One contributor says we cannot be blind to the true horror behind the bland phrase ‘sex work’
No one wants to have to go to a job that they hate. We all have different reasons for needing a job. The majority of us need a job to earn money.
We buy a lottery ticket on the off chance that our numbers come up and we never have to work again. We are trained early on that work and a job are important. From childhood, we are asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up? What would your dream job be?”
I’m willing to bet my kidneys that absolutely no one answers those questions with “prostitute” or “being paid to be used by strangers by whatever their perverted desires demand”.
Primarily because selling yourself for sex is not a job.
Prostitution an economic necessity not a career choice
It’s almost always an economic necessity that you are forced into making that decision.
I’ve always advocated for prostitution to be decriminalised because I believed it’s wrong to criminalise people who are so desperate that they will put themselves at horrific risk selling themselves to strangers.
That anyone in the 21st century has to consider doing that is a sign society has failed. The vast majority of people being failed are women.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with women who are currently involved or have been involved in the sex industry. The overwhelming majority have addiction issues and mental health conditions.
Not a single one has ever wanted to do what they have done or are doing. What they are doing is technically considered “consensual”, but the very nature of it is unwanted.
The difference between the unwanted nature of this type of “work” is in no way comparable to the unwanted nature of packing boxes to fund Jeff Bezos’ vanity projects.
Sex industry about control – but not for its workers
The sex industry is about control and people having what they want, regardless of the needs and wants of others. For anyone to support people into entering the “oldest profession” is simply enabling harm against them. Those being harmed are predominantly women.
There are women who will stand by “sex work” as a choice. A choice often celebrated by television: “Oh, look at the shoes and handbags you can buy and be you are your own boss!!!”
For a time, women may enjoy the perks of selling their youth and beauty to the highest bidder. It is not a sustainable product. The word “dignity” is not often used these days, but it is an important part of maintaining self-respect and retaining your humanity. Think about how prisoners are treated. Loss of dignity is part of the punishment.
Few leave sex work untouched by trauma
Selling yourself to men who want you to suck their unwashed penis for £5 does not allow you to feel like a valuable human. It leads to trauma and self-abuse. Very few leave the sex industry intact.
People traffickers and pimps treat the women in their possession as less than human. We know that brothels where you can pay to have sex with a robot provide more security for the robot. This is because it’s more difficult to replace the robot than it is to replace the human being.
Let that sink in.
Education should be route out of poverty not training ground for sex work
This week we saw a university legitimising selling yourself for sex rather than fighting tooth and nail to create provision for marginalised women to access further education.
It is very telling. Pricing university out of the reach of the working class has varied consequences. Women not being able to access the means of escaping the forces of the patriarchy is one.
Keep us poor, down at heel, in need of male financial care and it stops us getting uppity (in theory).
We are able as a society to choose to make things better so no one has to consider selling themselves into having sex with strangers.
We continue to choose not to do that. That choice only benefits men.
*Quote in header image from House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee report on prostitution in 2016-17.