Veronica Monet: In Her Own Words

VM full shot

Nearly three decades ago, I entered a life of sobriety, which catapulted me onto a path of spiritual growth and service. There have been many steps along this journey. First I hosted a local cable TV show on which I interviewed hundreds of guests about a variety of topics which called to me over the course of five years. Eventually I found my own voice as an activist for women’s empowerment and sexual rights.

 

I became a popular spokesperson for these causes. At first I was on discussion panels and then in front of classrooms. But before long, I was sought after for major newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews. I spoke from personal experience about my own healing journey as an incest/rape survivor and a recovered alcoholic/addict. I was angry and outspoken, but the media loved me. And over time, I learned to  deliver a more sophisticated message which even incorporated a sense of humor.

 

Giving keynote presentations in University and college settings, I discovered not only that I had an activist message to convey, but also that I carried in my heart a great love for my audiences. This changed everything and I became less angry and more empathic. People often came up after my talks with tears in their eyes requesting a hug and expressing confusion as to what was happening to them. I knew I was touching them in deeply personal places. And I knew that the larger topic, the one we were not speaking about directly, was something central to the human condition.

 

Eventually it became apparent to me that my audiences were deeply moved by the fact that I created a safe place for them to explore their shame without feeling judged. Shame had been a feature of my early life growing up in a religious cult, and as an adult I was committed to moving past that crippling emotion and realizing my full potential as a joyful being. I invited my audiences to share in that with me and many of them found this to be a powerful gift.

 

As part of my refusal to allow shame to dictate the course of my life, I had entered into a very controversial profession after graduating from college and after getting sober. My path would shock many while simultaneously empowering me to deepen my healing and spiritual development in ways I might never have anticipated.

 

I didn’t enter into becoming a high-end escort lightly. As a college graduate who spent seven years working in corporate settings, and as someone who had been clean and sober for a number of years, I questioned whether this was in integrity with my spiritual path. Rather than refer to conventional thinking on the matter, I turned to my innermost knowing and quite frankly prayed my ass off.

 

As well, a great deal of research and training went into my decision and because of this deliberate planning I enjoyed a very successful fourteen years in the profession. As part of my unique interpretation of what it meant to me to be an escort, I incorporated my spiritual journey into my professional pursuits, learning ways to heal and love my clients. This involved helping them to release repressed emotions and express their truth in a shame free setting.

 

I cared for my clients and I found great fulfillment in my work as a high-end escort. So why did I leave the profession in 2004, at a time when I was regularly making $15,000 a date?

 

For three reasons.

 

First, I was tired of dealing with law enforcement. The last few years of an otherwise glamorous career as an escort were marred by an arrest for prostitution. This was followed quickly by an audit by the IRS which I passed with flying colors since I had always paid my taxes. As a prominent voice for the sex worker rights movement, I could look forward to continued harassment by law enforcement.

 

Second, I decided to stop escorting because I had grown bored of working with my clothes off. I enjoyed helping my clients feel and explore their emotions. It had created a lot of healing for me and my clients to be sure. But it had outlived its usefulness and I was ready to touch my clients’ hearts without touching their genitals.

 

Finally, I never intended for escorting to be a lifelong pursuit. Contrary to popular stereotype, there are many sexy and successful women over 50 working as high end escorts. But that wasn’t and isn’t my calling. From an early age, I entertained fantasies of writing professionally, and had somehow come to know that I was meant to be a published author by the age of 45. And so I quit my very lucrative escorting job at age 44, and moved into a little mountain cabin to write a book. I had no book deal. I just felt in my bones that it was meant to be.

 

True to my intuitions, I did get a publishing contract and I authored my first book at age 45.In 2005 my first book, Sex Secrets of Escorts, was published by a major East Coast publishing house (Alpha Books, division of Penguin Books). Rather than write a tell-all to titillate my readers, I wrote a sex manual with plenty of commentary about healthy boundaries, communication and reversing gender roles in the bedroom.

