FKA Twigs Launches Initiatives to support sex workers amidst criticisms

FKA Twigs Launches Initiatives to support sex workers amidst criticisms

FKA Twigs Launches Initiatives to support sex workers amidst criticisms

'Performative' has become a profane pejorative, yet has been used in reference to the artist's recent efforts.

'Performative' has become a profane pejorative, yet has been used in reference to the artist's recent efforts.

Text: Dante Silva

FKA Twigs consistently makes art in the avant-garde: her work is seemingly the subject of another dimension, entirely alien. There’s been occult aesthetics and experimental lyricism, each piece more outlandish than the next. And yet, Twigs remains grounded in her current surroundings. 

There’s been a recurring theme of womxn’s sexual agency, partly inspired by her lived experience. Her recent film ‘We Are the Womxn’ followed Twigs to Atlanta to “host a moon dance in celebration of the sacred womxn”, at Blue Flame, Atlanta’s first Black strip club. It’s mystical insofar as it creates its own, matriarchal mythology, constructed with elements of reality. 

Now, FKA Twigs has created a mutual fund for sex workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As she shared on Instagram, “I was 19 when I learnt my first pole move, I learnt a back hook spin from a stripper when I was working as a hostess in a gentleman’s club. For those of you who don’t know, hostessing is when one person pays another person for their time, anything from a conversation over dinner to sex work, and the club gets a cut of the fee. My lived experience as a very young woman in these environments has not only informed the strong and formidable woman that I am today, but also a lot of my work as a music and visual artist – sometimes even subconsciously.”

“I feel like now is the time for me to step forward, pay respect, and shine a light on the challenges facing sex workers, especially during these uncertain times,” she continues. “Sex workers I know and have met have discipline, craft, talent, and work ethic – not only do they deserve better long-term, but their income has been wiped out by the lockdown and many are invisible to the financial aid available to others.”

While her efforts are those of one amidst many, they’re notably substantial: she’s donated nearly £10,000 to organizations SWARM, Lysistrata, and ELSC, each to aid sex workers in the UK (you can donate here). 

View this post on Instagram

i was 19 when i learnt my first pole move, i learnt a back hook spin from a stripper when i was working as a hostess in a gentleman’s club. for those of you who don’t know, hostessing is when one person pays another person for their time, anything from a conversation over dinner to sex work, and the club gets a cut of the fee. my lived experience as a very young woman in these environments has not only informed the strong and formidable woman that i am today, but also a lot of my work as a music and visual artist - sometimes even subconsciously. i feel like now is the time for me to step forward, pay respect, and shine a light on the challenges facing sex workers, especially during these uncertain times. sex workers I know and have met have discipline, craft, talent and work ethic - not only do they deserve better long-term, but their income has been wiped out by the lockdown and many are invisible to the financial aid available to others. there’s a bigger journey in challenging public attitudes, tackling stigma, and fighting for rights and protections - but today I’m inviting you to join me in helping with cash donations to SWARM, Lysistrata and ELSC. these organisations are providing direct financial support to strippers and sex workers, we’ve kicked off the the fund with £10,000 and you can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/sexworkermutualaidfunds this week, SWARM @swarmhive Lysistrata @lysistratamccf and ELSC @ethicalstripper will also be taking over my social media channels.

A post shared by FKA twigs (@fkatwigs) on

Her work, while seemingly well-intentioned, is often received as less than genuine by sex workers. They point to their portrayal as nameless background objects in her videos, and the space Twigs takes up (often at the expense of their own agency). 

Indeed, she’s definitely appropriated the culture for the mainstream—one only has to look to the Cellophane video, with almost 10 million streams. It’s become something more palatable for consumption, at the expense of real, actual sex workers. Perhaps, her response is too little, too late. For, in a time wherein sex workers are facing an unprecedented precarity, there’s increasingly backlash against any ‘performative’ activism.

@PRETTYBOYGIRL on Instagram shared an infographic voicing prominent concerns, stating “help a problematic artist f*cking be better”. Swipe through, and remember to listen to and amplify the voices of sex workers (now and always). 

Credits: Image via FKA Twigs

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