I’m not sure that anyone who has seen/ read Belle du Jour would think that it’s a realistic portrayal of sex work (as a student or otherwise) but in case you do, here are some first-hand accounts, and facts and figures, to challenge that belief:
“I hate the word prostitute – when you think of a prostitute you think of someone on the street who is causing a public nuisance. I’m not: I do my course, I volunteer, I don’t do drugs. I’m a normal person.”
Sophie* is 22, studying at university and paying for it through sex work. She defines herself as an escort. Her student loan doesn’t cover her accommodation and living costs, and her intensive five-year course does not allow for casual work shifts.
“I don’t like reading newspapers about how there’s student sex workers and they’re just doing it to pay for their course fees. They just make it look either far too easy or far too sleazy. There’s no middle ground.”
Sophie’s experience is worryingly not uncommon, with research suggesting that as many as six per cent of students may become involved in sex work at some point during their studies.
[…] There is no safety net. “I think it’s hard to…you can pull out every stop to make sure you are going to be ok, and it just doesn’t always work that way. You think its ok, and it’s not,” she said.
There’s a long pause. Eventually she says: “It has happened but, I don’t know, it’s part of the job really, it’s a risk.”