“The benefits are, I’m my own boss. I get to make my own career. I get to make my own time. I get to promote myself the way I wish to promote myself.”
Brt shadow: Why did you choose sex work as a career? What type of sex work do you practice?
Karmenife: I am a professional dominatrix. I actually found sex work through an art project that I did. When I was on campus, I was raped my freshman year and I thought it pretty much ruined me. One way that I reclaimed my space for myself is I did an art project where I dress up like a dominatrix and I dommed frat guys in front of the frat house where I was raped. I had never felt so powerful and beautiful, and to feel that in a space where I had been ripped apart was beyond empowering.
I was always interested in dominatrixes. I always thought they were walking goddesses. I just started trying it out for fun until other dommes I met were like, “No, bitch! They need to be paying you! You need to get money!” I’ve been doing it professionally for about a year now. It’s changed me in ways I am so grateful for. I carry that domme energy with me wherever I go. It’s going to be with me forever. I’m probably never going to stop.
What have you learned about yourself through being a sex worker?
I have learned that I’m an excellent multitasker. I always knew that I was smart, but now I realize how smart I really am. I learn things pretty quickly. Most importantly, I’ve learned that absolutely no one or nothing is entitled to my body. I feel like as a black woman in this society I have been fetishized and objectified since I’ve left the womb. Being able to reclaim my sexuality and my body for myself has been really important through my work, and it’s taught me you’re not entitled to me or my time and if you want it, you pay for it.
What are some benefits and drawbacks of the sex industry?
I can start with the drawbacks. One thing that really bothers me is how other women will try to shame me for what I do. They try to explain what I do and it’s like, you don’t like when men explain feminism to you, so why are you explaining what you clearly don’t know to me? Why are you trying to control my narrative? By doing that, you’re fucking up my livelihood. Also, how can you say that I don’t value myself through what I do? I hate when people say that I’m doing this because I’m stupid and that I’m a slut. It always makes me laugh because at the end of the day, we’re all sluts because we’re all getting fucked by capitalism. I’m just smart enough to collect a check; you’re doing it for free, so that’s on you.
Another thing is the racism in the industry. I face racism everywhere, but it’s definitely alive and well in the industry. The things that I have to deal with don’t even come close to the things that dark-skinned dommes do. It’s something that we need to talk about and that needs to get fixed. The benefits are, I’m my own boss. I get to make my own career. I get to make my own time. I get to promote myself the way I wish to promote myself. I get to guide other black people through fetish who have never done it before, which is really exciting. The part that I love most is that I’m getting my reparations, one white dad at a time.