Stop slut shaming ‘whores’: Prostitution might be legal but should be safe and shame-free

stereotypical whore picture

Whores. Prozzies. Slags. Tarts. Street walkers. Trick turners.

There are many derogatory terms which people use to reference sex workers, those who earn money through prostitution. Perhaps you’ve used them yourself at one point or another. The common acceptance of the term ‘whore’ is such that we often hear it used in the media, from films to comedy and even documentaries.

The practice of accepting money for sexual acts is (surprisingly for this government) not illegal in the UK but there are many grey areas covering the solicitation of sex for money and actively paying for sex, confusingly enough. Sex workers may often be seen as a problem to others in public, people who (quite understandably, particularly if they are walking with their children) don’t want to view such solicitation and sex workers out attempting to gain work on the streets whether in broad daylight or under cover of darkness. Just as with BDSM activities that are enjoyable to the consenting adults concerned, I wouldn’t personally walk a male slave like a dog through the streets of London because those around haven’t consented to be an audience to such a spectacle and may find it distasteful or it could be inappropriate as some may be underage for viewing adult activities.

I have two problems when it comes to the issue of prostitution:

1. We need to make sex work a whole lot safer for everyone involved

2. We need to ditch the negativity surrounding the choice of sex work as an income

I don’t see any pride in the fact that those selling and buying sexual pleasure just might use a condom. I shudder to think that people might be going bare-back, with the heavy and insistent communications over the last decade about the dangers of not practicing safe sex, whatever your relationship status, sexual preferences or gender. Sticking a rubber on a penis or using a dental dam isn’t safe enough when it comes to paid-for sex services between strangers. There’s the personal safety of both parties to consider, too. I don’t want to be sexist and merely state the safety of the ‘woman’ involved, because why shouldn’t it be a) a man selling sexual services and b) the one doing the buying put at risk?

It’s a myth that all paid-for sexual services take place in some grotty back-alley, up against a graffiti strewn brick wall, like some smoky street lighted scene from the a sinister movie (see the stereotypical image at the top of this article, which is how many still imagine sex workers). Thankfully, looking at the capital in particular, there are many ethically aware and high quality London escorts around. Likewise, the scenario at the other end of the scale, a rags-to-riches Pretty Woman fantasy isn’t too commonplace either. People are selling sexual services from their own home, which has incredibly frightening ramifications. By using such websites as Adult Work, Adult Friend Finder and other ‘dating’ (read: sex) hook-up sites, the internet enables those selling and buying sex to exchange information quickly, anonymously and often without deep thought about dangers involved. A person may be so concerned with ‘making a sale’ that personal information is given to a ‘customer’ without a second thought, such as a home address to meet up at, real name, a personal telephone number and others.

Because sex is one of the main pleasures in adult life, the rush that comes from the hormonal and adrenalin surge can be blinding to the more rational senses. Carnal pursuits have been linked to poor decision making since probably the dawn of time (“ooh, look at this apple, the juices are running all down my cleavage *giggle*”). It is worrying that some involved with selling sex work may make hasty judgements based on either a desire for their earnings or for the pleasure involved. I can’t sit here and say that those selling sexual pleasure are only out for their money, neither would be it fair to say that anyone purchasing sexual practices is merely after physical gratification. Humanity is far more complex than that. In any case, stereotyping one group of people or another is short sighted and foolish.

sex_workers1

Which brings me to the second point. As commonly held stereotypes of sex workers state that all people selling sex are women, usually of a lower ‘class’ in society, so desperate for the money that they are forced to sell their bodies, sex work has become the focus of not just widespread criticism but also ridicule, disgust and derision. Those who earn money through sexual acts have to keep it as a shameful secret, hidden from friends, family and society or else risk being cast out from civilised life to live in lonely shame.

I must admit that as I went through my young adulthood in a time when references to sex workers as whores was prevalent and seen as ‘right’ and ‘normal’ this has been a difficult adaptation in my mind. Not that I refer to sex workers as whores either in the privacy of my mind or aloud, but that I most commonly still state prostitutes and think of sex workers as predominantly female. Because my personal life choice isn’t to sell sexual acts for money, it is extremely difficult to understand why someone else would do this. Sex is emotionally vulnerable and valuable to me in a deeper way than the exchange of cash could deliver.

However there are two ways I rebuff these thoughts in my mind. Firstly as with BDSM practices, your kink is not my kink, therefore your life is not my life. There are fetishes out there that absolutely repulse me personally, but I do not look down on those who do practice them merely because it’s not my ‘thing’. If the activity takes place between two consenting adults, then why is it anyone else’s business? Why should anyone else care? I touched on this in my rapeplay fantasy article last week.

