THE HIDDEN COSTS OF SEX WORK

First off, I acknowledge that sex work is real work in the sense that it is an exchange of services for payment and many of its consumers find value in the service. I am not here to discuss the morality of sex work but rather to illuminate the hidden costs of doing sex work in its many forms before one has a strong grasp of what it entails and the full costs of doing such work. This post is not meant to shame women who provide these services. I’ve met many women who find satisfaction in their career choice as well as consumers loyal to their providers. This post is for women who have not yet entered the industry so that they may be aware of the costs they may incur when they engage in the industry as providers.

But first, what is sex work? Sex work, in this post, is any labor provided to elicit sexual stimulation from its consumers. This includes selling worn underwear, feet pictures, pornographic images, sugaring, escorting, and prostitution. Let’s discuss the personal costs of engaging in sex work:

Time lost that could have been spent dating prospective long-term partners. I have mentioned this before, but the uncomfortable truth for women is that dating is much easier when one is younger. Youth is a valuable asset for a woman seeking long-term relationships, and if one spends her youth in a career that does not prove conducive to a relationship due to its monopolizing nature, time spent in this career is time lost. The job monopolizes her because it takes up her time and energy catering to clients and also, men will not see her as a viable long-term mate for exchanging money for access to her body. 

Narrowing one’s dating pool and decreasing prospects of eligible long-term mates. It’s not a matter of if men should be okay with their current partner doing or having done sex work, but recognizing that this is a real dealbreaker for them. Telling men they should accept this for all women they consider dating is asinine as it is a personal preference. It doesn’t matter if it is rooted in whatever -ism flavor of the week, it’s just their nature to not want a woman with a past of selling sex for money. Sure, a woman will not date all men or most men, but dating is a numbers game, and it helps to not involuntarily narrow one’s dating pool by voluntarily engaging in sex work.

New or worsened mental/physical trauma. Sex work is personal. It gives people access to one’s self that she may not be comfortable with. It can bring up past trauma one thinks she has already healed from or introduce new ones. One may encounter situations where she may be vulnerable or in danger of harm. One may contract diseases one will have to deal with for the rest of her life. With these things in mind, sex work may not be worth it. 

Now, with all these costs, why are women still engaging in sex work? Even the ones who have already confronted these realities? Perhaps the money is good enough for them to overlook these costs, but I warrant that the money is a short-term reward for long-term effects. Often, this type of work is seen as a quick way to make money, but is it truly worth it? And is the money really good and easy to come by? What if the endeavor isn’t as lucrative as one previously thought it would be but one has already opened herself up to the paying public? 

Another thing to consider are the societal costs of sex work. The increase in overall accessibility of sexual material makes it so men have less need to pursue and commit to women. The cost of access to women is driven down so women no longer command the attention and resources of men like we did before. This leads to the downfall of traditional male-female relationships and the nuclear family. Many women would be like, “So?” 

Well, if you disregard female biology or biology in general, this new form of sexless society could work, but the thing about biology is that it doesn’t matter if one believes in it, its effects still exist. For example, women are physically less strong compared to the average male and so will need male presence in their lives to ward off or physically defend them from bad actors (There is, of course, a great equalizer of male and female physical strength but that is for another post). Women are the sex that give birth and so will need male assistance during and after this period. The bottom line is women suffer when the cost of access to our bodies is low.

This new society may seem dystopian, but it is already happening and will be contemporary reality if we continue devaluing sex. Of course, there are still men who value a woman’s essence and fulfill her feminine needs as she fulfills his masculine ones, and this is the society we need to foster: a society where men and women are partners in symbiotic existence. 

Truly, my biggest problem with sex work is that it is not the highest and best use of a woman’s time, effort, and assets. There are much more efficient ways to achieve a long-term relationship, marriage, and financial prosperity that doesn’t involve giving away one’s feminine energy to the undeserving. Focus on what’s important, be your own person, have your own interests, pursue a worthwhile career, be open to potential partners, and don’t limit yourself by getting into situations you don’t fully understand the costs of. And this goes for all things in life: school, career, relationships, etc., 

May we make wise decisions. 

This we manifest. 

Elle.

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