Why We ALL Need To Respect Sex Workers
Okay, so I originally wrote this blog on October 15, 2016. I think it wasn’t appropriate to publish this considering I was 17 when I wrote it but now that I’m a fully functioning adult I might as well.
So you’re probably thinking:
“Woah, Woah, Woah, you’re doing an article on sex work? I haven’t even decided if I like your blog yet…”
And you’re justified in thinking that BUT its something that needs to be talked about and that needs to be normalized. The sex industry is a multi-billion dollar business so obviously, SOMEONE is using its services.
I’ve heard these unnecessarily dramatic and judgmental statements from non-sex workers talking about sex workers. Y’all are going to learn A LOT today so, get some popcorn and fruit snacks because I’m taking you to school. I am not a sex worker BUT for some reason, people find it easier to hear the stories of the oppressed and their oppression by someone who is not included in that group. Kind of like how its easier for white people to grasp the concepts of racism when its explained by another white person aka: Tim Wise. I’m trying to educate other vanillas (people that aren’t sex workers ) on how to unlearn the messed up generalizations and stereotypes that surround sex work and sex workers.
“A sex worker is a person who is employed in the sex industry.The term is used in reference to all those in all areas of the sex industry including those who provide direct sexual services as well as the staff of such industries. Some sex workers are paid to engage in sex acts or sexually explicit behavior which involve varying degrees of physical contact with clients ( prostitutes, escorts, some but not all professional dominants); pornography models and actors engage in sexually explicit behavior which are filmed or photographed. Phone sex operators have sexually-oriented conversations with clients, and do auditive sexual roleplay. Other sex workers are paid to engage in live sexual performance, such as web cam sexand performers in live sex shows. Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience ( striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows). Sexual surrogates often engage in sexual activity as part of therapy with their clients.” Source here.
Men can be all of these things (obviously) but I’m focusing on the female angle of things (both cis and trans). People will have 7.8 heart attacks when a woman is either outed as a sex worker or comes right out and says it. This is for a NUMBER of reasons which I will be discussing below.
There are a few things I don’t support obviously. Sex slavery and consensual sex work are two ENTIRELY different things. I also don’t condone people under the age of 18 becoming sex workers, *disclaimer*.
Another disclaimer, there’s a difference between someone who gets into sex work because they WANT TO and someone who gets into it WHO DOES NOT HAVE AN OPTION. Again, trafficking and underage sex work are two different things that shouldn’t be confused with someone 100% consenting to sex work.
Okay first off let me just say I have the highest respect for sex workers all around the world. There are so many stigmas around sex work and it is extremely dangerous but they still are thriving and making bank so kudos to them. My dad has been a comedian at a Burlesque show since I was really little so maybe that’s why it is somewhat normal to me and I don’t really understand all the judgment around different types of sex work.
It’s crazy that people get mad at sex workers for using their bodies to make money, ESPECIALLY female sex workers. C’mon, women have been raised to believe from day one that their body is the only thing that is worthwhile to the outsider’s gaze. SO, I don’t understand the hypocrisy of demonizing a woman who is capitalizing on doing what society has deemed her worthy for.
Secondly, sex work wouldn’t exist if there was not a demand for it. Yeah you know just like EVERY other business on its planet, sex work relies on supply and demand. If was not a DEMAND for sex work then there wouldn’t be people out here SUPPLYING it.
Oh God, also can we stop thinking every sex worker was sexually abused…? Even if she was, it’s none of your business. I swear every time a stripper is brought up all I’m hearing is “Oh she has daddy issues” or “Someone wasn’t loved enough as a child.” and it’s annoying and childish. If someone was sexually abused, you should be asking if they received proper treatment and are okay after the assault NOT questioning their profession. I mean it’s not like if they were abused you’d care if they received the proper therapy to deal with it. Stop feigning concern. Seriously.
We need to stop this idea that a woman who is a sex worker is damaged goods.
Yeah, and what makes you think she’d date you?! I swear to God, people are so smug and entitled. They think anyone who happens to be attracted to their sex wants to date them. Sex workers do not have sex with EVERY person they come into contact with (obviously). Don’t be bitter just because they don’t want YOU.
Nah, they’re working people, but nice try! You ever try thinking about WHY you think they’re bad people? Okay, sex workers have sex WOW SO HORRIBLE. Unless you’re asexual, celibate, or in between relationships, you’re having sex and its okay. As long as sex workers take the proper SAFETY precautions then why do you care? Literally, the only time a woman is called a whore or a slut is when she’s using her body the way SHE wants and not the way the person calling her a slut wants her to.
