The unexpected face of the sex work positivity movement


About a month ago, Arielle Egozi decided to post on LinkedIn about her decision to quit an internal job as a brand manager and how sex work reinforced that decision. This message would send shockwaves around the world and kick-start conversations about sex work.

“I had just saved enough on selling and engaging my image that I could wonder if I was happy. I wasn’t,” Egozi wrote. “Yeah, the few bucks I accumulated over time helped me, but the main reason I was able to walk away was because sex work shows me what my power can do when I possess it intentionally.”

Egozi, who uses the pronouns she and they but whom The Washington Post will address as her, bragged about charging “exorbitant amounts” for her sex work and explained that she only engages in a sex work that feels “safe, playful and abundant”, avoiding the need to barter and negotiate its time and value.

“Why is this different from any other client work,” Egozi wrote. “The answer I come to, over and over again, is no. so it’s now on my LinkedIn.

Overnight, 31-year-old Egozi became an international face of the sex work positivity movement.

The message was picked up by media covering India, Britain and the United States. Social media users also weighed in, some discussing the merits of recognizing sex work as legitimate work while others criticized Egozi for shamelessly listing it among many other roles on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn told The Post in a statement that “conversations that inform and educate are welcome on LinkedIn, as long as they adhere to our professional community policies.”

The Brooklyn resident, who declined to specify the type of sex work she does for legal and safety reasons, told the Post in an interview that LinkedIn’s post stemmed from a deep-rooted dissatisfaction with contorting herself. to fit into workplaces where she felt undervalued.

More than a month after her post went viral, Egozi is recovering from the onslaught of attention and struggling with the idea of ​​saying goodbye to sex work.

Contortions and workplace

Egozi, who is of Turkish, Cuban, Jewish and Guatemalan descent, said fitting into the culture of work has often seemed to him to shatter all of his identities, even in liberal spaces where diversity and inclusion seem to be things. leadership priorities.

“I’m a fag. I am a woman. Latin. First generation American. I am Jewish,” Egozi said, adding that she is also neurodivergent. “I cover so many identities that are considered unprofessional.”

Egozi said she learned early on that she had to find a way to tone down or whiten their identities to really fit in. The struggle for diversity and inclusion was overwhelming and meeting the demands of her job left her feeling drained, she says.

She said she was told she was too rigid and locked in when her last company did a culture audit there.

“I spent two hours being radically honest and making suggestions on how things can change,” she said. “I got the response of ‘you’re too rigid.’ That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to get better and no one really seemed to care.

Even when she rose to director status, Egozi said she felt she had the illusion of “power,” where she felt like authority was expressed on paper but not in the face. practice to actually implement change.

Egozi is one of millions of Americans who have quit their jobs since the pandemic began.

A May survey consultancy firm PwC’s Global Workforce revealed that one in five workers plan to change employers in 2022, with salary being the main reason, in addition to presenting themselves as their real name, among others.

For minorities, workspaces can turn into places of fatigue and burnout, according to Meghna Sabharwaldirector of the public and nonprofit management program at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Sabharwal co-wrote a scientific article who found that hiring women and people of color isn’t enough to change an employee’s perception of organizational justice if companies aren’t actively trying to make their workplaces inclusive.

Minority groups in the article reported feeling tokenized as well as a sense of non-belonging.

For women and minorities who have reached leadership positions like Egozi, they can still achieve a glass cliffSabharwal said.

“These women have broken through the glass ceiling but do not feel empowered enough in policy-making or decision-making,” Sabharwal said. “After breaking the glass ceiling, they are faced with the glass cliff where they just want to go.”

This is exactly what Egozi did.

“I felt objectified for all my creative energy. I felt very used, that’s what you hear about people in the sex industry,” she said. “For me, my work there was above all a healing space, a place where I could show myself fully. ”

Egozi has consistently written about sex education, wellness, and consent for years, but the pandemic has given him time to test the strength of his beliefs.

With a dearth of creative advertising prospects at the height of the pandemic, Egozi left New York and returned to her hometown in South Florida and stayed with her father for a while.

“I was like, ‘I need to make money, and I need to do things,'” Egozi said. “It was something from home. I could really face a lot of personal things. … As a creative person and someone who directs and writes creatively, it was very transferable.

Egozi said she was unprepared for the wave of emotions that awaited her as a new sex worker.

“It was very different to be an ally and a supporter of sex worker rights,” she said. “I felt the stigma, realizing how naive you can be, how you get into this. There are so many things attached to it.

Egozi monitored her reactions to her new job. If regular sex work didn’t feel right, she would back off. Pursuing it full-time wasn’t quite right for her, so she didn’t.

She said the work made her an unofficial counselor for men who struggled to express their loneliness during the height of the pandemic.

Egozi has re-entered the tech world after her pandemic respite with a new internal authority discovered through sex work that has seeped into the way she intends to interact with her brand, tech and marketing partnerships. creation.

Egozi said she has no regrets posting on LinkedIn despite others trying to break into her social media and banking profiles. She also worries about her safety.

“It’s such a shame because [sex work] has been such a safe space,” Egozi said. “I am easily recognizable. It’s really scary. I’ve had death threats before and all that, but I never felt like it could be real. Things are changing… there’s no way of knowing what’s next and what it means for my life, my family and my safety.

She had to stay calm for her family members who were tagged on social media accounts that weren’t taken private, a task that saw her comforting them more often than not.

Egozi hopes her message could lead to the destigmatization of sex workers, she said, but noted that such a change does not depend on her and a single post on LinkedIn – it is society .

“I created this post to feel owned and powerful,” she said. “I hope everyone who sees this message comes closer to listening to themselves and feeling empowered.”

Her direct messages were also packed with other sex workers who have white-collar jobs, thanking her for coming and expressing how they too wish they could get out of their jobs.

“The next few moments could be a culmination and a gift of it all,” she said of the aftermath of her post. “Otherwise, I don’t know why it had to be my face for all this. My whole journey has been unique and that put me in this situation.

About Maria Hunter

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