I’ve shown you my personal messages and you’ve seen how bad it can be on a daily basis. But these are individuals whose hurtful comments can be brushed off and counter-argued; even if it takes a while.
But we have a much bigger problem: the general population belittle the sex industry intrinsically and automatically.
In creating this post, I am trying to educate anyone who will read! I hope that you will take away a message of sensitivity going forward in your interactions with sex workers.
Let’s do this: what cuts deep?
5. “If you’re a sex worker, you are being/have been abused”
It is widely assumed that sex work is a last-reserve-career and undeserving of respect from any other profession. This is far too often automatically linked to past and present abuse. Let’s talk about why sex work and sexual abuse don’t correlate.
But first: let’s once again reaffirm that in no way, are sex trafficking and brothel-keeping the same as sex work. The sex work that I am talking about (the ONLY sex work we should be involved in) is fully controlled by the sex worker themselves, is legal and safe, protects from perpetrators and, most importantly, is a choice.
I see intelligent, lucrative, happy sex workers everywhere I turn – and it shocks me that we’re not celebrating it more!
Of course, abuse itself is more prevalent than society is willing to discuss. I would estimate that of my female friends, 50% are sex workers and the other 50% are in other professions. So, quite a balance. I can confidently say that 100% of these friends have experienced some type of sexual assault/abuse. So, when we understand that abuse is everywhere, we can see that this stereotype is ridiculous in its own unique way.
With this connection made in people’s mind, entering a career in sex work can seem self-destructive. Unfortunately, this creates an unjust tinge of blame towards the abuse survivor, based on their job title. But, abuse is no more common or acceptable for sex workers than it is for any other woman.
It’s worth acknowledging that some abuse survivors can use sex work to feel a sense of regaining control. Many survivors claim sex work helps them to “own their sexuality”. This can never be the answer for everyone, of course; and decisions about entering the adult industry definitely shouldn’t be made in emotional haste. But it’s more common than you might think.
4. “We are cock hungry 24/7: even when we’re at home in our PJs”
People want to believe that the people they masturbate over roll out of bed looking as sexy as they did on their private browser history. This is reinforced by the countless “no-makeup-but-lots-of-filters” videos that crowd my twitter at 8 am sharp! And this isn’t a “bad” thing: it’s proactive sex workers growing their brand awareness, with low marketing costs. Sounds like good business to me!
But you know that the chaviest character in your favourite TV soap doesn’t leave the studio in that neon jacket and cheap bling. This is because they’re playing a character. Just like I am. The only difference is my character is representing more explicit acts.
The truth is, just like a sitcom actor, we finish a day/night of acting, head back to our personal lives and keep them personal. We put on our pyjamas and curl up on the sofa, just like you. We don’t hide this from the world out of shame: most of us are just following a coherent and in-depth business plan.
3. “We’re spreading STDs like wild fire”
Another amusingly incorrect and equally hurtful stereotype I seem to encounter a lot: that we have no regard for our sexual health.
The opposite is true. In fact, many prominent sexual health clinics run free membership schemes for sex workers. This helps us to comply with necessary testing and they also provide judgment-free advice. As an appreciative user of Dean St in London, I have a Gold Card! This entitles me to 1 free and full sexual health certification every 30 days.
This is heavily regulated in pornography: it is vital for all performers to be “fully-certed”. They must present these to show they are clear of any disease before the beginning of any higher-level shoot.
So, once again: ridiculous. Sensible sex workers know that they need more regular testing than some of the rest of society. Catching any infections early reduces the possibility of spreading anything unpleasant.
This is because a career in the adult world is not self-destructive – we’re building a brand.
2. “We shouldn’t be trusted around children”
This is the result of simple miseducation. With everything else society thinks about us, why would a loving parent want to allow their child to be around us? With our fictional STDs and provactive attitudes; we are clearly a danger.
But when we start breaking down these stereotypes, we can see the person behind the job. This is how we should judge whether or not children should be around this person.
I think it’s worth noting that many sex workers themselves have children and are exceptional parents. Many of them are also fully trained nurses, midwives and teachers who have chosen a career in the adult industry for financial or personal reasons.
1. We are “dodgy”
This one might be the most hurtful because it’s a combination of all of the above and more. The label “dodgy” doesn’t feel good, or fair.
The lack of information around legality, regulation and what actually goes on is the root of our problem. The truth is, this stereotype hurts many sex workers every day and it’s totally unfair.
Additionally, ours’ is the only industry which society still openly mocks. Think about it. If someone tells you they’re a minimum-wage-worker – it would be very unkind to judge their character or make fun of them for this. Publicly, this would be extremely unacceptable.
This rule doesn’t apply to the sex industry. Meaning I have to justify and defend my career choice every day!
Please be kind.