I don’t know how many of you out there follow Dr. Brooke Magnanti (formerly, Belle du Jour) on Twitter or read her blog, but she is having an ex-boyfriend problem which is threatening to become extremely ugly. It’s already ugly as it is. The link will take you to a post wherein Dr. Magnanti goes into the situation in full detail. In short, an ex-boyfriend she dated during her years as Belle (and who knew she was Belle) has decided to go to the press and proclaim the doctor a “faux ho” because, this is the kicker, he would have never knowingly dated a prostitute.
This situation calls to mind the myth that sex workers can’t or don’t have functional relationships, especially while we are sex working. For some sex workers, this is undoubtedly true but the reasons for that are myriad and it would be foolish to assume those reasons. But overwhelmingly, the sex workers I know who either opted to remain personally single or who kept their sex working secret from the person they were dating is for one main reason: exactly what Dr. Magnanti is experiencing. Assholes are assholes, regardless of gender or sexual expression and when one becomes vindictive, every little thing becomes a point of contention (way beyond “put the toilet seat down” or “do the dishes”). When that thing happens to be a sex working past or present, then legal and safety issues come to the fore. Heavens forbid there are children involved. While these other cases would be dealt with on a private scale, the possible damage to the sex worker’s life, liberty, career, piece of mind, etc. is no less damaging.
There are lots of sex workers in relationships, many of them healthy. But that stable relationship is a hard-won relationship. Trust is the primary component and even then, sometimes we misjudge. Keeping this in mind, is it any wonder why some sex workers opt to be alone or live two lives and hope the two never meet? Some do it well, others don’t but honestly, this all comes down to the pernicious, dangerous, and too often fatal stigma against sex work and sex workers.