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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

Jessa Jordan

Pronouns:

She/Her

Occupation(s):

"I've dabbled in various types of sex work including work as a camgirl, an escort/sugar baby, a dominatrix, a burlesque performer, and a peepshow girl. Currently, I'm a stripper and nude model—which means I'm paid to pose nude, sometimes explicitly but usually for fine art, boudoir, fetish or even alternative fashion themes. I also shoot for, curate, and operate my own subscription-based app for uncensored adult entertainment content."

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

"My overall experience has been varied; as with any other occupation, it's been fulfilling in some ways and draining in others—I'm a womanist and I have had to really learn ways to mitigate the harmful psychological effects of the cis-heterosexual male gaze. Sex work has been my most steady stream of income for the past 7 years. The worst part has been the entitlement others have felt to persecute or fetishize me and since I'm Black, you can only imagine the misogynoir. The current socio-political climate has ensured that rampant whorephobia has increased, including trolling, harassment, and physical harm in real time.

"But even in that vein, I've met some of my best friends, seen and experienced more of this world than I ever would've thought possible due to my work. Unfortunately, FOSTA has ensured I have fewer resources to draw references for new clients or even platforms to meet new clients without going through tertiary means—which are often more dangerous, complicated, and unnecessary. FOSTA means I can have my social media, financial, email, or other accounts utilized for my businesses shut down randomly, which would destroy my ability to generate or continue receiving income I've already labored for."

"Being a sex worker is direct opposition to traditional norms and values surrounding what make a person respectable and yet it is also one of the most powerful and empowering occupations despite the incredible oppositions."

What should the world know about sex work?

"There have been a litany of posts regarding what sex work is and it's overdue that our society really discusses, unpacks, and educates people about what sex work is not. Sex work is the title bestowed to providers of services in the sex industry by a fellow sex worker and activist, Carol Leigh; it's an umbrella term and houses everyone from sex therapists to escorts. Sex work is not human trafficking. Sex work is not what people fall into just in order to pursue their drug habits, and it's not what people who make bad decisions do for work or just for dumb girls who are pretty and can't or won't do anything else. Sex work isn't often thrust upon someone; in fact, most of the time sex work is a choice—and even more often than not, it's an informed choice, given how accessible the industry has become because of social media and the elevation of the profession within pop culture. The sex industry is just that—an industry—and as such, its workers should be entitled to the same standards of dignity, empathy, and unionization as workers in every other field of work.

"Sex workers have graduate degrees (and loans to pay back), personalities, relationships, pets, families and friends just like other people because that's what we are—people. We are not asking for permission to exist and we are no longer entertaining the established, bizarre idea of morality that treats SWs as second-class citizens while abandoning scrutiny and justice for actual abusers, corrupt figureheads, and those who would rather keep marginalized citizens from true equity. We are demanding not to be murdered because 'no one will miss a whore.' We are demanding not to be raped, or to be believed when we do come forward because yes, you can be sexually assaulted even as a sex worker and no, that does not mean you are any less entitled to or deserving seeing your attacker be penalized to the fullest extent of the law... Being a sex worker is direct opposition to traditional norms and values surrounding what make a person respectable and yet it is also one of the most powerful and empowering occupations despite the incredible oppositions."

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