Sex work-My story

A women has health or caring issues that means she can’t work a well paid office job that would enable her to keep her flat, her family, her children, pay her debts. She sets up a small business and uses her skills to enter a insecure but flexible and relatively well paid (better than most of the part time or flexible office jobs available to her anyway) industry. This industry is legal, but highly stigmatised, the worker knows that despite her paying tax, the authorities are unlikely to be helpful to her if she needs assistance and that basic health and safety options such as not being left to work alone are criminalised. She has to be secretive about her work to ensure that her family don’t find out or her ex doesn’t use it against her. This is despite this work enabling her to maintain her income, lower her work related stress and manage her health and caring responsibilities.

This scenario is the day to day reality for thousands of sex workers in Great Britain. They are using what skills they have available to them in order to survive under capitalism. An hour of work can pay as much as a week of shop work and it is flexible around health and caring responsibilities. They are stigmatised by much of society, from feminists who say that they can’t consent, usually based on ideas of sex being special or having “too much” sex being damaged and from rape culture at large which reinforces the narrative that these women are asking to be assaulted.

I have been a sex worker for 2 years. I previously held a very respectable, well paid, middle class job. I’m from a working class background and have health issues. I was bullied out of my last two jobs. I don’t have a partner or a rich family to fall back on. I could have signed on, but the money wouldn’t have covered the rent on my 1 bedroom flat in an outer london zone. What were my options? Force myself to continue to go to an office where i was gaslighted, belittled and ignored? Take a minimum wage job that wouldn’t cover my rent, would continue to be inflexible around my health? Try to claim ESA, which again wouldn’t cover my rent and would involve degrading treatment from DWP? I chose to stand on my own two feet, as I have done for all my adult life and use the skills I had. Becoming a sex worker enabled me to work on my health, take days or weeks off when I needed to, not be beholden to a manager who hated me.

“But you aren’t the typical worker are you?”. We don’t demand that of representatives from any other industries. That is the same narrative used by right wing politicans to demonise unions and workers rights. We don’t demand that workers in GB agriculture or textile factories have no rights to better working conditions as other countries don’t have good workers’ rights legislation.

Yes, sex work is risky, but so is unpaid sex. Narratives around violence in sex work often rely on the idea that customers are different from other men. They aren’t. They walk among you, they are your partners or your exes or your relatives. Some treat women badly some don’t. Ask yourself, why do customers treat sex workers badly but not their partners or their relatives? Could it be to do with the stigma around sex work (workers unlikely to report) or as a result of the continued demonisation of all women who have casual sex? Many people still carry outdated notions of what consent is and what can be taken as consent. Imagine if victims of date rape or domestic violence were seen as acceptable collateral damage in pursuit of finding the one. Well, maybe they are. We don’t criminalise dating or marriage due to violent men and that equally isn’t a reason for criminalisation sex work. Money is a reason to consent just as romantic love, wanting to have children, wanting to please a partner and sexual urges are.

This is my first piece of writing. If you have any questions for me, please comment and I’ll write more to address your queries.