Why Are Students Turning To Sex Work?
What's going on with girls?
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What’s going on with girls?
Why are young women tearing down Israeli hostage posters?
Recently videos of protestors ripping down posters of kidnapped Israeli children have been circulating all over Twitter. The writer Ed West raised an interesting question: “why do almost all the poster removers seem to be women?”
I tried to offer a few explanations over at UnHerd. Mostly that women now outnumber men at universities, which overwhelmingly lean left, and spend more time on social media platforms like TikTok, which have seen a surge in pro-Hamas content lately. I also think that young women are generally more receptive to a social justice movement which cloaks itself in the language of compassion and kindness, but is often illiberal in its tactics. Cancel culture, for example, is a form of social exclusion and reputation destruction, strategies often associated with female antisocial behaviour.
Something I missed, though, is conformity. Women also tend to be more conformist than men, which this current progressive culture banks on—think mantras like silence is violence! wrong side of history! and movements with non-objectionable names like Black Lives Matter. It sustains itself through guilt and shame, which is then scaled up to the extreme with social media.
Anyway, whatever the reasons, I think this a wake-up call. To seriously think about the messages that mainstream culture, the education system and social media are serving young women. And ask ourselves not just how anyone could rationalise ripping down posters of kidnapped children, but, crucially, how they possibly came to see this as progressive?
Amid rising rent prices and the cost-of-living crisis, around 56,000 students in the UK have turned to sex work.
This doesn’t surprise me. Firstly UK universities have been challenging the stigma around the sex industry for years now. Back in 2018 the University of Brighton had a sex workers support group at their Freshers’ Fair, offering support for those topping up their fees with sex work. The University of Leicester also offers a “Student Sex Work Toolkit”, while Durham offers training opportunities for students working in the adult industry.
Mainstream culture also normalises selling yourself like a commodity. Celebrities encourage girls to make/watch porn! be a slut! and get naked! Influencers glamorise OnlyFans to millions of followers. TikTok has sex work influencers filming luxurious days in their life and “teaching girls how to make millions!” And across online feminist spaces and activist pages, the messaging has shifted from not shaming sex workers to framing sex work as good for women.
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So maybe the cost-of-living crisis adds to the pressure. But I’d guess most of the pressure comes from a culture that rewards the relentless commodification of the self and glamorises sex work. Otherwise why would there be girls excitedly opening OnlyFans accounts the moment they turn 18? Why would children as young as 13 be using fake IDs to share explicit content of themselves? And why would we be seeing all kinds of weird justifications for sex work, from it being a girlboss side-hustle to good for our mental health?
I mean, I don’t think you could find a better post to sum up my problems with modern culture than this one about “how sex work actually suited my Autism and ADHD”: