I recently hosted an all-girls yacht day where most of the attendants were Sex Workers. As we exited the boat, drunk and sore from twerking, I overheard something that moved me: “It was so nice to be able to talk about work today without judgment.” For one day, a group of Sex Workers talked amongst ourselves about our job—the hard days, the lucrative days, strategies, lessons, and growth. These are topics most people discuss every day. Sex Workers, however, cannot. Like you, Sex Workers wake up every morning intending to provide for our families and make ends meet. However, unlike you, there’s no universal safe space for Sex Workers to exist, much less talk about the ins-and-outs of our day. On a good day, we encounter people who devalue our labor and personhood. On a bad day, we are reminded that the work we do can land us in jail. Our safety is of so little priority that jokes about our deaths are commonplace and met with impunity. And yet, what Sex Workers call “hoe aesthetics,” are still being appropriated with little nuance or respect for Sex Workers.

The punch-lines are worse when they are directed toward survival Sex Workers, Black Sex Workers, disabled Sex Workers, trans Sex Workers, or a combination of any of the above.

A collective and cultural disgust toward Sex Workers has material consequences to our safety, well-being, finances, and our general ability to move through the world safely. Repercussions like the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act of 2017, an Elizabeth Warren-sponsored Senate bill that would close the bank accounts of people who are suspected of being trafficked. A bill that would undoubtedly affect Sex Workers from all walks of life because the government can’t clearly distinguish between “trafficking victims” and Sex Workers. (Besides that, the purpose of shutting down bank accounts of trafficking victims is lost on me.) Or hotels who intend to train their staff to “spot trafficking victims;” instead of being able to work or relax at a hotel, Sex Workers (again, conflated with victims of sex trafficking) face the possibility of being reported to the authorities under the guise of being “protected” or “rescued.”

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Adopting How aesthetics requires actually supporting Sex Workers by Raquel Savage

Aug 9th, 2019