In the time that I have been a sex worker the everyday language used around people like me who sell sexual services (not our bodies – no one does that, it’s not a thing) has changed dramatically and for the better.
Many politicians now use the phrase “sex worker” instead of “prostitute”. The state of Victoria (Australia) changed their “Prostitution Control Act” (which regulates sex work in the state, requiring workers to register as sex workers) to the “Sex Work Act”. A small change that – while the act itself is still a problem – points to a government that at least sees which way the wind is blowing.
The media though is a different matter. Yes many media personalities understand and call us sex workers. The ones who don’t do so consistently and pointedly and I would expect little more from them.
Then there are media personalities who while ostensibly progressive will choose the words they use based on the subject. And that’s a real problem – not to mention poor journalism.
US right wing politicians are famous for getting caught with their pants down. Their hypocrisy is quite plain to see. But then media who would see themselves as progressive and when talking about us would generally call us sex workers will turn around and start calling us prostitutes instead.
Why? Because they know how people react to language and in their efforts to ridicule someone (who may deserve it) they throw us – sex workers – under the bus as well.
And not just sex workers – but clients as well.
It’s fine to call out politicians and anyone else who is being hypocritical about paying for sex, but you shouldn’t be adding to the stigma of being a client or worker when you do so.
I think that I have perhaps met two or three women in all my time as a straight male escort for women who are open about having paid for sex. The vast majority of women – even in a place like Australia and especially New South Wales, where sex work is decriminalised – still would never tell anyone that they have paid a sex worker.
Why? In part at least because media personalities who should know better help to perpetuate the stigma around selling and buying sex.
Politicians who “point with one hand and jerk off with the other” richly deserve to be pilloried. But for their hypocrisy – not because they pay for sex. That just hurts sex workers and clients who are so often dismissed by a society that doesn’t care to understand why some people choose to sell sex and others to buy it.