by Natasha Guynes for Marie Claire
“Even as women push to break glass ceilings in every industry, there is still one area where too many women are working not by choice, but by necessity: the sex trade.
It’s all around us, even in resource-rich cities like Washington, D.C.
And I know this all too well…because I was once one of those women.
I, like so many women who walk the streets each night, sold my body in order to pay my rent in the group house I lived in on Capitol Hill. I met men in luxury condo high-rise buildings, suburban McMansions, sometimes the Ritz, sometimes grimy motels for our 90 minute “session.” I worked for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, better known as the D.C. Madam, whose contact list included plenty of K-street executives and high-powered government officials. Our Johns were strictly first name only, or the occasional pseudonym, but it’s easy to spot that signature Congressional pin on a jacket lapel. I assumed most of the Johns thought women like us were too foolish to recognize it.
I came to D.C. to escape. Growing up in Louisiana, I was surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and abuse. My mom had moved to Oklahoma. I’d graduated high school and had an aptitude for history; I read Ms. magazine, which I’d buy whenever I could afford it. I pictured D.C. as the kind of city where one goes to make a difference, and that such a city of wealth and education would never allow things like prostitution on the same sidewalks that host inauguration parades…”