As states look into decriminalization of prostitution, one woman provides a first-hand narrative to her experience
Editor’s Note: The Collegian historically has a policy against using pseudonyms or anonymous sources in reporting. We felt, however, that there was an importance in letting Jane Doe tell her story, specifically to demystify the sex worker industry.
“We all have sex. Why not get paid for it?”
This is a question that Jane Doe, a second-year Delta College student and sex worker, once asked herself.
Doe first considered the possibility of working in the sex industry after seeing numerous women promote premium Snapchat accounts on social media.
A premium Snapchat account is an account in which a user shares adult content with subscribers in exchange for money.
Doe decided to begin selling nude photos and videos on the platform. She took several steps to protect her identity, such as blurring out tattoos and creating a stage name.
It wasn’t long until exchanging photos and videos turned into arranging “dates” with clients who were interested.
Before meeting, the client would tell her what they wanted, ranging from oral sex to sexual intercourse. Then, she set a price.
Decriminalizing prostitution has been discussed by lawmakers across the country. In 2019, former California Attorney General and presidential candidate Kamala Harris came out as being in favor of decriminalizing sex work, so long as it’s between two consenting adults.
Back in June, a bill that would decriminalize sex work was introduced by the city council in Washington D.C. The bill, known as the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019, would “remove certain criminal penalties for engaging in sex work in order to promote public health and safety.”
Decriminalization bills have also been introduced in Maine, Massachusetts and New York. Despite Harris’ connection to California, the state hasn’t yet considered making sex work legal.
Doe no longer engages in prostitution. When she did, she would typically meet clients in hotel rooms. She often carried pepper spray with her and had a friend hide in the bathroom in case she was put in any danger.
She was 19 when she started meeting clients. This continued for six months.
“During that whole time, it was like back-to-back dates, it felt like clockwork,” she said. “Having one person after another, after another.”
In the media and in our society, sex workers are commonly portrayed as being uneducated or lazy. Doe said this is simply not true.
“Sex work literally takes everything out of you,” she said. “There would be days when I’d see six people and at the end of the day, I’d feel physically exhausted and mentally drained.”
Doe said in order to be a sex worker, you need to have a certain amount of strength.
“You’re letting this person do what they want with your body. You don’t know them,” she said. “You’re basically just there to please them. Having a stranger come onto your body is a weird experience and you have to be mentally prepared.”
Despite all of this, Doe said she felt empowered after working in the sex industry.
“I’ve become comfortable with my body and my sexuality,” she said. “I’m not as insecure as I was before because there’s people who have paid to have sex with me. I shouldn’t base my self-esteem off of that and I don’t, but part of it does make me feel more secure with myself.”
Doe takes pride in knowing she has helped many clients fulfill their desires.
“Every time I was with a customer, I would ask them what made them want to hire a prostitute,” she said. “Some would say they just wanted sex. They didn’t want to have to do the work of going out on dates. Others would say they wanted to gain more experience with women and learn about their bodies.”
According to Doe, sex work should not be seen in a negative light because sex workers are “providing a good service to people who actually need it or want it.”
She doesn’t understand people who scrutinize sex workers for making a profit off of engaging in acts they take part in themselves.
“It’s normal to have sex, it’s normal to take pictures of yourself,” she said. “This is considered taboo, but why is it if we all do it?”