Before Margaret Cho was a comedian, she was a sex worker. And she's not ashamed.

'I was a sex worker when I was young. It was hard but well paid. There's no shame in it.'

There's been a lot of talk about sex work recently — what it is, who's doing it, and how society and the government should treat people who make money from sex work.

It's a sensitive debate, and advocates on both sides of the issue have strongly held beliefs. But one group that too often gets left out of the conversation? Actual sex workers.

Sometimes that's because sex workers choose to keep their identities hidden because of safety and legal concerns. But often, the stigma against sex work also silences their voices.


Comedian Margaret Cho had a few things to say on Twitter about that shame and stigma.

You probably know Cho because of her amazing standup comedy (this one is a must-watch). Or maybe you'd seen her in the ABC sitcom "All-American Girl" back in 1994 when Asian-American representation on TV was pretty dismal. She's also a fierce activist for LGBTQ rights and racial equality.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Margaret Cho! Photo by Sebastien Nogier/AFP/Getty Images.

But before all of that, she was also a sex worker.

"I support sex workers because I was one and I know that it's a job that's needlessly shunned by society when frankly we should be worshipped," she tweeted in late October.

She then published a series of tweets about her sex work, sparking a dramatic conversation on Twitter.

Cho also tweeted that she believes that sex workers shouldn't be shamed; instead, they should be protected by the law and allowed to unionize.

This isn't the first time Cho has opened up publicly about her history with sex work.

Earlier this year, she talked with Anna Sale from the Death, Sex & Money podcast about how working on phone-sex job allowed her to be financially independent as a young person.

"I did phone sex for quite a time, but this was so long ago, it was phone sex that was recorded. And there was a class system because the whiter you sounded, the more apt you were to do the recordings then talk to people on the phone. So if you didn't sound white, I guess as I do, you were relegated to another room where actually had to talk to people who called you. But because I sounded white I was able to get the good job."

The question of sex work's legal status is a huge one, and it has only become more pressing during the past year.

In April, journalist Melissa Gira Grant investigated a startup that helps police officers track sex workers. This summer, Amnesty International decided to advocate for decriminalizing sex work, a move that celebrities like Lena Dunham and Meryl Streep criticized. Then in September, Rentboy, a site for LGBTQ sex workers, was raided and forced to close by the Department of Homeland Security.

All of this has thrown some new light on what it really means to sell sex. And it's an important conversation to have because even though sex work is a reality in the U.S. and across the world, it's not a topic that gets much airtime at all.

Why? I'd venture to guess that the shame surrounding the idea of sex work prevents us from talking about the real issues that sex workers face. This is what Cho believes, too.

And that's why Cho wrote that series of tweets — to lift up her voice as another advocate.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

She acknowledges that sex workers don't deserve to be shamed and that they need to be better protected by the law.

No matter what you think about sex work, Cho's decision was a brave and necessary one.

When it comes to issues like sex work, it's important to hear from the people who will be directly affected by the laws in place — in this case, sex workers themselves. So thank you, Margaret Cho, for sharing your experiences and sparking such an important conversation.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture