Picks Best Sex Work Coverage of 2017

CYBERSPACE—Not many major media outlets assign reporters to the sex work beat, so when interesting stories and quality writing covering the lives of sex workers and the issues that affect their jobs in the sex industry appear, they merit some sort of honor. The online libertarian magazine Reason stepped up on the final day of 2017 to take up the call, of “the year's best writing, reporting, and research on erotic industries, those who work in them, and how they're getting screwed by U.S. authorities and laws.”

Here are a few of their top choices, linked to the original articles to allow readers to catch on sex work coverage they have missed in the previous 12 months.

: This searing personal essay by former prostitute Kelly Michaels details the degrading and humiliating exploitation she has suffered—as a long-distance trick driver.

After leaving sex work when “this latest round of human trafficking hysteria” made her feel “hunted,” Michaels found that one of the few professions that would accept her, given her background in the sex trade, was commercial trucking.

“I am kept in a small box with no access to even basic human needs like hot meals and showers. I am forced to stay there until my employers are ready to use me again. I am only permitted to shower when my employers are not using me. Up to a week in between showers has passed,” she writes in the introduction to her powerful essay which ran on the sex work blog Tits and Sass.

: Writing in Vanity Fair magazine, journalist Ricardo Cortés shines a spotlight on New York Penal Law Section 240.37—a 1976 state statute that quite literally makes it a crime to be a woman in a public place, if a police officer sees “indications of prostitution.”

Those “indications” which could lead to a woman’s arrest include standing in one place, other than a bus stop or taxi stand, for any length of time; carrying money or any object an officer deems to be “sexual paraphernalia”; or wearing clothing that a police officer deems inappropriate.

Cortés includes one arrest report which cites a woman’s “tight pants showing curves of lower body,” a description that could fit hundreds or even thousands of women going club-hopping in Manhattan on a Friday night.

: Author and Self Magazine Interim Deputy Editor of Culture, Love, and Sex, Alana Massey, wrote this Self piece in the wake of comedian Louis CK’s admission that repeatedly forced women who had come to him for a job or career advice, to watch him masturbate.

After some public reaction appeared to say that the comic simply should have hired a sex worker to satisfy his exhibitionist proclivity, Massey pushed back in her Self essay.

“Sex workers do not exist to save abusive men from themselves, or to save non-sex-working women from abusive men,” Massey—who says that she herself is a former sex worker who was paid specifically to watch men masturbate to orgasm. “There's no reason to believe that a predator will stop behaving abusively if he hires a sex worker.”

: Along with a companion piece, ”,” Samantha Cole—writing for the tech blog Motherboard—details how the popular crowdfunding site Patreon is quietly pushing erotic content creators and sex workers off the site, despite a policy of not discriminating against adult material.

While Patreon has a rule against porn on its site, Cole’s articles also allege that the site enforces the rule more strictly against lower-earning adult content creators, while leaving the more prolific revenue-generators, which include some of Patreon’s top moneymakers, unaffected.

Tits and Sass also compiled a list of the best sex work writing of 2017, which can .