Couple of Half-naked Man and Elegant Woman, image accompanying article about international sex workers' day

International Sex Workers’ Day: 7 things you should know about sex work

Happy International Sex Workers’ Day!

The 2nd of June is here, and we’re celebrating ISWD by raising awareness and information. Today, we’re focusing on the history of this day, what this means for non-sex workers, and seven things all sex workers wish people would understand.

Stay informed and scroll down to learn more.

What is International Sex Workers’ Day?

International Sex Workers’ Day (2nd June) is a day reserved to honour and recognise sex workers worldwide. It’s a time to celebrate these individuals and their skills while also campaigning for better working rights and treatment.

How did International Sex Workers’ Day start?

International Sex Workers’ Day didn’t just appear overnight. It can actually be traced back to the 1970s in France.

In the 70s, French police kept pressuring sex workers, leading to their work going further underground. This led to more violence and stigma against them. Two sex workers were murdered in Lyon, and the government refused to help, so local sex workers occupied a church and protested to end the stigma and demand better working conditions.

Ever since this story has spread, the day has been recognised as International Sex Workers’ Day.

What does this mean for non-sex workers and clients?

For sex workers, International Sex Workers’ Day is a chance to campaign for their rights and working conditions and to change the stigma against adult work.

But how can non-sex workers and clients celebrate this important day?

The best way to support sex workers on ISWD is to check whether you’re being a good ally. A good ally is a visible ally – one who’s not afraid to speak out loud for sex workers’ rights in front of others.

Here are some quick tips to help you be a better ally on the 2nd of June:

  • Listen to sex workers’ stories
  • Educate yourself rather than asking sex workers constant questions
  • Discuss sex workers’ rights with your family and friends
  • Reflect on your own biases and misconceptions
  • Campaign and join the larger movement

Learn more about being an ally via our guide here.

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7 things all sex workers wish you knew about sex work

To celebrate ISWD, we’re counting down the top things sex workers wish non-sex workers knew about the job. These are the top misconceptions that sex workers are tired of hearing.

So, to help you improve your research and allyship, we’ve listened to sex workers and listed the top seven things they wish people understood about life in the adult industry. Scroll down to find out more:

1. Sex work and sex trafficking are different

Firstly, a big misconception is that all sex work overlaps with sex trafficking. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sex work is consensual work. Consent is given by the sex worker and client every time. This is not the case with sex trafficking.

It’s just as important to fight against sex trafficking as it is to fight for sex workers’ rights. However, be aware that these are two different issues before you get involved or start discussing the topic.

2. Not all sex work is survival sex work

Similarly to point one, the sex workers who consent to sex work aren’t doing it out of the need to survive. The large majority of sex workers chose this as a career and aren’t facing extreme levels of poverty. Don’t assume someone is trying to survive if they’re a sex worker.

That being said, there is a portion of the sex worker population who are taking part to survive. The discussion about sex work must include survival sex workers, as they often face the most harm.

3. There are different kinds of sex work

When you hear the term ‘sex worker’, what image comes to mind?

Sex work isn’t just escorting. It also includes cam girls, phone sex operators, porn stars, dominatrixes, adult content creators, and exotic dancers. There are plenty of career choices to make, and each comes with its unique benefits.

Stop putting all sex workers into one box. Don’t assume all sex workers do the same thing and offer the same services!

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4. Sex workers don’t feel unsafe

For most non-sex workers, sex work = danger. As proven in point three, not all sex work involves putting yourself in unsafe positions. Plenty of sex workers feel safer in their careers now than they did when working hospitality or retail jobs.

Sex work and being your own boss come with plenty of benefits. This includes walking away from unsafe situations, flexible work schedules, and setting boundaries with clients.

5. Sex workers aren’t interested in your partner

Sex work is work. A common misconception is that sex workers are trying to steal or pursue a relationship with your partner. This, again, isn’t true.

Sex workers are here to provide a service. Once the session ends, they’re not interested in talking with the client. If your married partner has gone behind your back to see a sex worker, discuss this with them, not the professional.

6. Sex work isn’t a personality

Once people find out you’re working as a sex worker, it’s easy for them to put you into a box. But remember that sex work is just a job. Sex workers are individuals with other roles, such as parents, friends, teachers, writers, artists, athletes, and travellers. Don’t reduce someone to their job title.

7. Misconceptions are more harmful than you’d expect

Finally, the misconceptions on this list are more harmful than most people think. Perpetuating these ideas can lead to abuse against sex workers.

So, be honest with yourself and address any misconceptions you hold against the profession. This way, you can start showing up for sex workers by helping to change the narrative.

The takeaway

How will you make a change this International Sex Workers’ Day? Hopefully, these points have taught you something new that you can share with your close circle. Keep speaking up and sharing helpful content, and together, we’ll create a better working climate for sex workers.

Read more about sex work via the Vivastreet blog.

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