The onus is not on sex workers to stop selling sex, but rather on society to practice a better understanding of the work.
To a certain degree, all kinds of sex are transactional. In fact, most relationships, of any nature, tend to be symbiotic. While exchanges in relationships are not inherently negative, they only really work when both parties are completely honest about what their expectations are. Even casual sex is usually hinged upon one thing or the other. In some cases, it could be one party promising the other love and affection and the other party deciding to consent based on the promise. The obvious problem with relationships of this nature is that they could be based on a lie, one that is largely used by men to deceive a woman into giving consent. After the sexual experience occurs, the men, oftentimes, leave the women and move on to make the same promises to other women. The worrying part of all these is that a huge number of people do not find this as distasteful as they do upfront transactional sex. Women who engage in upfront transactional sex are often frowned upon and sometimes even compared to outright scammers. Men who pay for sex are also looked at as foolish, while men who tell tall tales of love and promises of devotion to women who they may in actuality despise are praised as masters of getting laid.
Since I consider methods such as lying and deceit distasteful, the focus of this article would be on transactional sex that typically involves a sex worker and their client. A good number of sex workers are professionals, at least to some extent, and maintain boundaries to that effect. There is usually no further communication with the client after the service is rendered unless the client requests a subsequent meeting. This might exclude sex workers who have stable glucose guardians (sugar daddy/mommy relationships) as they are not primarily sex-based and could involve other motivations, such as escorting. While this is sex work in itself, it is not as clear-cut as paying for sex outright.
Transactional sex that involves sex workers is easily one of the most frowned upon kinds of relationship. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of men wanting just sex and women being willing to state their price and move on. On the other hand, people are not nearly as uncomfortable with the idea of a man wanting just sex, lying to get it and then bragging about it later. While society has become more comfortable with the idea of women willingly participating in casual sex, there is still a major stigma concerning women with a high ‘body count’. If the number of men a woman can sleep with without being labelled all forms of derogatory things is seemingly capped, but men are encouraged to amass a huge number of notches on their bedpost, it is no surprise that it comes easily for men to lie in order to gain favour in that respect.
In relationships where both partners are romantically involved, there is typically an exchange or transaction that precedes sexual interaction. This could be in form of dinners, gifts or other romantic advances from one partner to the other. In clear-cut casual sex and fuck buddy situations, the transaction here is simply the exchange of pleasure from each partner. In this case, this exchange is looked at as an equal arrangement for both parties. But this cannot be true in a world where one party will be looked at negatively for engaging in an act the other is praised for.
Women who are sex workers often face the grunt of society’s callousness because they are engaging in penetrative sex, while other forms of sex work like stripping are often cloaked with the guise of sexual service but not full-on sex. There are even sex workers who are simply escorts who insist that they have never had to have sexual interaction with their clients as if that makes it somewhat ‘better’ or more legitimate.
Personally, I believe sex workers have a particular role in society and they should be expressly allowed to perform it as long as all parties are aware of the terms involved. It is essential that the profession be regarded as just what it is, work. It is not easy work nor is it a way to get quick money. This idea is usually propagated by sex workers who have a host of privileges, such as conventional attractiveness and being born in more developed countries. Many sex workers are underpaid, devalued, and estranged by society as a whole. They deserve to be validated just as much as any other profession. In truth, sex work has certain disadvantages: encounters with harmful clients and inaccessibility to required medical needs amongst other things, this is, however, the more reason why it shouldn’t be criminalized. This way, there's better protection and sex workers have control over their money rather than facing inordinate taxing or surveillance by major society. However, it is important to note that all kinds of work have their unique disadvantages. The onus is not on sex workers to stop selling sex, but rather on society to practice a better understanding of the work.