Sultry Sitara on Handling Microaggressions
Hi! I’m Sitara, and I’m a phone sex operator and content creator. I remember when I was researching different careers in sex work, from stripping to camming to escorting, that I always wondered why there were so many categories for different races, but rarely a category for white. Being a poor, brown Muslim young woman, I am well aware of racism and sexism, but entering sex work, I wondered how my identities would affect my work.
To clarify, microaggression is a term used to describe a subtle instance of racism, sexism, or otherwise problematic behavior. Now, I’ve experienced microaggressions well before being a sex worker. But, in sex work, microaggressions become more personal, more sexual, and more involved with my income and business.
For example, I’m a student, and when I tell this to my clients, I often get questions like, “So are you an international student?” or “How long have you been in America?” or “What would your conservative Indian family say about you doing this work?” or “Do you ever think an Indian man will marry you if he found out you did this?”
These questions, while they might seem harmless and casual conversation points, are microaggressions based on my gender, race, ethnicity, and immigration status. When I tell my clients that I have never been to India and that I was born and raised in America, they are almost always speechless. When they ask about my family and martial status, I ask them if they ask white sex workers if they come from conservative families or their martial potential, and my clients almost always say no.
I confront my clients about these microaggressions, where I delve into their pre-conceived notions of Indian people, especially Indian women and women of color collectively. I will not tolerate microaggressions from my clients, and you don’t have to either.
Here are some tips and tricks for managing microagressions and doing self-care in this work, especially as a sex worker of color :
Maintain clear boundaries when communicating with your clients
I’ll be real: when I first started sex work, I took the occasional microaggression because I needed money. I put up with the sly comments because money is real, and I needed to do for that payout. However, it was stressful and took a toll on my mental health, and I said no more. You need to decide what your boundaries are and what you’re willing to put up with for your mental health and business. If your clients start to make you feel uncomfortable with any comment or action or do something that you are not okay with, you need to speak up about it.
Set the tone with consistent messaging
Are you comfortable with a client calling you slut, whore, bitch, domme, princess, Indian, Ebony, spicy, Chicana, thot, exotic, good girl, cum dumpster, goddess, etc.? When you market yourself, be consistent in describing yourself so your clients can tell what terms you are comfortable with. For some sex workers, slut is offensive; for others, it’s part of their messaging. Whether you identify as a spicy cum dumpster, Ebony domme, or exotic whore, if your clients know how you identify, they will have a better idea of addressing and communicating with you.
Take time off – seriously
In the age of social media and multiple platforms, sex work can feel like a 12 hour daily job, letting you feel more prone to burn out, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing microaggressions at work. Take a few hours away from content creating or social media planning or marketing strategies, and do something non-sex work related. Clear your mind and calm your body, so when you get back, you’re at your fullest potential.
Speak up against microaggressions
If you notice a pattern of microaggressions from your clients or the platform(s) you use, I support you reaching out and speaking up. For many sex workers, especially in this time of COVID-19 and those new to the industry, you may not want to speak up because of fear of losing your income. However, if you feel safe and willing to do so, I recommend speaking to the platforms directly if you notice microaggressions coming from them, reporting clients for abuse and harassment, and speaking on social media to raise awareness of issues you notice.
To all sex workers, take care of yourselves, and stand up for being treated with respect and dignity! I support you ☺