Would sex work be so profitable if it weren't stigmatized or criminalized?

Amber Rhea's picture

This is a question that's been bouncing around in my mind for a few days:

"Would sex work be so profitable if it weren't stigmatized or criminalized?"


Sex work is often an attractive option for single mothers, because they can earn more money and (sometimes) work fewer hours than they would at a retail or other service industry job, thereby allowing them greater economic stability and more time with their children. But to what extent is this attributable to the stigmatized – and, with prostitution specifically, criminalized – nature of sex work?

I think that if sex work were decriminalized and de-stigmatized, it would still offer attractive, competitive pay, for the same reasons that other professions that require specialized skills or training come with higher compensation – e.g., lawyers, doctors, etc. (No jokes about lawyers being stigmatized!) I do not think that if prostitution were decriminalized, for example, tons of women would suddenly flock to the profession; that argument holds about as much water as the argument that making emergency contraception available over the counter will encourage promiscuity.

However, I am curious to hear what others think about this question.