Monday, 17 December 2018

#IDEVAS18

It's International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (#IDEVAS), something I'd never even heard of before I became a sex worker myself. It seems like the only people talking about it on Twitter are sex workers and their clients. Why is that?





I'd assume anyone reading my blog would be against violence towards women (and men) on general principles- even if you happen to disapprove of sex work due to your religion or other ideology, presumably you don't actually want sex workers to be murdered, you just want them to stop being sex workers and do a non-sexual job instead. I saw a Nordic model (the thing where clients are criminalised in order to make sex workers' customer base dry up) supporter on Twitter irritatedly snap, "Well, McDonald's are always hiring!"

I used to work in McDonald's and can confirm that it's not hard to get a part-time minimum wage job there. So why might we not be applying?

Maybe we aren't qualified to do anything as lucrative as sex work. Most sex workers in the UK have kids. Maybe we have chronic physical or mental health issues that make employment impossible, and self-employment in a different field too difficult. (Disability benefits are at an infamous low, with disabled people across the country becoming homeless and committing suicide as a direct result. Quitting sex work to try and live on benefits instead isn't an option for us.)

Maybe we are caring for elderly or infirm relatives and want or need to spend as much time with them as possible- so a one-hour week in sex work is preferable to a 40-hour week in standard employment for the same money (£320 or less, which is not enough to pay a carer to replace you, even before your own personal bills).

On the more positive side, maybe we are self-sufficient entrepreneurs who naturally tend towards sole trader-hood and actually quite like sex work. This isn't everyone, by any means, but we do exist.

On the other hand, maybe we are desperate, drug-addicted street-walkers who need to make £x amount of money per day for drugs or alcohol or paying our evil pimp. Perhaps we are homeless and need the money to start again, but aren't allowed employment until we have a home address. Whatever our current socio-economic status, maybe we just want to improve our lifestyle and station in a capitalist society, namely by making more money.




Whatever the person's story, our priority as ethical pragmatists should be to make people in the sex industry safer and more able to report incidents to the police- not more scared to speak to the police/ anyone about their work, more scared to work in pairs, more scared to hire a bodyguard, more scared to work in our own rented flats (the last three are all technically illegal!), and therefore be more in danger from the minority of truly ghastly clients out there. I have already received five emails just today warning me about five different men who have recently raped, robbed, harassed or beaten up my fellow sex workers- and those are just the ones who got reported.

If you still wish people would just STOP doing bloody sex work, to the point where you actually want to get out there and do something about it, campaign for a country where no-one needs to become a sex worker because the job market is so full of great opportunities, the welfare state is so robust, and the NHS so excellently funded. The most effective way to do this is to think carefully, study the literature and ask questions before voting.

I know it's difficult to put your head above the parapet and publicly start sharing positive posts about sex work on social media because your friends and family will then probably assume you are a sex worker or client yourself, which is still firmly not cool for the average bod. I don't think I'd even heard the term "sex worker" before I became one- I used to say "prostitute" because I thought that was a neutral job description. I didn't even know that sex worker advocacy groups existed! I had nothing against it in principle, but it just wasn't part of my world. I didn't think I even knew anyone who was a sex worker. How wrong I was!!




It would be great if you could donate £10 to National Ugly Mugs, casually dissent if you get caught up in a conversation with Muggles slagging off sex workers, say something sarcastic like "It's funny when women die" if someone tells you a dead hooker joke, and of course, if you personally know any sex workers, be there for them when you can. They might need you.

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