Happy hookers: sex workers and their would-be saviors

Happy hookers: sex workers and their would-be saviors

Melissa Gira Grant on the framework in which sex work is discussed.

The following books were not published in 1972: The Happy Secretary, The Happy Nurse, The Happy Napalm Manufacturer, The Happy President, The Happy Yippie, The Happy Feminist. The memoir of a Manhattan madam was. The Happy Hooker climbed best-seller lists that year, selling over sixteen million copies.

When it reached their top five, the New York Times described the book as “liberally dosed with sex fantasies for the retarded.” The woman who wrote them and lived them, Xaviera Hollander, became a folk hero. She remains the accidental figurehead of a class of women who may or may not have existed before she lived and wrote. Of course, they must have existed, but if they hadn’t, say the critics of hooker happiness, we would have had to invent them.

Is prostitution so wicked a profession that it requires such myths?

We may remember the legend, but the particulars of the happy hooker story have faded. Hollander and the characters that grew up around her are correctly recalled as sexually omnivorous, but desire alone didn’t make her successful as a prostitute. She realized that the sex trade is no underworld, that it is intimately entangled in city life, in all the ways in which we are economically interdependent. Hollander was famous for being able to sweep through the lobby of the Palace Hotel, unnoticed and undisturbed, on her way to an assignation, not because she didn’t “look like” a working girl, but because she knew that too few people understood what a working girl really looked like.

In The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington, a 1977 film adapted from Hollander’s memoir, a scene opens with teletype bashing the screen with Woodward-and-Bernstein urgency. Flashlights sweep a darkened hall. Inside an unlocked office, a criminal scene is revealed: a senator embracing a prostitute. Hollander is called before Congress to testify. When the assembled panel interrogates her career, attacking her morals, she is first shameless, then spare but sharp in pointing out the unsurprising fact that these men are patrons of the very business they wish to blame for America’s downfall.

What’s on trial in the film is ridiculous, but the questions are real. What value does a prostitute bring to society? Or is hooking really not so grandiose as all that? Could it be just another mostly tedious way to take ownership over something all too few of us are called before Congress to testify on (the conditions of our work)?

Did you know that 89 per-cent of the women in prostitution want to escape?” a young man told me on the first day of summer this year, as he protested in front of the offices of the Village Voice. He wanted me to understand that it is complicit in what he calls “modern-day slavery.” The Village Voice has moved the bulk of the sex-related ads it publishes onto the website Backpage.com. This young man, the leader of an Evangelical Christian youth group, wanted to hasten the end of “sex slavery” by shutting Backpage.com down. What happens to the majority of people who advertise willingly on the site, who rely on it to draw an income? “The reality is,” the man said to me, not knowing I had ever been a prostitute, “almost all of these women don’t really want to be doing it.”

Let’s ask the people around here, I wanted to say to him: the construction workers who dug up the road behind us, the cabbies weaving around the construction site, the cops over there who have to babysit us, the Mister Softee guy pulling a double shift in the heat, the security guard outside a nearby bar, the woman working inside, the receptionist upstairs. The freelancers at the Village Voice. The guys at the copy shop who printed your flyers. The workers at the factory that made the water bottles you’re handing out. Is it unfair to estimate that 89 percent of New Yorkers would rather not be doing what they have to do to make a living?

“True, many of the prostitution ads on Backpage are placed by adult women acting on their own without coercion,” writes New York Times columnist and professional prostitute savior Nicholas Kristof. But, he continues, invoking the happy hooker trope, “they’re not my concern.” He would like us to join him in separating women into those who chose prostitution and those who were forced into it; those who view it as business and those who view it as exploitation; those who are workers and those who are victims; those who are irremediable and those who can be saved. These categories are too narrow. They fail to explain the reality of one woman’s work, let alone a class of women’s labor. In this scheme, a happy hooker is apparently unwavering in her love of fucking and will fuck anyone for the right price. She has no grievances, no politics.

But happy hookers, says Kristof, don’t despair, this isn’t about women like you – we don’t really mean to put you out of work. Never mind that shutting down the businesses people in the sex trade depend on for safety and survival only exposes all of them to danger and poverty, no matter how much choice they have. Kristof and the Evangelicals outside the Village Voice succeed only in taking choices away from people who are unlikely to turn up outside the New York Times, demanding that Kristof’s column be taken away from him.

