Stop Glamourising Sex Work

MacKenzie Peterson, Staff Writer

Let us stop pretending that sex work is empowering- that is lives within a pretty pink box with a pretty pink bow all tied up.  

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons,” published in 2004, 70% of female trafficking victims are trafficked into the commercial sex industry, including porn, stripping and legal brothels.  

The line distinguishing sex work from sex trafficking has always been blurry, but it has not gotten any clearer in recent days.  

Now, when I make the bold statement of “I hate sex work,” I am not saying I hate sex workers. When I say I hate child labor, no one claims I hate the children who are forced to work.  

I agree in some respects with the feminist ideology. I agree sex work is work and I agree sex work is hard. Women should be allowed to participate in pornography if they so choose.  

Unfortunately, this perspective does not include a criticism of the way the sex work industry operates. We do not focus on all the issues related to sex work and how we can better address them.  

Instead, attention has been drawn to the few women who appear to have achieved success in the field, whether earning money through Only Fans or engaging in “less humiliating” sex activities like findomming or foot fetish work. But this is not the reality of most sex work.  

The majority of sex workers I have observed describe it as sad and challenging, apart from a small number who perform exceptionally well. These individuals typically had a social media platform beforehand, making their journey much easier.  

Most talk about how difficult it is for them to keep working, how the money is not guaranteed and how they frequently feel low in respect for themselves.  

This invidualistic approach to women’s empowerment is what I have now come to know as liberal feminism. I have heard many people also nickname this “White Woman Feminism” or “Radical Feminism.”  

We need feminism, do not get me wrong. But liberal feminism subscribes to an ideology that is surface level, vapid and lacks nuance when it comes to real women’s experiences in the world.  

One of the things to come from this ideology is choice feminism. Radical feminists use this phrase to disparage liberal feminists.  

I agree it is their choice and I appreciate the ability to choose, but frequently we are not asking why they want to do this. Examples of this include “Women can have cosmetic surgery if they want to because it is their choice” and “Women can do porn if they want to because it’s their choice.”  

But these raise pertinent questions. Why would a lady undergo drastic physical modifications to meet an impossible beauty standard? Why do poor and disadvantaged women make up majority of the sex workers?  

Young girls are being told not only is sex work easy, but it acts a great way to make money. We are wrapping sex work in a pretty pink box with a pretty pink bow and making it sound special and joyful to do.  

Daily vlogs or “Get Ready with Me” videos with names like “A life in a day as a sex worker/Only Fans girl/stripper” are common on TikTok and YouTube.  

These videos show the women spending large sums of money, splurging on expensive clothing and overall leading extravagant lives.  

There are also comments from young girls telling us they should quit school to strip, work in sex, or even worse, they cannot wait to finish high school so they can start working in sex.  

People communicating in that manner are frequently underage, which results in an increase in overtly suggestive “thirst traps.” This provides strange men more content to look at, more casting needs and inspiration for the “barely 18” porn that far too many men enjoy.  

Then, the few girls who do make it big on these sites or offer these services will speak about how good it is for them, bringing in new young girls. Younger and younger.  

Let’s please shift our focus from the girls doing this for fun and advocating it to anyone who will listen to the people doing it to survive. The people involved are doing it to pay their rent and put food on the table. Let us start holding some of these sex workers responsible for glorifying their lives, and let’s also hold ourselves responsible for failing to recognize a problem with this until recently. 

It is time we untie that pretty pink bow. 


MacKenzie <3