Once Upon A Wolvog

Stories from the front lines

Sex Workers are People Too


Today’s society seems to dehumanize people with certain professions. What first comes to mind are careers in acting, singing, reality television and even sex work. Celebrities, for instance, are people just like you and me, with feelings and insecurities. Yet, they receive insults or even threats by the thousands on social media. Other professions, like prostitution, also seem to let people forget all too easily that the service they are paying for is being provided to them by a person and not an object.

sex workers' rights

In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Year of The Flood, she writes about characters who must work at a strip club called “Scales and Tails”.  Part of their job was to wear these high-tech full-body condom suits that also covered their faces and usually made them look like animals.  This, in my opinion, is to essentially dehumanize them; to forget they are someone’s daughter; to forget they should be respected both physically and emotionally; to forget that they might have children of their own; to forget that they are human.

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When someone doesn’t have a face you can see or even skin you can touch, it makes it easier to forget they are a person and therefore easier to do what you please with them without having a guilty conscience. When Ren and Amanda are staying at Scales and Tails for refuge and try on their old costumes for fun, they are quick to take off the part covering their faces when two male strangers walk in. They cautiously do so in order to seem more humane in the eyes of potentially dangerous men. Furthermore, people in the field will most of the time give their clients a fake name like Candy or Star when asked about it. Additionally, these will most likely not sound like real names. Moreover, sex workers, whether they be prostitutes, strippers or phone sex operators, are probably best known for the fantasies and scenarios they create for their clients. This also is in some ways fake and misrepresentative of their actual personalities.  Hiding the employee’s true identities with costumes, masks, fake names and fake personalities all seems to be in effort to conceal their humanity when, ironically,  being as intimate as physically possible. In light of this, it is important to remember that we are all one in the same, therefore, we all have the same needs and  the same rights to respect and dignity. Shouldn’t that stand for sex workers as well? Do you think it is right for them to expect dehumanizing treatment?

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5 thoughts on “Sex Workers are People Too

  1. This was a really interesting post I thought. The whole time I was thinking to myself “It’s true, I’ve been led to believe that there is a negative connotation behind sex workers my entire life but what is it exactly that makes people think that way?” And I guess the only thing that made sense in my mind is that I find sex is a very animalistic thing. People are infatuated, whether it be the result of genuine love or lust and sex is a very primal physical output for these built up emotions. I guess instead of having sex with someone that you’ve developed a serious relationship with, you may decide to have sex with an unknown with no emotional strings attached to them, thus causing people to assume they can really regress into somewhat of a primal mindset and go at it without any concern for the other’s safety or well-being both physically and emotionally. People, for some reason, think that because of the nature of their profession, sex-workers don’t merit the same kind of respect that anyone else does. That being said, how are high-end escorts any different? Maybe because of the price of the service or because they represent prestige but no matter which way you slice it, it’s the same service with a higher price tag, so why does one party get no respect for having to struggle as much as they do, and the other is seen as a luxury that merits the respect that both parties should? Anyway it really got me thinking about how messed up that is, great post!


  2. You bring up a good point about the symbolism of the full body glove being a means to dehumanize the Scales and Tails workers. Many women will resort to being sex workers because they truly don’t have any other choice, it may be for so many reasons that a person can find themselves in that situation where it was by choice or by unfortunate circumstance. I agree that it is important to realize and acknowledge that a sex worker is still a human and still deserves to be treated like it. It is so easy for a client to take advantage of a worker even in the most common of work places, so imagine what it must be like for a woman in a vulnerable position such as the Scales girls to deal with such a situation.


  3. I fully agree that the stigma surrounding prostitutes needs to change; it’s ridiculous to think that anyone is treated or seen as anything less than human because of a job they may not have had the option to take part in. I never thought of Ren and Amanda taking off the face masks as symbolic to seeming human though, I really like that connection! It does make sense though, but would that not also make them victims? Generally victims will try to seem as human as possible to their captors in order to make a connection, so wouldn’t that emphasize them as victims forced into situations by society too? Just some thoughts.


  4. Nice post… You bring up some important points, things we should all think about. I think the novels show how we tend to dehumanize the poor… We see poor women becoming sex workers and we see marginalized men become victims of violence… For example, Shackie, Croze and Oates end up in the painball arena. I guess the author is making a statement about how socially disadvantaged people are used and abused; females for sex and males for violence.

    Your points are very valid… The sex workers in the novels are dehumanized and objectified. I too hope that we can all learn to be more empathetic towards others, especially the most vulnerable amongst us.


  5. Very nice post! I liked when you mentioned how celebrities get thousands of death threats and people just saying straight up nasty things to these celebrities. I’m always wondering after reading these hate comments why do these people hate this particular person so much? most likely you have never met the celebrity before and have no idea what they are like in real life!


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