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  • Sara Kragness

Screwing the System: A Critical Analysis of Modern Sex Work


Introduction

Let’s talk about sex, or at least the business of it, because it truly is a busy industry. Sex work has been around for centuries, but as the internet era has come to integrate into all aspects of society, consensual adult workers have been able to find more opportunities to take ownership of their bodies, careers, and provide important services for their communities.

But are they entrepreneurs? If we apply an anti-white supremacy lens it becomes quite apparent that many of today’s digital sex workers could be considered entrepreneurs; this paper will seek to demonstrate this point.

To do so, I am utilizing four interviews with different entrepreneurs from the industry. Together, they offer an exciting look into their field as a case study for the ways they can each be considered entrepreneurs as well as lessons to be learned from their work that all of society could benefit from.

This paper will address a series of issues, beginning with the topic of work legitimacy in an industry that operates against a strong societal bias. Following, I will pose decriminalization of the industry as a progressive move that the United States (and others) can take to help dismantle patriarchal, ableist, cis/heteronormative ideology which are embedded within white supremacy. In conclusion,I will discuss sex work as a site for understanding ways of building a more cooperative society by imagining some of the vast potentiality this action of decriminalization could offer.

Methodology

Beginning this research, I knew I was interested in working with performers who worked at the intersection of identity, as well as those who at least had an aspect of their work online. Initially, I expected to be able to make contact with four performers who utilize the website OnlyFans, but it quickly became clear I would need to expand my search after dozens of messages went unanswered. This is what led me to fully begin my search for participants.

As it is to be expected when reaching out to workers who operate their business in the “legal grey area”, finding participants who were willing to speak with me took some time. My approach for making contact with the entrepreneurs was to utilize Twitter and the platform's internal messaging, essentially I strategically “cold-called”, using search terms to lead me towards workers that come from a diverse background. The key terms included are below in Table 1.



These terms led to a variety of users, some of which fit the profile and some which did not, of those that fit, I then proceeded to see if I was able to send a private message where I made initial contact. Some profiles did not have this function operating, which left me unable to include them in the initial contact pool.

As I will detail later, it was during this stage of outreach where I began to notice that many digital sex workers would share the content of other performers, and when you went to that performers page - there would be content originating from the previously visited profile. I used this as an additional way of finding potential contacts for outreach.

In all, I messaged over fifty people, with about seven replying and the final four being reached solely based on matching availability for interviews, in addition to the previously mentioned criteria. This approach was necessary under the time limitations for this research, and ultimately did leave me with an interview list of all white people. Although they all do share a different marginalizing factor, that of being trans identifying. The profiles section will detail these four entrepreneurs more closely.

It is my hope that this paper will serve as starting point, encouraging other researchers to help legitimize the work this industry does through more detailed analysis and an even more diverse group for case studies, as it has been proven time and again that it is Trans Women of Color who are most often in this work out of necessity and are more likely to suffer violence while working. While those perspectives were unfortunately not able to be included here, they should be a focus of their own as they sit at a complex intersection of identity.

Profiles

The four entrepreneurs I was able to connect with for this research are outlined below, in order of our meeting. They have all agreed to the names and pronouns I will use for them individually. The outlines will provide background information for each entrepreneur, including how they found themselves in the industry, the professional services they provide. Throughout the remaining portion of the essay, I will quote them and refer back to their perspectives as I build my argument. Names have been changed for protection.



S

S, initially entered the larger adult industry nine years ago when they began providing paid sex toy reviews for companies; in 2013 they tried camming, but “got scammed” in the process and immediately stopped. It was after they had to leave a full time “traditional” office job due to their mental health in 2015 that they were introduced by a friend to Second Life, a virtual platform that allowed users to make in-game purchases for each other, and a popular site that was not intended to become sexual, but still offered users space to do so as they please.

