When people hear the phrase “sex work”, the immediate perception is of a full service sex worker; they think of someone who has sex for money, often referred to as a “prostitute” although sex workers themselves largely reject this word as a slur used to discredit their voices. However; there are many different types of sex work, including ones where you don’t even have to leave the house.
As a student, money is a strong concern for many, and so when I heard about friends who were selling photos of themselves online, I decided to look into it. Both the flexibility of working hours and the range of content that I could create was incredibly appealing, and so I decided to start selling photos, mainly of my feet or of myself in underwear.
The income wasn’t always constant, but it did provide a safety buffer that student maintenance loans don’t cover. Being a student sex worker didn’t necessarily impact on my mental health and wellbeing in the way that you might expect, but it did mean that I was constantly concerned that my coursemates or the university might find out, and anxious about the potential consequences. I was also incredibly lucky not to have any bad experiences in terms of safety or clients, but I do know that if something had happened, I’m not sure I would have felt able to come forward to the University or the Guild to ask for support.
There has been a lot of work from the Guild in recent years that have changed this, and there are more provisions in place for student sex workers. However, I do think that they need to be doing everything they can to remind students that they will not get in trouble, and that their place at Exeter will not be jeopardised as a result of the work they do. The idea that there may be student sex workers not coming forward and putting their safety at risk is terrifying, and universities should be doing everything they can to combat this.