Sex Work – How My Views Have Changed
I will be your doll“Slut” – Velvet Acid Christ
I will be your toll
At the gates of hell
That is what I’m for
I will be your flesh
I will be your end
Then on to the next
I will start again
When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go into sex work. Being a whore was a bad thing, it was something that only the poor and addicts did. Even with “Pretty Woman” in the 1990s, most of my friends looked down on the idea of women using their bodies to make a living.
These days I like being called a whore during sex, and if my Master would want to whore me out, I’d probably be up for it. It might never become a job for me, but I can see the why it would interest some people, that it could give you a certain kind of excitement. Not only that, the amount of people who actually walk the streets these days in the Western world is much smaller than it used to be. Instead, being a sex worker can mean a lot of different things.
But let me start with that I have been brought up with the idea that enjoying sex was a bad idea. I wasn’t even allowed to have a boyfriend (or girlfriend) which meant that my parents basically never met any of my partners. Thinking about it, my dad used to sexually abuse and allow others do so to me when I was a kid, but when I was a teen, it was suddenly a totally different story. Because having a partner would mean I was the one wanting sex, and that was bad.
Fortunately, I never agreed with that view. I didn’t really care about how sexually active any of my friends were. All I wanted was for them to be happy. And if that meant having lots of sex with a lot of different people? Good for them! The circles I was in from my early teenage years were alternative anyway: punk, goths, rockers, metal heads. LGBTQA+ folks. It was all very liberated. BDSM and kink were openly practiced. I didn’t engage in any of that (sexual abuse does that to you, you get a tad weirded out by sex), but I didn’t judge it either.
Prostitution in Hamburg in the 1990s
This was the mid 1990s. During those days, I was often in Hamburg and in its famous red light district (Reeperbahn), because lots of the concerts and clubs I went to, had their venues just there. That meant that I had an idea of prostitution already at the age of 14/15. I saw prostitutes every weekend, I hung out with them. I had trans* prostitute friends who let me stay over during the weekends because I didn’t want to go home. I saw women standing on street corners, in rain, in snow, having drunk men grope them. When I was 17, I got asked if I wanted to be a stripper, when I was 18, someone asked me if I needed some cash and wanted to walk the streets for them.
I have never been a sex worker. But I knew quite a lot of sex workers and saw how shitty they were treated. I watched them with their bruises, with their fear. I was worried anything serious would happen to them. I never judged them, but I never wanted to be one of them. On weekends in Berlin, I saw a lot of East European women literally standing in line on the street, waiting to be picked by a man. The perspective I had on sex work was that no one would pick that ever voluntarily. They were all controlled by men, pimped and beaten. It all culminated with my own brother telling me that he was a pimp now, and had two Ukrainian women working for him. I got so incredibly mad at him, and fortunately was able to convince him that what he was doing was absolutely disgusting.
In 2002, prostitution became legal in Germany. My views changed a bit there. I loved how the general idea was to take better take care of sex workers. They now had a right to healthcare, they could register as sex workers and could get a pension. They had more rights. By it becoming legal, a lot of them were able to take more control over their lives. Pimping out women became more difficult, because the legal market was cleaner, more ethical
Sex Work in Sweden
Then I moved to Sweden. Prostitution is illegal in Sweden and I was appalled by how the women had no security system at all. They couldn’t register, they couldn’t have open bank accounts, they had to do everything in secrecy. Human trafficking of women for sex work was and still is a huge thing in Sweden. Because there is no legal market, there is a huge black market, non-regulated. Women do not get put in jail for soliciting, but there are absolutely no opportunities for them to work out in the open. Instead, in Sweden, they build up a secret internet presence. Swedish women who decide to go into sex work in real life, don’t have any protection, no laws, no one who makes sure they are treated well.
That is when I started thinking. Not all prostitution is about drugs, or human trafficking. Some women, men and trans* people choose it because it gives them good money, or because they very much enjoy it. By making prostitution a taboo, some governments (and feminists!!) put those who choose sexwork and those that are forced into sexwork, in the same corner. But those are two totally different groups of people. A woman that got trafficked from Romania does not choose to become a sexworker, she is forced to sell her body. But that doesn’t mean that all women are forced into it, not all sexworkers are forced into sexwork against their will. Some people choose it of their own free will. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with it!
Fast forward, 2017. My partner at the time decided to go to visit a brothel in Prague. He told me about it much later. While I was first angry about him lying to me, I eventually got upset about something totally different. That he didn’t choose the brothel ethically. He did not google what the laws for sex work are in the Czech Republic, how predominant human trafficking is, he did not check anything else other than how cheap it was and if they had redheads. I found myself in a new space of mind: I didn’t mind anyone going to a prostitute or paying a sex worker (my judgment around that had passed), but I judged those that didn’t make ethical choices, especially when they have the financial means to do so, So yes, I got angry at my boyfriend because he most likely fucked a trafficked woman.
Now that I am a sexblogger, I have become aware of how huge the sex work market online is. I am amazed by it! I don’t see trafficked people, or people who are forced to do it. They are people who choose to be sex workers. I love that they openly make that choice. And I also see how hard they work. The concept of sex work has changed with the internet, and I love how that actually puts a lot of power in the hands of sex workers, They are their own bosses, they get the money. But it also made me realize how much mistreatment of sex workers is out there still, how they are called sluts, how they are being shamed for taking money, how men think they have the right to the sex workers’ bodies.
Sex Work is A-Okay!
I never judged anyone for selling their body for money. I never wanted to be a sex worker, but I didn’t shame anyone for being one. For a long time, I had the idea that everyone who is in sex work is forced by circumstance or through human trafficking to be in that line of work. Now I know better. Now I know that a lot of people choose to be in sex work because they enjoy it or because they like the financial aspect of it. I now openly support a legalization of sex work because it means protection and healthcare for sex workers. I know that human trafficking and sex work are still very closely linked in many countries of the world (I saw a documentary about human trafficking of teenage girls in India not too long ago that broke my heart), and that needs to addressed. So many lives ruined!
But most of all, I understand the idea of ethical choices when it comes to sex work. You are not an asshole for paying someone for sexual services, but you are an asshole if you knowingly pick those who are trafficked and forced into that line of work. I have huge respect for all the sex workers in the world. It is hard work, and the oppression because of stigma and entitled men must be infuriating!