"Times are changing" is the understatement of the year. TER and reviews have existed in full force since I entered this industry. I was delighted to get my first review back in April 2016, believing it was my official entrance into sex work. And it was. I received so many reviews in such a short period of time, it was vertigo-inducing. Along with these reviews, though on the whole positive, came criticisms. Some were helpful and changed the way I operated my business, and some were just hurtful.
I remember receiving reviews from clients whom I'd had a great time with who criticized my body or my face. As a baby in the industry, I was unaccustomed to being examined on such a microscopic level. My aim as a provider was to please everyone who walked through my door and it was becoming abundantly clear that this was an impossible task.
The most damaging effect reviews had on me was that they changed my views on my clients. They made me fearful of them. When with a perfect gentleman I'd have a lovely session - the kind that made me proud to be a sex worker. The afterglow would slowly fade into a deep anxiety. What if he didn't actually like me? What would he say to the world about me?
I checked for new reviews daily, first thing when I woke up. As the page loaded, I'd see my numerical scores (which I had memorized) had changed, filling me with dread. Whether the review was "good" or not didn't slow my heart from beating fast. Being dissected online was driving me crazy.
When I got the text from a fellow sex worker that TER was no longer accessible, I gasped, and was eventually stunned into silence. Like many others, I used TER as an advertising tool. Now that a bit of time has passed, I've experienced something unexpected. I feel free. I feel fucking free. Unknowingly, TER had influenced how I ran my business. I played into respectability politics. I kept my rates right in the middle of what was "acceptable" for someone of my size and looks. I didn't offer half hour appointments. I wrote placating and saccharine posts on the local board hoping to drum up business. I tried not to get into online fights no matter how offensive the content to which I was replying was. With TER's absence, I am free to be myself and do what actually works for me. For example, offering half hour appointments brings me great joy, both in that it takes less energy than an hour, but also because my services are now more accessible. It's not lost on me that it costs a pretty penny to see me. Taking half hour appointments opens me up to meeting those who before could not afford my services as well as giving opportunity for regular lovers to see me more often.
Entrenched in review culture was a standing power struggle between clients and providers. For some reviewers it was as if to mitigate the paying for companionship act, they'd tear us down in reviews. They'd scrutinize my entire body, opening to the world their thoughts on my breasts, ass, pussy, face. While I've received some lovely reviews, I'm speaking towards the entire culture of TER. I am not happy to have lost a popular source of advertising, however I can wholeheartedly, sincerely, and unfeignedly say that I'm relieved it's gone and I hope it never comes back.
For those who scream "but what about accountability!" I offer this: TER was about accountability as much as a circle jerk is about bonding with friends. It's a veil, a tagline used obscure the power play of reviews.
My intention this morning was to upload screenshots of my reviews, but I can't bring myself to do it. Did TER give me business? Yes. Some of my best clients came from that cesspool. Do I still have the TER logo on my website? Yes. I can't figure out how to get rid of it. Am I happy TER is gone? Fuck. Yes.