“I’m a whore by choice. I didn’t want to work 12 hours for 600 euros”

Valérie May is part of a movement in Spain that defends sex work of its own free will. “I don’t want to be in this job system anymore,” he adds. Natalia Ferrari endured only three days working at a McDonald’s. “I should have started prostituting myself much sooner,” she laments.

Valérie May’s life can be read through her body. His left arm is almost completely occupied by a huge tattoo with different drawings: a pig, tomatoes, a lotus flower… They all represent vegetarianism, a long-established diet. The great composition ends in a triangle that was made when I was working as a social integrator. She has another tattoo on her ribs that she got from her sister with the word sisters.

The neckline has a painting by the painter Alfons Mucha in ink, symbolising feminism. His dog is in the left leg. In the belly lies a Japanese star that was made at the age of 17 and which means’hope’. The next one will be a pin-up with the word’empowered’ in English. She’ll do it in honor of her profession: that of a whore.

Valérie May is one of many women in Spain who are willingly engaged in sex work. Whores and feminists who, as if it were a carpet, have shaken up the word to the point of dropping all the stigmata that, like specks of dust, live clinging to it. They are women who understand that feminism implies taking control of their own bodies and that it is respectable. They do not glorify their work, but they defend it as the best option for them. For being your choice.

“Society prefers you to be a waitress working twelve hours a day for 600 euros rather than working on this,” says Valérie May. She defines herself on her website as an alternative escort. Her hair is green and her lips are lips are lipstick. The work is divided between Tarragona and what he does in Barcelona. She is 28 years old and has been a little over six months in prostitution.

CASTING TO CHOOSE CUSTOMER

His mother was the first person to know. You know he decided to do this job without hiding. No double lives. But many acquaintances are surprised, how did you decide that with your studies and work experience? The answer is easy for her: “I don’t want to be part of this labor system anymore,” she explains.

And because he has two fingers in front of him, he says. “One of the things people think when you get into this is that you’re going to get hit by alcohol, drugs, and you’re going to sleep with anyone. And quite the contrary. I’ve never smoked in my life and I choose my clients. A masseur offers his hands in exchange for a concrete experience. Well, mine’s the same thing. I don’t sell my body because that’s making you the property of something. And I don’t become anyone’s property. I come home with all my parts,” he laughs.

If you don’t think you’re going to get a connection from the start, you don’t stay with them. For example, it does not accept male chauvinists or people who believe they are in a superior situation because she is a whore. He admits he wouldn’t be with a hunter either.

He says that with the first client he broke the stigma. He was a younger boy than her. “Clients are completely normal people,” he says.

The association Aprosex helps women who, like Valérie, are just starting out in the profession. One of those women is Shirley McLaren. Her stage name is reminiscent of that of Shirley MacLaine, the actress for Irma the Sweet. But she stresses that that’s not why she chose him. Shirley’s because she’s a fan of the Scottish singer from the band Garbage. The last name is because he’s passionate about motor racing. And Ferraris already had a few.

“What has happened with the crisis is that many women who have lost their jobs and have no problem having sex with strangers have become involved in this. But, of course, without a guide. And like any task, you have to be reinventing yourself, updating yourself. Learning. The problem is that here, like we all fuck, people think they can do it well. There are people who can cook very well at home but then you can’t be a chef. It’s the same here. You have to become a professional, you are attentive to many issues,” he says.

Shirley is a transgendered woman who has lived in Spain for several years. Born in Mexico. He studied journalism there. She has been a prostitute for more than a decade. He responds to the abolitionists with determination: “We are the ones who have the upper hand. The abolitionist’s little speech is that he pays for our body, so the client can do with us what he wants. That’s bullshit. And it’s also super dangerous. The abolitionists, then, are protecting us or are they protecting their way of life,” she asks herself.

“I couldn’t work in a slaughterhouse because my guts would be stirred up, just like other women can be stirred up by eating a man’s cock,” she says.

Shirley defines prostitutes as “sex artists”. “Every relationship doesn’t work out the same way, it’s independent. It’s like you have a huipil. Each one is different because it is handmade and individual. And that has to come at a cost. We do not sell a product of necessity. We sell a luxury product,” he says. And that’s something that not all newbies take into account when setting prices.