Even if they did, with the platform he’s built for himself as the true expert on sex workers’ lives, men like Kristof can’t be run out of town so easily. There’s always another ted conference, another women’s rights organization eager to hire his expertise. Kristof and those like him, who have made saving women from themselves their pet issue and vocation, are so fixated on the notion that almost no one would ever choose to sell sex that they miss the dull and daily choices that all working people face in the course of making a living. Kristof himself makes good money at this, but to consider sex workers’ equally important economic survival is inconvenient for him.

This business of debating sex workers’ choices and whether or not they have them has only become more profitable under what sociologist Elizabeth Bernstein terms “post-industrial prostitution.”

After the vigilant anti-prostitution campaigns of the last century, which targeted red-light districts and street-based prostitution, sex work has moved mostly indoors, into private apartments and gentlemen’s clubs, facilitated by the internet and mobile phones. The sex economy exists in symbiosis with the leisure economy: personal services, luxury hotels, all increasingly anonymous and invisible. At the same time, more young people find themselves without a safety net, dependent on informal economies. Sex work now isn’t a lifestyle; it’s a gig, one of many you can select from a venue like Backpage or Craigslist.

Recall the favored slogan of prostitution prohibitionists that on the internet, they could buy a sofa and “a girl.” It’s not the potential purchase of a person that’s so outrageous; it’s the proximity of that person to the legitimate market.

Bernstein calls these “slippery borders,” and asks us to observe the feelings provoked by them, and how they are transferred. Anxieties about slippery market borders become “anxieties about slippery moral borders,” which are played out on the bodies of sex workers.

The anxiety is that sex work may be legitimate after all. In a sense, the prohibitionists are correct: people who might have never gotten into the sex trade before can and are. Fighting what they call “the normalizing of prostitution” is the focus of anti-sex work feminists. In this view, one happy hooker is a threat to all women everywhere.

“It’s sad,” said the speaker from the women’s-rights ngo Equality Now in protest outside the Village Voice. She directed her remarks at the cluster of sex workers who had turned out in counterprotest. “Backpage is able to be a pimp. They’re so normalizing this behavior that a group of Backpage advertisers have come out today to oppose us.” So a prostitute’s dissent is only possible if, as they understand prostitution itself, she was forced into it.

“Why did it take so long for the women’s movement to genuinely consider the needs of whores, of women in the sex trades?” asks working-class queer organizer and ex-hooker Amber L. Hollibaugh, in her book My Dangerous Desires. “Maybe because it’s hard to listen to – I mean really pay attention to – a woman who, without other options, could easily be cleaning your toilet? Maybe because it’s intolerable to listen to the point of view of a woman who makes her living sucking off your husband?”

Hollibaugh points to this most difficult place, this politics of feelings performed by some feminists, in absence of solidarity. They imagine how prostitution must feel, and how that in turn makes them feel, despite all the real-life prostitutes standing in front of them to dispute them.

It didn’t used to be that people opposed to prostitution could only get away with it by insisting that “happy” prostitutes didn’t really exist. From Gilgamesh to the Gold Rush days, right up until Ms. Hollander’s time, being a whore was reason enough for someone to demand you be driven out of town. Contemporary prostitution prohibitionists consider the new reality, in which they deny the existence of anyone with agency in prostitution, a form of victory for women. We aren’t ruined now. We’re victims.

Perhaps what they fear most of all is that prostitutes could be happy: that what we’ve been told is the worst thing we can do to ourselves is not the worst, or even among the worst. What marks us as fallen – whether from feminism or Christ or capital – is any suggestion that prostitution did not ruin us and that we can deliver that news ourselves.

Originally posted: August 2012 at Jacobin Mag

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Comments

radicalgraffiti
Oct 15 2012 22:04
Steven. wrote:
just to clarify, speaking for myself at least I find book's views despicable, bigoted moralising, anti-working class nonsense.

However, he/she has not breached the posting guidelines as such, whereas uncreative did. It would be great if uncreative would give his/her response to book's views without flaming.

then change them so anti worker bigotry is against the rules.

