“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” When Oprah delivered those brilliant yet simple words at the Golden Globes this week, I pressed pause on the TV and scribbled them down.
We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the world where voices that were once shut out are being heard louder than ever. And those voices are forcing change and challenging the way we think.
Speaking your truth is powerful. I’m a big believer in being authentic. I can’t be bothered trying to cover up who I am and what I’ve done because it could offend someone. Everything seems to offend someone somewhere these days and quite frankly, that offends ME.
Not only did I speak my own truth, I wrote a book about it. How, at the age of 37 and with two young kids, I left my job as a successful journalist on a national magazine to become a $1000 an hour escort. How, as a single mother, I found escorting more ethical, empowering and certainly more lucrative, with more flexible hours, than working on women’s mags.
That was my reality. And boy, did I face the consequences when I spoke of it. And I still do to this day, despite having closed the door firmly on that life.
So why did it do it? I believed writing the book was my calling and I knew I had to out myself before someone else did.
Also, I wasn’t ashamed. I didn’t want to hide behind a pseudonym, petrified someone would turn up at my doorstep with a photographer.
My actuality has been confronting to me, my family and my friends. I will always be know as ‘that woman,’ and I would be lying if I told you sometimes I didn’t lie in bed sometimes thinking ‘why didn’t I just keep my big mouth shut?’
Authenticity isn’t easy for the hundreds of women that come to me petrified they will be outed for the work as a legal sex worker in Australia, for fear of moral judgement, discrimination and custody issues.
It definitely isn’t easy for women who work in the adult industry whether it be strippers, porn stars, escorts, masseuses, and who are sexually assaulted by their clients.
And there are some things I didn’t speak honestly about. Not because it wouldn’t have been powerful, or wouldn’t have made headlines. But because, like many other women out there, I couldn’t face (even more) judgement.
Like the time I was sexually assaulted by a media person after he had interviewed me about my first book. As soon as we got into the lifts (he insisted on seeing me out), he lurched at me and hissed “Show me your dirty c*nt,” so close to my face I could smell the coffee on his breath, while pressing his erection against my jeans. As soon as the lift doors opened, he pressed them shut again. And again. And again, until I eventually pushed him off.
Or the time I went to see another media person to discuss my book, and he ended up throwing me across his lap and spanking me with a leather paddle for being a ‘very naughty girl.’ The shock was worse than the pain.
I was probably seen as fair game, because I was an escort. A sexual play thing. And because of my job at the time, I kept quiet. I was being judged enough for speaking the truth about it – that was enough for now.
But years after speaking my truth, it became crystal clear. Why I did it, started to make perfect sense. Although it didn’t become apparent until recently, I realised by speaking my truth, I inadvertently helped other women. The first voice is often the most jarring, offensive, challenging and bold, but soon, a chorus of voices chanted behind me.
I’ve had escorts contact me from all over the world thanking me for being a public voice. “I thought if Samantha X can do it, I can do it,” one said, before telling her friends and family about her job. I’ve had women say thank you for helping them feel sexy and empowered over the age of 40.
And not just those in the industry. A mum of five emailed this: “I think of myself as far more beautiful in my imperfections and far more sexy since reading your story”
I recall one young woman I was mentoring sitting in my kitchen, close to tears, admitting she was suicidal and in an abusive relationship, having survived sexual abuse all her young life. Instead of choosing to numb the pain through escorting, she sought the true support she needed.
Laying myself bare came with a lot of pain and consequences. I am heartened by the knowledge I am not alone, but more so because it’s allowed others to feel a little more comfortable in their own authenticity.
If speaking up and speaking out is a “movement”, we should, as a society take the time to listen to these overwrought voices, no matter their story. Because I’m telling you, it sure ain’t easy.