Women working in the sex work industry--be it pornography, stripping or prostitution--sit in the cross-hairs of an enduring controversy, surfacing questions surrounding everything from sexuality and health to economics and morality.
To shed light on this multifaceted debate, we reached out to those who know the industry best--including a clinical sexologist, a community advocate for workers' rights, an attorney in the commercial sex trade, and both current and former sex workers--to answer this question:
Is female sex work empowering, enslaving...or a lot more complicated than either?
Here's what they had to say.
Before you became a whore you were an insecure child, doing for free that which could set you free.
It's time to talk substantively and honestly about how sex work isn't any one thing.
As long as the only industry where women consistently earn more than men carries such stigma, I have to question how empowering sex work can be.
When I sold sex it was about the money. It wasn’t about empowerment, nor is it for most people.
What happens to sex workers when they grow old?
As a community organizer, I'm often asked what sex work is. But I can more easily answer what it is not.
I ask to be allowed to do my job in safety and to be treated with dignity and respect.
Sex work is a way for me provide for my family, own my own business, and make my way toward long-term financial stability.
Stripping encourages men to view women as commodities—and to value them for their ability to please.
Arbitrary moral standards aside, I think sex work is best understood as a labor issue.