from Freedom and Prostitution


                        If you are a prostitute of the 21st century
                               metaphors are not enough
                                    the girl who works
                                    who is she,
                               always convincing
                               convincing in capital
                        You are the whore on his yacht
                             he asks you to shoot him up with heroin
                             and you comply
                             pay for all profitable demeanors
                             which means disposability
                                   detracts your image from
                                   all the decorating cameras
                             as “law does not ignore the bed”


 To die tonight, to die in this bed—


                        The horror of a dead man’s tongue in your mouth
                        pieces of his cheek flesh slough off in ribbons
                                    The participles           nut chunks    like taste buds
                                                string cheese            always a cheese
                                                a sour fermentation
The dead man loves how unbearable it is to open your mouth to his
                        How the decay comes rushing in
                                    gagging you
                        He loves most that you must love it
                        you are paid to love it in all its grotesqueness   
                        How good you are at it
                        How you revel in your ability
                                    to eroticize abjection           the greatest pleasures
                                    delivered from the sickest chores


                         How in 30 minutes   he will cum on your chest  
                         and this will all be over
                         as you are left in a luxury hotel suite
                         stack of cash on the bedside table
                         How the rest of the day is yours 
                         and tomorrow
                                                and the day after that
                                                in your sudden freedom

                         How you make it rain
                         and roll around on the bed
                         the scent       of fresh currency
                                as blue green gold reflects
                                 against your skin
                                     in the fading daylight


Or the days when it is too much
                        you are almost crying
                        you are holding back tears
                        as you fantasize about his death
                                    to get you through
                                    to get him off
                                    to get you off
                        and remember
                        that you can do almost anything
                                    for an hour

                        You are holding back tears but you do not regret this
                        You do not want to be saved
                        You want the end of work not the end of sex
                        As one woman’s death is another’s survival


Fucking means nothing until you reside in its absence
refuse its meaning, religiously

Scoring it, calcifying its lack
Get beaten for it
Drugged for it
Paid for it
Make a life of it

You hate no woman who has found herself in the hustle
            discovered talent in the slime
                        dealing, stripping, fucking
                        constantly redefining the bottom of everything

“Thus, I am leaving you to your own devices on this bed. I am going out, and once again I will write on the door so that, as you exit, you may perhaps recall the dreams you will have pursued on this bed.”


Fantasies of harm and the form it gives to desire—you question this. To drink from deleterious power and ask what can you make of me, this wreckage of attachment? Which pieces of your body reject the rest of your body? How is your body in conflict with your own politics? To stage a total revolt, completely unimpressed by social barbarity. 

The body that eats its body
The body that protects the body with a shimmering bark
The body that grows hooves now
The body that cries out 
The body that refuses to die


You got cancer
You became sick
You killed yourself
You quit drinking
You became a hermit
You became a leper
You had both your breasts removed
You had your reproductive organs removed
You became a junkie
You became homeless
You started using
You quit using
You turned to the streets
You became a prostitute
You became a student
You declared bankruptcy
You blamed yourself
You became a mother
You became a widow
You became an orphan
You became a criminal
You became a prisoner
You became a fantasy


Your body under the body of the dead man
You imagine he is a giant spider
      liquefying your vitality and sucking it from you

You tie him to the bed and tell him he can’t touch you 
    but you ride his face instead
            his moustache 
            a spider that you erase your cunt with 
                scratching it out
                thrust by thrust
            in these moments when you love it 
            for the love of fucking and
            for getting paid 
            the lightness you feel 
                in this unremorseful joy 
                is the finest scam 
                anyone can ever commit
                it is with this feeling 
                that you go out into the night 
                looking for a place to sleep
                      for food          for a fix 
                or a flying stack of cash                  
                that he says flows from your pussy
                draining his bank account
                             and his cum


You laugh and in the background the chorus of sex workers calls out to say:
            To fuck is to win / the joke’s on him

When the dead man tells you meeting you is the best thing that has ever happened to him and he means it. The horror and tenderness you feel are not a contradiction but the culmination of a life’s work.

“The presumption that she is a whore is a metaphysical presumption: a presumption that underlies the system of reality in which she lives. A whore cannot be raped, only used. A whore by nature cannot be forced to whore—only revealed through circumstance to be the whore she is.”

She wants you to believe this. She keeps repeating herself as she tries to pull you from the lure of the chorus.

Every story is the same because it is not / you sought the cause and lost the plot

You took away a heft of generalities, yet you learned nothing, you broke nothing as your body ached transference. Your body releasing you from your hatred, your nature, your inability to complete the task both reaffirming and releasing in its pleasurable rejection as in the end, the joke’s still on him.


“The whore has a nature that chooses prostitution. She should be punished for her nature, which determines her choice and which exists independent of any social or economic necessity.”

You believe women were made to be punished, but there is no such thing as a woman—it can only be assumed, the limits of violence held within this category, woman.

The terror of being blamed for this violence, when it goes beyond the typical assumptions of “asking for it.” When it is seen as a fetish, a proclivity, a pathological trait marked in your nature. You cannot save a whore from herself, you can only see that she recuperates and fulfills the patterns graphed onto her, regardless of what she says.

The destruction of a body. A white body. A brown body. A black body. A body reconstituting its own glue, its own insatiable labors in a contract with foes that holds you beyond choice. Afterwards you discover your mistake, as you believed you were a woman but you were actually the spider all along—and in this—is a type of freedom.

Cassandra Troyan

Cassandra Troyan is a writer whose work explores the terror of becoming female at the intersections of gender, historical violence, sex work, and capital. They are the author of several books and chapbooks of poetry, most recently KILL MANUAL (Artifice Books, 2014) and A Theory in Tears (ANNOTATIONS & CASES FOR FREEDOM & PROSTITUTION) (Kenning Editions, 2016). Originally from Columbus, Ohio, they currently live in southern Sweden and teach creative/critical writing practices in the Department of Design at Linnaeus University.