Motherhood & Sacrifice


"A Mothers Sacrifice", Megan Rieker, 2000,

Motherhood and Sacrifice have been connected since the beginning of time. As we see in this painting by Megan Rieker, Moses' mother made the ultimate sacrifice. She understood that her child would not have a chance if he stayed with her due to the oppressive reign of the Pharoah. Therefore she placed her child in a basket and put that basket in the Nile river. She was willing to sacrifice a life with her child in hopes that he would have a better life. This hope for a better life is one of the main reasons that many mothers go into sex work. 

Many women who are sex workers engage in the field of sex work to support their children. Many of these women grew up in low income communities without stable parental figures and that motivates them to do and be better for their children. However, in a world fueled by capitalism it is oftentimes hard for them to find jobs where they make enough money to do so. Although sex work is stigmatized heavily, many women find a steady income in the field of sex work they also find community. They often live together with other sex workers because they find it easier than living alone or with a man who does not understand their lifestyle. They also oftentimes will trade off on who watches the children because it is easier than finding a babysitter and having to explain their lifestyle to a stranger. Although sex work is something that they must engage in many speak about how they do not want the “dirty” money that they receive and their “tarnished” image to affect the lives of their children. [1]

Much of the rhetoric surrounding mothers who are sex workers is heavily rooted in respectability politics, most of which dictate what it means to be a “good” mother. Oftentimes the main thing that distinguishes a good mother from a bad mother is not providing for their children. So how is it that even when these women do that very thing they are deemed as “bad” parents? Does the way that women provide for their children dictate their legitimacy or is it the fact that they are trying in a world that may be hard for them, all that matters? Do we question men who work what we would deem "questionable" jobs and whether or not they are capable of being good fathers? I think not. The misogny that is so deeply rooted in our society constantly allows men to do whatever they please but attack women for the slightest infraction. Why then is there such an attack on women who oftentimes have no other choice? Most of these women sacrifice their physical bodies in order to be the sole provider in the household yet their job is constantly seen as the one factor that deems them unfit mothers. 

[1] Dewey, Susan. Neon Wasteland: On Love, Motherhood, and Sex Work in a Rust Belt Town. Berkeley: U of California, 2011. Print.