Not in the sense that you actually do any sex work. In the sense that you work in a highly fetishised career. I imagine nurses, firefighters, cops, doctors and others have some similar feelings, but I was a librarian.
And not just a ‘lady who works in the library’. I have glasses – black-rimmed plastic usually. I habitually wear my hair in a bun, so it doesn’t get caught under bag straps or yanked by children. I have a 50s sort of shape. I wear pencil skirts and cardigans and stockings in the cold. In short, I look like a librarian. To the point people think I’m being sarcastic when I describe what I do.
This can bring out some interesting things in people, mostly men. When you’re new, someone takes you aside and warns you about the creepers. The calls, that start out normal, and draw you in, and ask you to read out all of Nancy Friday’s titles for example, with requests to repeat them. The patrons who request books from the top shelf, or the bottom, and need your help. The ones who write you poetry (my body is no mere vessel, it is a chalice, according to one wordsmith).
I do not say this to brag (lest certain people are reading) but to explain the way I’ve been treated as a librarian, with a Masters degree, based on fetishes people have. Based on old scripts.
And I get it. A friend of mine has explained his own attraction to librarians (“I assume you’re smart, and if you’re hot too, and surrounded by books, and you’re funny, it’s just really really hot.”) and I get it. I read this and Jesus Christ do I get the appeal of the library. I write erotica specifically because I love the power of words who who wields that in a more overt and easily codified way than librarians (…maybe literature professors? Which is my other career?)?
But I also read that piece and think ‘oh man I have to clean up after that’ and ‘you might think you’re discreet but you aren’t’ and ‘other library fuckers are not so kind’. So it’s a fraught topic for me.
And like all fraught topics I’m gonna write myself some library porn. Look for an excerpt coming up soon.