This is where S connected with their internal “well of untapped sadism” to become a FinDom, also known as a Financial Dominatrix. Over time, they were able to expand outside of the game and into the real world, using Twitter as the core platform for marketing.

As they became more serious about promoting their services online, it was a real-world job that helped them gain more social media and marketing skills to help promote their own business online through strategic marketing campaigns.

S has come in and out of the industry as their health has allowed them, but since their most recent return, they have tried to focus more on using OnlyFans as a platform and creating more “porn” content.

This hasn’t been without struggle though. S suffers from chronic illness and has mental illness to cope with as well. As in any field, but very much so for online content creators of any kind, the consistency of content is incredibly important.

“When you’re disabled, your daily life tasks take up most of your energy” they mentioned during the interview, so it's understandable that for them this feels like a significant challenge as an entrepreneur. But it was during our conversation when they went through the steps where I really began to understand that the common understanding of sex work as “easy” and for the “lazy” or otherwise unemployable was just incredibly false.

From content ideation, to set dressing, costuming, doing consent building between performers for group work, practicing a more rigorous grooming routine; then filming, lighting, editing, marketing, billing AND customer service - it all typically falls on the entrepreneur if they are in their early stages and don’t have a massive following.

That is a lot of work that is not only going unrecognized, it is typically not represented in the pay they receive either, leaving many to work another job as well. So why is S doing this work? Because it is “emotionally fulfilling” as they “enjoy spreading love and intimacy with others”.

M

M did not expect to be where they are today as a parody porn and erotic fanfic creator, considering when they started cosplaying in 2011 on tumblr. But they confessed in our interview that it actually isn’t totally surprising.

It was while on tumblr that M found an interest in sex toy reviews- learning more from those blogs than the “traditional” sex ed in school. Growing up in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” household when it came to sex and sexuality, M furthered their education via the website Go Ask Alice!, mentioning that they were “often the one in health class correcting the teachers on outdated information”, with links and all.

In 2017, after college, M turned to the website Seeking Arrangements to help find virtual clients. They mainly provided phone sex and sexting services, intentionally playing up a role of innocence to keep the potentially in person work focused online. They did this work until entering a relationship that pressured them to stop.

It was this year that M turned to OnlyFans to promote the more risque side of their cosplay that they presented on Twitter. From porn parody to fanfiction, M says they focus specifically on creating content that they want to create, anything you find from them will be a project you know they had fun creating. “I’m not doing the same kind of thing as the other people I follow. They are doing XXX and hardcore boy/girl...I’m like, here’s a stupid cosplay, and here’s how I think this character fucks”.

OnlyFans may not be the final landing site for M’s business, but they do see the potential of using the site for passive income. “If you're the person who gave Cardi B a referral code and she’s making money, you don’t need to work.” I found out in this conversation that when you utilize a referral code on signup, the other person gets a forever 5% on all the sales of anyone who signs up with it.

Even with this setup though, this is certainly a place to build a viable business, but M is sure to note that it’s not meant for everyone, like those who want to sell single clips, as the platform is not conducive. Rather, as they explained, it is meant to be used as a “feed” for people gaining a “glimpse into my ‘personal’ life” (M emphasized there is a big quotation around personal.) The site operates best when creators offer a low entry subscription rate, which is the monthly fee, and then have a mix of general feed content along with pay-per-view ‘add-on’s’. This is where creators will earn the majority of their income on the platform, along with tips.

M emphasized that in setting up their page, there was a good amount of market research conducted. They followed other creators, assessed their content, used that to help determine their rates, and used this as an opportunity to see how they could make more niche content to help them stand out; and standing out is more important than ever, as the platform has seen significant booms in creator signups since the start of the pandemic. Considering that OnlyFans ranks performers based on the number of interactions, sales, etc. Moving up in the internal ranking promotes you to higher visibility on the site, otherwise you’ll be relying solely on your own external marketing. And considering the platform takes 20% of all income, it’s important to find tactics to gain more attention.

