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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Slut Riot: A Sex Worker Shares Her Perspective

Hello friends! I am so pleased to announced that The Sin City Siren is doing a week long campaign about slut-shaming, including articles on the topic from different perspectives. Today's article comes from a sex worker- me! I have shared the link here as well as the article. Thank you so much to The Sin City Siren for this opportunity. Enjoy! XO

The Sin City Siren's Slut Riot!


Slut Riot: A sex worker shares her perspective

In today’s installment of Slut Riot we hear from a sex worker who also happens to be a graduate student. I encourage you to read her words and consider any assumptions that float into your head. Do you pre-judge her before you even start because you hold sex workers to a different standard? Can sex workers be slut-shamed when their vocation requires the real or imagined acts of promiscuity? Keep in mind that the social caste system that marginalizes and even dehumanizes sex workers is just an extension of the pervasive patriarchy all around us.

By Christina Parreira, M.A.

Women who transgress traditional gender roles are often targets of ridicule, shaming, and even violence. What does it mean to violate these mores, and what type of women are most at risk? Women who exhibit promiscuous behavior are shamed for being sluts, but what about those who charge for it? Sex workers are arguably one of the most targeted groups when it comes to the phenomenon of slut-shaming.
American culture has a love/hate relationship with promiscuous women. I am reminded of the Madonna/Whore complex, a psychoanalytic theory which states that men view women as either virtuous saints or tarnished whores. According to the theory, it would be nearly impossible for a man to simultaneously respect a woman and explore his sexual fantasies with her. Granted, this theory is outdated, but I think it has some merit in the discussion of slut-shaming and sex work.

A sex worker is any individual who trades a sexual service for compensation. This includes porn performers, strippers, phone sex operators, escorts, prostitutes, webcam models, and so forth. Some sex workers work legally, while others work illegally. Unfortunately, the criminalization of prostitution in most of the US contributes to the shaming of sex workers, but even those who work legally experience slut-shaming. Porn and stripping are both legal jobs, but both come with high levels of stigma. Porn stars are the stuff that dirty wet dreams are made of, but you wouldn’t dare bring one home to mother … would you? Men shower strippers with dollar bills at bachelor parties, but many wouldn’t be caught dead dating one. The sex industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and yet the performers who make up this industry are regarded as pariahs. The hypocrisy is stunning — to masturbate to these individuals in private but to damn them in the public sphere.

I have worked as a webcam performer for almost five years, and recently started stripping. I identify as a sex worker and receive the majority of my income from this work. I am also a graduate student. The reactions that I get from people when they learn that I’m a sex worker are astonishing. Even more confusion results when people learn that I am also a graduate student. Why is this? Are people stunned that sex workers also have brains? Why aren’t we allowed to be simultaneously intellectual AND sexual? How does the exchange of money affect people’s perceptions of individuals and the level of slut-shaming that takes place? Women who exhibit “slutty” behavior are already damned, but what about those who profit financially from this behavior? The shaming is even more amplified. Not only are we sluts, but we have the nerve to charge for it! It is important to note that this does not only apply to female sex workers, but also to male and transgendered workers.

Society targets sex workers the way it used to target the so-called witches of Salem. Individuals who engage in sex work shatter the widely held beliefs of what constitutes socially appropriate behavior, making sex workers a prime target for slut-shaming. I hope to one day live in a world where I can do as I please with my genitals without being shamed. A world in which a rape victim isn’t blamed for what she was wearing. Unfortunately, I think we have a long way to go.

3 comments:

  1. How do I contact you? I run raw attraction magazine and would like a piece from you!

    Can you contact steve@rawattractionmagazine.com - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! I'll shoot you an email now :)

      Delete
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