A nationwide hunt for sexually exploited children wound up catching a few youth — and a lot more adult sex workers
There were four men and one woman in the room, and they were all sitting there making jokes. One of the officers was very adamant about telling me that he would never pay me that much for my services.
BG: You've said they lied to you, what did they lie to you about?
M: They told me that that day they had caught an underage girl, but then I read the newspaper article about the sting about it, and they said the youngest girl that they got that day was 20. So they were trying to make it seem like they were helping all these women, helping all these girls get away from this lifestyle, when in reality they're just busting girls like me.
They looked through my phone and looked through my pictures, and questioned me about every picture in my phone. They were like, is this your pimp? They read my text messages, they listened to voice mails from my family. They don't care.
BG: The sting was for underage people being trafficked. Do you think that's a big problem? What do you think about that issue?
M: I do think that it's a problem, absolutely. But this is the very unfortunate thing about what I do for work. Whether you want to call it prostitution or you want to call it escorting. So I do think absolutely it's a problem, but it's very important for people to know that it's not the same thing, it's really, really not.
I'm probably going to get two years' probation, up to 60 days in jail and hundreds of dollars in fines. Now I'm out of work, can't get a job, and I have prostitution on my record. You know, it's just ... it doesn't help anybody.
BG: It strikes me what you were saying about the police officer saying I wouldn't pay that much. Were there other degrading things said?
M: I don't care if they're officers, I don't care what they do for a living. They're still men. And when you come in and you're a prostitute, they look you up and down. And they're thinking about that. And I had the officer asking me questions like oh, how do you clean your vibrator. Just unnecessary questions, where obviously they're getting some sort of gratification out of it.
BG: Have you ever met people who were forced into what they're doing?
M: No...I mean, we've all done things for money. You know, desperate times. Whether it's working some shit job. I mean, I look at it as a job. So in the past when I was younger yeah, you know, trying to make rent, maybe I'll do something that I wouldn't want to do as much, or not get paid as much for it. But it beats working at Taco Bell.
People sometimes think it's easy money. It's not easy money. It takes a certain person, it takes an emotionally stable and sexually stable person to do this work sustainably. It's definitely tolling. It's tolling because its therapy. It's tolling because I listen to people's problems, it's not tolling because of the sexual aspect at all.
BG: Have you gotten any help from sex workers rights organizations?
M: I did have a therapist that's sex-worker friendly offer me free sessions. I might take him up on that, but — you know, the event was traumatizing. I'm not traumatized by my work. I can tell the story and that's pretty much enough for me. I don't really need therapy for being a sex worker. I love my job. It makes me happy, its great.
BG: What do you love about it?