So I'm angry and hurt and a little offended right now. I posted my "Elvis and Dolly" piece on a few websites last night, and it got a fairly positive response. That's not the part that bothers me. A few hours later, I got a message from a potential client interested in hiring me for a commission.
In the freelance world, this situation isn't unheard of. In most cases it's a pleasant surprise. I'm always relieved when someone approaches me without me having to pitch an idea to them first. I messaged this man back asking what he had in mind for the price he'd quoted. He messaged me back. It wasn't at all what I expected.
This particular client was offering to pay me an impressive sum of money to collaborate with him in a sexual roleplay scenario. He wanted me to portray the role of Lily, a straight-A student about to graduate from a master's program who is blackmailed by one of her professors. I have never done anything like that before. The fact that this client would even bring such an idea to me is appalling. You see, this request goes a step beyond freelance writing. In this case, he'd be hiring me almost as a phone sex worker.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with phone sex workers. They're creative, hardworking, and often underappreciated members of society. With that being said, though, it isn't for me. Those services are not at all the kind I aim to advertise. I'm offended because it seems to me that my womanhood is a bigger player in this industry that I anticipated. If I were a man submitting that story, I doubt this particular client would have decided to approach me.
I want to write. My dream is to work for a magazine and write some short stories and novels on the side. I enjoy freelance writing, and the clients I currently work with are such a blessing to me. Yes, I like getting commissioned. Yes, I need the money. But am I willing to compromise my morals and my professional reputation for a few extra dollars? Not at all.
I'm a twenty-year-old woman and a professional writer. Both aspects are a part of my everyday life, but they need not necessarily define me as an individual. I want to do good work. I want to make God, my friends, and my family proud. I don't want to participate in sex roleplays for money. I want to be treated and respected as a person, an artist, and a working-class citizen.