Here's how working in the sex industry prepared me to be a wife and mother
- Melissa Petro is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mother living in New York City.
- In college, she worked as a sex worker. Later in life, when she became an elementary school teacher, she was forced to resign after administrators were alerted to her writing about sex work.
- She says that working as a stripper and call girl prepared her for knowing what she wanted in a marriage - a partner who would invest equally in a relationship.
- Being misunderstood as a sex worker also prepared her for the hostility and misunderstanding leveled against mothers. And it helped her when it came to hustling to get all of the jobs of motherhood done, and being honest about what she was experiencing.
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People want strippers, prostitutes, and porn stars to leave the industry. But when we do, they shun us.
The loss of my career as a elementary school teacher in 2010 - when the media alerted school administrators to the fact that I was writing and sharing stories about working as a stripper and call girl prior to becoming a teacher - makes my point all too salient. Even though my competence as a school teacher was never called into question, I was humiliated in the media - all while parents who'd never met me clutched their pearls and clucked their tongues.
Certainly, in the eyes of many people, sex workers are not "marriage material." They're unfit to be around young people. Yet, rather than disqualifying me, sex work prepared me for my life as a wife and mom.
Four years after the loss of my teaching job, I met and married my husband. A year later, we had our first child. I am currently pregnant with my second baby. Though my life looks very different today, my past will always be a part of me.
Working as a stripper and call girl more than paid for my education - it was an education in and of itself. As a result of my unique journey, I've learned a lot, including one big lesson: Mothering and sex work are two of the hardest jobs that a woman can do - and the ways both mothers and sex workers are compelled to stay silent about our realities makes these difficult jobs that much harder.
I knew what I wanted from a marriage
I got used to being misunderstood
I learned how to hustle
I learned the importance of honesty
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