Anonymous asked: Hi! I was wondering why licensing was a bad idea for sex workers. I myself am only a cam girl and know very little about the whole world of sex work.
hi! i want to preface this by saying this is not a comprehensive list of the potential problems that would arise from a licensing system like the one proposed, and other sex workers could definitely point out additional problems. these are just the ones that immediately jump out to me. :)
i’ve broken it into three parts, the problems with licensing sex workers, licensing clients, and mandatory medical testing:
registration of sex workers
+one of the big advantages that sex work has over many other kinds of work is that, theoretically at least, there are very few barriers to entry. registration would take this away:
___it takes time for any kind of registration to be processed
___it would presumably take money to get your license
+mandatory registration would therefore reinforce the classism that is already present in sex work, by creating a distinction between “compliant” registered workers and “non-compliant” workers who can’t or won’t register (a distinction that would probably largely follow class lines)
+even if we optimistically assume that being a registered sex worker would be seen as “legitimate”, that would only reinforce the idea that non-registered workers deserve anything bad that is done to them, because if they wanted to avoid it they should have registered.
+it reinforces the idea that there are good whores and bad whores.
+then there’s the question of who maintains and controls the register:
___the police? i don’t know many sex workers who would be comfortable with that, given that police are often the worst abusers of sex workers
___would clients have access to the list, in order to verify that the sex worker they’re seeing is registered?
___or worse, would the list be publicly accessible?
+requiring any sort of official listing of sex workers’ real identities leads to the possibility of someone blackmailing them or the list being leaked accidentally.
+and not just as sex workers!
___there’s also a risk that trans* sex workers will be outed
___or gay sex workers
___or sex workers who have chosen to downplay their ethnicity for whatever reason (racism in the industry, belonging to a small and highly visible community)
+how would we verify that a sex worker is registered?
___would they be required to carry a special sex worker id, and show it to police officers who requested it? any kind of physical id leads to the risk of someone discovering it
___memorise an id number? it would be easy enough to incorporate that into advertisements (although if you’re advertising in a newspaper that would potentially increase your costs), but having to recite a lengthy identity number if someone checks up on you while you’re working? not so much
+if a sex worker wants to work under multiple aliases (some of my friends do both vanilla and Domme work, and they use different names so as not to scare off potential vanilla clients), would they be required to register each alias separately?
+how would you get off the register?
___would you have to be “clean” for a certain length of time? that would potentially damage people’s ability to find alternative employment, which would make it harder for them to leave the industry if that’s what they want
___it’s unlikely you would be able to call up and be unregistered in a single day, so it almost inevitably creates an extra barrier to quitting work or taking time off
+registration would also ruin your ability to travel to many countries
registration of clients +many of the problems that apply to sex workers also apply to clients
+a lot of bookings are spur of the moment decisions, and requiring clients to maintain some kind of paperwork or licensing in order to be able to make a booking would seriously affect this
___leading to a much, much smaller revenue stream for sex workers
+would taking a booking with an unregistered client be grounds for punishment?
___if a sex worker then takes a booking with an unregistered client, and is hurt, they’ll be told “well, what did you expect? they weren’t registered!”
+i’m also uncomfortable with the implication of “losing privileges”
___what are these privileges supposed to be? would they be struck off the client registry (which probably wouldn’t stop them from preying on sex workers)
___it also creates a distinction between crimes against sex workers, and crimes against “normal” people, and the former would almost certainly carry lighter punishments.
mandatory medical testing
+it reinforces the myth that sex workers are uniquely dirty, when studies have repeatedly found that sex workers have lower rates of stds than the general population.
+which also means:
___it’s a waste of medical resources which could be better allocated elsewhere
___it’s a waste of money for sex workers, who are usually required to pay for testing out of their earnings
___it’s a waste of time for sex workers, and therefore a waste of earning potential
which reinforces, yet again, the class divide of a registration system.
+it reinforces the idea that it’s ok to touch a sex worker’s body without their consent.
+it violates patient confidentiality
___by tying this to registration, it’s implied that your medical status will be available for clients to see, to know that you’re clean (and vice versa, that workers will be able to access medical data about their clients)
+it forces sex workers to out themselves to medical staff
+it creates a false sense of security about sexual health, which might lead to risky behaviour
___in particular, it almost guarantees that clients will ask for unprotected sex because “you can see that i’m clean!”
again, this is only a partial list of potential problems with the registration system i was annoyed by - i’m sure other sex workers could point out additional problems.