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What Sex Workers Need You To Know About Their Careers

What Sex Workers Need You To Know About Their Careers

6 Sex Workers Of Color Give Powerful Accounts Of What The Industry Is Like

Human Interest

The plight of sex workers is one that goes unnoticed by most of the world. Even after the government made the life-altering decision to enforce laws like Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act that have put sex workers directly back in harm's way by forcing some to market on the streets.


Each act has shown literally nothing that statistically exemplifies and validates the initial purpose of these senseless laws. On this path, it won't take long before acts such as the End Banking For Human Trafficking actually make the cut, which would permit further censorship and evoke greater safety issues for sex workers by forcing them to carry large sums of money with them, as banks would be authorized to close the accounts of sex workers at their own discretion.

In this world, black women and men both inside and outside of the sex industry are forced to share the shame of others. What happens to us is consequential of that learned shame, so I'm ready to debunk what you know to be true about sexuality as it pertains to sex workers in hopes it'll create a better sex space for all of us. To accomplish this, I scoured the internet, my network, and ultimately with the help of friends, I was able to find 6 sex workers of color with 6 different accounts of what the industry is like and what they want you to know about their careers in sex work.

Valentine

Pronouns:

She/ Her/They

Occupation(s):

"My occupation and focus as a sex worker is in queer porn, erotic modeling, and exotic dancing."

What has your time in the industry been like? How has FOSTA impacted you?

"My experience overall as a sex worker has been positive and well received. I've been really grateful to have the influence I've had in my immediate circles. Exposure through people and networking a ton to get gigs I feel passionate about. I understand that my particular look does limit me in a lot of ways and my body type is something that may not always be considered, but I ignore those aspects of it and focus on being someone who is representative of other models/performers that look similar to me and want to see that representation in the media.

"FOSTA is starting to rear its ugly head in my realm. I use social media quite a bit and it's starting to limit access to areas in which we can post erotic content. I feel like overall this affects everyone. Not just sex workers, but our clients, our markets, even people who are just using it for artistic expression. Even things [where] people aren't blatantly sexual in nature will probably start to be affected. So my modeling may be under fire soon enough."

"Sex work is something that gives someone autonomy, is accessible for the disabled, therapeutic, and I think people deep down really understand that and don't want to acknowledge it due to social grooming."

What should the world know about sex work?

"The one takeaway the world should understand about sex work is that it's always existed. It's an exchange between two people and should be respected as much as casual encounters or taking someone on a date. There's still expectation and money involved. And unfortunately sometimes consequences as a result of the two. Sex work is something that gives someone autonomy, is accessible for the disabled, therapeutic and I think people deep down really understand that and don't want to acknowledge it due to social grooming. We need to get out of our heads about it and take a hold of it. Other countries have learned to accept it. We need to catch up."

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The Mamie 'Till' Movie Wants To Empower Us

Sitting in the theater getting ready to watch Nopefor the third time, I was excited, like a good film nerd, to see my friend's first-time reactions to the fun UFO horror-comedy. My heart sank immediately when a trailer for the film Till, which follows the life and legacy of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie, started playing first.

My knee-jerk reaction, of course, comes from years of watching film and TV that have exploited Black trauma onscreen and were created with little (if any) consideration for what could emotionally trigger the Black audience. The 1955 murder of Emmett Till is so heartbreaking and inherently violent; would this film make us live through that violence on screen?

Fortunately, no!

This week, before watching Gina Prince-Bythewood's incredible The Woman King, a featurette for Till played in place of a trailer and it soothed my fears.

"There will be no physical violence against Black people on screen," the film's award-winning director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu says in the featurette. "I'm not interested in relishing in that kind of physical trauma. We're going to begin and end in a place of joy," she says.

Starring Danielle Deadwyler (whose heartfelt performance on HBO's Station Eleven stole the show) as Mamie, Till is a celebration of Mamie's tireless activism which sparked the civil rights movement that continues today and ultimately culminated in President Biden signing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law just a few months ago in March 2022. "Mamie Till Mobley is a hero," says Alana Mayo, president of Orion Pictures, the production company behind the film. "I'm really, really committed to making movies not just by us, but for us," Mayo says in the featurette.

After a private screening of Till, this week, Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, tweeted that the film was "#Powerful" and "a must see."

Mamie's story of courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy deserves to be told--especially as we continue the fight for civil rights today. Knowing that the Black filmmakers behind the film are centering Black joy and aiming for our empowerment through the film makes a world of difference.

TILLis in theaters October 14.

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