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The Lions

Internalized Struggles

Alone, alone with my mother and my little sister, wondering where my father has gone.

"It's okay, we get child support from him."

But now that I'm 18 and have lived off this check all my life, they'll take that away from me and I'll be forced to work and help maintain my family.

A burden I was set to carry since the day I was born.

How will I get a job right after high school? They wouldn't want a newbie like me anywhere near their business. What do I turn to? Searching for a job has led me down a road that I never thought I'd find myself in. One that has made me question my sense of self, my morals and beliefs. Which feeds into my internal conflict of, do I sacrifice myself for my family, or do I suffer through the hardships with them?

"You're so sexy."

"You may be young but I would tear your body up."

The sex industry is big in the United States and it would be a sure-fire way to get money quickly if I took this path. My family needs me, and I owe them my life, so I will sacrifice myself to help them. But something holds me back, my friends, my self-worth, my morals.

It's like standing in front of hungry lions, guarding treasures that would help my family out of this financial rut. Each time they come closer, I find myself bending to their commands and remove my clothing, only thinking of the money at the end. My innocence is being robbed and I'm nothing but a piece of meat they're hungry for, but only for today before I am scrapped and pushed to the side to make room for young, fresher meat. No doubt that my self-esteem would be put on the line as well as my privacy and security. Do I fight back from this degrading field of work? Do I pick up the spear that's near me, thrown across the floor? Every move I make, my stomach gets queasy, knowing I'm dinner for men who don't give one damn about me.

"Give in, it's fun."

"You'll make easy money."

They bribe me, they coerce me into being their plaything. Dismissing my pleas, my cries, my compromise. Other girls are waiting in line to enter the situation I'm in. Others have given in and received the riches they were promised. And the rest are hung up like actual meat, being picked to be eaten on some days, and the rest of them thrown back up, to be saved for another.

We are surrounded by spectators sitting comfortably in their chairs and staring down at us with disdain and disgust.

“These sluts, all they do is sell themselves for a living. They can’t be smart, they can’t be worth anything.”

The stigma around sex work is still around, still looked down upon. No matter what the circumstances were before we joined, we are sluts. Even when we leave, we do not escape the memories from the lion pit. We are ridiculed, criticized by those who do not wish to lend a helping hand, and to the lions who we sold our bodies too. We are discarded like trash, dismissed after the work we do for the lions. But if it weren’t for us, they’d have nothing to ease their desires with. And those who feel the need to mock and disapprove our work, unless you are willing to pay my bills, your opinions are irrelevant. But...if you do want to help, take my hand and pull me out of the lion pit.

Do I sacrifice myself to the lions and give in to their sexual desires, giving up my freedom? Or do I suffer with my family, go days without eating, have nothing to provide for my pets and risk losing my home?

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The Lions
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