The way we talk about sex work is changing, but the way we treat sex workers is not

As I reflect on the The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which was on December 17, 2 Chainz comes to mind.

I listen to “I Luv Dem Strippers” everyday. Seriously. It took me more than a few listens to realize, however, that the lyrics (aside from the chorus) have absolutely nothing to do with strippers. The song is about how rich 2 Chainz and featured artist Nicki Minaj are. One has to wonder how we got to this point? Stripping is the new black and the exchange of sex(uality) for money is becoming a more glamorous narrative everyday.

In the kind of consumer culture where luxurious goods mean everything and nothing at the same time, the way we are talking about sex work is changing. The new rhetoric is not that of hoes and tricks, but of savvy women who deserve all of the finer things in life because their ass looks that good in a dress. In this version of the story, men are not threatened by women’s sexuality because they dictate the disbursement of money.

But anyone who knows anything about sex work understands that this is rarely ever the case. The truth is that sex work is real work. Sex workers come in all shapes, sizes, races, ages, body types, etc. They work to feed their families and pay their bills. And they are not always treated like the independent agents that they are. 

Hundreds of sex workers are survivors and victims of violence that goes unreported, unresolved, and unacknowledged. They are denied access to medical services. They are targeted (and attacked) by law enforcement. And although the strip club has become the new happening scene, it is just one of the places where real work, sex work, and all of the crimes against sex workers are happening.

So in addition to making it rain, please…


Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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