Sex work scholars refer to sex work as sexual products, fantasies, and/or sexual contact which is produced in exchange for financial or material goods. Sex work includes a variety of different forms including, pornography, sex chat lines, exotic dance, erotic massages and survival sex work (exchanging services for food, clothing or other goods).
Before I begin talking about why sex workers deserve the same rights as everyone else, I want to examine the stigma behind sex work and specifically the term “prostitution.” “Sex work” is a better term as it is an improvement from the word “prostitution”, it validates that what those who are selling sex are doing is a service and nothing but that. With the term “sex work”, there is no immediate image of a salacious person with loose morals who trades their body and self-worth for money. People in the industry are commonly constructed as ‘others’ in a criminal world where social rights expected in the normal world do not apply to them.
The generalizations which are made about sex workers have forced them to feel ashamed of their profession and about themselves. Due to the fact that sex work is frowned upon and illegal, it forces individuals to participate in sketchy underground work where they are taken advantage of and underpaid. These powerful women are forced into dangerous work and belittled. Sex workers deserve rights and freedom as does everybody. They’re selling a service, not their bodies. in the same way that an ice-cream shop owner sells their ice cream services, a sex worker sells their services whether they be touch, comfort or sex.
By decriminalizing it, one is not promoting the industry nor encouraging social trafficking. Sex workers should be allowed access to the same health care and rights as every other citizen.