketed by the owner or the managers. The junior marketers had themselves been marketed, and they never questioned this glaringly obvious fact, as they marketed themselves, or rather, their characters, in the most vulgar ways imaginable, to pay the bills. They were promised a dollar a minute. They were not told about how much time they’d have to spend marketing, or the 800 number charges that came out of their paycheck. Or the two hour long “team meetings,” which never once gave me an iota of information increasing my sales. I’ll return to the whole, “asking questions” thing, in the 3rd installment. Remember it. It’s important.
2) The women are more far more damaged and disempowered.. They sell a fantasy of being insatiable and available and ready for you baby, having all the free time to fuck at will without a thought, when most are burdened with kids, bills, poorly behaved significant others, and the like. The company emails were a daily deluge of “please pray for my daughter, who is in the hospital,” or “pray for me, I am having my gallbladder removed,” or “I went to the emergency room after my boyfriend found me unconscious, and I don’t know what’s wrong.” The torrent of requests for prayers and the personal suffering flooding the email list were numbing, but not surprising.
Stop here if you can’t take a reality bite. Just stop. Because you may not want to imagine the psychic tolls exacted on the mainstream sex worker. Perhaps you don’t need to imagine that you must fake coming like “female bitch in heat” when a dog mounts and humps you, and some guy calls you a slut, a nasty little whore who needs to beg for it, baby, now beg you cunt, take it bitch, cum again, louder, louder you fucking bitch, you’re not being loud enough, and now I am going to cum all over your face — oh, and I, Julia, your narrator, I am being gentle here, really, trust me, because I recognize that it’s a hard graphic dose, and this is just a slice. Not all calls are so bad, many are much worse. But, as the company tells the girls, it’s only fantasy, and we are a marketing company, and none of this is real. None of this is real, but as a woman thinks, so she becomes. And the emails rolled on — let’s all pause and say a prayer for Nicole’s gallbladder, and Amanda’s daughter’s heart, they discovered a hole in it, and Stacy’s son’s autism is getting worse, tests on Monday. Then there were emails reminding the women, “make sure to get an authorization before you talk to the guy,” and I was left shaking my head that anyone needed to be reminded to get an authorization for 20 dollars, of which they will see 5 dollars maximum, to listen to a man masturbate while having to pretend to cum like a bitch in heat, only louder.
None of this is real, or it is all connected.
(To be continued.)