Plenty of times I’ve heard sex workers say: ‘Yeah I’ve done this kind of sex work, but I would never do that kind of sex work!’  

Even more times I’ve heard clients say: ‘Yeah I would pay for that kind of sex work but I would never pay for that kind of sex work!’

It seems that not only to outside society, but also within the world sex workers and paying clients, there is still a hierarchy. Some sex workers are a lot more accepted than others.

The Slut Stigma


the sex worker hierarchy


So what plays into this? The obvious one is the type of sex work you do. The most socially acceptable forms of sex work today are the ones that involve the least amount of physical intimacy, such as OnlyFans and other forms of online sex work. 

At the other end of the spectrum you have full service escorts, who regularly engage in intercourse in exchange for money. Escorts face judgement from the rest of the sex work community, who generally consciously or subconsciously view it as the ‘worst’. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting forms of sex work at the moment is sugaring. So many sugar babies (including myself once upon a time), don’t view what they do as sex work, even though they are sleeping with various sugar daddies in exchange for money.

The reality today, is that sugaring for many has become a looser (and consequently more dangerous) form of escorting. But even though essentially sugar babies are doing the exact same thing as escorts, they are generally viewed by society (especially clients) as being cleaner and classier and therefore more acceptable. Why? 

I have had plenty of sugar daddies talk about escorts to me with scorn and disdain…and each time I have wondered  if they realise that what we are doing  together is essentially the exact same. I think this is partly down to slut-shaming.

To men, the more consciously promiscuous she is, the more of a whore a woman is. What clients seem to like about sugar babies is their supposed innocence to the world of sex work. They are basically not sex workers doing sex work. They are more naive and this makes them more forgivable for what they are doing. 




class in the sex worker hierarchy


I think class also comes into play here. Sugaring is branded as ‘upscale dating’. The idea that the clients and the babies are ‘classy’ ie- they both have money, come from at least a middle class background, makes the whole thing a lot more digestible.

It makes it easier for daddy and baby to live in the delusion that what they are doing is not sex work. I wrote more about class drag within the world of sugaring

The idea of class being a big factor in the sex work hierarchy becomes even more clear when we compare how sugaring is viewed in comparison to stripping for example. In some ways, sugar babies are more socially accepted than strippers, which is interesting given that sugar babies engage in intercourse and strippers don’t.

I think that this is because sugaring attracts a more ‘woke’ hipster and largely more middle class type of sex worker. Out of a super working class stripper and a middle class sugar baby, I think the sugar baby is more likely to be accepted today.

Being a sex worker and having stereotypically working class traits = you’re not accepted into the cool elite community of ‘empowered’ sex workers. 




the sex worker hierarchy: inexperience


On the other side of the coin, in backlash to their refusal to be branded as sex workers, sugar babies are pretty unpopular within the sex worker community. 

I’ve seen plenty of escorts discuss sugar on my Twitter feed. They make the argument that whilst sugar babies think that they are above the term ‘sex worker’, they are in fact the ones exploiting themselves the most- being inexperienced and spending a lot of time with clients whilst receiving very little money in return.

It’s true that in the delusion of pretending to not be a sex worker, sugar babies end up being exploited for not knowing anything about the industry and getting underpaid and sometimes not paid at all for their time. 

Sex workers who are new to the industry, especially ones doing the more normalised forms of sex work like OnlyFans, camming and sugaring are also ostracised from the sex work community for being ‘fakes’ and for making sex work seem a lot easier than it is in reality. 




What creates a divide in the sex work community is the idea that the more ‘promiscuous’ you choose to be in your profession, the less respectable you are. 

Sex work all comes down to preference. Sugar babies might find one-to-one intimacy a lot more comfortable than dancing in front of a whole crowd of people. Camgirls might find the online interaction a lot easier than an in person interaction.Escorts might find their strict time limits a lot more manageable than spending limitless hours with a sugar daddy.

The only thing that should really matter is how you feel about what you do.  No sex work is better or easier than the other. 

In addition, being conscious about our profession, and not being ashamed to call it sex work is also important. Many sugar dating sites dodge around the idea that sugaring is sex work, which only makes it more unsafe.

It’s important that’s the ‘woke’ sex workers accept their profession for what it is and don’t look down on other sex workers. A cold hard fact is that we’re all selling ourselves. 

The reality is that we’re all fighting on the same team. Sensuali is all about bringing together all forms of sex work, to create a truly solid community that helps to educate and protect all sex workers.

People do sex work for different reasons, and none of them are right or wrong. To create the safest community that we can, we have to be understanding and open. Down with the sex work hierarchy! 

Sex Work



Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.

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