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Sex Professional

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Updated April 08, 2010

Definition:

The term sex professional describes a range of professions that involve working in and around human sexuality. A sex professional may make some, all, or none of their living doing work that involves sex. But working in sex alone doesn't describe a sex professional. What distinguishes a sex professional is the approach to the work. Being a professional includes engaging in some sort of education (formal or informal) related to the job, it means having, and following, a code of ethics and guidelines for how work is done. In this sense, being professional doesn't describe what you do as much as your approach to doing it, and how you came to do it.

Sex professionals may be in the helping professions, sex therapists, sexologists, and sex educators, to name a few. Sex professionals may also be in the entertainment industry, dancers, actors, people engaged in many different kinds of sex work. Of course some sex educators may be more entertainers, and some people who have sex for money (or barter) may think about their work as more helping than entertainment.

It may seem strange to consider having sex for money (or barter) in the same category as researching sex at university or to suggest there are connections between a sex therapist and a porn actor. The term sex professional doesn't mean these jobs are the same, and it doesn't erase the significant power and privilege some people have because of what they do for a living. But it allows for connections to be explored, it broadens the perspective before narrowing it, which can be helpful for anyone looking for sexual help or investigating how they might make sexuality part of their work.

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