Cap just answered a question from a lady concerned that having previously been a sex worker is going to hurt her ability to get a job in academia. The letter writer happens to be in the social sciences, which is also technically my field. I happen to know that if there's any area of study where they will sincerely not give two-tenths of a shit what you did before you got your PhD, it's this one.

I would almost like to say I'm lucky I ended up in a socially-liberal field, but that's not actually true. The liberal bent is a large part of the reason I chose it in the first place. I could have gone into pretty much anything -- and was subject to a huge amount of pressure to go into everything, but that's a different discussion -- but I had absolutely no interest in having to write papers in a discipline that had a very rigid required lecture/publishing style. Largely because I know myself well enough to know that it would never work.

I have this problem, see. I'm physically incapable of keeping my opinions to myself for any length of time, most particularly if those opinions start with any variation of the phrase, "Are you fucking retarded?" I am very badly suited for any career in which retaining my job depends on shutting the hell up and allowing stupid things to happen unimpeded. People ask me on a fairly frequent basis if I've considered working as a translator for the UN or as an analyst for one of the intelligence agencies, and yes, yes I have. The results would make a wonderful black comedy as a movie, but would probably get me fired and/or arrested -- in either order -- in real life. I'm especially unsuited for espionage work. I'm very difficult to not notice physically, which would make me lousy at undercover work, and I completely lack the ability to stop myself telling other people about really neat stuff I've run across, which would make me terrible at dealing with anything that was in any way classified.

(I'm not particularly well suited for corporate work either, because of the above, and because forcing myself to keep a 9-5 schedule literally ruins my physical and mental health, and being forced to interact with other people non-stop for eight or ten hours a day does not help any. I suspect my diagnosis would be delayed sleep phase disorder if I had one, which I don't, because I live in America and sleep specialists are expensive. When not disturbed by things like unavoidable appointments or sick rodents, I am generally capable of maintaining a regular sleep schedule, as long as it runs from something like 4am to noon.

I also take umbrage at the idea that this should be a pathology in the first place. I tried to "fix" it for a couple of decades. My parents spent years trying to get me to wake up at 8am over summer vacation, for reasons that amounted to "because that's what people do". Eventually I realized that I fucking like being able to work uninterrupted at three in the morning, and it's the rest of the world wanting me to knock that off even if it's not interfering in their lives that's causing all the trouble.)

The specific reason I ended up in sociology rather than anthropology is because there's a sizable contingent in anthropology that espouses complete detachment from whatever you're studying. Both disciplines tout "cultural relativism" -- that is, not automatically judging other cultures by the standards of your own -- but for several decades, the main body of anthropologists doing the publishing pushed very hard for people to completely remove their own assessments and perceptions from their work to produce what was theoretically an objective point of view. They're not all like this, but enough of the ones in charge of teaching and peer review are that I wouldn't have been able to avoid them.

Attempting a pure neutral POV is not a good working tactic for me. Editing out all of the analogies, related tangents, snark, and/or personal observations would result in my turning in papers that consisted of two diagrams and a load of random conjunctions. Sociology and communication theory care the least about sarcasm of any of the academic subjects I've run into, plus if you're entirely too pointy even for the professors in-discipline, those also give you the option of writing for the popular press, which most academic areas do not.

As for the sexual content of life specifically barring me from getting a job, I actually sat down and thought about that before going into modeling. I am aggressively uninterested in having any career that could be ruined by someone finding out that I was once naked in front of a camera. (Some of the art nudes I've done are actually among my favorite shoots. This one [NSFW, obviously] is a recent job for a local boudoir photographer.) Whether I'd qualify as a "sex worker" is debatable; I don't do actual porn, but that's a personal matter of me being comfortable being sexy for arbitrary people with cameras, but not comfortable being sexual for perfect strangers. When people ask, "OMG, what'll happen if you start teaching and your students find the pictures?" my standard response is a very dry, "I imagine undergraduate enrollment in my class would skyrocket."

Comments

  1. Depending on what you want your area of interest to be, I'd say that having a past in sex work might actually be an advantage in the social sciences.

    I'm currently finishing up an anthropology degree (or, more to the point, procrastinating on finishing an anthropology degree because I don't want to graduate and I may as well take advantage of the four years I was offered) and one of the reasons I stuck with it was because I didn't have to edit out all my snark. It's anthropology because I learned about sociology too late, but if my school offered a minor I'd get one without any trouble, though I currently have to beg my way into upper division classes because I'm not a declared major and I skipped all of the pre-recs. (Intro classes are things of complete evil as far as I'm concerned and I avoid them as much as possible.) I do mostly paleoanth stuff, because I'm primarily interested in the paleolithic and the internet and not so much any of the bits in the middle (which are great fun to learn about but not things I want to study forever), and I've found that you can get away with some amazingly pointy things in proper papers. It probably helps that the only people you risk offending are other researchers, not existing cultures. Properly sarcastic academic papers are among my favorite things ever, both to read and to write. I sometimes have other people read over important papers to make sure there isn't more snark than substance, but mostly I don't bother. I speak Academic more or less as a first language and except in high school gen chem when I was being deliberately annoying because I hated the class and thought it would be funny I haven't had any trouble skating the line between appropriate and snarky.

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  2. -->When people ask, "OMG, what'll happen if you start teaching and your students find the pictures?" my standard response is a very dry, "I imagine undergraduate enrollment in my class would skyrocket."<--

    Zing!

    I skimmed the CA post, but didn't bother going down to the comments. Did anyone mention Brooke Magnanti, aka Belle de Jour, who wrote Diary of a Call Girl, and still has her "respectable" career last I checked?

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