When we started to discuss bias, the biggest concern that M had was around the way society views sex work and sexuality more generally, hitting the point home that we don’t just experience these incidents of bias in isolation. Between new legislation from the government (FOSTA/SESTA) to social media policies of ‘shadowbanning’ content creators who come from a more diversified background when they share content that is deemed “inappropriate” all the while simultaneously promoting similar content from celebrities and influencers with socially “appropriate” body types; this all helps to amplify the discrimination of those who seek to be sex and body-positive for the betterment of all.

M noted that while there have been some particularly unique challenges to doing their work during a pandemic, like not being able to collaborate or get assistance in the filming process from others. They also mentioned that they are trying to figure out how to balance their “real” job with their own business as they were receiving PTO when they first launched the OnlyFans page due to the pandemic as well as just balancing their mental wellbeing as a person living through this global crisis.

For the challenges that they have faced while doing this work, they had twice as many benefits - including a higher payout than other sites, not being restricted to creating “porn” as it is traditionally considered, and having space to be able to find their audience.

M also commented that they have been able to build a strong community over the years through their various ventures that share similar values of being sex, body, and queer-positive, anti-capitalists while also having a similar mentality that you gotta “work within the system that's provided”.

H

H, was another entrepreneur that didn’t expect to see themselves here today, but through a series of often cruel turn of events, they ended up selling nudes on Snapchat.

In 2015 they were living in Colorado, working a full time job, and began to transition. It was then that they experienced workplace discrimination, being told they were “too immature, due to their transition” to be considered for a promotion. They were confident it was because they didn’t meet the “appropriate norms” of the office culture. This culture as they described it to me was often incredibly offensive to underrepresented groups and when reports were made to the appropriate office, the “extreme gaslighting” began. They were essentially forced out of their workplace.

This led H to move to Texas with their (now ex) wife. It was after taking some time to settle into a new apartment and begin the search for jobs, that they realized they would struggle financially. Within a year they killed off their retirement fund from their former employer and even though they were working full time, their wife was disabled and unable to work. It was this series of events that drove H to begin selling nudes on Snapchat.

They explained how they operated this, first they would post to groups on Reddit as well as use a Tinder account to drive interested people to their Snapchat account. From there, they posted teaser photos and prompted folks to purchase the full set.

As time went on, H was still struggling to afford rent even while still working a full time job, as their wife was now out of the picture. This is what pushed H to take the next step, offering full, in-person, services; still using Snapchat for their primary marketing to find clients. It was during this time when H was assaulted.

It was a client from their in person business that helped them pursue transitioning back into only doing digital work, noting that after the assault, safety became a major concern. Today, they only work online and their content helped them relocate again, where they were able to find a more connected “in person” community of trans workers.

It was in discussing their own work flow that helped me to realize each of my entrepreneurs are using a slightly different approach to how they run their business; again emphasising that creating a strategy, having a focus on branding, and finding a voice in a busy market, which are all essential skills for any entrepreneur, are readily found in the sex industry as well.

For H, it was upon having their Tinder reported too many times leading it to be blocked as well as losing momentum on their Snapchat page, that they made the decision to begin making content for Minivids and OnlyFans, while using Twitter to drive customers to these sites. A definitive strategic move.

However, switching directions doesn’t always come without consequences, a lesson H learned when Minivids politics around gender identity representation started directly conflicting with their own beliefs and value system. H ( and later R) explained to me that many porn websites, including Minivids and Chaturbate, have three categories: “Women, Men, and Trans”.

It’s easy to understand how that is incredibly offensive to diverse and aspiring sex industry entrepreneurs; lumping everyone who falls under the complex identity of the Trans* umbrella together. Beyond this hurtful categorization, there is generally a feeling among trans entrepreneurs in this industry that they are not recognized as offering a “viable business model” strictly because of the way they identify themselves. This is something historically we could recognize as discrimination and potentially disenfranchisement if it were happening within any socially legitimized industry. However, since it happens to Queer, Trans, and BIPOC communities within this “illegitimate” industry, society can accept its ignorance around this injustice.

H went on to discuss other challenges and biases they have had to face beyond transphobia, including the extensive internal discourse found with the sex work community at large. From the debate around what type of “identity language” is better, i.e. “person” first language or “identity” first language, to if slurs that are typically used against trans people should be used to help self promote pron made by Trans people. H had a pretty definitive thought on the latter. “People can be targeted and killed through the slurs we promote in porn. We are creating a business that actively harms us.”

Further, H has faced serious threats for the specific type of porn they create, specifically including Kink positivity around consenting adults performing in what is called “age play”. This work is what has lead them to being doxxed and receiving death threats. All of these incidents of harm and bias would affect anyone, and besides facing mental health issues, H also has these traumas in addition to being autistic and Hard of Hearing. They told me they are in a constant battle of deciding “how visible do I want to be?”.

Today, they are still creating content and working online, utilizing a private dropbox as the host for their work, while marketing themselves on Twitter and using the platforms internal DM’s to make contact; once payment is received the client gets the link to the content. This process has allowed them to move lots of older content that didn’t typically sell as well, in bulk, at a “wholesale” price. For H, this process was taught to them from other entrepreneurs in the industry, primarily Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color; a part of the community they don’t want to go unrecognized.

Even though H has had to face significant oppressive barriers, from physical assault to death threats, they still are happy with the work that they do. They told me they still work three days a week at a “real job”, but sex work has allowed them to live a more comfortable lifestyle where they can enjoy to buy “extra” things - like a meal out to eat or a new sex toy, and sometimes it is paid for by clients (sounds pretty similar to those extra client billables in a ‘traditional business’ to me). It is also within this industry that they have been able to actually apply their bachelor's degree in graphic design and business, an opportunity they haven’t had elsewhere.

Like my other interviews, H mentioned that there is a strong support and solidarity network among the Trans sex worker industry. Through Twitter, they have been able to connect with others, noting it is the core place for community building and deeper engagement with one another. Further, it is this community that has been there to validate H during moments of harm and harassment, to provide feedback and reviews on each other's content, and to collaborate on projects together. They also noted that within the community they are often buying and tipping each other more than most clients typically would, going further, “In the sex work community, everyone is just passing around the same $20”.

H was incredibly self-assured of their work and the role they play in society. They look to fill a gap in sexual education for both cisgender and “baby trans” folks; to do this they often do commissioned content. These personal pieces come with detailed scriptwriting work before filming even begins, and these orders are often coming from people within the Trans community, looking for various forms of affirmation, which H reminded me isn’t always explicitly sexual.

Throughout this interview, H continually reaffirmed that sex work is inherently political work that is always working against capitalism, especially if you are Queer/Trans or BIPOC. Within the industry at large, they noted that it is hard to escape a sense of political awareness among entrepreneurs within this industry, as the work, at least in their realm of the market, lends itself to promoting anti-racist and anti-fascist views along with a general awareness of what is happening in the world.

R

R was the only entrepreneur I met that did not live in the United States. She lives in the UK with her supportive partner and 10-week old puppy; she identifies as “a Woman who is Trans”. This was an unknowing nod towards Haley's comments regarding people or identity-first language debates within the community, these two entrepreneurs take opposite sides of this issue. Like everyone else, R didn’t anticipate entrepreneurship in the sex industry, but she now couldn’t imagine doing any other work.

Before R transitioned, she told me that she struggled with her relationships, especially when it came to sex. It was during this time that she thought if she would do porn, with people who “get paid to fuck” that maybe she could work out why it was so hard for her to get into sex. No dice, she was still struggling.

It was once she transitioned that she realized the problem all along was that she needed to become herself and then like magic, it all clicked. This was while she was still in college, and she wanted to begin a business online for the safety it could provide while she sought to earn some extra income while still in school. Her partner of three years was supportive, and she began performing on Chaturbate - and things took off.

