An Education on Sex Work and Defense of Sex Workers
"Sex work" is a term coined by Carol Leigh, sex worker's rights activist, in 1980 to de-objectify the sex work industry which was previously referred to as "sex use industry." Additionally, the phrase "sex work is work" has become a popular phrase on social media and women's rights rallies to erase the stigma surrounding sex work and sex workers. The concept of the term sex work is also affirmed by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. To be clear, there is a difference between consensual sex work and human trafficking. Due to ignorance and stigma surrounding sex work, the two often get confused for being interrelated. Unlike the latter, sex work is self-governing and emphasizes consent.
Moreover, sex work is a diverse industry that encompasses more than having sex for money, another common industry misconception due to lack of knowledge. Sex work encompasses dancing, companionship, role playing, pictures and more for monetary gain. That's not to say, like any industry, sex work can't be exploitative, it definitely can be. However, exploitation is not unique to sex work. Other examples of exploitative work include the food service industry and minimum wage work that employ millions of people and also carry their own stigma.
Understandably, there are dangers a part of sex work many parents would not want their kids susceptible to. Also, if you are a person who could not imagine yourself being a part of that field, that too is fair. However, there is a clear and blatant prejudice and discrimination of, specifically, women sex workers. That prejudice is due to patriarchy's standards for women to only be used for sex when a man says you are to be used for sex. A woman deciding for herself that she wants to use her body however she wants doesn't fit the criteria for patriarchy. It gives women too much power. Many of us possess a bias ingrained in our psyche that encourages us to look down on sex workers that come from a number of different places: sexism, internalized misogyny, and all too often jealousy.
I'm tired of coming across tweets like "ThAt CoUlD NeVeR bE mE" in relation to an only fan account. Like yeah, we know it couldn't be you because your confidence doesn't go the distance.
Women need to stop putting other women down for the sake of male approval. It's annoying and tired. You are not better than another woman because you "would never create an only fans account." Good for you sis. We don't care. Your morals are not higher or more pure than that of a sex worker. If anything, constantly expressing your disdain for women in the sex work industry makes you shitty.
I hate reiterating elementary lessons of social behavior, but sex workers deserve the same respect as everybody else. If you have opinions that are rooted in prejudice, keep them to yourself. Instead of tearing down sex workers, we should advocate for the legal protection of sex workers; or have a discussion surrounding how racial privilege manifests itself and is perpetuated in the industry; or examine what role pornography sites play in spreading toxic content with impunity. In conclusion, there are many constructive conversations to be had surrounding sex work that don't involve shaming the industry or other sex workers. #BeKind #SexWorkisWork
***Author's Note: For more articles on this topic, I'll plug some below. Thanks!
Also, some organizations that advocate for the rights of sex workers:
Global Network of Sex Work Projects: https://www.nswp.org/who-we-are
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA: https://swopusa.org/