George Takei, who returned to relevance with a deeply moving campaign to support stigmatized gay youth in 2011 has shown us that humanity and kindness apparently have limits. Earlier this week, he posted the following on his Facebook account:
You see, it’s OK to be Takei — as long as you’re not a sex worker. If you’re a sex worker, then you’re damaged. But you’re good entertainment anyway. Or something.
It’s really sad to see George perpetuating the idea that only “damaged” people do sex work.
This specific type of joke contributes to a culture where certain types of sex work are outlawed because “damaged” women (particularly women, though sex workers are of all genders) can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. It contributes to sex workers fearing they will have their kids taken away because, much like homosexuality once was, it’s considered a deviation and a sign of weak moral character rather than what it is: a job.
And like most jobs, sex workers do the job that meets their needs. Dancers work hard doing direct sales in high heels, with their physiques and their moves constantly appraised by strangers.
Like many sales people and performers, they are independent contractors and have an income with both peaks and valleys. Like many service people and performers, they have business expenses, they have to give the club a percentage, and they have to tip out all the people who help them make money – whether they made money that day or not.
If the sales person had bad parents, no one will ever tell them that’s why they got into sales. The sales person isn’t defined by–or judged by–their job in the same way. That’s why this isn’t a “lighten up” kind of situation.
It’s a shame to see someone we’ve come to look to as a hero make such a tragic mistake.
Header image by Gage Skidmore.