By the time she graduated from school, she was able to fully devote herself to her entrepreneurial venture, she now never intends to use her degree in Veterinary PhysioTherapy, except for giving incredible care for her own pets. Once R was able to focus on her work full time, she expanded to utilizing Tik Tok in addition to Instagram and Facebook for her marketing.

It’s worth noting that R is my only “high ranked” performer, with over 11k followers on Twitter, she is the only entrepreneur in this study who runs her business as her full-time job. We didn’t discuss money explicitly, but she did note that through her online business, she paid for her bottom surgery in full.

She also mentioned that there is a significant up-front cost to her business for her to have the good, high-resolution, quality streams that bring in more viewers, which helps promote her to gain more attention from other page visitors. She detailed the need for a significant amount of tech, and having a set up of multiple cameras with lighting and sound being considered as well are all necessary for her. But for these efforts, she not only has solid performance time on Chaturbate, which offers entrepreneurs revenue streams from a “tips” menu that people can pay for acts to be done on the main free page to the ability to pay for a private session with just her. She also records those free group sessions and sells them as individual content videos as well, helping her to capitalize on her time even further.

R revealed that on her page, it goes beyond just the naughty sex stuff. She has regularly built real friendships with people “from all around the world” who frequented her page just for “company when they felt isolated from the rest of society”. She sees herself as someone who offers education, not just pornography. In her room, she discusses everything from gender theory, doing informative live streams on trans identities, and answering questions on gender and sexuality from both trans people and cis men; and she never allows any slurs in her marketing or in her room. She goes so far as to have people act as her “chat moderator” so she can focus on being a “proper lady who demands respect” for her clients.

In considering the challenges to her work, she notes that although she is better off than others, income still fluctuates month to month, and she even has times where there can be an anticipated drop-off, like during the holiday season. This makes it hard to predict what the demand will be, but she said she “always has some viewers”.

As for the direct benefits to her work, she has had some incredible live stream sessions, even having celebrities come by and spend time with her. She also notes that she sees the potential for exponential growth as it took her about six months to get established through an aggressive marketing approach and that the money is good these days.

Even though her income stream is strong, she recognizes some significant double standards. Since she works on a platform that does her payout, she absolutely has to pay her taxes, even though society at large deems sex entrpreneurs as often working ‘outside of the system’. Many people still imagine cash payouts being slid under tables when they think about sex work. In reality, at R’s level, she is hiring an accountant to help her ensure she files correctly - an added business expense.

Throughout our conversation, she signaled that in learning to respect and protect sex entrepreneurs we can help fight against social taboos that keep people apart. R, like all the other entrepreneurs, wants to see her industry be used to recognize that our society's “business as usual” could learn a thing or two from her “outsiders” industry.

Themes

In speaking with these four performers, it became clear that there were some key similarities. The most apparent being they all explicitly mentioned using the online platforms for an increase of safety, with a couple mentioning they had experienced violence from prior attempts at full-service work.

One of the defining aspects of entrepreneurship is a willingness to take on the risks that others typically would not, something both full-service providers and online workers do daily. H’s stores helped to emphasize why protecting these workers is part of making sure everyone has the right to a safe workplace, and these entrepreneurs are no different. Unfortunately, they hardly get any true protection from the law as their work is still stigmatized by the legal system.

From the threat of physical violence, rape, stalking, doxxing, not to mention the whole legality being in question - both sides of the industry are full of under-recognized entrepreneurs who are taking a significant amount of risk to provide services for their communities. Moreover, these services represent an unmet need for comprehensive sexual education complete with sex and body positivity while also giving a physical representation to the diversity of human sexuality.



