I follow an aggregate Instagram, @not.a.statistic.19, that collects stories from around the globe involving sex workers. I would make a generous guess that 75% of those stories highlight the mistreatment workers face or the evil-doing they commit. A story of a woman robbing someone that gets plastered all over every UK outlet, a teacher that has an OnlyFans and is now fired, or the name of a murdered stripper. And then, of course, the compulsory slog through the comments to see what my peers are saying, how they are chiming in on whether a woman who teaches kids (and has no income in the summer months) should be allowed to have an OnlyFans. Should she be allowed to supplement her income for the off months? No. She must now be destined to be unemployed, a lease terminated, back on her butt, and ironically, pushed even further into doing the work she was ostracized.
But honestly, my peers, 200 to 1500 an hour is nothing to scoff at, is it?
This daily torrent of opinion assaults me. These headlines, these snippets, and the over-eager civilian choir repeating that phrase I could die happy never hearing again: “get a real job.”
But there are no jobs for us once you take our other means of living, our only means of living away. I’ve tried for years to explain to people the irony that policing us drives us more into the work. That alienating us makes it impossible for us to get more work. That evicting us for working out of our homes leaves us to face even greater dangers on the street. Arresting us only increases our financial need (bail, court, other fees), pushing us back into “the work.”
That bills like SESTA and Earn it, Draconian surveillance of the population at large, endangers all of us but ensure that we will be forced to meet clients on the street. No communication. No screening.
To take away our kids? It will ruin us entirely. And something they never consider is that the money might be good.
Sex work is a low-barrier job. Anyone can enter forever, how long they want to. There is no training. There is no orientation.
Just need a couple of months’ rent? Jump on in!
A little extra for your car note? Post an ad or start a clip site!
Just don’t want to work as a case manager working 48 hours a week at 17/hr to be pat on the head and never promoted and lose your mind (hi, it’s me)? Quit, and save enough money to buy a house in only three years.
I want to talk about the reality of the spectrum of work.
That there are bad days, bad months, and wrong places to be in this industry and that there are also thriving, joyful spaces that accrue gold—in clients, money, and friends. That this is a community of people that can teach innumerable skills; marketing, social media, video editing, photo editing, customer service, modeling, fashion, copywriting, creative writing, and ad Infinium – we are brimming with value.
We are full of comrades and organizing too. Teachable, shareable skills only made possible by our work demands.
And every day when I log on, I see “___ was beheaded in China” (based on the story of a model, a mother of four, murdered by her husband). Or “Earn It act on the table again threatening the digital privacy of porn and those who exchange it, watch it or make it.” Or “Despite not helping end trafficking, no repeal of SESTA is likely.”
It’s International Sex Workers Rights Day, positioned purposefully in Women’s History Month, and I want to put a more considerable spin on it.
There is no faster opportunity to get out of poverty than sex work. Millions of women turn to it because they need the money, and thousands stay because they like it. We are not all trudging to hotels, head down, shamed daily.
You shame us!
We enjoy what we do; when we don’t, we enjoy the fast cash. We don’t have to be Happy Hookers to demand rights. We don’t have to be happy Case Managers to unionize. I left case management to pursue a financial goal, and I have never been happier in my entire life. There were many barriers to saving more than 1k a year, which was a scrape. I was never going to get out of debt.
What I am asking for today is to examine why millions of women pursue such a horrifying job. Why aren’t they clawing their way out? Why do so many people return to the industry?
People, especially women, with their own money cannot be bought by men.
Sex work is a way out of abusive relationships and unsafe living conditions and to support the most basic necessities of one’s life. There will be stories from both sides, but today, of all days, can we consider that the wins are never shown? That this veil is purposeful in controlling our digital privacy and our bodies? That if so many women wanted out, we wouldn’t have such a colossal thriving industry to start? And how can you contribute to getting us our freedom?
(Fight to repeal SESTA-FOSTA) – Take Action
How do you contribute to keeping us jailed?
(Fight to repeal SESTA-FOSTA).
Then start there. And also, can you share some good news today?