I am a former exotic dancer, burlesque performer and now courtesan. All of these professions are forms of sex work. This umbrella term is used in academia and in our community to push the agenda that sex work is real work. Those in our community should have the same rights and freedoms of any other person in a working profession in Canada. My 13 years in this line of work happened organically. Itʼs been fruitful and Iʼve enjoyed it for the most part.
Unfortunately, the 2015 law regarding sex work in Canada, states that all sex work is exploitation. Under this guise, the government exacerbates the stigma that sex workers have no agency over our bodies or our futures. It conflates sex work with sex trafficking and creates an environment thatʼs harder to make a living.
What I Love About Being A Courtesan
I love discovering peopleʼs hidden desires. Often, I know the sensual side of a person that no one else gets to know. I take this privilege seriously. Iʼve known some clients in this business for a decade, and they are my friends and confidantes. As well as lovers. Being a conduit for someoneʼs desires has given me the ability to live my life as an artist. I consider my clients patrons of the arts.
Misconceptions Often Heard About Courtesans
Conflating sex work with sex trafficking does not help those who are sex trafficked because it takes resources away from searching for the real perpetrators of trafficking. Even the name of the new act (The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act) that governs laws around sex work intentionally conflates all sex work with trafficking.
Often, police conflate migrant sex workers as trafficked. Taking sex work from them does not save them or their families back home. It hinders their ability to make a living. If the government really wanted to “save” sex workers, they would not conflate these two situations.
Challenges Facing Sex Workers & Courtesans Today
In 2013, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling of Bedford vs. Canada. This hard fought case proved laws governing sex work unconstitutional. This gave us hope that we would have the same rights as all other workers in Canada: the right to keep a place of business, the right to speak openly about how much our services cost, a right to have people working for us for security and safety.
But the Harper government reversed the rules. Selling sex is now protected under the law. But buying sex is now illegal. This slight of hand decision propagates the stigma that sex work is forced and shameful. Our work now is to undermine this attitude within our society.
Will The Situation Get Better?
After the Bedford ruling, I had hope. But itʼs clear that the topic of sex work is something politicians donʼt want to touch with a ten foot pole. Keeping the status quo of sex work being oppression and harmful keeps us underground and in the dark. We keep fighting for our rights, but the political climate in this country is dismal.
Advice For Aspiring Sex Workers
Sex work is sometimes a last resort for people who are just surviving and a first choice for others with the privilege to work in safety and comfort. In any case, itʼs important to know the stigma is real, in health care, in social situations, in trying to run your business. Iʼve been banned from crossing into the States because US border patrol is actively seeking out sex workers entering the States, and charging us with “moral turpitude”. My charge is the same as a rapist, a murderer or a child molester trying to enter the country.
I would suggest anyone with the privilege of choosing this profession to get acquainted with their local community of sex workers and allies. Maggieʼs of Toronto is a good resource centre and Stella in Montreal. There are also online boards such as PERB TERB and CAERF (Canadian Escort Review Forum) that have sex worker led engagement. Many of us follow each other on social media, although itʼs getting harder to find those in the industry because of censorship of bodies and sexual content online.
I truly believe that strong community engagement ensures youʼre aware of the mores and practices that are acceptable in your work. It can keep you safe and keep you grounded. In this political climate, we must protect each other. Find like minded people and support them. Building community is paramount.
Veronica Sway – Adult entertainer to like-minded heathens and savvy deviants. Film performer and libertine concierge. Your connection to the Toronto underground. And available to meet across Canada.
Follow Veronica on
Just finishing editing my latest Veronica Sway short: Second Wave Love. This one is about the sex doll brothel debacle that happened last year in Toronto. Itʼs funny and a cautionary tale. You can check out my other fun videos at Veronica Sway on Vimeo.
Photos courtesy of Veronica Sway
Like to be featured on SimplySxy? Drop us an email at editorial@SimplySxy.com!