I have been a little late in catching up on this “article” by FurryGirl on her blog. It describes definitions of who would be on a list that defines whom she thinks is a sex worker and who is not.
I am actually quite a fan of FurryGirl and admire the work she has done to create advertising boards against all the odds in the USA celebrating sex work and raising public awareness around sex work issues.
I don’t particularly want to start another destructive debate that illustrates the differences that exist within the sex worker right movement. I have provided the link to Furrygirls list and I have written my (with minor variations) response below which explains my position very clearly on this issue.
I am concerned when some people within the sex industry decide who is or is not a sex worker. It is divisive and encourages anti sex work activists to concentrate attention on divisions within the sex work rights movement..
I have been a male gay sex worker for fourteen years. My partner is an escort agency owner. He like many agency/brothel owners also works as (in his case a gay male)an escort. Is he a sex worker in the definitions given or a manager or both?
He like many in his position suffers the stigma associated with selling sex (as I do)but is at much greater risk of prosecution here in the UK than I am.
Managers like my civil partner and the escorts who employ them to represent them make money from selling sex. They usually work longer hours than any escort I know and with little thanks but much greater risk of prosecution by the law. Other sex workers use the experience of managers to their advantage and many escorts who work through agencies later go on to work independently (which involves them having management skills) or even to open their own agencies or brothels. It seems to me this is and should be recognised as part of the career path within the sex industry.
The term sex worker was created in part to diffuse the stigma associated with selling sex and to create a solidarity within an industry where everyone is equally stigmatised and are understood to be criminals (even if legally they are not).
While our industry remains criminal and some sex workers remain at greater risk of prosecution than others it is wrong to institutionalise stigma and discrimination within our industry against fellow sex workers.
It seems to me; especially here in the UK, that arguments to define who is a “real” sex worker are driven not by any desire to clarify what is often a very grey area but by a political agenda.
For myself and for many sex workers here in the UK at least the term sex worker is a welcoming and encompassing definition that shares the stigmata while celebrating “equally” the work of everyone who makes money from selling sex. It is a definition enshrined within the the IUSW and within the GMB sex worker branch 150. I celebrate that definition and will argue against any who would compromise that solidarity.
Sorry; but I do not accept this list.