The Contemporary Cult Of The ‘Sex Worker’

February 27, 2017Heather Brunskell-Evans

In certain social circles, praising “sex workers” has become fashionable. How has prostitution — an outdated, slavery-like industry — been made to look so modern?

A BBC Three video making the rounds on social media features a number of self-identified sex workers who either work independently or who profit from employing others, explaining that prostitution is a job like any other. Prostitution is not about the violation of women’s rights it is a woman’s right, they argue. It is not socially harmful, because it is merely a transaction between two consenting adults. If prostitution was decriminalized, negative features associated with it would soon disappear. Prostitutes enjoy sex with johns, and hey, what’s not to like about being paid for pleasure? We can even think of prostitutes as akin to social workers and the johns as harmless guys who merely seek a service. Indeed, more sexual servicing of men could contribute to “world peace!”


This video seeks to reassure us that prostitution has nothing to do with patriarchy, exploitation, trafficking, or pimping. It is simply a personal business deal made by sassy, sex positive women (and some men) who are brave enough not to give a shit about outdated morality. Prostitutes are strong and independent entrepreneurs who have simply chosen a more viable career, instead of working at the local superstore for a fraction of the wage.

This narrative tells us the prostitution trade enhances the feminist cause. It goes hand in hand with the idea that pornography is sexually liberating. It was first conceived in the late 1960s by aspiring sex-industry moguls. These men cleverly stole the revolutionary idea of the women’s liberation movement that women, not men, should control women’s bodies. From that time to the present, the narrative of women’s liberation has been evoked by the sex-industry to advance its own interests, by men who defend buying sex, and by lobbyists invested in legalising the trade in women.

Read the full column in The Huffington Post



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