What is a sex worker? The term sex work was created by sex workers themselves and is deliberately vague. Sex workers encompass a lot of different kinds of sex work. Yes, there are all kinds. Sex worker is not euphemism for prostitute, though prostitutes are sex workers. Sex workers can be Cam girls, porn stars, erotic masseuses, escorts, Professional Dommes, Strippers, Phone sex operators. Basically people who use their sexuality and emotional labor for their job are sex workers. They work both in the legal side of sex work and the underground illegal world of sex work. I personally work in both. I currently do a lot of different kinds of sex work but for a long time i was simply an escort. I fucked for cash.
I’ve also tried with little success to get involved in sex worker activism. I truly believe that sex worker rights are human rights and coming from the illegal world of escorting i get really angry when people tell me i cant do with my own body what i want to do. That it’s legal for me to screw a guy because he bought me dinner, or because its easier to fuck him then to try to disengage and not fuck him after a date, or because its Thursday but i can not fuck him because he offers me cash to do so. My sexual/emotional labor I’m allowed to give away to whom ever i want but the government wants to put laws on my body mind and soul telling me i cant sell it. The honest exchange is not allowed but the manipulation and underhanded emotional bullshit that often comes along with sex… that well that is encouraged. It’s ass backwards to me and yes part of the appeal of my working as an escort is because i like to buck the system and don’t like anyone telling me how to live my life. Really its for the money but the rebel in me gets a certain thrill at being a little bit of an outlaw.
My life would be easier if escorting was legal or decriminalized. I wouldn’t have to worry about going to jail to make my rent, i wouldn’t have to be wrought with fear if i needed to go to law enforcement because someone tried to harm or rob me. I would have access to the same services everyone else had with out fear of reprisals. It would also go a long way to helping to eliminate the stigma that comes along with sex work. Once a whore always whore. That stigma is very real and though many escorts live a secret life and no one knows of their sex work its a stigma we live with, we even brand ourselves. It can and does fuck with your head. Even the most grounded have played the “how could i have let my life come to this” game at one point or another. Destigmatizing escorting is a good first step in helping to over come those stigmas. It will be a long haul though, of that i am painfully aware.
Other kinds of sex work is already on that path. 10 years ago young women didn’t aspire to be porn stars, now many do. The profession is much more legitimate and socially acceptable. I believe a lot of that is to do with the concerted effort of porn companies like Vivid Video working double time to cross over to mainstream acceptance. Of course the Internet and having all that material at your fingertips didn’t hurt as well. However that doesn’t mean there is no stigma its MORE legitimate and acceptable its not entirely legitimate and acceptable. Women are still cast out of families for having been in porn, years later they are fired from jobs because of their porn past, they are branded whores and bad women forever. And that’s the legal side of sex work add a prostitution arrest and in some cases registering as a sex offender for 10-15 years for being a prostitute and your life will change forever… and not for the better.
I have really high hopes that someday sex workers will have the rights that all workers have and the recourse, services that all workers have but it will be a long, long fight with very little resources and lots and lots of hard hard work. I’m trying to be more involved. Ive hooked up with my local chapter of SWOP (sex workers outreach project) in a very small way. SWOPLA has a new director Jessie Nicole, shes bright eyed, enthusiastic and really wants to do some good AND she needs your help, your input and your support. She also needs your cash (hey, it’s tax deductible). So do something good for sex work and sex workers alike. Help her out with something, Throw a few bucks into the kitty, volunteer a little time at an event to get the word out or just write her an “i support what you’re doing letter” Do a little good today you will feel better for it, i know i do.