When sex workers talk about their needs, safety usually tops the list. So why aren't we paying attention?
Alternet's Joanna Chiu reports on a UK study which found that 16.5% of undergrads would consider some form of sex work, and 11% would consider becoming an escort. Of course, considering something is different from doing it, and Chiu quotes one Canadian student who actually is an escort. He says, "The work is what you make it. I find it really rewarding to help clients explore their sexuality." He also tells Chiu that safety is his top priority, which is why he sees clients indoors even though Canada's laws make it risky: "Even though I'm worried about being arrested for technically running a brothel with the way the laws still are, in-calls are much safer because I have more control over my work environment."
It's a refrain you'll hear over and over again if you pay attention: in the US, the UK, and Canada (despite recent attempts at liberalization), current prostitution laws don't protect the safety of prostitutes — and in fact, they often do the opposite. And yet the safety of actual sex workers is often pushed to the margins of our discussion of sex work. Charlotte Shane illustrates this phenomenon in an essay for the Good Men Project, writing that, "I'm tired of seeing men and women buy into the lie that male sexuality is inherently violent and sadistic. My experience as sex worker has taught me the opposite." Shane shares "the biggest epiphany of my life: men had as much anxiety and shame around sex as women did," and explains,