Sex work is a vocation, not a passport to misery

- fact is, it isn’t much different to any job, except for the product itself and the absence of buyer’s remorse!

Lily Yang
Lily Yang
Jun 27, 2019 · 5 min read
photo of a pretty girl in Lily Yang’s The Cherry Tree Garden
photo of a pretty girl in Lily Yang’s The Cherry Tree Garden

The vision some of us have of those working in the world’s oldest profession is admittedly rather bleak. Emaciated women, rife with STI’s and addicted to drugs, controlled by the proverbial pimp with a fancy car and gold chain. They are practically raped in a small damp room with just a stained mattress in it, and then tossed out into a dark alley to wait for the next assassin. Sound familiar?

We all are confronted by similar stereotypes to this on TV and other forms of media, but how true is it really? Happily, I personally don’t know any girl that fits this description.

I know many people in the sex industry and mostly my impression is of a group of quite astute young businesswomen. Yes, of course to the customer they are genuinely sweet, endearing and gentle; they are also extremely seductive and sensual. But my point is they are working because it’s their chosen vocation and what they happily provide is a legal service. Sex work is a real occupation governed by employment laws, just like any other job, trade or profession. There are rights they’re entitled to like protection from health and safety risks, bullying and harassment and they too have responsibilities to both the guests and their shop. For example, that they are free from STI’s and have documents to show this, they always put their guests comfort first, and protect and hopefully enhance the hard-earned reputation of the shop where they work.

Doesn’t sound much different from the so-called “household names” we see promoting their wares in letter box drops and on TV advertising when they try to convince us they are good corporate citizens, does it? Fact is, it isn’t much different at all - except for the product itself - and the absence of buyer’s remorse!

In the legal industry at least, there are no edicts to work 24/7 and the girls are free to negotiate with their guests how their mutual time is to be spent. It is truer to say there is a “service level agreement” which defines the working relationship and it is framed in a way that the shop, the girls and guests are treated to their expectations, and usually well beyond that despite being unable to promote themselves where and how they choose.

In the past, there has been a great deal of demonstrating and lobbying by sex workers because some conditions around sex work are confusing and contradictory. The reason why these laws are so unfairly restrictive is because laws tend to shadow society’s attitude about various things. In the past, when these strict laws were created, attitudes toward prostitution were, on the whole, unfairly negative. Now that times are changing, some specific groups in society are in favour of legal prostitution as a genuine vocation. With that being said, overall these terrible stereotypes are alive and well, leaving what is a legal vocation having to take place behind closed doors.

This just seems ridiculous to me, considering that sex is one of the most natural, straight-forward activities we engage in. In both instances,when monetary payment is involved or not, respect for the boundaries expressed by each party is paramount.

The confusing laws around sex work is another topic entirely that I will address in other blog posts. The purpose of this one is to try remove those old stereotypes once and for all. Unfortunately, in life there are individuals who are the way I described at the beginning, but sex work is by and of itself not the common element between drug addiction, rape and poverty. In that particular case, albeit very much in the minority, this woman may be desperate for more drug money and, not being able to secure a different job, she provides gritty sex to disrespectful and forceful men. The girls who work at well-run shops are certainly far from impoverished. They also enjoy providing a sex service to make their guests happy and fulfilled. They could certainly do another job elsewhere, but they choose this job.

I can tell you the brief story of one Chinese girlfriend as an example. She started her career as a forensic pathologist, that is, she spent her days with naked dead people. Her career switch not only made the naked bodies she was dealing with much more interesting but has allowed her to enjoy a life many people, especially her, only dreamed about. She has just turned 32, worked exceptionally hard and since retired, to the disappointment of many, I assume!

There are rules that guests must abide by, such as accepting the specific activities they had negotiated earlier and not forcing a different activity instead. Their client will pay the negotiated amount as they arrive. This sounds exactly like a trip to the barber or to the proctologist (although more pleasant.) There is no reason for either the guest or the sex worker to feel awkward. Neither are defined by providing or purchasing sex work. It says absolutely nothing about who they are as individuals, good or bad — unless of course they behave in an unacceptable way during or after their appointment, and that goes for everything they do in life.

As long as people hold inaccurate beliefs and stereotypes about sex work and those who provide it, women will continue to have difficulty working in this industry, as well as so many other aspects of their social our life, from banking to their own personal relationships with family and friends.

There is a perception that this industry breaks up marriages and families but there is no evidence showing that to be true. In fact, sex workers save many marriages, where the female partner may not be able, or want, to engage in sex with their partner for a multitude of reasons. Rather than having an affair, he will visit a sex-shop and his relationship stays intact. There are many other venues and circumstances that have a far greater potential to break couples up, such as casinos, drugs, abuse, financial hardship, alcohol and, of course, infidelity. It’s not the sexual service providers that instigate the destruction of our institutions. Rather, it is more often the individuals inside relationships and their own personal situations and choices they make.

One positive thing about living in this era is that we are all more tolerant of one another in general. If you are gay, or have a lot of tattoos, a female CEO or a man wearing heels, as long as you don’t harm anyone else, you are rightfully empowered to function as an equal member in our community. Come on folks, what about giving those sex workers a break?

Lily Yang

Lily Yang

Written by

Lily Yang

Lily Yang is an author and popular social commentator. She writes extensively on child sex-trafficking and donates money to charities protecting children.

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