By Anneliese Hucal
The first time I stepped foot into the Moonlite Bunny Ranch Brothel I was awestruck by the glitter, silicone and long hair extensions of the squadron of sexy women working there. I remember staring at a particularly normal-looking girl for about 5 minutes before realizing that she was a porn star from a site that I frequent.
Her name is Sunny and she was wearing a simple lavender lace nighty and some wonderfully expensive smelling perfume. Her silky light brown hair cascaded down her shoulders like a waterfall and caught light as she giggled when I told her what I do.
She called two other girls over and we sat in a group talking about politics and sharing stories about illicit hookups with various types of men. Despite my initial ideas that placed these women upon a highly sexualized, almost robotic pedestal, for once, I felt truly among my people.
Despite how open-minded I usually am, I had always thought of these women as a fantasy, and in that action I had taken away their humanity, much like many other people do every day.
On Aug. 30, I went to a concert at The Bunnyranch Bar and Cigar in hopes of finding another story to tell. After a few minutes of watching the concert, I stepped out of the mob and got a drink to begin doing what I do best: people watch. I leaned against the wall, slowly sipping my Gin and Tonic, listening to conversations float up from the fringes of the screaming crowd.
Many of them were exactly what I was expecting: people attending the concert for reasons other than the acts up on stage.
“Yo, are there going to be hookers here?” yelled a frat guy to his friend in a flat brim cap.
“I wonder where the rooms are…” said a man in his mid 30s to his girlfriend, who looked quite afraid to be there. They didn’t seem to realize that this wasn’t the actual brothel.
“Oh my god…did you see what she was wearing? I think she’s one of them.”
a drunk girl loudly slurred to her equally inebriated friends, pointing in my direction. I subconsciously make a kissy face at them, my own sarcastic defense mechanism. She made a face as if she has smelled old cheese and feebly threw her plastic cup in my direction.
I chuckled as two of the girls, Amy and Bri, who work at the ranch slid through the crowd undetected. They wore short denim cutoffs, heeled cowboy boots and tight black T-shirts, just like me, but because they are a part of the surging crowd, hiding their faces and keeping their mouths shut about what they do, they are not to be scrutinized. This is a great metaphor for how we see this profession as a whole.
The 20th century French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas said that much of our thought and culture in Western civilization is marked with a certain “allergy to the other.” He is basically pinpointing the tendency shown throughout history, on societal and individual levels, to brace against the self-expression of any person or group that is divergent from ourselves. Those we cannot understand, or refuse to understand, we either stifle self-expression, or we destroy.
Sex workers and their supporters are no exception to this rule, even though the sex-work industry is booming. These women often exist as fantasy in society, sirens of sexual satisfaction that we judge openly but silently emulate with our boyfriends and lovers at night. We refuse to give them the same treatment that we give to other jobs and career paths, and even those that choose to step away will have a mark that follows them forever.
Women and men who willingly have unprotected sex and pass STD’s to half of their college dormitories can go on living their life, but sex workers must bear the mark of what they have done forever, even though they have hurt no one in the process.
That last sentence will cause many of you to balk and get mad, but think of it this way: do we get angry at the other man when our girlfriends cheat? No, we get mad at the one we love for finding solace in the arms of another.
Yet we do not allow prostitutes and call girls this same sort of justification. We say that the men who use their services can still live comfortable and respectable lives, as long as their “special friends” stay in the shadows; our nation holds a collective idea that sexual satisfaction is something needed and deserved by those that work hard, but not to be talked about.
The truth is, these women are beautiful, in both natural and entirely plastic ways. They have families and educations and hopes and dreams and fears. They have favorite positions and things that they won’t do. They have types of men and women that they like and some that they would never want anything to do with.
The only difference between them and the rest of us, is that they always use protection and that they get paid to do what they do.
They don’t hook up, they hustle. I respect that, and you should too.
Anneliese Hucal studies prelaw and public relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.