Read an article passed on to me by a colleague that was done by photographer: Chris Arnade who has been working on a collection of images of women involved in the sex trade industry.
The article can be found here I am More than Just A Naked Prostitute Who Smokes Crack
Yes it is an industry it always has been in one way or another. AS long as women have to find ways to survive and do not always have the benefit of a family or significant other or conventional support system you will always have this as an industry.
In any case the story really resonated with me on so many levels. The story talks to one particular individual who discusses how she got into the sex trade and ultimately wound up self-medicating with hard drugs like heroin to cope. Starts out like most she was actually in foster care and ran away. She had been molested in all the homes that she had been placed in (6) and finally just ran away. She wound up on the streets turning tricks at an early age and not even realizing what it was (prostitution) that she was doing, to her she was just trying to get money to survive.
Ultimately she would wind up addicted to heroin and crack cocaine – as she says one to forget and the other to wake up. I cried while reading this because my life has on a few occasions placed me in situations where I need to cope and I need to make money to survive. Haven’t taken the route of selling my body or doing drugs or drinking, however I felt an invisible blow while reading about what she had to do to survive and recalled an unofficial experiment that I had done a while back – mainly for my own edification.
I actually posted an ad on a so-called “Adult” dating site (think over 18) and at the same time waded through the long sign up process at e-harmony.com
The idea was to see what the responses were like and was more on a whim at the time. It was definitely eye opening to say the least. In a 30 day period I actually received over 500 emails from the “Adult” site ad from men all over the place who wanted to hook up for sex. Half of them were married or at least would admit to being married or in a relationship. Not one response or message or interest on the e-harmony site. My initial thinking was ok let me redo my profile on e-harmony and see what happens. The silence was stultifying. Meanwhile the ad over on the other site had my email jumping of constantly.
It would take a lot of mental gymnastics not to wonder why men would overwhelmingly want your body for sex but express no interest in the actual person. It would take even more feats of mental mendacity not to find some fault within one’s self for the response or to start looking in the mirror and thinking there must be something wrong.
Never took up any of the offers made via the adult site. I have in fact been celibate for close to two years now. I have however removed the ad from e-harmony as it was serving no useful purpose. The adult ad I removed just because I got tired of saying no. I cannot recall the last time I was asked for my phone number or out for dinner (it’s been many years).
AS I read this story I thought how close I have come to being where she is today strung out on drugs and selling her body. I thought of even now how the struggle keeps me perilously close to having to do whatever to survive.
The struggle is real for women like me with no family and no husband or male person in my life. WE are of course not supposed to speak on that. Feminist leanings aside – the quintessential black woman is supposed to be beyond such mundane things. At least that is what society says. We are supposed to overcome all obstacles and all challenges and always keep our hair did and our nails and feet did and show no signs of the struggle. We definitely are not supposed to speak on it because it files in direct opposition to the happily single meme that is keeping traffic flow to many a website and filling pockets of self-proclaimed life-coaching gurus.
There is a poem that she writes in this article where she says, “Don’t worry about me I will survive”. When juxtaposed next to the images captured by the photographer it breaks your heart to see that her words don’t match the reality. She gave up on love a long time ago in her words.
I am still fighting not to.