Monday, January 15, 2007

I’m the Other Woman: A Guide for the Principled Provider

Gentle Reader, here is today’s question for your consideration.

A well-regarded provider reports that she’s been victimized by a fellow provider: her belongings are stolen, her equanimity’s disturbed and her reputation is temporarily tarnished by association. It’s a sordid little mess that crops up as commonly as fungus.

Now, I’m not overly worried about the upstanding lady; she’s dealt with such ugliness before. What I do wonder about is the victimizer-- the Other Woman.

How different can she be from me? We both work in a shadowy and marginal world where we’re sharply judged on our weight, our looks, our conversational skills and our performance. Our daily living depends on the sexual whims of strangers. On a good week, we’re idolized as the consummate girlfriend. On a bad one, we’re haggled with and belittled. At all times, we live under the real threat of arrest or assault. On the surface, there’s every reason to let our emotions run away with us.

Yet, I, for one, cultivate a calm, drama-free life. I get along with anyone who treats me with courtesy and respect. I don't propagate rumors, refuse to give references or steal other girls' images, ideas or thunder. For the past year, I’ve allowed a friend to use my incall without fear of her outing me or allowing riff-raff into my space. I practice playing fair.

So what I don’t understand is how so many of us can routinely lie, denigrate, cheat, backstab and connive against each other. Even when justified, such behavior not only reinforces the world’s idea of us as desperate or tainted– it batters our daily happiness with mistrust and manipulation. It’s no wonder even the steadiest of us can get shaky on our foundations.

Hence, my question. Is this the nature of our business, or the nature of women? Do we act badly out of malice, or because we have no agreed-upon moral compass? Maybe it’s time we did agree on a handful of positive principles that could help turn our collective faces into the light. I’ll start with four ideas and I would welcome anyone else’s thoughts.

Principled Providers agree that:

Because the world rewards us for our cunning and quick wits, we’ll use them
to thwart dangerous clients and keep each other safe.

If a steady client disappoints us by moving on to greener pastures, we’ll view it
not vengefully, but as part of a large karmic circle. The client our competitor
loses today may call us tomorrow.

We’ll replace shrewishness and petty jealousy with motivated admiration.
There will always be someone who markets, dresses or looks better than we do.
We’ll look at how they’re doing things– and learn.

And we’ll recognize that we all deal with our daily degree of difficulty.
So even if I can’t help you make your rent, I can refrain from broadcasting
your situation over the Internet.

Gentle reader, I’m far from an expert on the profession of providing. But I do consider it an intimate and honorable vocation. Because for every instance of simple sexual pleasure I give my clients, I also know that for many of them, my friendship and non-judgmental presence in their life transcends the value of money.

In the end, we’re all doing good. So isn’t it time we do good for each other, as well? Whether the champagne’s bubbling or it’s the end of a weary day, each of us is the Other Woman.

On Martin Luther King Day, I have a dream. Let’s do her proud.

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