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If you're getting ready to study this year and searching for a part-time job to supplement your schooling, you're not alone. And if you're getting ready to study and considering taking up sex work to supplement your schooling, you're definitely not alone - but your career choice might be a bit more scandalous than most. Controversy erupted at Brighton University last year when the Sussex branch of the Sex Workers' Outreach Project had a stall at the university's annual fair day, held to welcome undergraduate students.
In a tweet promoting their attendance at the fair, SWOP Sussex said, "If you're topping up your fees with sex work, or struggling to balance work and studies, or want to talk and don't know where to go … we're here for you. While many were quick to criticise the university for allowing SWOP to hold their stall, arguing that it "normalised" and promoted sex work, SWOP argued that it was doing no such thing. Instead, the organisation said, it was simply providing an avenue of outreach for those of-age students already considering - or doing - sex work and seeking advice.
As a sex worker myself I think the stall is a fabulous idea, and I wish that I'd had easy access to advice about sexual health, the law, and my finances when I first entered the industry. Everything I know about sex work I've learnt from other workers, whispered quickly between client introductions or shouted over the din of a busy dressing room.
I treasure every one of the more experienced workers who bothered to pull me aside as a sex-working newbie and school me on the finer points of the industry.
Had I known that a service like SWOP was available to me when I first started out I would've been queuing up at that stall faster than you can say, "What's a dental dam? My own experiences in the adult industry have been great, but sex work is still a career choice that many take exception to, particularly when it's chosen by people who have an explicit financial need. While we're somewhat comfortable with accepting that sex work is a fine avenue of exploration for those who've done their time in the corporate sector and are seeking a bit more thrill in their days, knowing that young people are turning to the industry to fund their educations and pay for their most basic needs of food and housing can be enough to put a frown on the face of even the most sex-positive people.