 

But while the book deal came easily to me, the transition from high-end escort to couples’ coach was at first more challenging. The stigmas attached to my former profession are great. I could have changed my name in order to reinvent myself, but I wanted to unashamedly share the special insights and wisdoms which have come to me through this uncommon path.

 

I am fortunate to now have a thriving clientele who seek my coaching acumen for the emotional, spiritual and sexual issues which complicate their lives.

 

As a sex and relationship coach, I reveal challenging things about myself and thereby model a lack of shame.  This opens the way for my clients to be candid and share things with me that they often have never said aloud nor told another living person. My clients feel safe to share their past and their truth., because they are assured that I will be accepting and non-judgmental. I also maintain a sense of humor about things that many people take far too seriously. This frees my clients to laugh about things they might have spent years feeling ashamed of.

 

I also have a gift for understanding both the male and female perspective. That is probably due to the fact that as a woman I am quite comfortable with masculine as well as feminine energies. But whatever the reasons, my clients are often surprised how well I understand their experience regardless of their gender. For me, bridging the so-called gender gap comes second nature. And that makes it possible for me to facilitate very powerful role plays for heterosexual couples.

 

Both men and women have suffered greatly because of popular myths which teach us that we cannot understand the “opposite sex.” Instead of studying our partners as if they are aliens from another planet, it is imperative that we learn how to build bridges which can span the current gender divide.

 

Rigid beliefs about how males and females are supposed to feel and behave breed shame in all of us. This shame not only burdens us with feelings of low self-worth. Shame also bends our personalities into unnatural and reactive perversions of our true selves, so that we are no longer able to access the full measure of our creativity and optimism. Weighed down by shame, we are more likely to exhibit cynicism and anti-social behaviors. In this way, shame creates a social fabric which is emotionally shut down and violent.

 

Whether we experience shame about our gender, our race, our sexual orientation, our sexual behavior and/or fantasies, our socio-economic status, our educational level, our monetary success or lack thereof, the results are the same.  Shame lowers our self-esteem and infects our relationships with secrecy and distrust.

 

Sexual shame is perhaps the most entrenched and the most often defended. But all forms of shame create a society which is fear based instead of sourced in joy. Because I am passionate about creating a world where each of us is afforded the opportunity to fully express our unique gifts, I am passionate about eliminating shame.

 

I invite you to explore The Shame Free Zone. Here, you will find tools and resources to free yourself from the tyranny of shame and move toward a fuller expression of your truth and your gifts. Please explore the many free resources including an online community forum where you can connect with others. And feel free to contact me directly (Veronica@TheShameFreeZone.com), especially if you wish to take advantage of my skill sets and insights over the phone or in person.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing But a Whore

monetnoseart.jpgMy dad use to veto my thoughts and feelings with these words: “I make the money around here and when you start supporting this family you can have a say in how things are run.  Until then, keep your mouth shut and do what you are told.”

 

As a teenager, I often dreamed about making money so I could have an opinion. 

 

I got married in my early 30’s and my income rose dramatically from a level which barely kept the lights on to a very healthy six figure income.  It wasn’t my job that changed.  I had been an escort for a couple years before I got married.  But once I said “I do,” I did do my best to be a financial knight in shining armor.  Whatever my husband and stepchildren wanted or needed, I went out of my way to make the money to purchase it.  It felt like a self-sacrificing role but of course it was more of a manipulative maneuver given my training around money and power.

 

Despite or maybe because of MY overbearing assertions about being the one in charge because of MY income, I eventually grew tired of being the primary breadwinner in my marriage.  The more money I made the lonelier I felt and the more tired I became.  My husband didn’t express much appreciation for my money and yet he became accustomed to all that it could buy.  Making twice the money he earned never meant being respected as a good provider or a hard worker.  And though he rarely said so, he didn’t like what I did to make my money. 

 

When you are a whore, your family takes your money as penance for your sins – not a gift of your labor.

