An open letter to Ashton Kutcher @aplusk

Dear Ashton

Let me begin by saying, I applaud your efforts to end sex trafficking in the US and abroad.  I believe you got involved for the same reasons many get involved, as it is hard to not want to protect the innocent and defenseless of the world.  It is admirable for you to step up and want to do something, and I believe your intentions to be good.  Kudos to you and Demi.

I have been a sex worker for almost 20 years.  I started of my own volition at 21 out of financial necessity, but returned to sex work out of choice.  Simply put, it has allowed me to live a comfortable life, while still having time to enjoy the things I love.  I have worked in various areas of sex work (not all of which involved direct contact with patrons by the way…), but also have worked in other jobs outside commercial sex work.  For half of my career I worked for agencies or other people, but in 2001 the internet allowed me to start working independently and autonomously.  God bless the internet! 

While working for others, I was never forced to do anything I didn’t want to do, and all in all, had no complaints about the people I worked for, I just had the ambition and skills to take my business to the next level.  I felt I could benefit in multiple ways, including financially of course.  Little did I realize at the time how much effort one must apply in order to have any long term success working on one’s own as a sex worker.  Little did I know about how much business management was truly required, and how it was like having 2 full time jobs to keep the phones ringing and the emails coming in.  While I have been able to handle my own business and find rewards in that, not everyone has the time or skills necessary to handle all of those tasks.  Support staffs, such as booking agents, managers, drivers and security are just a few options for how workers manage their business and safety, but often these positions are unfairly categorized and criminalized as “pimping” because they are “profiting” (aka: getting paid) to provide these services.  This is just one example of how the "experts" you have relied on for your information have actually contributed to harming sex workers, as often times the anti-trafficking policies being introduced have little understanding of how to distinguish between an actual trafficker and the support staff that is providing a legitimate and essential services to the worker.  Blindly following those organizations without gaining a greater understanding of our industry's needs will also have you contributing to workers options being limited, and therefore putting us at risk to not only be trafficked, but also robbed, abused and in some instances murdered.  I know you couldn't possibly intend to put others in harms way in your quest to help true victims, and I hope you consider all the possible outcomes of the platforms you choose to support as you move forward in your activism.   

My profession has been one of the most challenging AND rewarding experiences of my life.  It has empowered me; it has enriched my life and broadened my understanding of the human condition, and I am not alone.  I would not dream of making guesstimations about the ratio of workers that operate from the non-trafficked perspective (choice or circumstance) just because that is the majority of what I have come in to contact with over the last 18+ years.  I would not dream of discounting sexual exploitation and trafficking within my industry just because I know hundreds of workers that have relayed stories of vastly different, and overall positive, experiences.  In my world, the majority of workers are not being coerced.  But that is just in my world, and perspective is always subjective, based on what we choose to surround ourselves with.   If you wish to truly understand the complexities of our industry, you need to talk to more people than just those that have been victimized.  If you wish to have some true credibility about the issues of sex trafficking, you need to respect the perspectives of those of us that are not trafficked.  If you want to truly do all you can to stop sex trafficking in the US, you will include input from sex workers in those efforts.


Megan Morgenson 

What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.

  • 7/8/2011 6:01 AM Michael Mindgue wrote:
    Apparently, Ashton Kutcher and his allies have forgotten the law of unintended consequences. Given the evils of sex trafficking, this is understandable. Most humans would and should react to stories of such trafficking with horror and a desire to prevent this evil.

    We might do well to remember the law of unintended consequences. Perhaps examples from history will remind us. Here is one. Prohibition produced Al Capone. What are some other examples?
    Reply to this
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.

 Enter the above security code (required)


 Email (will not be published)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.