“Have you heard? Kamala Harris is in favor of decriminalizing sex work.”
Chances are that if you have anything to do with the adult industry or other kinds of sex work, you probably heard a version of that statement over the last few weeks. Even the mainstream press has jumped into the conversation with a variety of think pieces and op-eds, making it one of the main talking points about Harris’ presidential campaign.
But if Harris thought her endorsement of “decriminalization” (we’ll get to the quotation marks in a second) would spark joy among sex workers, her alleged “evolution” on the issue was largely unconvincing.
Many performers and other adult industry professionals have not embraced the news the way Harris and her team might have expected. Both in person and via social media, many people have responded with variations of “Don’t trust her” and “Once a cop, always a cop” (Harris is a career prosecutor who served as San Francisco DA and Attorney General of California).
Why, then, won’t sex workers embrace Harris’ historic statement, possibly the first for a serious presidential contender?
The answers to that question go to the heart of the complicated relationship between sex work and mainstream politics in 2019. They also transcend Harris.
Their implications concern the way almost all politicians and the mainstream press commonly talk about non-traditional sexual arrangements between consenting adults.