The one thing I haven’t understood my entire life is why we demonize the supply (sex workers) and not the demand (customers)… I mean I’m not saying we should but why do we view strippers, hookers, and porn stars as less than human YET the industries that they’re in are ALL multi-million/billion dollar industries? There’s NEVER ANYTHING wrong with people that go to strip clubs or people who watch porn but AS SOON as a GROWN ADULT wants to be any of things it’s like:
I’m not saying people who use sex services should be demonized or hated but there’s an obvious difference in how the customers are treated VS the providers of said service.
For example, men who watch porn are NOT treated the same as the female porn stars they watch. That is so twisted. Sex workers wouldn’t exist if there was no demand for them and if sex didn’t sell but guess what, THERE’S PLENTY OF DEMAND AND SEX SELLS VERY WELL.
We live in a society that demands women to be sexualized but when women take their sexuality into their own hands, that’s bad apparently…? No amount of eye-rolls will be enough to convey how about this.
Now I mentioned early being outed as a sex worker. Not only is this one of the most dangerous things you could do to someone but its also the most asshole-ish. Sex work is DANGEROUS. Not only could you be compromising someone, you expose them and they could also be forced to share what they do with family that they DID NOT WANT TO KNOW. Unless the person in question SPECIFICALLY tells you that you can share their profession with other people then SHUT. THE. HELL. UP. If you stumble upon something sex work-related do not then share it with all your friends like
“OMG LOOK AT JENNY FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL!”
Things We Vanillas Can Do To End The Stigmas
1.) Stop Demonizing Sex Workers
2.) Treat All Sex Workers With Respect
3.) Stop Treating Sex Work Like Its Easy
4.) Stop Making Derogatory Comments About Sex Work and Sex Workers
5.) Humanize Sex Workers
They’re people, just like the mailman, just the line cook at your favorite restaurant. The fact I even have to say that is sad as hell. When someone says in a derogatory manner “SHE’S A STRIPPER?!” They say it like stripper means alien or just not human. In cases you didn’t know, sex workers have feelings. Just like any normal human. Just because their profession is different from yours doesn’t mean they don’t have goals, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves.
6.) Call People Out Who Say Derogatory Things About Sex Workers
7.) STOP SHITTING ON SEX WORK
“I could become a stripper and shake my ass for money but I have class.”
Yeah… how about you be broke and have “class” while the stripper will have money, class, and higher self-esteem. I have NEVER heard someone that’s a sex worker bash women or men with office jobs. EVER. It’s just a different hustle. Hmmmm, maybe its because they understand that people can have the same goals BUT have different ways to go about it. Imagine that.
“I couldn’t be a hooker, I couldn’t sell myself out like that.”
Oh so sitting at a desk 13 hours a day, staring at work that has no meaning to you at a job you DESPISE isn’t selling yourself out? Yeah okay.
“I’m working my way up the hard way. At least I still have dignity.”
If you didn’t register with anything I wrote previous to this, pay attention to this:
SELF ESTEEM COMES FROM THE SELF. You can’t tell another person how much self-esteem they have. You can’t tell someone if they have dignity or not. All of these things are a matter of opinion varying from person to person. This is where internalized misogyny comes into play and the whole “Sluts VS Virgins” ploy. Non-sex workers that are women sometimes feel the need to shout from the mountain tops how they’d NEVER lower themselves to sex work and how they’d rather work the “hard” way and still have dignity. This leads to phrases like:
“I’d rather flip burgers than be a stripper.”
“I’d rather be homeless than be a prostitute.”
Etc. and etc. It’s obnoxious and immature. Someone could have the same goals as you but just have a different path to get there.
I had a family member who was a sex worker and she was killed. I never got to meet her and I think about her a lot. I mean I was thinking about what nasty things people were saying about her profession when she was alive or what they would say if she was still alive. I mean they’d probably dehumanize her and try to make it seem like she was a bad person when in actuality she was a HUMAN BEING who made decisions in her life the best way she knew how. I don’t know how anyone with a conscious could judge that.
This is a segment I’d like to call “Yes Or No!” I’m going to ask questions and you just have to answer with yes or no just to see how much you’ve learned.
Is it okay to not be a sex worker whilst simultaneously talking down on/judging sex workers?
Can I support sex workers and not be a sex worker myself?
Is it okay to seek out the services of sex workers then bash them for working in the sex industry afterward?
Is it okay to be a sex worker?
Here are some [other] fantastic articles on sex work:
Originally published at http://afrosandopinions.com on October 15, 2016.