Sex & Relationships

Eden, an Ottawa-Based Sex Worker, Shares Her Story

Inspired by the new VICE documentary The New Era of Canadian Sex Work, we invited three Canadian sex workers to share what their jobs are really like

ottawa-based sex worker

Eden wished to remain anonymous (Photo: iStock)

Eden, 21, Ottawa

Years active in sex work: One.

Type of sex work practiced: Full service/escort.

I work for: Myself

I work that way because: I have more control over where I work, who I see and my rates.

I identify as an: Escort

I got into sex work because: I wanted to make a living and my health struggles made regular work difficult.

How I got into sex work: I’ve always had an interest in it, and I had a friend who was doing it.

My first client experience was: Amusing. I found him through a dating site and at first he didn’t want to pay for sex. We stopped talking, but one day he decided he absolutely needed to experience being with me and was willing to pay my rate. He was kind and we spent a lot of time talking. I had always heard about how much time clients spend talking to the escorts they visit, but I suppose I had underestimated it.

Related: New VICE Doc Examines the Lives of Canadian Sex Workers

What surprised me most about sex work: How much work being independent is. It is very different being a cis-woman in sex work and advertising. I know cis-men who have done sex work and apparently they only have to do a fraction of the advertising to find clients. It is probably related to how men and women interact in general.

I love sex work because: Honestly, I don’t love it. It is a lot of work. There are certainly aspects I enjoy, but it’s a job. It isn’t all fun. I find sex work is the only job that civilians—that is, people who aren’t sex workers—are expected to love. Some people accept that as the only justification.

My clients are: Mostly, I see men between the ages of 40 and 60.

The most rewarding part of my job is: The money. It is nice to be able to pay for a nice dinner for myself, or a nice gift for someone I love.

The most challenging part of my job is: The advertising. It is a lot of work.

Related: Amber Rose, a Montreal-Based Sex Worker, Shares her Story

The biggest misconception about sex work is: The idea that because there are problems in the industry, the entire industry needs to be abolished. People have a habit of imposing their own sense of sexual propriety and morality onto other people. Because they can’t conceive of selling sex as anything other than exploitative, they won’t allow for anyone to say it is anything more than that. There are huge problems in every industry, but because this one involves sex it is seen as inherently dirty, and so are sex workers.

I am great at my job because: I genuinely enjoy sex and I get pleasure out of making others happy.

I felt unsafe on the job when: Harper’s government made PCEPA (the Protection of Communities and Exploited Person’s Act) law. So many problems. So. Many.

The #1 thing people would be surprised to know about sex work is: That we don’t trust the police. As a community, we face so much abuse at the hands of the police. They harass, rape, attack and ignore us. Very few cops actually care about our safety, and even fewer do things that actually help ensure it. Most of the people who claim to want to help us ignore us when we speak and actively advocate for policies that harm all of us.

Sex work is illegal in many places. My ideal state of affairs would be: Decriminalization is the best option. Criminalization of any part of the transaction puts the most vulnerable sex workers in even more danger. Both criminalization and legalization limit our ability to control our work conditions.

Related: G, a Toronto-Based Sex Worker, Shares Her Story

Dating as a sex worker is: Complicated.

What I would like more people to know about sex work is: You need to listen to us. I’ll steal a page from disability advocates: nothing about us, without us. We are excluded and talked over for most decisions on policies, initiatives, etc. that affect us. All over the globe, we end up with policies that put us at risk, and we have no power to change it. People spend more time listening to people with no actual experience than they do listening to us. It drives me—and many other sex workers—up the wall. There are so many incredible people writing about their experiences. It isn’t hard to find the blogs.

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