The promotion of sex work is a disease that plagues the 21st century.
Before I start, I want to specify that this isn’t meant to shame women who work in the sex industry. Some people have the privilege and opportunity to work in the profession of their dreams, while others decide to work within a context of limited options and difficult working conditions. It is a valid form of income to pay bills and meet needs, just as any other work, but that does not excuse the fact that it comes at a price. This hefty price is the objectification of women and lack of safety, following the cascading effect of abusive relationships, confusion with sexual identity, exploitation and more.
No girl’s dream job should be sex work. A girl should not be looking forward to opening an OnlyFans account for her 18th birthday. Due to the encouragement of sex work in the name of “female liberation” and “empowerment”, many young and impressionable women fall into the trap of profiting off their bodies. What is not mentioned in social media is the harm and danger associated with sex work. It is a male-dominated field where women workers are often degraded and coerced into performing sexual acts, many women are also trafficked. There’s often so much manipulation, and grooming involved that beginners aren’t even aware of it until they’re knee-deep in that quicksand and cannot find a way out.
Ultimately, sex work was made by and for men as a way to access women’s bodies through money. Instead of blaming sex workers for their own fate, we must construct a harm reduction discourse that protects individuals who go into this line of work. Here’s what harm reduction might look like:
Destigmatization and decriminalization of sex workers
Removing punitive or coercive measures for workers
Centering the needs and human rights of workers
Provide support to improve living and working conditions
Agencies to ensure safety measures to prevent abuse or violence of any sort
Address sources of harm to sex workers, and hold them accountable by law
Everyone deserves to be respected regardless of their job, but sex work should not be glamorized because it’s not something anyone should have to consider unless they are out of options with no alternative. Workers should be protected, not blamed or judged. Sex work does not empower women, rather, it commodifies and endangers them.