Home Activism Exploitation


photo from ecowhore.com

We close today with an affecting first-person account of underage sex work. While it should go without saying that Tits and Sass doesn’t endorse underage work, the solution is not continued criminalization and hysteria based on unsubstantiated “facts,” it’s better alternatives, a safety net, and decriminalization. Many thanks to Ecowhore for graciously allowing us to repost this November 17, 2010 entry from her blog.—ed.

Exploitation. They say half of underage girls on their own turn to sex work within 24 hours of hitting the streets. I know when I was a kid I turned to it right away every time I ran away or my dad kicked me out. Big eyes, tits hanging out, thumb out, I’d wait for any man to pick me up and give me money or a place to stay.

They say it’s a bad thing. They say there are pimps and traffickers who will lock those poor innocent children in apartments and make them fuck for up to twelve hours a day. I try to imagine this. When I was a kid no pimps ever approached me, but my step-grandmother-in-law used to warn me about them. Just handle your own business, she would say, don’t let any guy start protecting you, taking your money, next thing you know… She was 60 and fat with eighties hair and sparkly spandex clothes. She’d been a hooker during the pipeline days, when things were really rough, until she’d married my mom’s husband’s father 30 years ago.

Maybe girls without ex-hooker fairy stepgrandmother-in-laws were more vulnerable, but not the girls I knew. The summer I was 14 I went to the big city and spent every day and night in a bad neighborhood. My best friend and I did drugs every day. Customers thought we were in our thirties. A couple ladies said there was a guy who helped them out with their money and we really should meet him, but we said no, no thanks, we don’t need any help with our money. We spend it just fine ourselves.

We were exploited. We were exploited by parents who used us for sex and money and by foster parents who used us as decoys for their abusive husbands and as props to show off at church. We were very fortunate to have our own hands, our own bodies, a resource that never needs to be renewed, and to make big piles of cash. There are many problems that can’t be solved by money, but there are also many problems that money can provide for: food, shelter, and transportation away from a bad situation.

If underage hookers make you uncomfortable, the answer is not to arrest them. The answer is not to arrest me, an independent adult escort. The answer is to provide street kids with better options.

Tara Burns lives in Alaska, where she’s a board member of the Community United for Safety and Protection. She’s the author of the Whore Diaries series, and has written about sex work issues for AlterNet, VICE, The New Inquiry, and others. When she isn’t writing and lobbying, she’s making public records requests at the cutting edge of research by the people and for the people. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/THEecowhore" @THEecowhore


  1. I started receiving money for sex in 1951 and I met only 2 peeps who were slaves. One in Boston who’s mom made her work in her brothel until she ran away from her home at 13 and came to NYC and worked for herself. I moved from East coast to California when she was 16 in 1963.
    The other one I met in 2007. He was in his 40’s. Hard to tell since speed makes everyone look older. He was in a group of 5 boys owned by a speed crazed pimp who was a sadist. Speed and SM. I don’t see how he could have survived the first wave of AIDS considering his sex work and shared points. Yes he was biog’d on TV as a survivor.

    I started in Detroit, MI and moved around NYC and all over northern California. I looked 20 years younger than I am, as long as I don’t do uppers. During those decades I never met a trafficked kid other than above 2.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.