The Glamorization of Sex Work and Why It Needs To Stop

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We, as a society, tend to try and reduce the impact of our trauma from years and years of oppression by claiming it as our own.

Going as far as to joke about our shared experiences together, exploit them, profit off them, and mask them as trials and tribulations to lessen the severity of our struggles. So that we can feel as if we’ve beaten our oppressors and showed the world that we can find ways to uplift ourselves even through our darkest moments.

It’s a compelling sentiment and worked on several occasions as a way to validate our pain and suffering and reassure ourselves that what we went through doesn’t have to define us.

But sometimes, the line between owning the pain your oppressor inflicted on you and following the footsteps of your oppressor to gain back a sense of control by projecting your pain onto other people has started to intersect during recent times.

It has especially become prevalent in the line of sex work, also known as a male-dominated industry that’s known for degrading women by treating them as sex objects, but is being portrayed as mere entertainment for men, and a means of liberation for women.

Even though so many adult women and young girls have been severely exploited, crucified, trafficked, sold, belittled, and shunned in the name of sex work as men try to deem what’s considered appealing and attractive in terms of physical appearance when it comes to them.

Not just looks, but general behavior overall, saying that frail and submissive women who allow their partners to treat them roughly in the name of love and loyalty are the most desirable in the eyes of men, and how women should aspire to be like that.

It has been a recurring theme that women have portrayed this archetype in the porn industry, and with how immensely consumed adult content is, this standard has inevitably influenced the majority of the female population.

Clouding our sense of identity and harming us along the way as we become complicit for the sake of gaining male approval. As we go through such great lengths to alter ourselves for the benefit of men and men only.

Resulting in verbalized and internalized misogyny, sexism as well as toxic beauty standards just so that we can navigate in a world that restricts us from acting like normal human beings with equally normal bodies and features that don’t need to be adjusted to men’s liking.

We have become so susceptible to the patriarchal rules that we have turned against our own fellow women just so we can appear better and more refined in comparison to them.

To appear eligible, and worthy to men in hopes that maybe their approval will fill the void inside of us which years of undeserved scrutiny and self-hatred had caused.

But in reality, it doesn’t, because the same men we try so hard to impress only end up holding the same views and beliefs even after we gain their approval, still generalizing us in the same way they generalize and berate all women because the truth is:

Oppressors will only ever feed off on your suffering.

Sometimes this doesn’t always resonate to a lot of women no matter how many times you try to convince them about the reality of the situation, still hungover by the internalized misogyny that the patriarchy has poisoned them with which we can only try and sympathize with considering that type of mindset takes a long time to dismantle.

On one hand, this realization has made a lot of women reevaluate their beliefs by standing up for themselves and say that enough is enough.

That we will no longer live according to what men want and instead we will live by our own standards, regardless if it’s deemed as acceptable or not.

That we will reclaim our sense of sexuality and profit off our own bodies, whether we possess the supposed ideal feminine attributes and features.

Outraging quite an awful amount of men throughout the years as expected, because when it comes to women and their sexuality, it’s only ever seen as desirable if it’s dictated by men.

At first, the gradual progress of women reclaiming their sexuality and sense of individuality was going great, it was inspiring even given how risky it is to disregard men’s opinions in a world that’s always catering to their every judgment.

No matter how much we push ourselves to be more self-aware, the impact of what years and years of marginalization has done to us will still show itself in very discreet patterns.

And sometimes, it’s disguised in the form of a power move.

We can try to justify it by saying that it’s our choice and that we weren’t pressured or influenced by anyone and that it was out of our own will, we can try to deny that we weren’t traumatized and brainwashed under a pretense of an easy-life that basically requires little to no effort and that we have full management over what gets posted online and what doesn’t.

Although it may true to some extent, the abrupt digression to sex work being so romanticized and fawned over on social media to the point that literal underage girls are waiting until they become of legal age to try and apply for platforms like OnlyFans so they can profit off on posting explicit photos of themselves to make a living has become ultimately concerning.

Concerning in a way that isn’t widespread enough due to how it’s being masked as empowering and freeing for women, and if you beg to disagree, you are targeted as criminalizing the job.

Which, don’t get me wrong, SW is definitely a valid occupation and deserves to be respected, but it is understandable as to why so many young women would feel the need to grow so defensive over being told what’s right and wrong about sex work as a whole.

Women have become so shackled by so much sexism and objectification that it doesn’t surprise me that once anyone tries to taint the picture-perfect image of sex work that people on social media have led them is the full experience — the one that doesn’t have to require that much effort aside from having to take a nude photo of yourself and selling them to God knows who to gain supposedly 300 dollars a month or more — that they have become defensive.

When as a matter of fact, the same people who boast about their massive success on OnlyFans by garnering six-figure salaries and can buy their own houses and cars before they even reach the age of 25, are deemed to be a part of the small percentage of content creators that obtained that level of feedback out of the 98% users from that platform.

