The term prostitute, is a slur. Not many people outside of the sex worker community, or adult industry are aware of this fact. The reason this word is a slur, is because it contributes to the dehumanization, and criminalization of the sex worker profession. Most, if not all of the laws contributing to the anti sex worker mentality, is due to “moral policing”, where do to someone’s personal discomfort about the subject of sex work, they decided to make the idea of sex work illegal. America itself, has some pretty bizarre sex laws, but the anti sex worker rheotric found in so many laws, and policies, is ridiculous, because again, is founded on the basis of erotophobia, the fear of sex.
Let’s look at how sex workers have commonly been portrayed with in mass media, in particular shows that are generally marketed towards adults (ages 18+). The first two shows that come into my mind, is honestly Family Guy and American Dad. it seems like almost every chance they have, they go out of their way, to give the illusion that sex workers are “dirty, down on their luck, disgusting and disease filled women.”
This is just not true. Sex workers come from all walks of life, and are all doing it for their own individual reasons. In fact, recent studies have shown, that sex workers tend to have the least amount of STDs, when compared to the general population. Shows like American Dad and Family Guy, need to realize the impact that I have on their viewers, especially when they’re pushing this one specific type of ideology on its viewers, over and over again. I would be pretty offended too, if every chance of show got, it used a word that criminalized my very existence at my job.
Many sex workers are in the adult industry, to help fund their own education, such as law school, or vet school. Many do it to put food on the table, and to pay the bills, like everyone else who has a job.
Next, let’s look at the criminalization part of why prostitute is considered a slur. Whenever you look at the laws, and policies that are specific to sex workers, such as those who work in brothels, they always use the term “prostitute”. This encourages the population to see sex workers, as nothing more than “dirty, low life criminals.” This contributes to the dehumanization, and criminalization of sex workers. The criminal population, regardless of what type of crime it is, is already viewed in a very negative light. However, the real question here is: why are we criminalizing adults that are consenting to sexual activity, when everything was agreed upon and a safe and sane environment (and state of mind)?
Sex work is the oldest profession in the world, and will continue to live on, despite people’s knee jerk negative reaction to it. Sex workers are everywhere. They are the people you go to church with, they’re the people you go to school with at college and university, they are the people you see as your co-workers, and daily customers.