Ramona
Oct 15 2012 22:18
laborbund wrote:
I was thinking like an article in the library which explains this stuff in very simple language. Probably something like this already exists, and we can point people towards it in the future should the same conversations come up.

Yeah, point taken! We're working on an intro to gender for the library, hopefully that'll be useful in future.

laborbund
Oct 15 2012 22:26

That sounds great. I look forward to it!

Redwinged Blackbird
Oct 15 2012 22:36
georgestapleton wrote:
The recent issue of The Commoner is quite good on this. In particular the essays by Silvia Federici and Lara Agustin

i had nothing to do, so i made these into a pamphlet: http://zinelibrary.info/sex-and-work

Inhousejoke
Oct 15 2012 22:37
NannerNannerNannerNannerNanner wrote:
@Juan Contanz (since Senior Book Dead was banned, everyone lol)

I know it's very poor form to make so many posts in such quick succession in such a short time, but I think I've happened upon something.

You know, I haven't really taken this thread very seriously. I haven't even bothered to fix my terribad grammar and spelling in all my posts. I was pretty much reading Sir Book's posts for some laughs and I thought we should all just be just making fun of him more.

It's quite revealing that he didn't even respond to legitimate arguments anymore and just started engaging in textbook pedantry. It shows that it wasn't just about his backwards, reactionary morality or even his latent sexism.

It's also about classism and a fundamental lack of empathy. It's about looking down on certain workers not just because of arrogance, but because of elitism. He considers some work so "unrespectable" that he can only display a visceral, irrational hatred of it. He probably feels the same way about plumbers or garbagemen - although we can easily fit both into the mythical straight, white proletariat.

His socialism is not the liberatory anarchist communism we believe in. His is a paternalistic, deeply reformist socialism that's more about showing a "concern" for the "undeserving poor". His socialism is looking at old pictures of muscle-ly factorymen and reciting marx.

He does not understand the reality of poverty in the modern world and what it looks like. I can look out my window and see what capitalism does, maybe he can't. He does not understand that poverty is not always "noble" and "clean". In fact, quite the opposite. Poverty is crack dens and drug addiction, bad schools and bad kids, broken homes and broken families. It's not watching a Micheal Moore documentary about factory shutdowns, or looking at the latest unemployment numbers. It's desperation. It's joining a gang because jobs won't employ. It's about welfare fraud because it's the only way. It's about, as Tory MP Sir Book Dead said in his speech to parliament, being "scum" and knowing it.

It is the duty of a socialist or a communist or an anarchist to look past all that. We radicals know that there is no such thing as a "noble profession" when someone can live a life of luxury based on winning big at the Womb Lottery©. With systems as evil as capitalism, authoritarianism, patriarchy, privilege, etc. you have no right to judge what people have to do. When you are poor, life is about being moved - not moving. It's about living a regimented life, knowing you have no hope and no future, and attempting to drown your sorrows in any way you can. Some drink, others smoke, some shoot up.

This cat, (R-)Book Dead, doesn't realize this. Maybe he isn't poor, maybe his neighborhood isn't as bad as mine, maybe he just stays in his home too much or watches too much TV. But the only duty of a revolutionary is to fight this by any means necessary. It's about rabble-rousing, peasant organizing, workplace occupations, slow working, no working, striking, and, when the time comes, fighting. It's about organizing the "vulgar scum" to fight the "clean and noble". It's the tattered and dirty fighting the clean and respectable. It's about the proletariat fighting the bourgeoisie.

Book Dead's problem with sex workers isn't just about his dumb morality. It's a whole lot more than that.

Edit:
Konsequent, I've since realized that I was probably being a bit of a puritan. That "human toilet" comment has made me think about things. I've always wanted to be a moral person to be a better revolutionary.... but christ i see the people who agree with me. I promise to be a bit more liberal. I guess I was being a bit of a self-righteous prude.

Can we put this in the Library? grin poetry! "Ode to a 19th Century Sexist"

jolasmo
Oct 15 2012 22:37

Yeah, I'd be interested to see the libcom group's take on gender politics.

~J.

