The History and Politics of the term “Sex Worker”

Love it or hate it, learn about the use of “sex worker” vs. “prostitute” vs. “woman/mother/sister”.

I suppose it all comes down to whether or not someone is consensually selling sex. If I voluntarily choose to sell sexual services, I would not want to be referred to as a prostitute because of the pejorative connotations of the word. However, there should be no PC mincing of words when dealing with trafficking, coercion, selling sex from a place of hopelessness or lack of awareness. If, as Melissa Farley (of Prostitution Research & Education) states, almost 90% of women in sex work feel trapped in the industry and want out, then we have a major problem. So do you argue from a framework of protecting and helping women from that kind of horror and enslavement? Or do you see the perspective of the supposed 10% who legitimately want to do this as a viable form of employment? Can you argue for the latter when the former is still going on?

All that being said, this raises some red flags:

So, if these sex-worker organizations have spent decades denying research on the violence of prostitution while trying to paint it as a legitimate choice of employment, why are they now publicly calling for state compensation for rape victims? The short answer? Money.

Well, hold up. Sex work should be a viable choice of employment. I’m talking about the kind of sex work that isn’t coercive (and it does exist because I’ve spoken to people doing it). And within sex work, rape has no place.

 

This article links to many interesting resources & organizations:

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