The Twitterverse of Sex Workers
Blogged about on Motherboard and much talked about in nearly every corner of the internet is the fact that sex workers have become a very vocal group tweeting, blogging, protesting and signing book deals about the world of sex work. Twitter has become one giant marketing platform (and the best I might add) for every type and level of sex worker.
"After all, it’s a lot harder to assume that sex workers are mindless, manipulated fuckbots when they’re tweeting thoughts on feminism, racial justice, or the newest Star Wars film." --Lux Alptraum
Although it is a lot harder to assume we are nothing more than mindless fuck toys in the age of intersectionality, the stigma and stereotypes around sex work remains firmly entrenched in the social zeitgeist--especially in the increasingly evangelical United States. Just because many of us are outspoken and/or sex worker rights advocates does not mean there is a reduction in violence and social ostracism associated with the profession.
Being an out sex worker in 2020 is akin to miscegenation in the early 20th century or being openly LGBTQ+ in the 1990s. You can lose your civvie job, get kicked out of school, get evicted from your apartment, lose custody of your children, and lose all prospects of a future career if you are doxxed online and outed. In the minds of the average and woefully uninformed person, the image of a sex worker is still associated with drug-addicted "streetwalkers" (a pejorative and outdated term), pimps, human trafficking and the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Although those images are based in a certain reality, they present a one-dimensional view of sex workers; that of those who are engaging at street level, survival sex work. We cannot grow complacent with the fact that those are the most prominent and well-promulgated stories by media outlets, TERFs/SWERFs , and parties interested in controlling the sexuality and sexual expression of women. Images of and exposure to sex workers that run contrary to mold only create cognitive dissonance in the average person. The vast majority of sex workers operate "unseen" and are VERY cautious about their health and safety we engaging in-person. We are cam girls, strippers, ladies selling nudes and clips, dommes and fetishists, sugar babies, companions, and more.
I very recently had a conversation with a patron who hadn't seen me in four years because he thought that I had dropped out of school to become "a permanent fixture among Atlanta's sex workers". I have since graduated from a rigorous and competitive academic program, completed published research, lived in another country, and have relocated to Arizona to complete a professional program.
In essence, he was saying that as long as I had other goals that I was actively working towards outside of sex work, he rationalized that it was ok to see me.
Furthermore, The average person would report a known sex worker to the authorities as many of us are seen as a danger to public health, the sanctity of marriages, and what we do--the consensual exchange between two of-age consenting adults--is seen as criminal.
I love the outspoken women I converse with regularly on Twitter but I do not think any one of them would say there is less stigma associated with being a sex worker in 2020. SBDD: Same Beliefs, Different Decade is what I experience every day as a sex worker. The jokes, camaraderie, advice and vent space provided by the sex worker world online has been amazing. I have been able to network with others, screen potential suitors, and meet some of the most amazing women in many of the cities I have traveled to. These women have been intelligent, hard-working, driven, mothers, daughters, students, business owners, wives, girlfriends and are absolutely gorgeous! We come in all shapes, sizes, ages, races, and backgrounds and I have no complaints about my experiences as a sex worker but it would prove quite the folly if I thought that there has been a reduction in the vitriolic discussion and beliefs around the profession.
Although we have reached critical mass online and are gaining more media attention since the passing of SESTA/FOSTA, there is still a lot of work to be done. SWOP USA is always in need of more volunteers and advocates but until we can change the hearts and minds of the average person the stain of a sex worker past will always be hard to wash out.
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