Konsequent
Oct 18 2012 00:03

If the word whore was gender neutral, people wouldn't need to use the term man-whore. I got the impression that there was some misogyny behind his views even though it was more implicit than explicit, due to the fact that he went pretty easy on johns in comparison to prostitutes. Also, he responded to me as if prostitutes were other people but that might have other reasons.

The human toilet bit was the only bit on the thread that resulted in a sharp intake of breath and an "ouch!" from me but clearly he was being a complete bigot all the way through. I was kinda hoping for a split to libcommunity so we could engage in one of those no holds barred flamewars I've heard so much about. In hindsight maybe this is better as his comments can stay here to make a lack of solidarity with sex workers look completely mental.

NannerNannerNannerNannerNanner wrote:
It's also about classism and a fundamental lack of empathy. It's about looking down on certain workers not just because of arrogance, but because of elitism. He considers some work so "unrespectable" that he can only display a visceral, irrational hatred of it. He probably feels the same way about plumbers or garbagemen - although we can easily fit both into the mythical straight, white proletariat.

I got the impression that the "honest work" thing was working class identity politics. Especially combined with the liberal sprinkling of misunderstood marxist buzzwords. Obviously quite a socially conservative working class identity politics which looks down on what they perceive as the underclass, but this identification with the noble hardworking honest worker seems quite typical when people identify with the worker as being stereotypical goodies in a more idealistic interpretation of the world.

I would agree that there's no room for that kind of moralising in a materialist analysis. At least, that's what I understood you to be saying.

georgestapleton
Oct 16 2012 10:24
Redwinged Blackbird wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
The recent issue of The Commoner is quite good on this. In particular the essays by Silvia Federici and Lara Agustin

i had nothing to do, so i made these into a pamphlet: http://zinelibrary.info/sex-and-work

Cool! cool

Chilli Sauce
Oct 16 2012 13:50

So I haven't finished reading this trainwreck of a thread (although my partner has been and I'm glad to see Book has been banned), but I do want to add that I'm not sure we'll abolish all sex work after the revolution. I'm not sure we'll get rid of all porn, for one. I'm sure it's content and context will change, but even today we have self-professed radical collectives that produce pornography. Similarly, there's certainly radical burlesque performers.

Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

None of this is guaranteed, but I think it's feasible if not likely that some sort of sex work (in as much as we'll abolish work as separate facet of human activity) will remain post-capitalism.

Steven.
Oct 16 2012 14:33

Yes chilli, overall I agree with you but if work is abolished, then it won't be sex work.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 16 2012 15:28
jonthom wrote:
Stewart Lee got there first (from 5:10):

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but every libcom post that I've seen which includes a Stewart Lee clip is a fucking solid post besides.

EDIT: Chilli Sauce not Commieprincess, logging out now... Admin: fixed.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 16 2012 15:39
Steven. wrote:
Yes chilli, overall I agree with you but if work is abolished, then it won't be sex work.

Ahhem...

Chilli Sauce wrote:
in as much as we'll abolish work as separate facet of human activity

wink

Chilli Sauce
Oct 16 2012 15:43
laborbund wrote:
On a related by tangential note: I like the idea of a "proletarian morality", which to me would suggest a set of ethics derived from the experience of being on our side in the class struggle. I think such an ethics would suggest that we ought to support other workers in their struggles. The only occupational exceptions I can think of are cops and the like (I wouldn't take sides in a cop strike). Plenty of workers go to jobs everyday which do a lot more real social harm than prostitution. For instance oil workers are helping to kill our planet. But we understand that they have to work in order to live and we support them when they struggle. So I think a "proletarian morality" would recognize that because we live in a class society, we all have to make ethical compromises all the time in order to survive. The ones we can't make are the compromises that betray our class - the one's where we sell each other out....

Just to say, Laborbund, that I think a the topic of a proletarian morality would make a really good subject for a blog.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 16 2012 16:06

NNN - Have you seen the Wire? Someone described it (might have even been on libcom) as an 'exploration of the proletarian condition'. I haven't seen Breaking Bad (plan to), but all those themes you touch on are entirely present throughout the Wire as well. Plus, it's just a fucking awesome show.

laborbund
Oct 16 2012 19:01
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Just to say, Laborbund, that I think a the topic of a proletarian morality would make a really good subject for a blog.

