Read: Sex Workers and Advocates Speak on Legalized Sex Work
Sex Work Is Real Work
As a sex counselor, I often hear male clients in particular, comment that they don’t need the services of sex workers and won’t pay for higher quality porn because they can “get pictures and sex for free.”
What lies at the heart of this statement is the idea that sex work is only for the desperate and that sex workers are not skilled professionals that offer something the general public cannot.
The same way we can cook at home, but want to eat at a restaurant, or can do our own taxes, but choose to hire an accountant, sex workers are people who offer sex, erotica, and intimacy as a professional service.
Yes, you can get those things for free, but because of skill or ease, hiring a professional can be the most positive experience for your situation.
The construct of “desperation” in sex work goes both ways. In 2018, SESTA/FOSTA was passed. Two laws that equated consensual skilled sex work with human trafficking.
Many politicians and citizens believe the dangerous myth that all sex workers are desperate themselves. Hungry and poor, they offer their flesh as a way to survive. This removes all understanding of the knowledge, education, and craftsmanship that actually goes into these jobs. It also hurts actually victims, who are being kidnapped and raped, versus adults who enjoy their career vocation.
Read: The Erasure Of Sex Work From the Common Internet
Sex Workers Are an Important Part of Our Society
Sex workers have been an integral part of society since human beings formed societies. Many primates also have sex workers in their societies- apes, and monkeys who exchange sex for tools or food. Sex work is a natural part of a society and one that helps many.
When we respect sex workers, we see the incredible good that they do. From teaching someone new to sex how to give and receive consent and pleasure, helping people heal from shame and trauma, and working with those who have mental and physical limitations that make finding compassionate sexual partners challenging.
Sex workers are often holistic healers, offering a service that is desired and yet under-appreciated. Their clients can be someone looking to explore parts of their sexuality that they often keep hidden to someone enjoying the gift of sexual expression, as well as people who have deeper and more specific needs.
By stopping the shame and stigma around sex workers and their clients, we are working to break down the barriers that inhibit healthy sexuality and safety for all.