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Even though I’m several years removed from my university days, I remember job fairs quite vividly. Before these events, advisers threw business buzzwords at me, making sure I “network” well, making sure I had an updated “CV” (if you call it a CV and not a resume you’re a dweeb, plain and simple). I had to wear a suit at these things for the first time in years and the suit wasn’t quite built to hide all the Keystone Light pounds I’d put on. You’d get to these events and chat with people from all kinds of companies, though most of the people were simply HR folks telling you how to apply rather than giving you any kind of solid career-forwarding conversation, yet it was a nice way to dip your toes into the expansive ocean that is searching for your first job out of college.
It ended up fine for me; I got a dope consulting gig. But for most people? The jobs available don’t quite pay the bills, the loans start piling up, and you just kind of sit and long for the days of when you’ll be middle management making enough money to finally pay off your student loans. Most people who attend these job fairs would kill to learn about potentially more lucrative options that may be a bit different than what their career counselors recommend, but may help rid them of their loans more quickly…think being a bookie (you literally can never lose), an enforcer for the mob, or a prostitute.
And that’s exactly the reason why the University of Brighton in the UK is coming under fire. Because they’ve given their study body more options for their potential career and now they’re the bad guys.
A scandal has engulfed a UK university after it was accused of encouraging students to turn to prostitution to pay their bills.
The furor started when Brighton University in southern England hosted its annual job fair for new undergraduate students.
The fair featured stalls representing a number of student groups as well as other external organizations, including the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex (SWOP).
During the event, SWOP distributed condoms, lubricant and flyers to students — as well as handing out underwear prizes. It also provided advice on how to get into sex work.
And in several tweets promoting the group’s attendance at the fair, it posted: “1 in 6 students does sex work or thinks about turning to sex work. We can help.”
It also tweeted: “If you’re topping up your fees with sex work, or struggling to balance work and studies, or want to talk and don’t know where to go… we’re here for you. We respect your autonomy, privacy and confidentiality.”
The group describes itself as “a discreet and confidential trans-inclusive service for women working in the sex industry who live or work in Sussex.”
Included in the information were tips on “safer escorting,” including: “If you don’t have anyone to look out for you, fake it!”
“Make your [customer] think that someone else knows where you are.”
“Pretend to make a call… to make it look like you are confirming your arrival… put men’s shoes or clothes out.”
Since the festival, the university has been slammed for allowing the group to promote itself to students, with some accusing the campus of promoting and normalizing sex work.
Law reform group Justice for Women co-founder Julie Bindel said the stall was “beyond disgraceful.”
“It makes me so angry that the sex trade’s become normalized and pimped to women as though it is a harmless and respectable way to earn a living,” Bindel posted on Twitter.
Other social media users described the stall as “disgusting,” “appalling” and “sad.”
As the outrage unfolded, SWOP defended it’s position on Twitter, posting: “SWOP have never idealized sex work. However, we understand why students may turn to sex work, and navigating the legal precariousness as well as potential danger mean that students are extra vulnerable and we will help.”
But a University of Brighton spokesman told The Guardian it would launch an investigation into the incident.
He said the institution “does not promote sex work to its students.”
I see nothing wrong with this. All these SWOP people are doing is helping students involved in sex work make sure that they are doing everything safe. They’re not encouraging anyone to leave their pre-med studies and start tricking; they are simply there to be a resource.
Thing is, being an escort just ain’t safe. I’ve watched every episode of The Deuce, so I’d say I’m qualified in making that statement. And with 1 in 6 turning to sex work (or at least thinking about it) to make their nut, it’d be completely irresponsible not to provide the resources to make sure that anyone venturing into that area doesn’t at least arm themselves with the most pertinent information available, like how to stay safe.
HOWEVA, the things they recommend for safety? It’s laugh out loud bad advice. Bananas in pajamas crazy to think that any of this advice is relevant for safety. They say to make a fake phone call to make it look like people know where you are. Well listen, if I’m a John in this sitch, I know it’s fake. Look, I’m paying for the authenticity, and if you’re dipping out to make phone calls? Fuck outta here, I know you don’t call people on the phone. If I saw you texting up a storm or throwing pics on the IG story with the location tag on? Well yeah, that I buy.
And how is filling your bedroom with men’s shoes and clothes supposed to make this situation better? Again, if I’m the John, seeing men’s clothes makes it look like at any minute some angry boyfriend or husband is going to come barreling in through that door, look for his shoes in the foyer, realize that your girl has absconded with them into the bedroom, and all hell will break loose where he now realizes that not only is his entire wardrobe removed from his closet, but now some guy is with his girl (consensually, of course). To me just seems like SWOP needs to refine their safety advice is all I’m saying. .
Image via Hadrian / Shutterstock.com