What became clear through the conversations was that while these services are necessary, and the demand is clear, there is a societal stigma as mentioned earlier, which keeps their profession from being treated as any other legitimate business venture. This has real consequences for those who want to provide online services but don't have the initial capital to invest in quality technology to make competitive content. Then, there is also a need for a home with private space, high-speed internet, and these expenses quickly add up. Sex workers are not going to be able to approach financial lenders to get up and running, leaving it up to either community backing, savings, or other personal means to being able to start a profitable business.

Community support or in entrepreneurial terms“ relationship building”, whether it be financially, emotionally, and professionally, was the next theme to emerge from my research. Every interview I conducted mentioned the presence of “sex worker share groups”, which I detailed briefly above. To be entered into a share group, which operates traditionally via WhatsApp, you have to be invited by another person who is already in the group. From there, you agree to help promote each other. This community is vital for many of the entrepreneurs that are just starting out in trying to build their audience. Furthermore, for many within the community as well as a few of the people in this study, income insecurity can be a major issue. This community is the one the entrepreneurs I talked to were turning to for support during a personal crisis, the community was there to meet rent or put a meal on the table.

It was through the lens of the next theme, creativity, when I began to recognize another clear signal that there is a mismatch between how society views the sex industry and how it actually functions as an ample site for entrepreneurship. As I detailed within each of the entrepreneur profiles, everyone had developed their own way to run their businesses. While there were some similarities and overlap between sites, there still was a notable pattern that each of them had gone through a personal development phase where they conducted market research to be able to situate themselves within the competitive industry. Further, entrepreneurial creativity is represented by the content they produce, where/how they sell their work, and how they market themselves.

This leads me to my final theme which focuses on the way they all sought to fill a void they recognized within their markets. Yet another indication of an entrepreneurial mindset. Although all the participants identified in some was as being trans, they were not seeking to capture the same market of viewers. Just like in heteronormative spaces, queer creators and their consumers are just as capable of having a diversified sexual appetite, and the profiled work again emphasizes those differences.

From M giving us cosplay and fanfic masturbation porn to H giving a sexy how-to for newly developing trans people; S rough domination to R’s sweet submission. They deserve to be recognized for their work and for the benefits they bring to our society at large.

Reflections

What truly stands out for me though, is the way they bring all these pieces together, completely validating themselves as entrepreneurs long before I came along with this paper. In looking at their individual profiles, it is easy to identify four incredibly driven and uniquely inspired entrepreneurs who have their own voice to bring to audiences, in their own way.

It’s this “work” that they bring to our society that brings me to the point of my research. There are ample lessons for those of us who work in the socially “legitimate” fields to be taught by these sex entrepreneurs.

It has been discussed numerous times throughout this paper, but I cannot emphasize enough how important community is to these entrepreneurs to be successful in their industry. They rely on each other to both survive and to thrive. For us in more traditional industries, this sense of community is often lost in the noise of neo-liberal ideals, where we tell ourselves that we must do it on our own, to just keep our heads down and grind until you make it. These entrepreneurs offer a different way of operating. It’s through collaboration that they all have been able to achieve their following, with H and M mentioning that the pandemic has put a pause on a lot of projects they had hoped to do with others around the country.

Community support has also been necessary for many of them to have really learned the in’s and out’s of the industry, get access to community “blocklists” of dangerous or unreliable clients to avoid, and to even help you figure out if this work is right for you.

There was a time when mentorship like this was more accessible within other industries, but competitive nature seems to thrive outside of sex work - which undermines our natural tendency to connect with others and ultimately limits us to our current perspectives.

There is also something to be said about the way the entrepreneurs in the sex industry described their relationship to political awareness and their work. Now, unlike them, most of our work is not constantly being threatened by biased laws which are ultimately making our work harder and more dangerous. However, we all do live in a political world, and being “apolitical” just isn’t going to cut it moving forward.

Beyond just an awareness of issues though, these entrepreneurs could also easily identify the larger structural systems that sought to oppress them as both sex entrepreneurs but also as Trans people. It’s this ability to locate the personal within the larger structural systems that should be another takeaway for us outside this industry. In my conversations, it became clear that this ability helped them to navigate the very oppressive nature of the system.

