When finding out what someone does for a living, it is normal to ask a few questions while feigning polite interest.
But if you work in the sex industry, such a conversation can be an ordeal – with the questions ranging from overly intimate to downright interrogative.
In this BBC Three video, UK-based sex workers discuss the things they’re tired of hearing – and you wouldn’t believe what some have had to put up with:
What happened to make you choose this?
“There’s so much underlying pity in that question,” one of the women complained. “It’s like they expect some tragic story,” another said.
As it happened, the five women and one man featured in the video had all chosen the work for a variety of pretty standard reasons, from liking the flexible hours to enjoying meeting new people.
Are you being forced?
While those interviewed did emphasise that some people are force into sex work, and it is important that these people have help, all were tired of the assumption that they themselves were coerced into it. “I’m not being forced, I’m happy,” one worker said firmly.
“We’re all forced to work in a way, if you want to be abstract about it,” said another interviewee. “We all need money.”
Is it really kinky?
The sex workers interviewed agreed that over familiarity was common, and that many people felt no embarrassment about prying into their work.
“Why are you asking me this? It’s none of your business,” one woman said. “Do you really want to know? Or are you just really wanting to judge?”
How can you be a feminist and a sex worker?
All the women interviewed in the video were adamant that there was no contradiction between working in the sex industry and being a feminist.
“We are in control. We decide what happens to our bodies consensually. And it does not harm anybody else,” one said.
It’s so dangerous!
“If people want to make our job less dangerous, it should be fully 100% decriminalised,” one worker, a professional dominatrix, pointed out.
Why don’t you get a real job?
“Because I’m running a successful business?” the male sex worker suggested. “Personally I’m way happier doing this than working 40 hours a week in Starbucks. Now I can work ten hours a month for the same pay.”
Other workers described the varied demands of their jobs – including advertising, marketing, booking and arranging venues, and caring for their clients.
Many felt they had more interesting and varied work than if they’d pursued other careers.
As one woman put it:
I get to meet fantastic people, I get to orgasm two or three times a day – who does not want that job?
See the full video here, and find out what you should never say to a sex worker…