 

Shortly after I purchased my first home – my mother went to great lengths to brag about my cousin who had recently purchased a mobile home.  I was a bit flabbergasted.  I had just purchased a home in the suburbs worth nearly a half million dollars (1997 prices mind you) and I had done so completely on my own.  It was my credit rating, my savings, my down payment, my name on the contract and absolutely NO one helped me – not even my husband.  With the exception of a friend who loaned me a few thousand to put in the bank to beef up my savings account for 6 months, no one lifted a finger to help me.  Not that I minded that.  I enjoyed being a self-made woman.  Still the fact that my mother took no notice of my accomplishment hurt like hell.  So I asked her, why she was so impressed with the mobile home my cousin had acquired in part due to her husband’s recent death.  My mother replied “Well, SHE worked HARD for HER money.”

 

Apparently sucking cock and dodging serial rapists and vice cops isn’t hard work.  Oh well, it seemed like work at the time.

 

Today I live on a drastically reduced income after retiring from escorting and divorcing my husband four years ago.  Funny, you might think I would have quit prostitution while I was married.  But I didn’t.  I am too stubborn for that.  When I did quit, it wasn’t to please anyone but me.  I had simply gotten fed up with looking over my shoulder and I wanted to be legal for a change.  Towards the end of my escorting career, I had been arrested, audited and robbed or raped – depending upon how you look at it.  I was ready to go live in the woods for awhile and write my first book.

 

Despite the fact that I no longer “turn tricks” people can still assault me with their expectations and projections about sex workers and money.  It seems some people expect me to have more money than I do. And once they ascertain my scaled down lifestyle, they resort to disparaging stereotypes about money hungry whores who can’t save a penny.  I did save money thank you.  But more to the point, the expectation that we are all terribly rich (or should be) is predictable and boring.  It doesn’t matter what I do for a living now.  I used to be a prostitute. 

 

Once a whore – always a whore?  In this profession people see you as transformed from a human to something less than human.  Whores don’t do prostitution – they ARE prostitutes.  There is a difference.

 

As a sex worker I hated losing my status as a human.  But I have never really felt human anyway.  As a woman I have always watched the wicked hand of patriarchy sweep my humanity from view with a few simple incantations: whore, slut, cunt, bitch . . . and with those monosyllabic words I am marked as fair game for all sorts of crimes from rape to murder.

 

Standing mute before my accusers I despair of ever knowing true acceptance.  I may play the seductress, the mistress, the goddess but if my projection of archetypal attributes evidences a crack leaking some semblance of the mundane truth of my existence, then I am catapulted into the dark realms of the persecuted and ostracized.

 

Are there no tears for the whore?  Will the world never find it in their collective hearts to mourn our deaths?  Or honor our labor? 

 

September of 2007, a Bay Area sex worker posted a warning on Craig’s List regarding a man who raped her.  Her blunt account of events sent familiar waves of grief and rage through me:

 “He ended up throwing me down the stairs when he was done, I have a sprained ankle. And he shoved me out the door without my things. I had to flag down a car driving by and they called the police for me, but he was not arrested because I have a record in prostitution so the police saw me as exactly what the rapist saw me as…..Nothing but a Whore…” 

A month later, a Philadelphia judge put the less than human status of sex workers on the law books by ruling that the rape of a prostitute is in fact only “theft of services.”  Sadly, I understand this line of reason.  When I was raped by a man I intended to do business with, I tried to comfort myself with the words “robbery” and “bad debt.”  Maybe if I could just dismiss the whole affair as a “cost of doing business” I wouldn’t have to feel any emotional pain. 

I had conceptualized being arrested for prostitution in a similar fashion and consequently, the night I WAS arrested for prostitution, I smiled for my mug shot and treated the whole incident as something mildly amusing.  Could I treat my own rape as nothing more than a client who failed to pay his bill? Six months after my on-the-job rape, I began behaving like a traumatized rape survivor – not a business savvy entrepreneur.  So much for my psychobabble.  Turns out that I am human after all – and rape is rape – no matter what you do for a living.  If I have to learn such a hard lesson about my own victimization, how hard will it be to change the world’s (and the voting public’s) perceptions?   