There is a radical power in being able to do this: locating the self in the structural, and it's a skill that threatens the very systems that oppress us all, including the patriarchy, heterosexism, and cisnormative ideologies which are deeply embedded in Western society. If we all had this skill, if we had developed it because it was something we in a free democracy deemed important, as it helped us ensure we truly are “the land of the free”, we could have the potential to create a better, more equitable, world.

It is in this search for a more justice-oriented world, where we can begin to apply the above lessons. Various social movements and socially conscious people have already adopted this mindset and it informs the way they push for change. In considering the development of a new way for society to operate, we must also consider the ways in which our current financial institutions, laws, and societal norms do not support this work. Decriminalization of this is a critical next step for this new world to even be possible.

In the process of decriminalization, we as a society will be forced to come to terms with the way white supremacy has roots within all oppressive systems marginalized people face. This recognition is predicated on the understanding that sexuality, gender, and reproduction are inherently personal things, which the individual has the full authority on. It is white supremacy that enforces the hetero and cisnormative, ableist and partricarcal, standards of society; if we want a better world we will be forced to actually dismantle white supremacy, but along that path is the decriminalization of the sex industry.

This decriminalization is incredibly important for the very reasons I highlight as reasons I consider sex work as a valid form of entrepreneurship; it is the chasm between what is real sexual education and what we pass off as “sex ed” in our formal education system. This gap leaves young people without strong resources when they have questions about their own sexuality, something we shouldn’t be shaming in anyone.

Sex entrepreneurship offers society a potential that currently is not there, a world where we can all be validated in our experiences, be offered science-backed sex advice, and have a focus on safety and pleasure without shame or stigmatization, both of which can actually lead to adverse effects - like a rise in STIs or teen pregnancy.

Additionally, this decriminalization isn’t actually something that is completely unheard of within the United States, besides Nevada where this work is already legalized on the state level, there is a segment of the sex industry that works on the “up and up”, providing disabled clients with a valid prescription sex surrogacy. While these services help validate the sexual desires of the disabled community on both a social and personal level, they also create space for the client to express a part of themselves they may not normally feel allowed to do. Sex surrogacy works on an individual basis and there are guidelines and norms to keep the relationship, which could be grounds for feelings, strictly professional.


Conclusion

Throughout this essay, I have offered ample opportunities to view the sex industry in a new light. It is clear that it not only qualifies as a potential site for viable businesses but that it also operates as a way to cultivate entrepreneurial skills. Further, it is in the interest of all of society to address our collective bias and stigmatization of this industry and those who have found fulfillment within it.

There are valuable lessons on community and political engagement that should be a cornerstone of society, lessons the sex industry has prioritized in ways that many of us are not forced to do. For them, it was a skill for survival, but we can use it as a tool to help us all collectively thrive.

It is the adoption of decriminalization that will allow us to right some of the wrongs that many within the sex industry have had to face. It is within this space where we will find laws that support the entrepreneur and not the client in acts of violence while working, as we would with anyone else who was harmed on the job, where we can see thriving businesses due to loans and grant opportunities that currently cannot exist openly, and where we will be able to help those who do not want to be in this work safely transition out, without fear of having to explain the times of “unemployment” (sex work). It is here where we find healthier communities, with less violence and more compassion, and where we can offer citizens sex/gender/body positive sexual education.

It won’t come without significant resistance, but this is a fight worth taking. In doing so, we work for reproductive, racial, queer and trans, gender-based, and economic justice. Throughout all this, we make a big move towards the dismantling of white supremacy, the roots of which bind all our struggles together and hold our communities hostage to antiquated ideologies that harm us all; and we also build healthier relationships with each other, which only strengthens our collective power to build a better future, one free of sexual shame, abundant with radical acceptance and love.



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