End the Whorearchy: How to Unify Sex Workers
Rather than standing as one unit, sex workers have been subjugated to discrimination even within their own industry. It's time to unify the collective in order to build a stronger, safer community.
The ever present 'Whorearchy' that exists within the sex work industry is not only burning bridges between occupations, but it's causing an unnecessary divide amongst individuals whose safety is somewhat dependent on community support.
Many pieces over the years have highlighted the plights of sex workers across the globe. With governmental crackdowns, police harassment, societal discrimination and opportunistic companies popping up all over the place, it's no wonder that many workers are sensing that the situation is reaching boiling point.
Those outside of the industry will argue that fierce competition, morally ambiguous agents and the clashing of economic and cultural backgrounds are part and parcel of being a sex worker. However, those operating within in the industry will tell them, that such standards are not permissible, as they ultimately contribute to the dangerousness of sex work's current legal status. Outside of their own community, there is very little support or legal guidance.
What is the 'Whorearchy'?
A whorearchy is essentially a hierarchal system that puts a higher value on a specific occupation over another, or an individual over another. While most sex workers agree that a whorearchy does exist, few can agree on it's order, as it differs depending on the community.
To some, non-contact sex work such as stripping or webcam modelling is seen as low level work, placing you at the bottom of the food chain while others would say that it ranks the highest.
Regardless of it's structure, what many sex workers find worrying is the fact that a hierarchal structure exists in the first place, especially when you consider the fact that sex workers are already marginalised and are often seen as belonging to the lower echelons of the societal hierarchy.
As such there has been a rise in cyber bullying, verbal confrontations and attempts to sabotage careers and personal lives. This type of discord in the sex industry gives the press another avenue to exploit and use for their anti-sex work propaganda, gives politicans more cause to say that it 'ruins lives' and the public's opinion remains unchanged.
Thankfully, sex workers worldwide are highlighting this subject in a bid to raise awareness and to help others see how damaging this is. In order to create positive changes in public perception and acceptability, positive changes must also occur within the industry.
So what can be done to unify sex workers?
- Communication: Creating comms channels amongst small communities is a great way for sex workers to discuss current issues, raise concerns and create a type of community watch to combat cyberbullying or harassment. Creating a group on a messaging service or social media platform (I recommend keeping it a closed / secret group for security purposes) is a good way for individuals to get to know one and other. By engaging in conversation, people soon realise that they are not so dissimilar from one and other, regardless of their work, economic, racial or sexual background.
- Meet ups: Hosting private meet ups will enable sex workers to converse openly in a friendly real life setting - creating the right environment is vital if you want people to be able to talk freely and be comfortable with one another. This also provides a good opportunity to open the meet up to all in this industry and not specifically for one occupation such as adult performers. Creating a bridge between occupations is extremely important if you want to break down the barriers. Through discussion, you can discover new ways to build a larger community.
- Collectives: While some collectives already exist within the sex industry, it seems to be somewhat fragmented. It's important to raise awareness of these collectives and organisations so that those who may not be aware of it's existence can be redirected to their website or contact information.
- Speed Networking: These type of events are used throughout the business world. Just as it is also used in Dating, speed networking can be used for those working in the sex industry. Through this you can make new contacts, possibly form new partnerships and even friendships. Make the emphasis on learning and support and who knows how successful it could be!
- Educational talks: If you have representatives from different occupations within the sex industry, each person can discuss their work and the challenges they face to an audience made up of the public, press and other sex workers. The inclusion aspect is really important as it brings everyone together and gives sex workers a much needed platform to talk freely without interruption or dismissal.
- Web Platform: A purpose built website for all aspects of sex work; providing information, useful contacts, vetting, forums for discussion, payment options such as cryptocurrency etc.
- Awareness Campaigns: Creating a campaign specifically to tackle the whorearchy issue, using tactics employed for those fighting economic injustice and applying the model to that of the whorearchy. Showing unity between different workers and how the fight shouldn't be an internal one.
What can the public do to support the movement?
- Communication: It always comes back to the same thing: mutually respectful communication. Listen to what people in the industry have to say, find out what their struggles are and ask questions honestly with the intent of educating yourself, not criticising others.
- Language: Think about the language you use and the way you communicate with those within the industry. Challenge your preconceptions about the different occupations.
- Feedback: Challenge those who verbally attack sex workers and their occupation. Show your support for positive initiatives and call out the discrimination made by Governments.
- Feminism: Those who identity as feminist should be demonstrating compassion and solidarity with sex workers, and yet many extreme feminists are doing quite the opposite. If you care about the rights of women, freedom of choice and personal safety, you need to be communicating with sex workers and standing with them not against them.
These are just some examples of what can be done to help bring an end to the prejudice within the sex industry. Diversity is a crucial element to sex work as it's what keeps the industry so fresh and vibrant. It's something to celebrated as it has the potential to unify individuals, champion inclusivity and prove to society that the world can be a better place with a little more compassion, understanding and kindness. Let the change begin.
Written by Brenda Adiyiah for Burn the Night.
In association with Rose Talks Sex radio show.
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