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The simple message was supposed to support women, but some in the sex work industry disagree—and a Twitter fight has followed. 

After last month’s intense debate re: whether Twitter is a safe space for constructive feminist dialogue or an arena for mean girls and cyber-bullies, one would think that feminists on Twitter would make a concentrated effort to prove that they fell in the former camp.

The appearance of a new “feminist” hashtag this morning, however, proves that not to be the case. Purportedly intended to help raise awareness of sex trafficking, #Realjobsnotblowjobs is the latest hashtag to polarize feminists on Twitter, with many arguing that the “real jobs” vs. “blow jobs” dichotomy demeans women in sex work.

The hashtag apparently originated last Saturday, when author and anti-trafficking activist Jacqueline S. Homan tweeted the following:

Unsurprisingly, sex workers and their allies were not pleased by the suggestion that their source of income did not constitute a “real” job, nor were they happy at being told that supporting sex work was tantamount to “throw[ing] poor women under the bus.” The backlash was swift and fierce:

Author and former sex worker Melissa Gira Grant also weighed in on the hashtag, tweeting “[redacted hateful hashtag] is hateful, redacted” and “#yourjobisbadandyoushouldfeelbad” in response. When asked for comment on the hashtag, and why a so-called feminist advocate would use it to perpetuate the stigmatization of sex workers, Grant sent the following response via email:

I'd prefer not to comment on this any further. This is why I'm loathe to write about instances of whore stigma on the internet. It can sometimes only draw more attention. Are very many people even using this hashtag, besides sex workers' allies who are pointing out how mean-spirited and counter-productive it is? Honestly, it doesn't seem very successful when the negative reaction is the story.

So let’s put the debate over #realjobsnotblowjobs to rest with the following: Real feminists, not fake feminists, don’t use social media as a platform to bully other women, regardless of how they feel about how they make their living.

H/T Twitter | Photo via Sunset Noir/Flickr

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