She listed 'sex work' on LinkedIn. Here's what happened next.

·7 min read
She listed 'sex work' on LinkedIn. Here's what happened next.

About a month ago, Arielle Egozi decided to post on LinkedIn about her decision to leave an in-house job as a brand director, and about how sex work empowered that decision. That post would send shock waves around the globe and reignite conversations about sex work.

"i had just enough saved from selling and engaging my image that i could ask myself if i was happy. i wasn't," Egozi wrote. "yeah, the few grand i'd stashed up over time helped, but the biggest reason i could walk away is because sex work shows me what my power can do when i own it intentionally."

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Egozi, who uses she and they pronouns but whom The Washington Post will address as she, boasted about charging "exorbitant amounts" for her sex work and explained that she only engages in sex work that feels "safe, playful and abundant," eschewing the need to barter and negotiate her time and value.

"why is this different than any other client work," Egozi wrote. "the answer i come to, again and again, is that it isn't. so it's now up on my linkedin."

Overnight, Egozi, 31, became an international face of the sex work positivity movement.

The post was picked up by media outlets spanning India, Britain and the United States. Social media users also weighed in, some discussing the merits of recognizing sex work as legitimate labor while others bashed Egozi for shamelessly listing it among many other roles on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn told The Post in a statement that "conversations that inform and educate are welcome on LinkedIn, so long as they comply with our Professional Community Policies."

The Brooklyn resident, who declined to specify the type of sex work she does for legal and safety concerns, told The Post in an interview that the LinkedIn post stemmed from deep-rooted unhappiness from contorting herself to fit into in workplaces where she felt undervalued.

More than a month after her post went viral, Egozi finds herself recovering from the onslaught of attention and wrestling with the notion of saying goodbye to sex work.

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Egozi, who is of Turkish, Cuban, Jewish and Guatemalan heritage, said fitting into workplace culture has often felt like smashing down all of her identities, even in liberal spaces where diversity and inclusion appear to be priorities of leadership.

"I'm queer. I'm femme. Latina. First-generation American. I'm Jewish," Egozi said, adding that she is also neurodivergent. "I'm spanning so many identities that are seen as unprofessional."

Egozi said she learned early on that she had to find a way to tone down or whitewash her identities to truly fit in. Fighting for diversity and inclusion was overwhelming and meeting the demands of her job left her feeling drained, she said.

She said she was told she was being too rigid and boxed in when her last company had an audit of the culture there.

"I gave two hours of being radically honest and giving suggestions on how things can change," she said. "I got the response of 'you're being too rigid.' It was at that moment I realized that this is not going to get better and nobody actually seems to care."

Even when she ascended to director status, Egozi said she felt like she had the illusion of "power," where she felt like authority was expressed on paper but not in practice to actually enact change.

Egozi is among the millions of Americans who have quit their jobs since the pandemic's onset.

A May survey from consultancy firm PwC's Global Workforce found that 1 in 5 workers planned to switch employers in 2022, with pay being the main reason along with showing up as one's true self listed, among others.

For minorities, workspaces can turn into places engendering fatigue and fostering burnout, according to Meghna Sabharwal, program head of public and nonprofit management at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Sabharwal co-wrote a scholarly article that found hiring women and people of color isn't enough to change an employee's perception about organizational justice if the companies aren't actively trying to make their workplaces inclusive.

Minority groups in the article reported feeling tokenized and feeling a sense of not belonging.

For women and minorities who have reached leadership positions such as Egozi, they can still reach a glass cliff, Sabharwal said.

"These women have broken through the glass ceiling but do not feel empowered enough in policymaking or decision-making," Sabharwal said. "After they break thought the glass ceiling, they're faced with the glass cliff where they just want to leave."

That's exactly what Egozi did.

"I felt objectified for all of my creative energy. I felt very used, which is what you hear about people in sex industry," she said. "For me, that my work there has been primarily been a healing space, a place where I could show up as my full self. "

- - -

Egozi has consistently written about sex education, wellness and consent for years, but the pandemic gave her time to test the strength of her convictions.

With a dearth of creative advertising prospects at the peak of the pandemic, Egozi left New York and went back to her hometown in South Florida and stayed with her father for a period of time.

"I was like I need to make money and I need to make things," Egozi said. "It was something from home. I could really confront a lot of personal stuff. . . . As a creative person and a person who creative directs and writes it was very transferrable."

Egozi said she wasn't prepared for the rush of emotions awaiting her as a newly minted sex worker.

"It was very different being an ally and sex workers rights supporter," she said. "I was feeling the stigma, realizing how you can be naive how you enter this. There's just so much wrapped up into it."

Egozi monitored her reactions to her new work. If consistent sex work didn't feel good, she'd pull back. Pursuing it full time didn't quite fit, so she hasn't done so.

She said the work has made her an unofficial counselor for men who had troubles expressing their loneliness at the pandemic's height.

Egozi reentered the tech world after her pandemic respite with a newfound, internal authority discovered through sex work that's seeped into how she intends to interact with her branding, tech and creative partnerships.

- - -

Egozi said she has no regrets about her LinkedIn post despite others attempting to break into her social media and banking profiles. She also has concerns about her safety.

"That's such a bummer because [sex work] has been such a safe space," Egozi said. "I'm easily recognized. That's really scary. I've gotten death threats and all that before but never felt like it could be real. Things are changing . . . there's no way of knowing what's next and what this means for my life, my family and my safety."

She has needed to remain calm for family members who were identified on social media accounts that weren't privatized, a task that has involved her consoling them more at times than the other way around.

Egozi hopes her post could lead to the de-stigmatization of sex workers, she said, but noted that such change isn't up to her and one LinkedIn post alone - it's up society.

"I made this post for myself to feel ownership and powerful," she said. "I hope that anyone seeing that post that they move closer to listening to themselves and feeling powerful."

Her direct messages have also been packed with other sex workers who have white-collar jobs, thanking her for coming out and expressing how they too wish they could come out at their jobs.

"The next few moments could be a culmination and a gift out of all this," she said of the aftermath of her post. "Otherwise, I don't know why it had to be my face for all this. My whole journey has been unique and it's put me in this situation."

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