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Monday, October 18, 2021

Opinion

Sex work should be decriminalized, destigmatized


Sex work should be decriminalized, destigmatized

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

After OnlyFans nearly removed sexual content from the platform, almost cutting the income of many creators, it is clear the world needs to support sex workers and their right to protect themselves while doing work. 

Sex work is known as the oldest profession on earth, having a large impact on history, specifically settlement in the 1800s. Despite the importance, sex work is heavily demonized with tons of jokes about prostitutes normalized in the media.

The stereotype of a sex worker is someone who stands on street corners. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, there are so many different varieties of sex work such as pornography, webcamming, sugaring and more. 

In the past couple of years, it became popular for sex workers to use the website OnlyFans, which allows users to pay for subscriptions to access content creators’ digital content.

OnlyFans being online allowed a certain level of safety for content creators. Sex workers statistically experience a great deal of violence from their clients. One study of San Francisco prostitutes found 82 percent were assaulted, 83 percent were threatened with a weapon, and 68 percent were sexually abused while working. 

OnlyFans allowed workers to still make money, but in a more safe online format. 

However, recently OnlyFans announced it was going to ban all adult content from the site. This would kick out all the sex workers who many believe made the application popular in the first place. 

This decision was due to financial backers who didn’t want to support a pornography-oriented platform. However, thousands of people make a living by doing sex work for OnlyFans. Due to the stigma against sex workers, so many were going to be left without an income.

The stigma against sex workers needs to end for their safety physically and financially. Additionally, sex work should be decriminalized in America. If a sex worker is attacked while on the job, they can’t go to the police about it due to fear of being arrested for prostitution. 

Sex workers are often low income and turn to sex work because of a poor financial situation. They should not be punished for acting out of desperation. 

In addition, sex workers should be protected regardless of their reasons. While many turn to it for money, some simply enjoy doing it. Their right to safely do what they want for a living shouldn’t be taken away.

It’s important to note that decriminalization is different from legalization. 

Legalization would lead to rules and regulations of sex work legislated by the government whereas decriminalization means sex workers won’t be penalized for doing the work. They can have as much freedom in choosing prices, location and platform while still being able to report abusive buyers to the police for safety. 

Thankfully, after the backlash, OnlyFans decided to retract the decision and still allow adult content. However, the initial decision shows a need for structural change to keep this from happening again.

In order to protect sex workers, sex work needs to be decriminalized and destigmatized.

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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