Sex work

A couple of questions:

1) Do you believe that one can make a positive, self-actualizing decision to do sex work?

2) (How) is sex work different from other forms of manual labor, or labor involving one’s body?

Just to ponder….

One of the things that struck me in my years of sexually acting out, among the dozens of women I encountered, was the enormous variety among them. Not just physical, or sexual variety, but variety in just about every sense. I met women who were smart and women who were dumb; women who were grad students or Ph.D.s and women who were high-school dropouts; women who were desperate for money and were doing sex work because they felt they had no other options, and women who had solid, well paying jobs but who wanted to do sex work; women who loved sex and women who hated it; women who loved sex work and women who hated it.

I came to see, to understand, that sex work isn’t really one thing, any more than “academia” is, or “finance” is, or “sports” is, or “entertainment” is, or “manual labor” is. It’s more like a category. And it’s a huge category, one that’s big enough to encompass lots of different kinds of work and lots of different kinds of people. A janitor at a university has almost nothing in common with an adjunct, who has little in common with a tenured professor, who has little in common with a university president. And it’s not just hierarchical. A research biologist has little in common with a critical legal theorist, and neither has much in common with a professor of 19th century French literature. And even in that French department, there’s huge diversity – both of academic interests and personal styles, motivations, and relationships to work.

Sometimes, when I read about sex work, I’m frustrated. I wrote about this from a very different angle (at least) once before. When people talk about sex work, they tend to be communicating much more about their relationship to sex, to desire, to sexuality, and to gender, than about sex work.

This is fragmentary, I know, but it’s been bubbling around in my head. I may have more to say about this in coming days. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

One comment

  1. Yes, of course a person can make a positive decision to do sex work. If the person is gifted sexually, or personally, consciously benefits from sharing sex with others, they could healthily choose to do sex work.

    I think it comes down to one’s feelings about work (setting aside all the stigma about prostitution). What do you want to do for money? To me, I only want to do nonessential things for money, like proofread, write purely educational articles and things like that. When it comes to the things that I care about deeply, like artistic writing, I wouldn’t know how to ask for money. I couldn’t quantify it’s value. Even more, I couldn’t cope with the emotions receiving money would cause me to feel. If I had to work for my own survival at a menial job, sex work would be my last choice.

    But could another person do those things easily? Absolutely. A chef shares his or her gifts for money. So do actors, artists, models, even hairstylists. I don’t think that sex workers are any different. Again, you have to equate the function of sex with functions like cooking, writing, painting, or even building or digging. They are all just tasks that can be accomplished by a mind and body.

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