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Why The Word ‘Prostitute’ Has To Go

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the shady sexual goings on in Parliament House. A staff member committed a lewd act on a desk and there are reports of sex workers being booked for God knows what with God knows who.

Except the media didn’t call them sex workers; they were labelled prostitutes. Reports were the sex workers were male, but that doesn’t matter. What I cringed at, as did most men and women in the adult industry, was the word ‘prostitute.’

The official meaning of the P word is women who commit sexual acts for payment. So, we can’t complain about that if you are going on purely facts. But it’s also offensive, derogatory and outdated.

We are in an era of non-discrimination. (The words I am going to use are for the purpose of this article only). The name of the cheese Coon was changed to Cheer, as the word offended our Indigenous community. We no longer call someone fat, we say overweight. We don’t say disabled, we say differently abled. We’ve been told to stop calling people ‘Karen’ due to Karens being up in arms.

Why the hell don’t sex workers get the same rights? Why is our voice not important? Discrimination is alive and kicking when it comes to anyone working in the adult industry. Our accounts are questioned by banks, we aren’t allowed to have credit card facilities, we find it hard to apply for mortgages or loans because of the nature of our income – which incidentally is a lot higher than most other professions. Most sex workers are too scared to tell their family and friends what they do due to judgment and outcast.

I get society is concerned about trafficking, and of course they must be protected. But the overwhelming majority of sex workers are men and women who make educated decision to enter sex work because they enjoy it.

Bali drug convict Schapelle Corby, who spent nine years at Kerobokan jail for smuggling marijuana, has joined the cast of Dancing With The Stars, a show on family channel the Seven Network. Do you think a sex worker would be invited?

Parents nationwide would be explaining to their kids Corby broke the law because she smuggled drugs into a country. So our kids would know that was more acceptable than a totally legal, albeit unconventional, profession. But it IS a legal industry in this country. We are not breaking any laws here. Yet judgment against this profession is overwhelming.

Women can swipe right and have as many sexual partners as they like, one for every day of the week (and neither should that be an issue either). Yet if sex is transactional and both adults consent, there is fear, judgment and uproar.

But back to the word prostitute. Why is it offensive? After all, it’s just a word. But if words didn’t matter, defamation and libel wouldn’t exist. Those that take offense to the word Coon would be told to deal with it. But the word prostitute is used by the world’s media and despite protests, not many publications – or people – seem to listen or care.

I was a guest on a radio show once. The female host called me a prostitute. I corrected her and told her that word was offensive. “But you are!” She laughed and said it again. On national radio. When shock jock Kyle Sandilands used the P word, I said we prefer sex worker or escort, he apologised, and we all moved on and had a great chat. I also pointed out he promoted products he
didn’t believe in on his number one radio show. Don’t we all sell someone for money? ‘Absolutely,’ he responded.

How many of us do jobs we hate purely for money? How many of us slog away making money for the big boss? How many of us sell products we know are shit because we’ve been paid by huge advertising companies? Are we not prostituting ourselves there?

More importantly, if a community group takes offensive to the word being used to describe them, then it’s time for society to listen. It’s 2021. Never before has the world sat up, listened and acted on other community groups who fight for change.

It’s about time sex workers and escorts had the same rights. Ban the word prostitute. We deserve the same respect as everyone else. Our job is to make others happy. Make us happy too.