Sex Work is Complicated (Uh, Duh)

I do not think sex work is empowering.

Now, I'm not saying that sometimes people don't experience it that way. I've written myself about how stripping took objectification, which I can't control, and put it in an arena where it's a consensual exchange. That one thing did help empower me, but that's just one part of a larger experience. I don't think it's what the industry does as a whole.

Sex work is often exploitative, sometimes dehumanizing, frequently fun, occassionally uplifting, very lucrative, hard work. It's a job. One that is complicated, most especially in its labor/management relations.

You wouldn't ask if working in a car factory is empowering. You wouldn't ask if being an accountant is empowering. A farm laborer. A Walmart cashier. Whatever. Maybe it's a valuable question, especially since the answer is usually "no," but it's not one lobbed at most labor.

So why should this be the standard for whether stripping or ho'ing or domming or modeling or whatever proves that it's acceptable? Why do we insist that sex work must either be unequivocally empowering or enequivocally degrading and sexist? I think it's awfully silly.

Until we begin to recognize that women's bodies are simply a site for regular old emotions and work and day to day life and not just a battle ground for those who want to exploit or empower them, we're not going to be able to deal fairly with sex work.

(The empowerment thing applies to male sex workers too, but the debate usually plays out most over women. Yet another way male sex workers get ignored and marginalized.)

Sex work is work. It's important, yes, but it's neither the answer to nor the only question of misogyny.

2 comments:

Dimas said...

That's a pretty damn good analogy. I may use it.

Myca said...

Right, and I think that the same basic argumentative framework applies to BDSM as well.

"Is BDSM empowering?"
"No ... but why does everything we do have to be empowering? Was your tuna sandwich empowering? Sometimes, it's mixed, and that's okay."

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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