Sex work is real work. Wake up, sheeple.
It’s not called the world’s oldest profession for nothing. Just like any other grunt, sex workers wake up, down some coffee, put on their assless chaps, and trudge to the sex factory.
If you can take the morality and judgement out of the conversation (and you can, just try!), it’s starkly clear that sex work is real work. Why, you ask? Well, let’s start with the most rhetorical of exercises to explore this concept.
Why Wouldn’t Sex Work Be Real Work?!
Let’s consider a bunch of other jobs that we have no problem seeing as real. Here we go! Sex work versus non-sex work. What is real and not real, dude?
Is a therapist helping someone through their repressed childhood memories doing real work? That’s an easy one and it seems like a nice thing to do, too. So, yes! What about a bartender who refills your glass after work so you don’t have to face your intolerable children sober tonight (hey, no judgement here)? He’s doing real work, too.
What about a coal miner? It’s a straight up old-timey job, and there’s even a sweet country song about being a coal miner’s daughter. But, you also know now that coal is literally the worst for climate change and it’s dangerous; and even though you wish it weren’t around, it’s still real work, right? What about your uber driver who is probably an engineer from Uzbekistan. He brings you that tasty sushi late at night, and even though you know it’s servile and low-paying work for predominantly immigrants and economically marginalized people, it’s a real job. Well, that’s work too and we thank you for it.
Now what about the gal who farts for her fetish webcam subscribers, or the escort who performs a few rounds of fellatio a night?
Sex work shares the same structural components of any job, with one key difference
Several of the careers described above are definitely problematic from an ethics perspective, but that doesn’t get in our way of still viewing the work as legitimate and agreeing that those workers should enjoy the same rights afforded to any other worker under the law. Even if you find your morality hackles rising as we go down the continuum of what is considered socially acceptable, ‘real’ work, the common denominators are the building blocks of any industry:
1. There is a need. People willing to serve that need. And people are willing to pay.
Sex work is real work.
The only difference is, sex work is deeply stigmatized, sex work operations are pushed underground, sex workers have little to no rights in the law or the economy, and sex workers face disproportionate risk to their personal safety.
2. Sex workers choose
Let’s not forget who a sex worker is. A non-trafficked, consenting adult, entering a paid agreement for sexual services with another consenting adult.
3. Sex work offers many benefits to the worker
Don’t assume we’re all doing it because it’s our only option. Most of us find our work deeply rewarding. We are providing a service that makes people happy and feel accepted; being with a sex worker is very often the only space our clients are truly able to be their authentic selves. Not only for the benefit of clients, sex work allows me and many of my colleagues to explore their own sexuality and gender identity. I was a wallflower before I entered sex work and had always struggled with body image, and now, I have so much more confidence and pride in my body.
For some of my colleagues, sex work is where they can let loose their inner slut, inner dominatrix, whatever it is that makes them tick! Some people will never know how incredibly liberating it is to be in a space where anything goes, and there’s always someone out there who loves what you’ve got going on. It’s also empowering to name our own price, hours, terms, and the way out of low-paying, entry-level jobs.
4. Sex work is economically important
Studies have shown that the money earned through sex work typically supports 5-8 people in a sex workers life.
5. Oh, and guess who also thinks sex work is real work?
The International Labor Organization (ILO), whose entire mandate is to promote social justice and decent work, says sex work is real work. Amnesty International says the same, and many movements around the world have stated the need for sex work to finally be recognized for what it is: a legitimate and important economic sector.
It’s time for all of us, and especially lawmakers, to shift our attitudes towards sex work as depraved, economically insignificant, strictly explotiative, and something that could ever be erased through law and order tactics.
To brush off sex work as gross, wrong, criminal… is to deny the millions of consenting sex workers on this planet the dignity, rights, and quite frankly, the round of applause they deserve.
If you want to be part of the changing tide on sex work, join our voice at Naked Post and consider becoming a writer.