In this industry, there are few gifts that inspire less gratitude than unsolicited advice. You know, the innocuous seeming suggestions that people seem confident in making about nearly every aspect of sex workers’ professional and personal lives.
“You know honey, you’d get a lot more clients if you just…”
“You should really…”
“If you were smart you would…”
Well thanks so much my friend, but can you do me a favor and stay in your lane?
I get that you think you’re being helpful, but the truth is that most of the time— you aren’t. Most of the time when you’re spouting off all of your suggestions about what we should and shouldn’t do, you’re inadvertantly being some combination of condescending, ignorant, self serving, and rude. But Ava, I just want what’s best for you! And what’s best for you is— NOPE. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to decide what’s best for me. Even when you’re convinced that you’re coming from a place of genuine care and concern, it is very rarely a good idea to tell a provider whatever it is that you think they “should” do with their business or body.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely some exceptions to this rule. Specifically, when the advice is related to your personal field of expertise. As providers, we’re lucky to meet all kinds of professionals with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share. Free tips on everything from the stock market to taxes and everything in between is one of the best perks of this job! If you’re an internet security specialist, by all means let us know if you notice that our email address isn’t as secure as we think it is. If you’re in real estate and we mention that we’re looking into investment properties, it’s perfectly okay to share your suggestions for breaking into the business. If you’re a dermatologist and you notice a suspicious looking mole, go ahead and tell us to get it checked out. Basically, the only time that you should be offering us your advice is if it is specifically related to your profession and/or area of expertise. If it’s not, but you’re still convinced that you need to share your infinite wisdom on sex work with an actual sex worker, ask yourself the following:
- Is the advice based on your personal preference?
A lot of unsolicited advice comes from a place of personal preference. When a guy says, “You shouldn’t talk about politics on Twitter, it’s bad for business,” what he really means is, “I don’t find unabashedly opinionated women attractive and I wouldn’t book you.” When a client says to a provider, “You’d really be a 10 if you went up a couple of cup sizes,” what he’s actually saying is, “I prefer larger breasts, so you should get implants.” A hobbyist emailing to suggest that a provider lower her rates is really just telling her, “I can’t afford to see you, so you should adjust your rates so that I can.” Stop for a second and think about how ridiculously entitled that is, suggesting that someone change their bodies/businesses/lives to better suit your preferences. So instead of advising us on how we can mold ourselves into your ideal provider, I suggest searching for someone who already checks all of your boxes.
- Is the advice based on an assumption/assumptions about the provider?
We sex workers are an infamously private bunch. In order to maintain our own safety and mental health, we often avoid sharing too many intimate details from our lives. Unfortunately, people are often far too happy to fill in those blanks with their own ideas about us, our private lives, our goals, and our businesses. Which, go figure, leads to unsolicited advice that’s based on a whole bunch of (usually incorrect) assumptions. For example:
“You should really get out of this business while you’re still young.” Assumption: You won’t be successful after a certain age.
“You shouldn’t offer one hour sessions, you’ll attract the wrong kind of guy.” Assumption: Your screening policy isn’t strict enough/you aren’t smart enough to weed out the “wrong kind of guy”.
“Don’t tell your parents about what you do, it’ll break their hearts.” Assumption: Your parents don’t already know and if they did, they couldn’t possibly feel anything but shame at your life choices.
“You should let me take you out off the clock sometime.” Assumption: There’s no way that you have a fulfilling love life life outside of this job and only I can fill that emotional void.
The truth is, there’s just no way that you could possibly know enough about us or our businesses to offer advice. Even when the advice is flattering (“You’re amazing, you should raise your rates!”), it’s still based on assumptions about us. Every single part of our business plan is already carefully tailored to suit our particular needs and desires. When you make suggestions about how we should run things, you’re failing to account for any of that. Rates, services offered, touring schedules… we don’t make these decisions lightly. So chances are, whatever you’re suggesting, we’ve already considered and decided against it. But Ava, I’ve been seeing escorts for the past 20 years. I think I know a thing or two about the industry! No, you know a thing or two about your side of the equation. You’re no more qualified to offer an escort business advice than you’re qualified to be a doctor simply because you’ve been going to the doctor’s office your whole life.
Look, don’t get me wrong, most of us appreciate that you’re trying to “help” even if we have no intention of taking your advice. We’ll smile graciously, thank you, do a little internal eye roll, and move on. We are professionals, after all. But the next time you think you have a brilliant idea to share about how you think we can improve our looks/business/marketing/life plan/anything-else-that-is-really-none-of-your-concern… Maybe just don’t? I mean, can you imagine what it would be like if we providers started offering up every bit of unsolicited advice that popped into our heads while we were with you?
Exactly. So let’s all just stay in our lane, shall we? 😉