PAY FOR SEX
It's impossible to value sex work without letting go of assumptions and judgments about people who pay for sex.
"Some of it has to do with ego," says Klinck. "The sort of thing where guys say, 'Well, I wouldn't have to pay for it,' so they've got that attitude that those who pay for it are doing it because they have no choice, because they're undesirable, whereas that's not always the case."
People pay for sex for many reasons and under many circumstances. For some it's an easy outlet, one that, like the bathhouses, allows for sex without strings attached. For others it's a way to satisfy sexual desires that they might be hesitant to explore with a partner or where their partner just isn't interested.
"Everyone's got their own value on sex and their own needs for sex and a lot of times long-term partners aren't going to be in synch," says Klinck. "It's probably more rare for them to be in synch in a long-term relationship.
"Seeing sex workers could be seen as therapeutic in those cases. Wives and husbands will support each other for seeing massage therapists or for seeing a chiropractor but they will ignore the benefits they might get from seeing a sex worker."
While there are problem clients who try to take advantage of sex workers' marginalization, anecdotally they are the minority.
"Ninety nine point nine percent of clients are good men," says Valerie Scott. "These guys don't come from a shuttle from Mars every night and leave before sunrise. They're your fathers, they're your brothers, your physician, the guy that owns the grocery store.
They are everyone and they're fine people and they shouldn't be stigmatized for buying sex."
Recognizing the clients as part of the solution to the stigma against sex work is key to change.
"If we had people saying, 'I feel I have a right to purchase sexual services,' my God that would help because lord knows thousands of them are doing it," says Gallant. "It would be lovely to see clients participating in the decriminalization movement. It would be so thrilling."
Action: Pay for sex and become involved with the decriminalization movement as a client.
Well, yes, of course. Participate in the system as a non-exploitive, supportive member! Be a responsible consumer! Really it's something many of us could do. It's actually even something I have considered doing in the past, an easy way to achieve a NSA threesome with a woman who could actually teach me a thing or two about pleasing both men and women has a certain appeal for me. I never considered how our supportive patronage might be viewed from the worker's side though. This is a really good idea, and a chance for those of us who believe sex work must be revolutionized versus simply destroyed to put our money where our mouths are.