US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has joined a chorus of voices denouncing the public shaming of a New York City paramedic who has been working for a racy website ‘to make ends meet' during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sex work is work,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, as she also retweeted a Rolling Stone magazine story that had earlier called out the New York Post for stripping the woman of her anonymity, and revealing Lauren Kwei’s name, height, weight and place of employment while resorting to second-hand information from "a subscriber to Kwei's site".
Sex work is work.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 16, 2020
The federal gov has done almost nothing to help people in months. We must pass stimulus checks, UI, small biz relief, hospital funding, etc.
Keep the focus of shame there, not on marginalizing people surviving a pandemic without help. https://t.co/eYib7310Rs
The New York Democrat, who previously advocated decriminalising sex work, and in 2019 joined Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in backing the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act, underscored that it was the federal government, not sex workers, that ought to be shamed for ‘marginalising people surviving a pandemic without help.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who earlier in December agreeing with Republican US Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri urging stimulus checks for ordinary Americans to be part of the next coronavirus relief bill, added that “UI, small biz relief, hospital funding, etc.” were needed to help people survive the fallout from the protracted health crisis.
Lauren Kwei received over $44,000 in pledged donations after she joined the adult OnlyFans picture sharing app, whose popularity had soared during the pandemic.
The subscription platform allows influencers and content creators to monetise their content, and is primarily used by sex workers, who post racy content on their feeds in exchange for a monthly subscriber fee.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, the platform witnessed a 75-percent increase in signups over the past few months.
The magazine voiced support for the York-based paramedic, who reportedly also worked as a hostess at a Korean restaurant to make a living.
The outlet slammed New York Post reporters for failing to applaud the young woman’s ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ while, instead, putting her prime job in jeopardy by revealing her identity, as she tried to support her family and "extremely ill" father, according to the fundraising campaign.
Social media has also massively weighed in on the scandal. Some applauded the young woman’s defiant efforts to juggle jobs in challenging times.
My daughter is on Only Fans, PornHub, and more--and SHE IS THRIVING. I am the proud father of a sex worker!— thomas the divorced trader (@tumtonks) December 16, 2020
Others entered a debate on whether the sex work was ‘degrading’.
So sad that women need to do such a thing. Their has to be other means of making ends meet than such a degrading activity... so Sad...— Jesus 'Chu' Santiago (@chusantiago7) December 16, 2020
It isn't degrading. This is sex work. Sex work is normal. What is degrading is you assigning arbitrary value to her and then determining that her value has been lessened because of her work.— Last Paperboy (@lastpaperb0y) December 16, 2020
Critics, however, disagreed.
Y'all can say that as often as you like. It doesn't make it true. Sex work isn't work because sex isn't work. It's how we express our love and make our babies. Prostitution is exploitation and oppression, where abusers are allowed to economically coerce females into unwanted sex.— miashadow7606 - Pandemic Relief NOW (@miashadow7606) December 16, 2020
Drug trafficking is work. Human trafficking is work. Hit jobs are work.— Connor (@conchobarK9) December 16, 2020
The point isn't that sex work isn't work. The point is that it's immoral work.
Sex work is shameful. It’s not a respectable profession.— Britta aka No Soup For Knowles (@nosoup4knowles) December 16, 2020
Sex is not work. The emotional, physical, and spiritual ties that come with sex are powerful and need to be respected. Women’s value is far above their body and to normalize sex as work for political gain is burning away any preservation of that respect.— Cory Procter (@CoryProcter) December 16, 2020
No sex work is desperation, it’s sadness, it’s slavery, manipulation and coercion. It’s not work.— Dawn (@Opticheart) December 16, 2020
Want proof that sex is work?— Otto Topci 🪐- that’s me 🔜 (@OttoTopci) December 16, 2020
Get married. 😂😂
The New York Post later issued an update, claiming that Kwei had scrubbed her OnlyFans site content on Friday.