The XX Factor

Leave Sex Workers in Education Alone

Max Read of Gawker thinks he has you all figured out .  After posting on a story about a Quebec-area school secretary who was outed as a “porn star” by a teenage boy who has absorbed the lesson that women in sex films should be treated like crap for generously relieving you of sexual tension, Max goes on to faux (at least, I think/hope faux) defend the decision to suspend her by saying, “Would you want your child taught by a porn star? Or, not taught, so much as, some of the documents pertaining to your child might be handled by a porn star. That really brings it home, doesn’t it?”

All joking aside, it’s not only irritating that sex workers are being conflated with child molesters in the 21st century, but that the school reacting this way sends the message to young men that it’s A-OK to be a consumer of sex work, but the providers of it are tainted women who should be punished.  I don’t care where you fall on the pro- or anti-sex-work divide, but the double standard for workers and customers galls me to no end.  You might want to argue that a sex worker isn’t a good “role model,” but far worse in the role model department is sending the message that sex workers are for using and then throwing away.

This story is reminiscent of the story of Melissa Petro from last fall, a woman who paid her way through college and grad school with sex work, and who was fired from her job as a teacher when she wrote about it for adult audiences that had nothing to do with her school.  It was a big scandal at the time, but I hold out hope that Petro’s honesty and normalcy helped society move a little closer to opening up to the idea that nothing bad is going to happen if we collectively stop ostracizing sex workers. They don’t bite, at least not in larger numbers than the public at large.

I’m honestly surprised that things like this don’t happen more often.  Education is a female-dominated profession, and it’s one that requires extra degrees and education but doesn’t pay as well as other professions that have similar requirements.  Getting the education to become a teacher means incurring that much more debt that’s much harder to pay off on your relatively low salary.  Paying your way through school as a sex worker has got to be tempting to quite a few women on the road to being a teacher.  Same story with supplementing the small salary of a school administrator with sex work on the side.  Seems to me that the simplest prevention if you really think this is a problem is making sure that education pays well enough that sex work isn’t a temptation.