A University of Ottawa adjunct professor recently said on Twitter that doing “sex work on the side” is the “best thing” young people can do early in their careers.
Naomi Sayers, adjunct professor and attorney, made the comments on Twitter last week, and were reported by Campus Reform.
“Unpopular opinion: the best thing young people can do early in their careers is do #SexWork on the side because your early career prospects will be unstable, unpredictable, low pay, likely contract work and very much exploitative,” Sayers wrote.
Sayers continued her Twitter comments by comparing sex work to capitalism.
“That’s how capitalism works… People out here saying young people can be exploited in sex work. Literally, that’s capitalism. Lol. And quite literally, that’s any kind of work,” she wrote.
Sayers added that capitalism and prisons should both be abolished, advocating instead for free education and other progressive wish list items.
“Also, if you really want young people to not be exploited, provide them with livable wages, access to safe housing, clean water, free education. Literally. Abolish capitalism… Actually abolish prison but whatever,” she said, oblivious to the fact that capitalism is the reason she has achieved success and a platform to make these claims.
Alex Krause, Sayers’ publicist, insisted to Campus Reform that his client was not promoting sex work.
“Naomi is IN NO WAY promoting or suggesting that anyone should pursue sex work, her point was to facetiously criticize capitalist society, to quote her initial tweet ‘…early career prospects will be unstable, unpredictable, low pay, likely contract work and very much exploitative,’” Krause told the outlet.
Krause, when asked what Sayers really meant by her tweets, told Campus Reform that Sayers was making a nuanced argument comparing sex work and capitalism.
“What Naomi meant is stated plainly. Yes, it is nuanced; but NO, she is not directly advocating for sex work. Her intent remains to call out systemic racism / stigmatization wherever it exists, and it is rampant within for-profit Canadian higher education institutions AND the prison system,” Krause said. “Capitalism, for-profit education, and prison are inherently stigmatizing towards certain marginalized groups. As we noted in the previous email, Naomi’s lived experience of stigmatization in the legal realm is telling, considering the massive investment that she made personally and financially to pursue a legal education.”
Krause added that Campus Reform’s “interpretation of her coy, and nuanced take on exploitation of capitalism vs exploitation of sex work may be indicative of the exact issue she is trying to highlight – the quickness to stigmatize and/or ‘slut shame’ sex work.”
Krause also said that Sayers has no affiliation with the University of Ottawa, yet her LinkedIn profile claims she still teaches there, as do several advocacy organizations.
While Sayers and Krause advocated for the comparison, Helen Taylor of Exodus Cry, a non-profit organization trying to stop sex work and human trafficking, told Campus Reform that Sayers’ comments were “deeply irresponsible.”
“For Professor Sayers to flippantly encourage young vulnerable students to engage in such a harmful industry is deeply irresponsible and extremely offensive to survivors who are working hard to heal and recover from the damage prostitution inflicted on their lives,” Taylor told the outlet. “The sex industry is a system of violence and gender inequality. It is not a ‘job like any other.’ It puts girls at higher risk daily of rape, theft and murder. It causes long-term PTSD comparable to torture victims… We believe education leaders ought to be protecting young women, and empowering them to aim high, not echoing pimp’s advertisements for the sex trade.”
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