Washington Post glamorizes woman who quit job to become sex worker

"Why is this different than any other client work?" she wrote. "The answer I come to, again and again, is that it isn’t."

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A controversial story about a woman who left corporate life behind because she felt like she had to "whitewash" her intersectional identity to pursue a career in sex work has left many Washington Post readers puzzled on the message the article promotes.

The piece, titled "She listed 'sex work' on LinkedIn. Here’s what happened next," by writer Lateshia Beachum, published in the Social Issues section of the news outlet's website, followed the transition of Arielle Egozi, 31, from brand director to sex worker, and the virality of her career-change announcement on LinkedIn.

In her announcement, Egozi, who identifies as a "queer femme" and uses "she/they" pronouns, began "I left an in-house job with fancy benefits two weeks ago and the reason I could do that was sex work."

"I had just enough saved from selling and engaging my image that I could ask myself if I was happy. I wasn't." she continued. "Yeah, the few grand I'd stashed up over time helped, but the biggest reason I could walk away is because sex work shows me what my power can do when I own it intentionally."

Egozi went on to boast about the "exorbitant" prices she's able to charge and the flexibility such an occupation provides.

"I charge exorbitant amounts. I have no problem taking rejections from those that don’t want to pay it, because I charge what emotional labor is required right into the fee. I set and hold boundaries, and engage only in ways that are safe, playful, and abundant for me. I don't waste my time with anything less."

"Why is this different than any other client work?" she wrote. "The answer I come to, again and again, is that it isn’t."

The post, published last month, has garnered over 10,000 likes and nearly 2,000 comments. However, not all of the replies were completely on-board with sex work being included on the professional platform.

"I am an early user of LinkedIn. One of the first 500 people to post a job," one commenter wrote on Egozi's announcement. "I have watched the trend of over-sharing and posting highly personal matters and NEVER commented. This, my friends, has crossed the line. This is not what LinkedIn is intended for. It is way too much information and belongs on [a] different site. Unless you are in certain parts of Nevada, it isn’t even legal in the US. You don’t need to put every job on your profile … some jobs will not boost your career."

Some other users commented that they had reported the post to LinkIn for solicitation of sexual services, to no avail. Still, there were many supportive comments as well.

LinkedIn told the Washington Post in a statement that "conversations that inform and educate are welcome on LinkedIn, so long as they comply with our Professional Community Policies." As Egozi is not taking sexual clients on the platform, her posts on the topic remain within the guidelines.

"Overnight, Egozi, 31, became an international face of the sex work positivity movement," Beachum's article read.

Egozi, who declined to specify the type of sex work she does for legal and safety concerns, told Beachum that the LinkedIn post stemmed from deep-rooted unhappiness from attempting to fit into workplaces where she felt undervalued.

The Brooklyn resident, who is of Turkish, Cuban, Jewish and Guatemalan heritage, said fitting into workplace culture has often felt like betraying her identities, even in liberal spaces where diversity and inclusion appear to be priorities.

"I’m queer. I’m femme. Latina. First-generation American. I’m Jewish," Egozi said in the interview with Beachum, adding that she is also neurodivergent. "I'm spanning so many identities that are seen as unprofessional."

Egozi said she had to learn to tone down or "whitewash" her identities to truly fit in. According to her, this left her feeling drained.

"I felt objectified for all of my creative energy. I felt very used, which is what you hear about people in sex industry," she said.

Egozi was working at a company called Medley, a program that groups customers by similar personal goals and provides seminars to help people achieve them. According to the company's website, it's "a diverse community for the intentional and the curious to get what they want out of life," where members display their preferred pronouns on their profiles. The co-founders of the company are both black women.

As Egozi didn't find that diverse or inclusive enough, she left her "fancy benefits" job to become a sex worker. However, she said wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotions awaiting her as a newly minted sex worker.

"It was very different being an ally and sex workers' rights supporter," she said. "I was feeling the stigma, realizing how you can be naive, how you enter this. There's just so much wrapped up into it."

"More than a month after her post went viral, Egozi finds herself recovering from the onslaught of attention and wrestling with the notion of saying goodbye to sex work," Beachum wrote.

"It's wild to witness folks blatantly secrete their misogyny, respectability politics, and hatred for swers on a 'professional' platform," Egozi wrote in a follow-up post. "But then I remember who invented the concept of 'professionalism' in the first place."

She went on to lament how the news outlets covering her story misgendered her, and how the post opened her up to massive waves of negativity and hate mail.

"My dms, inboxes, emails are stocked full. My face is splashed across all the major Indian news segments proclaiming me as a 'US - based woman' breaking taboos — many getting the story (and my pronouns) wrong."

"I don't need to be the face of any of this," she continued. "Folks have been out here since the beginning of humanity hustling and healing. If you don’t know any sex workers, it's either because you haven't earned the trust for them to tell you, or because your friends are kinda boring."

According to Beachum's article, Egozi has faced some major safety concerns since becoming a sex worker, including her social media profiles and banking accounts being hacked, her family members being identified online, and receiving death threats.

"That’s such a bummer because [sex work] has been such a safe space," Egozi said. "I'm easily recognized. That’s really scary. I've gotten death threats and all that before but never felt like it could be real. Things are changing … there's no way of knowing what’s next and what this means for my life, my family and my safety."

Still, she claims she has no regrets.

Egozi hopes her post could lead to the de-stigmatization of sex work, noting that it's not up to her or other sex workers, but rather society as a whole to change.

"I made this post for myself to feel ownership and powerful," she said. "I hope that anyone seeing that post that they move closer to listening to themselves and feeling powerful."

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