I’ve done many different kinds of sex work. I’ve been a cam girl, a porn performer, a professional sub, and a performer at a peep show (similar to a stripper). I’ve also been working in retail and food service simultaneously.
I get so frustrated at how I’m treated at work. It really gets to me. I find myself involuntarily crying once I get into my car to drive home. I hate how dehumanizing it is. People don’t acknowledge me as a person. They think I’m less than them because of my job. Maybe they don’t actively think that, but that’s how they treat me. Oh, by the way, I’m talking about the food service job.
When I’m doing sex work I can refuse a customer. I can be rude to them if they are being rude to me. I don’t have to apologize for their mistakes. I don’t have to be sweet when they are being inappropriate. I negotiate my limits, and I only do what I feel comfortable doing. They don’t get to order off the menu, I’m not going to bend over backwards for them.
I find it oppressive to work for minimum wage. I find it oppressive to act like the customer is always right. I find it dehumanizing to apologize for things that aren’t my fault, like how much something costs or if you order something wrong and you want it remade the correct way. I find it dehumanizing to say “Hi! How are you?” and in response get “Yeah I just need a blah blah blah” and then have a customer go back to their cell phone conversation. I hate being reduced to a cash register."
Yes, this. Excellent. During my many presentations on sex work and sex workers, people would try to make the point or ask the question “well why don’t these people just get a real/decent/non-sex work job? there are jobs! you can go to McDonald’s and get a job.”
But food service, I would argue, is more dehumanizing in some ways than sex work. There is no job autonomy in food service. You work for minimum wage, less than 8 bucks and hour. And you have to work all the time (if your place of employment will even give you the hours you need) to make rent payments. Sex work, in all the varieties it comes in, can provide more opportunities and is often times more lucrative than working a minimum wage job. Sex work is labor.
People, during my presentations, try to argue that sex work is inherently exploitative, and that is what is wrong with it. But I argue that all work is exploitative.
The last time someone was arguing about sex work with me, I said I didn’t want to take away someone’s choice to do sex work and they said, “It’s not a choice if you do it to put food on the table.” Show of hands: how many of us go to work in order to put food on the table? Right.
Not gonna lie, I won’t judge sex work or sex workers. If there was demand for types like me to do sex work, I might well consider it. What’s so bad about it? You are giving pleasure and get paid for it!
Now, sadly, there IS a lot of exploitation and abuse going on in sex work, but that’s a completely different issue. There’s also a lot of exploitation and abuse going on in the clothing industry (sweatshops, anyone?), yet I do not see people sneer at tailors…
The key words in all the replies are “can” and “choice” when it comes to sex work. Sex work canbe empowering to women and women can make choices with sex work. However, not all women involved in sex work can make choices about what they do. Not all sex workers experiences are like littlemew’s experiences with sex work. Sex work is labor. Like all jobs, especially minimum wage jobs, there is exploitation. I am not saying every sex worker is exploited because that is certainly not true. However, for every sex worker who has positive experiences with sex work, there is a sex worker who has negative experiences with sex work. It is true for other professions as well. Sex work is not black and white. We need to stop talking about it like it is.