Well once again Pay Day loan companies have been criticised in the media (quite rightly – their interest rates are extortionate). The number of lenders has doubled in the last four years with firms charging annual interest rates of more than 5800% on some loans, according to The Mirror.
But what’s this got to do with sex work? Well, the rise of the pay day loan reminds us of the need people have to, on occassion, obtain money, immediently. Upon approval, applicants apply to one of these companies, answer a few questions, and get money in the bank within the hour.
And people wonder, in this day and age, why they are being used? It’s simple. Some of us need money – fast. And the need for fast money is one of the reasons why the sex industry will continue to exist. I often imagine many opponents of the sex industry have never been in a position where they need money urgently for food, pay rent, etc – or perhaps have always had some one to borrow off (family, friends, a bank manager who doesn’t charge quite a much interest as Wonga et al).
I’m not saying pay day loans are a good thing. They are profiting from the needs of people who need money urgently and cannot obtain it elsewhere. But their use reveals the obvious. We don’t all have savings to draw on on a rainy day. We don’t all have mummies and daddies with bottomless back accounts. For some of us, the pay day loan is often the only option left.
Many people I know started stripping because they needed money fast. Many of these people continued to enjoy their job, and others found they absolutely hated it. But one thing usually could be guaranteed – heading in for a shift would result in coming out with some money. Not always very much, but when you’ve got no food in the fridge, anything is better than nothing. As with any form of work, there are enjoyable aspects, and some less so. But in my view, the need that all of us have to have some money in our pockets, is the number one reason why we will always have this industry – in addition to many, many other factors, of course. I often want to ask opposers to lap dancing clubs if they would like to pay the stripper’s bills for them this week, or buy them their groceries – as by the time they have obtained a ‘normal’ job, and waited for a pay day, their bills will have rocketed through the roof….. I wonder if opposers would be quite so militant then.
Yet wait, some would perhaps argue then that it is customers who are exploiting women’s need for money. But then you could say that about any employer when you think about it. The problem with the sex industry is that workers often have no rights, as, in the UK at least, it is unregulated. However – this is a tricky one when you think about it, because the very fact it is unregulated is the very reason why cash in hand is available. So then we have the situation whereby some business owners are able to take advantage of the whole self-employment label.
So what’s the solution? We would love to hear your suggestions, so drop us a line at the project email. The point really of this blog is that when people require money, they will find a way to get it, whether that is through family, friends, cash in hand work, or pay day loans. And that is never going to change.