The sex worker terminology dilemma

On Twitter, I follow quite a few current and former sexworkers, partly as a side-effect of involvement in the kink community (e.g. I follow a couple pro dommes), partly because once I got going, I started discovering a lot of really interesting feeds. One place I have to disagree with most of them, though, is on the use of the word “prostitute.”

The problem is, it’s widely considered offensive by sex work activists, and their preferred alternative is just “sex worker”… but that can also refer to strippers, porn performers, camgirls, etc., making the term ambiguous. “Escort” is fine for some types, but would be potentially confusing, not to mention sounding like an ugly euphemism, if used to refer to streetwalkers.

If the sex work activists’ community comes up with a better alternative, I’ll be happy to use it. But until then, I’m going to occasionally say “prostitute” when necessary for clear communication. Or maybe “hooker,” I’ve had one person tell me that “prostitute” is worse than “hooker.” Does anyone know how common that view is? I did apparently get away with using “hooker” in this Tweet that got massively RT’d.

(Note: partly writing this so I can just link people to it quickly in case of future arguments.)

Edit: Some time after writing this post, I encountered the phrase “full services sex worker” – a mouthful, but may be the best of a bunch of bad alternatives.

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