More

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.'

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

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.

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

Keep Reading Show less