Almost every time I give a lecture or attend a panel, the audience has a similar response. At the end, a woman — probably named something like Emma or Jennifer — will raise her hand and smile demurely. “You’re very brave, Lydia,” she tells me, looking around the audience to make sure that they witness that she respects the whore, “but I’m afraid I simply can’t support sex workers, because of human trafficking.”

Photo by Juno Mac

Sex work and sex trafficking have been considered diametrically opposed. Lots of sex workers refuse to talk about it at all; certainly it is only in recent…

My parents didn’t know I’d moved house.

They found out when my sister saw the Instagram story and my mother phoned me, confused.

“Your dad sent you something this morning. It was meant to arrive today,” she told me.

“What is it?” I asked, trying to keep my tone light.

“He says it’s a surprise, but that you should go and get it. And send over your new address.”

Photo by Emily Kilabrado on Unsplash

I agreed that I would and then hung up with no intention of doing so. The music that I had been unpacking to suddenly sounded bubblegum-bright, fake, unnatural. …

What is it like to have a sex worker as a parent?

Photo by Juno Mac

My sister Ramona looks a lot like I did when I was sixteen. We are compared to each other frequently. Despite the mere six years between us, she feels to me as if she is decades removed. When I ask her why she thinks this is, she reminds me that I used to put her to bed every night with a bedtime story. I left when she was twelve, and she had never conceptualized me as anything but a responsible grown-up. In turn, I had never conceptualized her…

The contradictory world of “pro-anorexia” forums

Before you begin this article, please be aware that it contains details about my own eating disorder and experiences on ‘pro-ana’ forums. If you struggle with disordered behavior or body-image issues, it may be best to avoid reading on. I do not advocate the behaviors I describe.

I have been using “pro-anorexia” forums on and off for eight years. When I started, aged 14, I was at the height of my illness. To this day, ‘Ana Sophie’ lies nestled in my contact list, the ghost of an online friend with similar height/weight stats to…

But I pity their wives even more.

I began manipulating men for money when I was seventeen.

Manipulating is a very strong word, actually, since I was so used to being treated poorly by men that asking them to pay a small amount for my participation felt tantamount to extortion. When I was seventeen, struggling with chronic illness and unable to ask my parents for money for the school trips that were a compulsory part of my education, I decided that I would harness the power of my femininity and make men pay for everything. …

Why are men pretending to be sex workers online?

Picture the scene: a dimly lit room taken up nearly entirely by a bed. I’m on my back, my legs spread, counting the ceiling tiles. I’m 22 years old, blonde, and often the subject of sexual harassment on the street. The man rubbing his stubble against my vulva is in his mid fifties, has terrible personal hygiene, and is not by any means conventionally attractive. Why am I enduring this torture, you ask? Well, it’s because he’s paying me.

About two minutes into having my genitals mauled at, I fake a porn-star orgasm just so he’ll stop touching me. Satisfied…

Ah, yes. Date etiquette. The debate that launched 1000 tweets.

Cards on the table: I have split the bill on dates before while in a long term relationship. I have paid for dates before while dating women. I have also had my meals paid for by men. I don’t do the bashful ‘oh no, let me. Are you sure?’ dance. I don’t even enter discussion. If a man has asked me on a date, he is paying. Not despite my feminism, but because of it.

I see you, Chad. You’re sat at your desktop computer, slightly foaming at the mouth…

I don’t remember all the faces.

It’s a fact I get stuck on sometimes. Can I be traumatised if I can’t even recall all their faces? Shouldn’t I be able to recount every second of being raped in vivid detail? I can’t. I can only picture two of the men, and one of them is hazy.

I’m struggling to write these next details, but it’s important to understand the context of the violence. The first time I was raped, I was fifteen. I was picked up, literally carried, by three men into a bedroom at a party while I struggled…

Lived Through This

I do not enjoy my job, but I’m thankful for it

A washed out grainy image of a person touching a light switch.
A washed out grainy image of a person touching a light switch.
Photo: Rika Hayashi/Getty Images

Downstairs, in the back office, is a man. He’s around 50 years old; we’ll call him “Bryan.” Bryan is counting out stacks of twenties and dividing them between plastic wallets. Some of the money is going to the bank to pay the rent on the building or to pay the wages of the reception staff. Lots of it is going to him or his business partner. I don’t know much about his business partner. I know it’s another middle-aged man. I don’t really need to know much more.

I’m not sure how much Bryan earns. I don’t know how much…

Lydia Caradonna

Sex worker, “””journalist””” and activist from the UK! // Tweets at: @LydiaCaradonna // works with: @ukdecrimnow // argues with: the government

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