Thursday, May 26

Sex workers, feminists and ‘influencers’ | Society

They earn their living practicing sex work in Brazil and sharing their experiences on social networks, sharing everything from spicy advice to teachings on financial education and, above all, feminism. With thousands (sometimes millions) of followers, some prostitutes who have become influencers they try to remove the many stigmas of prostitution. “Men do not want us to speak openly about prostitution, because we are talking about their parallel life, something they do secretly,” says Patrícia Rosa, one of these women, who has been in sex work for seven years and tells part of her routine on Instagram. It’s activities like his that make the illusion of monogamy possible, he jokes.

Under the interpretation of the character Chica de Compañía Mentirosa, she recounts her experiences as sugar baby (escort held by a man, usually older and richer), what she calls “traditional prostitution”, but raises debates about violence against women, female economic independence and the rights that sex workers should have. All this with a simple and direct language. “Sometimes people use very elaborate words to say simple things. We become feminists the moment we question the naturalization of misogyny, I don’t think we need to have contact with feminist philosophy for this, ”clarifies Patrícia Rosa, who participates in the Puta da Vida Collective.

Photographer, artist and cultural producer, Patrícia began to work with sex due to the difficulty of supporting herself financially. “To be an artist with some comfort in Brazil you have to have money,” she says. She considered going into prostitution after realizing she had the guts to date strangers on the Tinder dating app. “These apps brought the popularization of casual sex and, for me, they have the same dynamic as sex work, only in a less protected and unpaid way.”

This is one of the things he teaches his followers: the affection, care, and pleasure that a woman brings to a man is always unpaid work. “Everyone works with their body. A domestic servant, for example, works with her body and earns much less than a whore. Thanks to prostitution, I began to understand all the unpaid work that women do, like when they fuck their boyfriends and husbands for free and without enjoying it ”.

Patrícia says that most women view prostitution in a dark place because they are taught that “being a whore is the worst thing” a woman can be. “But when it comes to underemployment, I think prostitution is an option. And, especially for poor women, sex work is a possibility of social advancement, ”she says.

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That was the case with Mara Vale. After seeing the two scholarships that paid for her degree in English philology cut back, she decided to leave the State of Bahia to go to São Paulo and become a prostitute. Before, he even sold ice cream to support himself, but he only made 300 to 400 reais a month (about $ 75). “If I paid the rent, I didn’t eat,” he recalls. At first, she tried to be a sugar baby, but thanks to the guidance of a friend, she decided to do her first show on Twitter. “I watched series and documentaries about prostitution, I looked for things to read, but there was little content about it,” says c, who now earns between 3,000 and 5,000 reais a month (between $ 550 and $ 900).

When she realized how difficult it was to find material about prostitution, she created a YouTube channel, which reached 15 million views and 183,000 subscribers, to teach other women how to get started in the world of sex work. There and on Instagram she recounts the most outstanding experiences with her clients, gives advice on oral sex and financial organization, teaches how to do ad programs and warns women about the most common client scams.

In the most intimate videos, she talks about how she deals with her depression and responds to criticism from those who say that “being a whore is the easy way.” “I gave up my dream of being an English teacher because I was starving. I don’t regret spreading my legs and getting paid for it, ”he says. Vale also says that self-esteem and self-respect change when a woman begins to charge for sex. “I have had relationships with men who did not care about me. Now the boys treat me like a queen, I feel more valued. I do not pretend to glamorize prostitution, but I work when I want, I serve who I want and I furnish my house paying everything in cash ”.

Mara Vale does not play a character: she appears clean-faced and in pajamas in many of her videos. Patrícia Rosa, on the other hand, embodies “the typical Bruna Surfistinha, the middle-class girl, a companion girl” who does sex work because she wants to, not because she needs it. “It is a kind of self-preservation. When they think you are there because you need it, they think you are going to accept anything, “he explains. The woman explains that she is not deprived of posting photos on networks with her family and friends. “We have to show that whores are also people, they have lives, they have families, they have fun.” In this process of normalization, she herself began to tell some members of her family about her livelihood. When dating men and women beyond their profession, the prostitutes heard in this report do not hide what they work with, but, whenever possible, they prefer to leave the romanticism out of these relationships.

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Who also exposes her personal and professional life on the networks is Lays Peace, a 21-year-old prostitute who became famous during the pandemic, reaching almost two million followers on Instagram. She shares everything from moments with her mother to meeting reports with clients. In one video, she appears kissing her boyfriend, in another she runs after a man who refused to pay her. In his live signals, he teaches how to do things like inversion – when the woman penetrates the man. “Help other women to become luxury prostitutes. At what other time in the world would a prostitute be a influence? Even the vision of what it is to be a whore, of what it is to be a woman empowered by her sex, is changing ”, celebrates Patrícia. And Lays doesn’t hide how much he charges. On February 17, for example, she announced a “promotion” for her services: 3,000 reais for a dinner with her, plus a one-hour date.

By claiming to be feminist prostitutes, they contradict the mainstream of the women’s rights movement that believes that prostitution should be abolished, as it considers it a “paid rape”. These activists understand that the sexual relationship, in prostitution, necessarily implies the violation of the person who exercises it, since consent would be obtained through money. This is the case of QG Feminista, a group of women between 18 and 45 years old, from the most diverse spheres, who are in favor of the abolition of sex work because they understand that, in addition to perpetuating the power of men, “trade Sexual dependence on both racism and colonialism to exploit women and girls around the world ”.

Child sexual exploitation is precisely another argument used by abolitionists. In this sense, Patrícia Rosa is blunt: “Prostitution is different from child sexual exploitation. Children do not work, period, in any context. Prostitution is a job chosen by adult women. Regulating sex work would even help protect children, ”he says.

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On the alleged incoherence of being a “whore and a feminist” —another argument used by abolitionists, almost always accusingly—, Monique Prada, prostitute, author of the book Putafeminista (Ed. Veneta, 2018) and one of the founders of the Central Unique for Sex Workers, which fights for the rights of the professional category, says that “isolating sex workers from feminism is like condemning them to violence and preventing them from fighting for essential changes in their environment.” “Some feminist currents isolate sex workers out of sheer moralism, just like the churches,” she adds.

“Prostitution makes society uncomfortable because it involves a woman who owns her sexuality who decides to sell it. Why do white feminists resent this more than the exploitation to which their black domestic servants are subjected? ”Adds Patrícia.

The putativists argue that the regulation of sex work will protect women from violence, facilitate control and the fight against child exploitation, and allow organizing the price of this work. For Patrícia, the most violent cases that occur in her profession are when a client refuses to pay and when they try to have sex without a condom. He once got angry when a client jokingly sent him a video of a husband strangling his wife when he found out that she was doing YouTube shows with other men. “It felt like a threat. After that, I blocked him from my life. ” However, it states that violence cannot be used to stigmatize sex work. “All women suffer harassment at work. I no longer feel afraid of being a prostitute, I have suffered more violence outside of sex work than in prostitution ”, she clarifies.

Patrícia and Monique affirm that social networks and the popularization of platforms such as Only Fans have facilitated the exchange of information, including economic information, and experiences of self-protection among prostitutes. “Of all the jobs I have done, it was only through prostitution that I learned how much my time is worth. And the internet helped set the prices, because we talked to each other, ”says Patrícia. As not all sex workers have access to the internet or know how to use social media, the Brazilian Prostitutes Articulation has offered courses on digital tools.

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