The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Unlearn Everything

Sex work is serious
Photo by Marisa Valdez

Content warning: mentions of sexual assault and pornography.

I’m talking about sex work and how some of it is bleeding into the mainstream.

Of course, I don’t think I would feel right writing this if I didn’t extend a great deal of gratitude to some of my loved ones for sharing their experiences with me and educating me about sex work over the years.

Don’t jump the gun just yet, I am definitely here to reiterate that sex work is indeed a legitimate form of work. I just don’t think most people truly grasp what comes along with that.

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There are dancers, escorts and even people who work from webcams. What’s the biggest hot-button topic in sex work right now?

If you guessed OnlyFans, then you’d be correct.

OnlyFans is a social media platform that is advertised as a subscription-based social media to share your lifestyle with “only fans.” In reality, it just became an app for selling homemade pornography.

I said it before and I am saying it again for the people in the back: sex work is real work. I just don’t think people understand all of the entanglements that come with the job. 

I was having a conversation with a friend the other night, they were going through the motions of a typical 20-something midwestern towny who is sick of living with their parents.

They very innocently suggested that they could possibly sell pictures of their feet to scrape up enough cash to move out of their parent’s house. Then they began to legitimately consider it for a moment. 

I’m sure lots of us have considered it at some point, but we likely have never applied much critical thinking.

They just couldn’t decide if they’d rather bicker with their mom here and there, or if they’d rather just deal with being a sex worker.

Yes, selling feet pictures on the internet counts as sex work, you can’t change my mind. 

This is where I reminded my friend that a good portion of sex work stems from a lack of choice in the matter. 

It’s no doubt that there has been an influx of discourse around normalizing sex work, which is good. Yet prostitution is still illegal everywhere in the United States except Las Vegas. 

I don’t know if it’s the City Girls, social media or the Zeus Network, but there has definitely been a shift in attitude to sex work in America … for the most part.  This new shift in attitude is good for raising awareness of the lack of protections faced in this field of work. 

Protection from sex trafficking, sexually transmitted infections and sexual assault are all things that sex workers should not have to endure just because that’s how they pay the bills. 

This is something that a lot of young people, my friend included, seem to not take into account. 

This also reminds me of a video that I saw a while back where a husband and wife were arguing about OnlyFans. At first I thought it would be about the man not wanting his woman to do OnlyFans for some misogynistic reason.

As it turns out, the husband had just found out that his wife had been secretly operating an OnlyFans on the side for a year and he somehow found out.

He was furious at her for keeping this a secret, and the wife was oblivious as to why he was mad. Just to clarify: I don’t know the details of this couple’s situation, I’m sure there is more to the story.

However, I have to side with the husband on this one. I’m again prefacing by saying a monogamous relationship does not mean that sex work is off-limits as a career option. 

If adult film stars can go to work every day in an emotionally monogamous relationship, then it is possible for anyone that wants that. 

Being in a monogamous relationship and secretly doing OnlyFans on the side is indeed cheating, and if it doesn’t line up with your partner’s values, that’s something even worse.

Now I’m not talking about any sex worker in a relationship or living situation that is not safe, that’s a completely different discussion. 

As I began to scroll down the rabbit hole of TikToks related to the subject, I found myself in a cluster of memes, one of which said: the City Girls ruined y’all. 

I love JT and Caresha as much as the next; a lot of women in the rap genre have made a hit or two in which finessing loser men is the iconic subject matter. There are some things, however, that have been lost in translation. 

If sex work is a career path that you are considering going down, keep in mind that your safety needs to be priority, and it’s going to take a lot of emotional, physical, spiritual and mental toll on you before you see any real income.

Ftouhi can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sabrina Ftouhi, Freelance Writer
Sabrina Ftouhi is a fourth-year creative writing and political science student. This is her fourth semester on The Spectator. She loves animals, hiking and road-trips anywhere.
Marisa Valdez
Marisa Valdez, Graphic Designer
Marisa Valdez is a second-year graphic design and multimedia communication student. This is her first semester on the Spectator team. She is active in the University Honors Program and UWEC InterVarsity. Additionally, she is employed at UW-Eau Claire's Learning Technology Services (LTS) as well as Printing Services. When she's not engaged in academic-related activities, she loves to crochet, watch movies, talk with close friends, hammock, hike, practice yoga, dance or read!

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