Sex Worker Definition on Dictionary.com
In January 2022, Dictionary.com added the term “sex worker” to their website. Their definition reads: “a person employed in the sex industry, as a prostitute, pornographic film actor, stripper, nude model, or creator of sexually explicit online content.” In an exclusive statement to Old Pro News, a Lexicographer at Dictionary.com, Heather Bonikowski, said the company has been following the debate over sex workers’ rights as part of their research on social and criminal justice. They said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of OnlyFans created a more widespread awareness of the term.
Bonikowski shared that, “When someone speaking to you uses the vocabulary of identity that acknowledges and respects you and respects the way you see and represent yourself, that can have a positive effect for you and for other people listening, whether or not the word choice has changed the speaker’s worldview.”
The term “sex worker” was coined in 1978 by activist Carol Leigh aka the Scarlot Harlot to put more emphasis on the labor aspect of the identification. Activists agree that language has the power to promote dignity especially among marginalized groups.