I am a Mennonite pastor. What comes to mind? Well, if you know any Mennonites, you might think of plain clothes, conservative theology with a peace and justice bent, horse and buggies, and wimples, those little white lace hats that many Mennonite women wear.

That’s if you even considered that I might be female.

Let me blow a few of those stereotypes out of the water. I’m female (we established that, didn’t we?), progressive, including my peace and justice bent. I’ve never been on a buggy. I’ve never worn a wimple. And I certainly am not plain clothed.

Here’s a few other ways that I don’t live up to the Mennonite stereotype: I love to shop. I’m a bad recycler. I have never farmed and my one foray into food gardening was a flop. I don’t bake bread very often. The only concert I attended last year featured Korn and Disturbed.

Oftentimes our stereotypes speak more to our imagination than they do to reality. What about other stereotypes? One of the major one I’ve seen in my work is the stereotype of women who trade sex for something that they need. What do you think of when you hear the word prostitute? Do you see images of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”? Thigh high boots, short-short skirt, and big hair? Or do you think African-American, drug addled, poor and pimped?

The reality of sex work in the United States is probably nothing like what the stereotypes teach you. There are plenty of young middle class white women working their way through college. There are middle class African-American women, too. There are trans women (dressed like Julia Roberts!), gay men, freegans, anarchists, educators, PhDs, 60+ year olds, and yes, even Christian (probably even Mennonite) people trading sex for something they need.

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