Of Dildos and Degrees: Why College-Educated Women are Turning to Sex Work

Picture a porn star’s bedroom. Hot pink carpet. Black-out curtains to disguise her sure-to-be-saucy escapades. An impressive collection of shimmering dildos and space-age sex toys neatly lined up beneath her Master's degree . . .

Wait, what?

While bonafide smarts and red-hot sex are never mutually exclusive thankyouverymuch, getting a secondary degree (or an undergraduate degree for that matter) is often a massive financial commitment; depending on the school and the degree, you can run yourself into $60,000 worth of debt in just two years. Congratulations, new graduates!

To help feed the beast, more students are turning to the sex industry to pay for their education than ever before; as costs spike and the job market slims, flipping burgers or shelving library books can't pave the way toward survival, much less success.

While there may always have been some incidental student presence in the industry... there can be little doubt that the growing impoverishment of the student population has [coincided] with a growth in the number of student sex workers. – Dr. Ron Roberts, author of Participation in Sex Work: Students' Views

The Value of Sex Work

Why the sex industry? Because it’s convenient and lucrative—which to a sex-positive student is nothing short of a seven-syllable rock anthem of triumph. Chelsea Hawkins of Policy Mic points out that stripping is an attractive option for time-strapped collegiates to earn cash because you can “work nights and weekends . . . and have plenty of time to attend class and study.” Better yet? On a good night strippers can bring home more than $1,200, which very well might cover an entire month's rent all in an eight-hour blur of shimmies and stilettos.

Tuition is increasing every year (4.2% per decade), and while our unemployment rate is dropping, 6.6% of the population being out of work is hardly a stellar statistic. In 1950, a yearly tuition at Harvard University was $1,520. Today? It'll cost you at least $38,891. ($59,950 if you add tuition, room, board and fees.)

Writer Anna Katzen, who received her Master’s at Harvard confessed that she left a quintessentially "desirable" job at a philanthropic organization to work as a webcam girl full-time. Turns out, her dream job wasn’t so dreamy, and working as a webcam girl was damn convenient. At first, she felt embarrassed. As Anna put it, “professional masturbation” didn’t jive with her extensive educational background. Then the money rolled in. Lots of money. Now Anna takes more pride in her work—she even has her own brand as “the wild intellectual.”

Yet Hawkins warns that while all that money is well and good, the sex industry is still stigmatized. 

What happens if an employer or a colleague discovers a history of sex work? Sex workers are too often subjected to discrimination, and unfortunately, degradation. These students are working for a degree, but risk losing respect from others.

Bottom line? Debt is a drag, life is hard and bitches be hustling. Sex work is not for everyone—but if you're a fierce woman who loves her body, you could break the shackles of debt and the 9-to-5 in no time. Then again, it's worth questioning why the state of our education system has put women in this position in the first place.

Image: smartmudflapgirl.com

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