I did it ... for the money: Sex work as a means to socio-economic opportunity.
In the last decade feminist theory regarding sex work has endeavored to deliberately reposition sex work as 'work', and to validate sex workers' experiences, actions, perceptions, motives and survival skills by recognizing a sex worker's agency and ability to make choices in the global arena. Most academics have moved beyond the debate of whether or not women's participation in sex work is inherently 'coercive' or 'consensual'. An important aspect of the methodology of this ethnographic study exploring the relationship between female sex workers and their professions was the presupposition that choices made or continuing to be made by any individual woman working in the sex industry are principally informed by that individual's geo-political location-her race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship and immigration status, as well as her socioeconomic background. I use this framework to explore socioeconomic motives for participation in the sex industry. Sixteen women from various aspects of the industry were interviewed, and extensive participant-observational research conducted in Den Haag, Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Warsaw, London and New York City. All women interviewed cited money as a reason for entering into the sex industry. Except in one case, entering into sex work was described as an informed decision, participants reportedly having considered other options first or simultaneously and willingly choosing sex work as the best option given all options. Women reported "need[ing] money" for various expenses and under specific circumstances, including everyday living expenses (including housing and food), college costs and credit card debt, to travel, leisure and luxury expenses. (excerpt)