Published on June 17th, 2014 | by Rayne1
In which I teach a lesson about sex work (and am sad I need to do so)
I never thought I would need too write a post such as this one but numerous people on Twitter make these sorts of posts necessary. Today I’m going to talk about sex work – mainly sex work as in prostitution and sex work as in porn.
There is a very basic difference between consensual sex work, sex work by necessity and human sex trafficking. The number one thing that seems to be forgotten when speaking about sex work is that people of all sexualities and gender identities engage in it but for this post I will mainly be speaking about sex work under taken by women (regardless of whether they are cis or trans) and by human sex trafficking victims who happen to be women (regardless whether they are cis or trans). Regardless of cis and trans-ness I’m going to refer to both as women because (1) we all know they are and (2) it’s easier to type because it is fucking cold in this room.
Consensual sex work is where a woman makes a consensual choice to be paid to engage in sex acts for money and have it recorded for other people to watch or to be paid money to engage in sex acts with others without being recorded. The sex work idustry (prostitution) has been legalised in my state which means mandatory Hep B vaccines for all workers, mandatory STD tests every month, condoms/gloves and lube with every client as well as mandatory checking for outward signs of disease for every client – if it’s bumpy or weeping pus – you can piss off with no refund. You get half of the standard fee (so that’s $70 minimum per 30 minute booking) and you can charge whatever you want for extras which you keep in full. You have to work in a legal brothel to get those conditions – unsafe sex work (soliciting sex on street corners or through the paper) is still illegal for safety reasons.
The porn industry is slowly improving – there is still a way to go. There is an increase in women producers and queer porn – it is no longer purely an industry of porn made for men by men. More and more studios require mandatory STD screening and testing as well.
Some people choose sex work because they want to because it can be fun and empowering and because people love having sex or see it as an art, some because they need to due to ability to make more money, because getting a more standard job is hard and they have bills too pay. The last one is more due to necessity – some people wouldn’t be sex workers if they have access to free healthcare, free education, better minimum wage amongst other things.
Meanwhile sex work via coercion, manipulation or deceit is when a woman is manipulated into sex work maybe by an abusive spouse – sex work via coercion generally involves emotional manipulation and/or violence – this is the common stereotype of a sex worker. The victim who is only a sex worker because their spouse abused them into it or maybe they have drug problems, whatever the misconception the message of the stereotype is the same – sex workers are victims. Society tells us stable women would never chose to have sex for money because women are meant to be chaste and sexless and have “self respect”, women aren’t meant to enjoy sex therefore the only people who must be sex workers must have been forced into it because you know, we can’t make up our own minds.
Lastly is human sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is where humans are kidnapped and/or sold into sex slavery against their will. This is sexual slavery and is fucking sick.
Sex work via coercion is a big problem, there are many women in the world who are sex workers with pimps that treat them badly (or worse) or work in unregulated brothels that are a danger to themselves and to their customers. If we had more legal and regulated brothels in the world, ones that took care of its staff and clients while throwing out the bad ones for the safety of all – we would have more safe women. If we had a society with free healthcare, livable wages, free education – we wouldn’t have women who need to be sex workers, we would only have women who want to be sex workers.
The age old argument against women in sex work is that it is degrading, that it treats women as objects- I disagree. Human trafficking treats women as object to be bought and sold. Sex work on camera by choice – can be very empowering. Sex work off camera – can be very empowering. The problem isn’t sex work, the problem isn’t getting paid for sex or buying sex – the problem is the industry needs to be safer for both worker and the client and the attitudes towards the work itself need to improve. There is a shitty attitude on this planet towards sex and womens sexuality – society teaches us to be sexy but not sexual, society teaches us we need to be the gate keepers of sex, it teaches men they are entitled to sex and the way to be a man is too have lots of it. The problem isn’t sex work or sex itself – it’s people.
If you cannot see how sex work can be empowering for a woman or how it can be regarded as just another job by some, or something that can be a positive thing (with the right attitude and regulations), you will only ever see women as victims. If you cannot see there are women who choose to be sex workers and you can only see victims despite their reasons for being a sex worker – you disregard their choices and their sense of agency. If you judge women for making the choice to be a sex worker or you pity them for doing it – you have some pretty warped views on sex. There is nothing wrong with people getting naked on camera. There is nothing wrong for getting paid for what people give away for free. Especially if you’re having sex in a place that demands safety where the person you are having sex with needs to abide by safety laws.
Next time you judge someone for being a sex worker, you need too ask yourself – is it them or is it me? What are my attitudes towards sex?
Now if people could stop seeing woman as nothing more than victims for five minutes, maybe we’ll actually get somewhere with this whole moving forward towards equality thing. Women can be more than just victims, we can be self assured people who can think for themselves. We have rights to body autonomy and choice. We are someone offenders of horrible things. If we continue to think of ourselves as nothing more than victims – that is all we will ever be. The problem isn’t sex work – it’s social attitudes towards women and sex work. It’s misogyny and sexism. It’s rape culture and victim blaming. We need to work on those issues in order to stop violence against women, we should be accountable for the horrible things women commit such as sexual abuse and domestic violence instead of palming it off as taught by men – because that again renders us as victims unable to take control and be accountable for our lives and actions.
As an end note: Those who want to be sex workers – be sex workers. Be safe and make it legal for those who wish to engage in sex work. Those who don’t want to be sex workers – we need to create an environment where people don’t need to be sex workers if they don’t want to. We need an environment where women aren’t manipulated by abusive people into sex work they don’t want.
And no-one needs to say human sex trafficking needs to be stopped – of course it does.