Is ‘sex work’ real work? ‘If work is being slapped/beaten/told you’re a worthless whore… Then yes it’s work’

Here are some more #MeToo stories that survivors of the sex trade have sent us on social media or through our Share Your Story page. Thank you to every one of you who shared these powerful words.

Anonymous

Is ‘sex work’ real work?

If ‘real work’ is having a 70 year-old drunk man bargaining with your ‘price’ because you won’t continue without a condom… that man getting aggressive and asking for his money back… if work is being forced to give up 50-100% of your income to a pimp… if work is being forced to have sex with men on the run from the police for domestic abuse… if work is being filmed without your consent… if work is being slapped/beaten/told you are a worthless whore…

Then yes it’s work.

Emma

I was first sold at 14 and the prostitution lasted until I was 28. It has truly ruined my life. I battled cocaine addiction after exiting prostitution. I was anally raped on a regular basis by men. I still have pain. Cocaine actually deadens the crying in my head.

I struggle to accept my body was violated 5 or 6 times every day in a brothel in Soho. I am unable to function sexually now (I am 31) as I hate the very idea of being touched by a man.

Dana Levy

Sometimes, people who have no knowledge in the field oppose the criminalization of women in prostitution and think that defining prostitution as work is the way to support the women. It is better to be a worker than a criminal. I get it. Ignorance with good intentions.

Being raped is not a work, and no benefit will arise if we apply the terminology of labour legislation to the discussion of physical and sexual abuse. Most prostituted women do NOT use this term, especially those who do not speak English.

I also do not think that prostitution belongs to the same category as sweatshops. In sweatshops, the conditions are not legitimate, but the work itself is legitimate. Reduce the number of working hours, pay fair, improve safety and hygiene, and you have a legitimate employment situation.

In prostitution, the core of the practice is rotten. Even if prostitution occurs in a luxury hotel with only two johns a day, it can lead to cumulative trauma. The practice itself is harmful and not just the conditions.

Josie

I used to buy the ‘sex work is work’ line because the only alternative that was offered me was ‘sex work is money for nothing’ and ‘sex work is done by immoral women who have pathological sex drives.’

I gravitated instantly to the ‘sex work is work’ camp because I would argue that, no, I do not enjoy this. I do it for money like any other job. It’s not my kink and it’s not easy. I would say, it’s hard work pretending not to be disgusted by these abusive old men who anyone would be disgusted by.

Not once, until I was 30 years old, did I hear anyone say ‘sex work is rape – the johns take advantage of financially vulnerable women and pay to sexually abuse them.’

This had literally never occurred to me before but as soon as I heard it, I knew instantly that it was the truth.

Anon

I met up with this man. I think he was 37, and I was 14. He left the plastic bag with the money by my side and did his thing and left.

After, when I checked the bag it was just fake money.

In his eyes I wasn’t worth anything.

Chrissy

I had no worth so moving to the sex industry was easy. At first I felt empowered and in control. I liked the money. I liked the other girls. The brothel owner gave me special attention so I stupidly thought I was special.

My partner at the time would drop me to work six nights a week. I thought he must really love me to be so open about my career choice.

I remember one night on an escort, sucking some guy’s dick who looked like the spitting image of my father. I cried all the way back to the brothel. Feeling sick and dirty and full of shame.

It didn’t take long for the false sense of control to wear off. I had no choice on who I had to fuck or how they wanted to fuck me. They called the shots. My body was no longer my own.

I tried to leave several times but my partner reminded me of the whore I was and would always be. So I would go back. He liked the money. He liked the drugs. He liked the girls I brought home for him.

Finally I got away from the brothels. But I was still a whore to my now husband. The rapes became normal in our marriage because I had never had a choice.

Now 20 years later I am married to an incredible man who has to deal with my PTSD and my fear and my fucked up brain. We hardly ever have sex because to me it is abuse.

I’ll never be who I should have been because someone sold me the lie of taking control.

Share your story

If you’ve been in the sex trade, or have been affected by it in other less direct ways, and would like to share your story anonymously, we’d love to hear from you.

5 thoughts on “Is ‘sex work’ real work? ‘If work is being slapped/beaten/told you’re a worthless whore… Then yes it’s work’

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