Guest post: Sex worker hierarchy sucks

sexworkersThis is a guest post from a blogger who calls herself the Resident Hooker. In her own words:

My name is – well, that’s not important. What’s important is what I do! I write and I’m a feminist, obviously; but I’m also a sex worker. Here at Feministing.com we believe in engaging in critical analysis that prioritizes the voices of people living at important intersections, and that includes people like me who get paid to help people get their jollies off! To protect my identity, I’ll be posting under the alias the Resident Hooker. Enjoy!

On last week’s episode of Scandal, Pope & Associates were “cleaning up” after a married politician who was accused of murdering a younger woman that he’d been sexting. Strapped for cash and desperate to win “fix it”, Pope’s team stooped to “slut shame a dead girl” as Abbey so eloquently put it. It worked. The media ran with the young woman living lavishly as a sugar baby and reasonable doubt was planted.

Sugaring has always seemed to represent the blurred line between actually being a hooker and engaging in intentionally beneficial dating. Popular perception of sugar babies places them in a fluid limbo that can nudge them into the land of materialistic respectability or delicately tip them over into the eternal lake of whore fire.  It is one of those activities that can make people good about engaging in practices that they may think are bad.

But I have some news. It does not serve any of us (sex workers) to call rank. A call girl who makes $5,000 an hour is no more or less  a sex worker than a trans woman who gives blow jobs for $20 in Brooklyn. A conscious decision to enter a mutually exclusive relationship isn’t very different than advertising yourself, negotiating your rates, and seeing a new client.

Sex worker hierarchies do nothing to help us survive in an industry that is under constant condemnation in the public sphere. When police are using condoms as way to label and arrest suspected sex workers, the fact that your “daddy” or “mommy” bought you an iPad instead of putting money in your hand doesn’t really protect you.

As a community of folk with the sole purpose is to satisfy people’s desire to connect with another person (or people), it’s important that we are able to recognize the contributions that all of us are making to that cause – in addition to our pockets.

Sincerely,

The Resident Hooker.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/aislin/ Aislin Kageno

    I really appreciate these necessary pieces on sex workers’ rights at Feministing. Thanks to our Resident Hooker for the work you do on this site – your pieces say things that need to be said.

  • http://feministing.com/members/lizzydavs/ Liz Davidoff

    Yeah, there actually is a pretty big difference between a “sugar baby” and the “trans woman who gives blow jobs for $20″, just like there’s a massive difference between say phone sex workers and people who actually engage in intercourse for money.

    The difference is the inherent amount of privilege that goes along with being a woman who chooses to run her own sex-service business using an internet website, a twitter account, and all the modern accoutrement that the “empowered” sex worker claims, vs a woman who was forced into the sex service industry because of her situation.

    Granted, everyone has a different story but I feel like I meet a lot of empowered high class escorts who seem to forget the the sex industry is not equal. The privilege that comes with education, confidence, looks, money (etc) completely shift factors such as the level of safety that sex workers are able to maintain, the amount of money they are able to make, and the type of clientele they have access to.

    I’m sure that “trans woman giving blow jobs for $20″ would much rather be getting $5000.