Hi Diane, thanks for reading.

Of course there are women who are forced into sex work, both through sex trafficking and through, as you put it, systematic lack of access to other sectors of the economy. My argument is not that these women don’t exist, but that it’s simply not necessary to conflate all sex work with violent coercion.

(As one friend commented on Facebook, “Sex trafficking is not sex work. The former is economic and physical rape; the latter is a job.”)

In Seattle, where I live, costs of living are quickly rising due to the tech industry, and men comprise some 78% of this tech workforce. This creates a huge, gendered economic disparity, and when the choice for women is often between working a minimum wage job or making a few hundred dollars for a single date and spending the rest of your time on something else, I don’t blame young women for choosing the latter.

These aren’t just my “20-something cam-girl friends” we’re talking about. According to the website Seeking Arrangement, there are over 4 million ‘sugar babies’ using their service.

I think it’s possible to simultaneously be critical of the economic factors that have created this situation, and supportive of the women who have decided that sex work is their best option. Being supportive includes calling them what they say they’d like to be called and not erasing their agency without understanding their individual circumstances. It can and should also include fighting the economic inequality that has created this situation in the first place.

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. Bylines at The Wire Magazine, Art in America + more.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store