Understanding Sex Work


Bad date, bad trick: When a john/trick/date becomes violent—physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually

Bathhouse: A place where gay men go to have sex. Male hustlers and their clients frequent these establishments.

Bawdy house: An indoor site where sex work regularly takes place.

Brothel: A house, apartment or other property where sexual services are sold.

Decriminalization: Removing laws relating to sex work, such as some forms of communication, purchasing sexual services and the managing of bawdy houses, which are currently regarded as offences in the Criminal Code. It also includes the view that no other laws at the federal, provincial or municipal level should be introduced to take their place.

Exiting: The process of transition that people undergo as they cease to work in the sex industry.

Experiential: Individuals who identify themselves as people who are currently, or have in the past, supported themselves in part or in full through paid labour in sex work.

Exploitation: A person who controls the life of another person by taking advantage of an inequality or vulnerability (i.e. age, addiction, poverty, etc.) through use of threats, violence, fraud, coercion, deception, abuse of power, financial incentive or promise of benefits to force someone, against his or her will, to perform labour or services. Sexual exploitation refers to people who are required, against their will, to undertake sexual acts. Youth sexual exploitation refers to children under the age of 18 years.

Hustler: Term used for male sex workers.

John, trick, date, customer and client: Someone who trades or buys sexual services.

Legalization: Permitting sex work under regulated conditions by having government set legislation governing the work and businesses of sex workers.

LGBTQI community: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community.

Massage parlour/body rub: An establishment where people can purchase a massage with additional sexual services.

Pimp: A person who manipulates or controls and uses power over a sex worker for profit.

Prohibition: A legal approach that aims to eliminate all forms of paid sex by making sex work, or certain activities associated with sex work, illegal.

Stroll, corner, track: Well-known areas where customers go to buy sexual services. They are usually separated into female, male, youth or transgender areas. They are often sub-divided into drug using and non-using and high and low tracks (depending on the cost of the date or service).

Sex industry/sex trade: All-encompassing term covering all forms of sex work including web cams, cyber sex, dancing, massage, S&M, pornography, etc.

Sex work: Offering sexual acts for payment.

Sex worker: Someone who works in the sex industry. (Derogatory words and phrases are: prostitute, hooker, whore, ho, scarlet, streetwalker.)

Sexual exploitation: If a youth under 18 is exchanging sexual services for money, clothes, food, shelter, etc., this is youth sexual exploitation, not sex work. There is an obligation to disclose to Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) if you know that a youth is being sexually exploited. It includes the direct use of children and youth for sex and the use of children in sexual images (pornography).

Survival sex: This applies to people who can’t always exercise their right to refuse to perform sexual acts because of their urgent need for food, shelter, drugs, money or other survival necessities.

Trafficking in persons: This refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person for the purpose of exploitation, forced labour or services or slavery. Trafficking happens for many purposes (sex work, domestic work, factory labour, the removal of organs, etc.).

Transgender: Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses those who identify themselves as transsexuals (TS, pre-op, post-op), transvestites (TV), male to female (M-F or M2F), female to male (F-Mor F2M), tranny, she male, drag queen, drag king and two-spirited.

Trick pad: This term has two very different connotations. It can refer to places where sex workers take their dates. It can also refer to sites, often secluded, well disguised and run by pimps, where people are kept against their will and forced to have sex with customers.