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Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience (striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows).
Sexual surrogates often engage in sexual activity as part of therapy with their clients.
These motives also align with varying climates surrounding sex work in different communities and cultures. Sex work can take the form of prostitution, stripping or lap dancing, performance in pornography, phone or internet sex, or any other exchange of sexual services for financial or material gain.
The variety in the tasks encompassed by sex work lead to a large range in both severity and nature of risks that sex workers face in their occupations.
Maintaining privacy and confidentiality in research is also difficult because many sex workers may face prosecution and other consequences if their identities are revealed.
While demographic characteristics of sex workers vary by region and are hard to measure, some studies have attempted to estimate the composition of the sex work communities in various places.
Another example of sex workers that would not fall under the term “prostitute” would be an adult talent manager, who negotiates and secures pornographic roles for their clients.
One study found that a majority of the sex workers interviewed enjoyed their occupation and felt like they were discovering themselves.
Sex workers may be any gender and exchange sexual services or favors for money or other gifts.
The motives of sex workers vary widely and can include debt, coercion, survival, or simply as a way to earn a living.
Using the term sex worker rather than prostitute also allows more members of this industry to be represented and helps ensure that individuals who are actually prostitutes are not singled out and associated with the negative connotations of "prostitute".
In addition, choosing to use the term sex worker rather than prostitute shows ownership over the individuals career choice.