Secondly, I do sell sexual pleasure in exchange for money. Just not using my body. I am a sex worker, of sorts. My website is full of anecdotal and fictional sex writing, as well as yes – the odd photograph of me semi clad in order to (hopefully) inspire feelings of arousal and eroticism in my readers. My social media is full of sexual references about my preferences and activities, which all links in to my work with the Cara Sutra brand. In the past (I’m purely Lifestyle now) I’ve accepted financial tributes in exchange for Domination services, albeit without sexual contact. On a more direct level, I am strongly involved with selling sex toys – which is selling sexual pleasure for money, is it not? Can those who sell sex toys, sex dolls or porn really say that it’s so different to a more one-to-one sex work?

Ok, so you’re not in a hotel room with the vibrator or masturbator customer, unwrapping the product while stripping off and giving them pleasure through frottage and personal bodily manipulations. But it’s all connected to providing sexual pleasure and activities in exchange for payment.

The term ‘whore’ still has a strong root in my mind, but these days it doesn’t refer to sex workers for me quite as much. There must still be some connection at the back of my mind to the old, wrong, outdated view of sex work and prostitution, as ‘whore’ has become a name used during sex. It’s a term of endearment to me, of affection from my partner. The same as ‘slut’. I don’t see these words as insulting when he uses them to me, to say in the heat of our private moments that I am the stereotypical streetwalking hussy that’s only having sex with him because I want to get paid for it. I can’t lie and say that if we were roleplaying and he slapped down £20 on the bedside table and told me to ‘suck his cock like a good little whore’ that I would get offended, that I wouldn’t be turned on. Because I would. Does that make me wrong, prejudiced, not sex-positive? I don’t think so. I’m getting off on the fact that he’s pretending that my sex is only valuable in the sense of that amount of money, and that I would only be performing any sex acts on him because of the payment. It’s a twist, a perversion of our personal reality. The same as part of the whole affair is the pretence that we’re strangers, that we don’t have a long term relationship going on, that we haven’t been together for 4 years and we don’t have a child together. That’s roleplay.

Singling out sex workers in society as people who engage in something disgusting, morally and physically sinful and shameful is wrong, in my opinion. There’s a demand for sex work. Just as there’s a demand for sex toys, porn, erotic fiction and everything and anything else relating to our natural pursuit of sexual, physical and psychological pleasure.

It’s going to be a long hard slog to get to a point where sex workers can be as open in public about what they choose to do in life as say, drag queens earning an income from their work, or other modes of employ which have been dissed in the past. It’s going to take a long time before homosexual, queer, trans and other people are accepted in society, never mind those who choose to sell sexual practices. I do like to look forwards though, and hope that by enlightening a few more minds through articles such as this, we can try to make the world a safer, more positive and welcoming place for sex workers.

I’m reminded of a programme I once saw where there was a building in the US purely for sex workers. A legal brothel as it were – although brothel has such negative connotations too. The sex workers were of both (all?) genders, and they were regularly screened medically for STDs – for their protection and the protection of the paying clientele. The work wasn’t deemed shameful, it was as welcoming and appealing as medical staff giving physical aid to their patients, or a therapist or masseuse giving holistic, spiritual and physical soothing to their clients. The multi room building was almost like a hotel, staffed with people ready to protect both the sex workers and the clients, and everything was beautifully regulated, warm, clean and above all, shame-free. There was an element of pride that this business was run with such finesse and professionalism.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have more of these dotted around the world, throughout every city? Perhaps Premier Inn could consider a subsidiary franchise; now there’s a thought.

In summary – well it’s probably too much to hope for to change international attitudes towards sex work from both the general public and governments with one blog article. I can only share my thoughts with you, the reader, and ask what your thoughts on the subject are. Please leave me a comment below if you’ve anything to add to this important subject.

 

– Cara Sutra

4 COMMENTS

  1. Very enlightening. I’ve always been of the mind of “why?! just why?!” But! While reading your article I had the thought “at least they are doing something they enjoy!” Do you think that a more positive look on sex work could help the fight on human trafficking?

  2. A close relative of mine sold her body for a living. She doesn’t drink, take drugs or even smoke. She did it because she wanted to.
    I believe that relaxing our attitudes towards sex workers and providing safe places for them to work in addition to regular testing and contraceptives will help those women (and men) who are vulnerable and placing themselves in danger for the reasons that they do. Britain offers help on a small scale but personally I don’t think this is enough.
    Also, better acceptance of this particular industry would allow other agencies to step in and spot potential exploitation, human trafficking and abuse.
    I’m only looking at the darker side of it and like you say Cara, there are many aspects of the industry but I agree that acceptance is the way forward.

  3. I’ve thought that too Missy but then I realised… A whole lot of people think my sexual choices are abhorrent but to me they’re normal and lovely. I can’t be hypocritical about it! 🙂

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