There’s nothing wrong with the customers either. If they’re polite, clean and don’t haggle, everything’s fine. And if they’re having a good conversation and bringing you presents, so much the better.

The political struggle of the “Putas Indignadas”

Their struggle is also for the political branch. He has tried to talk and meet with different politicians. But he has not yet received a clear answer. “But why can’t we work for third parties who pay our social security like any other company? Simply because we work with the genitals.

He explains that he can’t talk to Alberto Garzón and that he once talked for five minutes with Íñigo Errejón, both from Unidos Podemos. But none of them end up being determined in his favor. “Human rights cannot be debated. We know that there are some very ugly things in our work, we won’t deny that. But as in other sectors. To make a mobile we know how to get coltan. But no one is saying that mining must be stopped or that the technology industry must be abolished. No. The only industry that they say should be abolished because there is trafficking and there is a violation of human rights is prostitution,” he says.

In addition to Aprosex, only in Barcelona there are three other organisations that look after the rights of sex workers: Putas Indignadas, Putas y Alianzas and the association Genera. For a while, the spokesperson for the first one was Paula Ezquerra, to show her face – “that they stand up for themselves, they don’t need me, but above all to the media because of the issue of stigma and the family,” she says.

She is now spokesperson for the general assembly. He has spoken to politicians, to international organizations. She has also been a CUP advisor in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona until the end of October this year. “I came to an agreement because I am more interested in focusing my struggle on the rights of sex workers,” she says. In this district is the Raval district and its Robadors street, where many sex workers are concentrated.

So Paula Ezquerra is a “whore activist”. “Or whore activist.” The thing is, he’s been practicing since he was 18. He is now 45. He was born in Buenos Aires, has dual nationality and has worked in many parts of the world. And for her, the best thing her job has given her is time off. A benefit he wouldn’t have gotten from any other job, he says.

“I have a phrase that is: the stigma of whoring crosses all women,” she says. “We take the word whore back, but I think all women should take it because it’s a way for men to control us.” Because Ezquerra stretches the speech to all women, not just sex workers. “If we have greater control over our body and we don’t allow anyone to tell us how to do, or how to be or dispose of our body, our sexuality, sensuality, eroticism, without that accusatory look of patriarchy and machismo, society will make an impressive advance,” he says.

Paula Ezquerra laments what they call the “sanctification of her vaginas” and the imposed morality. They should also always be exposed as victims, when they are not vulnerable, but “violated”.

“I should’ve started prostitution sooner.”

Another of the women who has most defended her work as a media whore in the last year has been Natalia Ferrari. She, unlike many other women, has not only made her face public. Also his name.

When she started making decisions about how she was going to work, she assumed she had to give herself a stage name when she saw what they were all doing. “But as I built up my discourse and realized that I wanted to work against stigma, I realized that I had no consistency in hiding or separating my identity from my work. I believe that doing so is a legitimate option and, given that we prostitutes experienced discrimination similar to homosexuals 50 or 60 years ago, in many cases anonymity is more than necessary for our security,” she says.

She adds: “Many women live in fear that they will find out about it and be thrown out of their other jobs, or that their families will stop talking to them, or that they will no longer want to hire them or refuse to rent them apartments. I felt that using my real name and showing my face wasn’t going to affect me that much, but it could make a difference in others. So that we can be seen as people who have decided to do this work, who do not want to live on the margins and who deserve respect.

Natalia Ferrari defines herself as a “rather peculiar” woman. She’s vegan, bisexual, atheist, antinatalist and only practices open relationships. He dropped out of high school when he was 13.

Before working as a prostitute I had tried other jobs. “Endured” being in a McDonald’s for three days and couldn’t take it anymore. The next thing was another two days working as a teleoperator. He also spent a couple of years as a security guard and customer service officer at a museum. Some time she spent as a full time volunteer with an animal rights NGO.

She says that she was very tired of her work, that she saw herself stagnating at the age of 30 or 40 in a precarious job that did nothing for her personal development. So he panicked. He decided to quit and look for alternatives. He found the conditions of prostitution very attractive to him.

“The first time I was afraid, for a moment I believed the story that men who pay are monsters and that the role of the whore is to be a submissive woman. But the reality is that the date was even more pleasant than others where no money was involved. I had the feeling that I should have started to prostitute myself much earlier.