These text conversations (warning: explicit content) with clients prove sex workers are surely New Zealand’s most under-acknowledged public health educators.
Imagine you’re a physiotherapist. Hell, you might actually be one, in which case this will be easy for you.
In this scenario, we’re still in level four. You can do phone consultations but that’s it. Your client texts saying he needs his hamstring seen to. “Sorry, phone and online consults only at the moment,” you reply. Then comes the barrage of pleading and bullshit. “I can make it worth your while.”
Followed by, “I live alone, and I’ve been a good boy for three weeks. Haven’t been anywhere, think you’re quite safe here.”
Or this one. “Damn. I thought you might be working as no one really checks.”
These are actual responses sex workers have received. And they’ve had enough.
For the past seven weeks, many of the estimated 3,500 sex workers across our fair land provided critical public health education responses to shitwits who just don’t get it.
Some sex workers were earnest – helpful, even – in their replies, others were furious that their cockwomble clients would dare put them and their families at risk. Rightly fucking so. Then, there were a handful responding with a well-deserved roast and merrily posting it on Twitter – these make excellent reading.
So while you scroll through the myriad ways New Zealand’s busiest working girls spent lockdown throwing shade on our country’s most reckless twatwaffles, take a moment to consider this.
New Zealand sex workers have a long, well-documented history as public health educators. When, back in the 80s, the country was gripped by Aids panic, sex workers calmly responded by teaching their clients about condom use and safe sex practices to help rule out HIV transmission.
The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) has not only been a voice for decriminalisation in its 33-year history, its affiliates have also quietly (OK, not always quietly) advocated for sex worker safety and provided sexual health advice to both workers and their clients. Safe sex is in their DNA.
Most sex workers, despite what a number of these utter numpties clearly thought, preferred to stick to the regulations and save a few lives. Sure, they were missing the income, but they – like many of us – have spent the past few weeks pivoting to online and phone services. And, similar to many of us with families to support and little in the savings account, they are eligible for the wage subsidy scheme. Anecdotally, many have claimed it.
Clients can finally get back to enjoying a good rogering at level two, and in conjunction with officials, the NZPC has just agreed on guidelines and specifics to be communicated with sex workers. Clients should expect a halt to kissing and “girlfriend experiences” while Covid-19 is in play, and accept that their sessions will be more “creative” to limit the risk of transmission. Sex workers are also preparing to support robust contact tracing through a range of methods that might include a QR code “check in” as a possibility. Again, recording clients’ details is not new to sex workers. It can be a risky occupation for men and women dealing with intoxication and belligerence on the daily. Those who work on the street often buddy up with each other to note licence plate numbers, while those working privately mostly know their regulars by their real names, phone numbers and credit card details.
Sex workers are doing the mahi, fighting the good fight, ensuring our sons, uncles, fathers and friends (because at the risk of generalising, most clients are male) aren’t going to get sick, and if they do catch Covid, sure as hell aren’t going to infect them.
So what about clients? The biggest worry for sex workers right now is that a client who falls sick may not take his contact tracing obligations seriously or disclose the interaction – and that potentially puts sex workers and their families at risk. Clients – if you’re reading this, don’t be a bellend. Please behave, and take some responsibility for your actions. Fill out the register, scan the code, and stick to your agreement with your sex worker. Because if you don’t, you’ll have more than your dodgy texts and poor spelling on your conscience.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.