As sex workers continue to fight FOSTA/SESTA, over 60 sex workers, advocates, educators, policymakers, and trafficking survivors took to Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) on June 21 to answer questions about sex work and decriminalization. Organized by Liara Roux, an escort, indie porn maker, and advocate, and Ashley Lake, a sex worker and adult content creator, the forum provided a space for people to ask sex workers directly about their experiences. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
1) What would you most like to tell us that no one asks about?
Fabienne Freymadl – Professional Femdom, co-owner of Studio LUX, Chairwoman of BesD, Germany’s biggest sex worker union: “Here are a few things I want people to know: Yes, wash your penis. Twice. Yes, we have to say that. Get yourself checked for STIs, even if you are not seeing sex workers. Yes, you already know at least one sex worker, they just haven’t told you yet. Ask yourself why they won’t trust you enough to come clean. No, dead hooker/stripper/any other provider jokes are NOT funny. Being a dominatrix means you will have to clean a lot. A LOT! In fact, if you have questions about how to disinfect your gear properly, come and ask me. No, being a sex worker doesn’t mean I want to receive your dick pics. Although that might change as soon as I get paid to watch them.”
Red – Founder of STROLL: “Ha, I’m already in an argument about this on this very AMA. Sex work is work, and it’s service industry work. Pretending that it’s inherently different than other service industry work for any other reason than the fact that it’s stigmatised is buying into the belief that sex is uniquely special to women and has a unique moral impact on our worth. It sounds so obvious stated like that, but people never do interrogate their belief systems this far, so right now some guy is telling me how different and special sex is than waiting tables, all because it involves genitals. It’s not different. It’s not more special. My value and integrity is not located in my genitals any more than it is in my hands when I changed diapers.”
2) What’s the best perk of your job? Worst? Do you genuinely enjoy sex work? How did you discover that is something you wanted to do?
Liara Roux: “Best part of my job: Getting paid to do cool things with cool people I would hang out with anyway! Worst part of my job: Criminalization >:( I really enjoy my job! Sometimes it does just feel like work, but most of the time I really enjoy it. I’ve always wanted to be a “professional friend” — for a while I thought that meant being a therapist, but I’ve discovered I actually like escorting more!”
Lorelei Lee – Sex worker, writer, activist: “Like many people I know, I’ve had every kind of feeling while doing sex work — experiences that were joy-filled and experiences that were truly awful. I began doing this work because it paid much better and was not much more difficult than the low-income work I was previously doing (and would do again during times when I was burned out on various adult industries), but along the way I had moments of real joy and art-making at work, and met people I will love forever. I believe that all kinds of work share this — if the conditions are good and people you work with are ethical, work can be rewarding. Simultaneously, all industries have the potential to be abusive if workers aren’t protected.”