After five years in the sex trade, Ashley Baker extricated herself and went to college to acquire the skills and training needed to help others who had also been ensnared. Today, Ms. Baker — an ardent activist for the Nordic Model of prostitution, civil rights, and gender and racial equality — works as an advocate at the EVA Center, a survivor-led exit program for prostituted women.
“Some say we choose ‘sex work’ or to ‘sell sex.’ It’s always been my understanding that sex is a consensual activity that individuals engage in to derive pleasure or to reproduce. That’s not prostitution. Prostitution is when a person with capital taunts vulnerable individuals with currency or resources to gain sexual access to their body parts and use them as masturbation repositories. One person is exploiting another person for orgasm; the other is enduring traumatic exploitation for survival. This isn’t ‘sex’ or ‘work.’ It’s abuse. Nobody chooses this. You’re cornered into it.”