What happens to the rest of that 98% of content creators, then? Just because it worked for the small majority of users there doesn’t mean it’s going to be a universal experience for everyone.

Plus, with the sudden growth surrounding OnlyFans, at least 8,000 content creators and nearly 200,000 new users are registering on the site every day as said by CEO Tim Stokely.

If you asked every single one of those content creators on the platform if the same triumphant experience applied to them, I’d guarantee you a thousand of those users won’t say yes, regardless if they’re sex workers or not.

So who’s to say you won’t fall in the same 98% of content creators? Also, it’s not entirely plausible to assume with how immensely corrupted the sex industry is and how heavily reliant they are on illegal procedures to commission new sex workers, is that everything they present to you on a surface-level basis isn’t entirely accurate.

Fooling so many young and impressionable women into thinking they would gain instant fame and success if they just waited a little while longer, until they became legal to profit off their bodies and sell them to strangers online. Saying that it’s just that easy.

When really, it’s not. We need to deconstruct the narrative that sex work is that effortless of a job, that we can just post a picture and get our paychecks without any further repercussions.

When social media as a whole is so vast that if you sign up for that type of occupation, having your personal content leaked and used for other means of transactions behind closed doors without your consent isn’t impossible.

Being part of the sex industry is such a risky job that no one under the age of 25 should have to reconsider signing up for not until they’re completely sure that they’re up for it and have the emotional maturity of doing so, and even then, the detrimental paths it could lead you are endless.

So how is it that we’re encouraging so many people who aren’t legal yet to try and experiment with sex work when they aren’t even sure they’ll able to handle it if weren’t for the system and pimps selling them a dream that only looks good on paper?

With that being said, I am in no way saying that we should condemn the sex workers being manipulated amidst the grand scheme of things, considering they are the victims here.

It’s the people working behind the scenes who are lying and manipulating these young women into applying for sex work is whom we should be critiquing and are worthy of condemnation.

The human brain doesn’t even develop until the age of 25, so why are these souteneurs approaching women under the age of 20 to be their next adult film stars?

To be on their sites selling their bodies and giving them contracts that promise them the world when they can’t even promise them guaranteed security and a stable income?

So many women in the sex industry have fallen victim to these deceitful contracts that pressure them right on the spot to choose because it’s now or never, which is an undoubtedly calculative strategy on their behalf because making decisions as crucial as the ones they are proposing takes time, so why are they pushing them into making decisions that could cost them their life in a half fleeting moment?

This leads me to my next point – if you are a grown adult who’s capable of making rational decisions and you can stick by them for the long term, be mindful of what you’re advertising online that so many young and susceptible people can view as well.

You have to be cautious of the lethal facets of what it means to be part of the sex industry when you talk about it to minors because chances are you’re participating in the act of grooming extremely vulnerable minds.

Because even though you’ve managed to thrive on that line of work because you were able to weigh in the pros and cons both decisively and methodically, does not mean a minor who has not even finished high-school yet can do the same thing.

Even then, it shouldn’t be normal for a 17-year-old to anticipate being able to make an OnlyFans account when their eighteenth birthday is nearing. That is so extremely unsettling because no child’s first dream job has to be sex work, it shouldn’t even come to mind let alone be the last resort when you know there are safer jobs suitable for other skill sets you may have.

Every individual deserves to be respected regardless of their job especially sex workers, but we shouldn’t romanticize what they do for a living because it’s not something anyone should have to succumb to unless they’re in dire need of a job and have no other alternative.

And if we are fighting against the sex industry it’s best to keep in mind that the system and people working behind the scenes are the ones we need to hold accountable, not the employees/content creators because they are the victims here.

Just because something is so normalized doesn’t mean it should be, considering the harmful aspects to it are things that you won’t be able to touch on with a simple social media post or someone saying “Well, it worked for me!”

Occupations like that require commitment and a lengthy process of assessment regarding the advantages and disadvantages, all of which you have to be sure you’re capable of handling.

We have to stop reducing any job as an easy method to gain money because no job will generate that much income unless there’s something suspicious and inhumane at play.

You have to work through your options first and really think about it because no one should have to be so willing to put their lives at risk just to earn a salary.

Speak to people who have been on both receiving ends of what it means to succeed in the industry and to those who weren’t able to.

Because a lot of the time, there’s so much gaslighting, manipulating, and grooming that’s involved that beginners aren’t even aware of not until they’re already knee-deep in that quicksand and have no ability to cause friction to help them get a way out.

Be mindful of what people have led you to believe is a quick and easy way to make money because no job is willing to offer you that much for so little.

Because the fruit may seem low hanging, but you’ll never really know what you’ve allowed yourself to consume not until you’ve gotten a taste of its possible toxicity.

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