Sex workers deserve to be treated like human beings


This man covers himself with a pillow. He is not a sex worker, but men often cover there genitals up before showing something to viewers. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

Most people have jobs in their lifetime. And that’s what sex work is, a job.

People are often fast to make assumptions that people who receive money for consensual sexual actions are degrading themselves and therefore don’t respect themselves. For many people, sex work is a form of empowerment and exploring their sexuality. Others may use it as just a source of income. But similarly to how some of us work jobs we don’t absolutely love, we still stick by them for many years.

No matter the reason that people choose this work, anybody should have the right to do what they want with their bodies. But legally, this is not always the case. In the United States, all acts classified under sex work are criminalized, except for a few counties in Nevada. This means that depending on the area, both sex workers and their clients can be convicted of misdemeanors and felonies, which includes jail time and heavy fines.

In the eyes of somebody who is against sex work, they might agree with this criminalization because they think it discourages sex workers from doing this work. But people are still going to take part in sex work regardless of the laws surrounding it, as seen by the prevalence of it in our society even though it is illegal in this country. As long as people are going to continue to do it, they should at the very least be able to report cases of assault and mistreatment from their clients or management without being arrested.

This is what makes sex work statistically so dangerous; sex workers who experience abuse cannot ask for help from law enforcement without receiving consequences themselves. Not to mention that 27 percent of sex workers report experiencing violence at the hands of the police, according to an analysis by the Urban Justice Center. No matter your opinion on the morality of this type of work, these are issues that need to be brought to the spotlight. But we hardly ever hear about these injustices in the media.

The workers show a preview to preselected viewers. Photo courtesy of Jessika Diamond

On the other side of this topic, pornography remains as the only legal sex work because it is considered artistic expression. As a younger college student, I have noticed that our generation has gotten a lot of use out of Snapchat as a new form of pornography and sex work. The trend of making a private, NSFW Snapchat account and then selling access to 18 and older viewers has skyrocketed lately, and people are making tons of money off of it. It’s easy to understand why: Snapchat is free to make an account on, tolerant of nudity and it’s a form of sex work for those who may not be comfortable with real-life clients. Plus, it’s more private than cam girl sites which are displayed publicly for all Internet viewers to see (if they wish).

Stand with sex worker rights by being an ally to the community if you wish to see change and support people in the field. These people could be your fellow colleagues and friends on campus trying to pay their way through school.

And if you’re still against it, then do us all a favor and mind your own business.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.