Yes, I can be victimized, but I will NEVER be a victim.  I am a survivor.  I survived incest and date rape before I ever started working in the sex industry.  When I grew up and confronted my dad for molesting me, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “So what if I did, you’re a prostitute now, so it doesn’t really matter, does it?”  Yeah, I’d like to hurt him for saying that too.

 

Most sex workers are survivors.  If you don’t learn how to take care of yourself in this profession, you don’t last long.  In fact, we are wonderful caretakers.  We take care of ourselves, our clients, our families and our loved ones.  It’s what we do.

 

But the world wants to either vilify us or “rescue” us.  San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom has climbed on board the “anti-trafficking” bandwagon along with every other political player and many non-profits vying for federal funding.  This last year, San Francisco pissed away over $11 million putting poor women of color through the prostitution merry-go-round of arrests and fines. 

 

Having sat in a San Francisco jail cell with street prostitutes for over nine hours the night I was arrested for prostitution, I know the utter absurdity of prostitution laws first-hand.  Most of the street prostitutes are on a first name basis with the cops and there is a ton of flirting on both sides.  It makes the whole arrest-fine-release-arrest cycle a very expensive joke on taxpayers.  But what isn’t funny is the horribly negative impact it has on the day to day lives of those sex workers who are being put through the system on a regular basis. For them, vice functions as yet another pimp they have to pay off one way or another.

 

The real reason the world wants to punish whores is because we violate their prized beliefs about sex, love and money.  In particular, female sex workers flaunt assumptions about women’s sex drive, dependence upon men and preference for marriage.  We are a thorn in society’s side because we refuse to be “good girls” and we don’t even have the decency to feel remorse for our ways. We can also mess with the public’s “need” to know who the whores are when we blend with “good folk.”

 

Recently, I taught a workshop about Sacred Prostitution and most of the women who attended were providers.  A male friend who attended too said something completely inane – these women wouldn’t stand a chance at hooking up with men if they weren’t charging for their services.  On some level, I kind of knew what he was trying to say.  Most of these women appeared as less than sexy that particular day.  But tell me this, how is it that anyone would be able to charge for something they couldn’t give away?  That is NOT logical.  Further, he exhibited an all too typical assumption on the part of client types – thinking sex workers look like they do on the job – all the time.

 

It reminds me of the young lesbian strippers who told me tales of being worshipped and adored while wearing wigs and make-up only to be spat upon on, on their way home from the strip club – unrecognizable to their clients with their short hair, scrubbed faces and piercings. 

 

It isn’t the first time I have witnessed such a superficial and patriarchal view of sex workers. Still it made me angry.  For me, the fact that some men will pay for sex with women they might not want their friends to see them with has always pointed to the discrepancy between what actually fires the libido and what caters to social prominence.  The two have nothing to do with each other and only fools who have bought into the lies of this dominant culture and completely abandoned themselves would believe otherwise.

 

Anyway, the whole idea that sex workers are nothing but a collection of body parts and the image they project is insulting.  Maybe people confuse us with models.  But that is a different type of sex worker.  Whores do more than pose.  Whores are talented people who get paid for their sex appeal AND their skills.  Sacred Prostitution in particular is a profession which usually requires training of some sort – either mentored learning or self-study but you certainly don’t learn something that counter-culture by watching television or reading the newspaper.

 

So in the final analysis, it seems that the phrase “Nothing but a Whore” says it all.  Whether the topic is our money or our bodies or our rights or our safety, we are not to be treated like people.  Every breath we take is suspect and all the normal day to day aspects of our existence which we share with the rest of the human race, are reinterpreted to serve the denigrating stereotypes which fuel our oppression.

 

I agree with the world.  It doesn’t matter what I do for a living – I am a Whore – and damned proud of it.