Racism in the sex industry

Face reality - laurie cooper
Face Reality (female) by Laurie Cooper 

It seemed like everyone at the brothel had an opinion on race when it came to clients.

“Fucking Irish clients.”

“I’ll never see Middle Eastern men.”

“Oh no, I don’t see Indians sorry.” 

I will admit that for the first year or so, I fell into this trap. It was easier to put people in boxes and make assumptions, to back up my own negative stories and procure this space of thinking that I understood people more than I actually did. I am a control freak, and admitting that I was entering into a vulnerable situation where anything could happen was a challenging concept to me. I now see the beauty and honesty in this, but that definitely hasn’t always been the case.

Racism exists everywhere, it is what most of the western world is founded on. It seeps into every industry, oozing into it like some kind of toxic sludge and affects people all over the world whether people are conscious of it or not.

The sex industry is no different, with women of all different backgrounds being forced to conform to this very narrow, very white stereotype of how beauty is perceived in order to make money. I am white, and I definitely do benefit from this. I don’t have to put in anywhere near as much effort on a daily basis to conform to this eurocentric beauty bullshit as WOC workers. I don’t have to pretend that I’m from somewhere more ‘appealing’ or make comparisons to my skin in terms of food groups – Chocolate, honey, coffee.

The fetishization of minority groups such as POC or trans workers is incredibly apparent, and being seen as ‘always up for it’ puts them in a higher risk of harm than us privileged white workers. A quick search on Pornhub or Redtube will come back with thousands of videos of “African princesses” and “BBC (Big black cock)” where these people are reduced to a body part of some description. This might seem harmless in itself but it encourages the dehumanization and hypersexualisation of already vulnerable groups.

That isn’t to say that sex workers themselves are some kind of unbiased angels though. The majority of ladies that I have worked with have some kind of issue with clientele from one race or another, based on awful things that have happened to them in the past.

Now, I am definitely not one to tell people what to do with their body, and I am sure as hell not trying to diminish anyone’s experience with trauma or abuse. Shit things do happen and people experience triggers in different ways. What I am talking about is the racism that is encouraged among workers, the stereotypes that are talked about at length and the new girls that are warned off of certain clients because their “culture allows them to act violently/disrespectfully/inappropriately”. In my town this was mostly in regards to Indian men and Irish men, although every city is different depending on the population of minority groups.

What this comes back to is control. The power play that goes on within the brothel walls is enough to blow your mind if you are aware of it. Being naked in front of a stranger is a terribly honest thing, and people feel scared when they are vulnerable. Subconsciously expecting a certain type of behaviour to back up your story is a subtle way of giving yourself a little bit of control back, even if it is totally fabricated.

Tldr – Racism happens everywhere, it’s fucked, and people get weird when they’re naked and vulnerable.



One thought on “Racism in the sex industry

  1. Wow, thanks for writing this. I don’t have experience in brothels, but I was just writing today about the racism on Sugar Dating sites coming from the side of the Sugar Daddies. It’s really interesting to hear that such racism comes from sex workers themselves as well, and I liked your very compassionate thoughts about why that is. Thanks for sharing.


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