Lets start a thread somewhere. I'm gonna be off libcom for a couple days because I have to focus on getting some work done, but I really like the idea of a discussion on "proletarian morality" which would lead to an article that interested libcom posters could collaborate on. My initial thought is that I like the phrase "working class ethics" better because "working class" isn't as Marxist jargon-y as "proletarian" and "ethics" suggests some rational basis that "morality" doesn't. Also to me, the word "morality" is bound up with ideas like BOD's sexual morality, which we all agree is pretty crap.

Konsequent
Oct 16 2012 19:16
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I'm not sure we'll get rid of all porn, for one.

Exhibitionists film themselves having sex all the time even now and it's not considered work. I assume this would continue post-revolution.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

Currently sometimes people have sex with each other because one of them can't find anyone else and the other one is essentially doing them a favour. It's often referred to as a pity fuck and as such isn't openly discussed because it's an insult to the pride of the person receiving the favour. I wonder whether this necessarily has to have this sort of social stigma attached to it or if it actually is as problematic as it currently feels. In any case I would hope that however many people someone had sex with, and for whatever reasons they did so, that they wouldn't be obliged to have sex when they didn't want to. As such I'm not sure it would be ok for it to become someones "role". I can see us needing to put social pressure on each other to get things done that need doing, but I don't see a justification why the desires of the person wanting to have sex would trump the fact that the other person didn't want to.

georgestapleton wrote:
The recent issue of The Commoner is quite good on this. In particular the essays by Silvia Federici and Lara Agustin

I read the Laura Augustin one a while ago. I felt it was pretty uncritical of capitalism. She made the quite reasonable point that people often have sex when they don't want to under various economic and social pressures. If it was just pointing out the hypocrisy of the stigma around sex work considering how ok people are with other sex which isn't completely mutually agreeable then cool. But I was waiting for any indication that there might be a problem with all of this and it never came.

I do wonder if I am actually being a prude about all this. Is it to much to ask that people aren't ever pressured into sex? I can come up with scenarios for most activities where after the revolution there's some reason why we might at times end up doing it even though we don't want to, but not for sex. I'm wondering if there are more exceptions, or if I'm being too uncritical of the socially constructed sanctity of sex. I guess it's also about what's a neccesity. I do think that if you're happy to have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you then that makes you a prick no matter how long you've gone without. I would welcome constructive criticism if anyone has it as I really wonder about this a lot.

I do understand, to some extent what Laura Augustin says about sex being partly pleasure and partly work. I might not feel like getting off the couch even though I have a genuine desire to cook someone a meal. I might not feel like getting jaw ache even though I have a genuine desire to give head. Clearly it's possible to get pleasure from giving pleasure. But if there is no type of pleasure at all on the part of one of the people involved then I think that's pretty messed up. The fact that people will be rewarded with kudos for doing things that are unpleasant doesn't sit right with me in this case because the if-you-have-sex-you-don't-want-then-everyone-will-like-you-thing is such a typically dodgy way of establishing "consent".

lzbl
Oct 16 2012 19:55
Konsequent wrote:
I do wonder if I am actually being a prude about all this. Is it to much to ask that people aren't ever pressured into sex?

No.

Konsequent wrote:
I can come up with scenarios for most activities where after the revolution there's some reason why we might at times end up doing it even though we don't want to, but not for sex. I'm wondering if there are more exceptions, or if I'm being too uncritical of the socially constructed sanctity of sex. I guess it's also about what's a neccesity. I do think that if you're happy to have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you then that makes you a prick no matter how long you've gone without. I would welcome constructive criticism if anyone has it as I really wonder about this a lot.

I agree it's about necessity. Things I wouldn't particularly enjoy doing after the revolution include growing food and emptying bins. They need doing because we need to eat and having waste around can encourage vermin and disease. What happens when you don't have sex? NOTHING THAT WILL KILL YOU. I would hope that by the time we've achieved full communism more people will understand this, and understand their needs in relation to those of the people around them. This is one of the reasons I think it's so important to talk about gender and sexuality and consent now - because ultimately we're spreading those ideas alongside the other things we talk about, and that's a lot easier than sorting eg. patriarchy out 'later'.

I think that there will be people who have sex with people they might not otherwise have sex with because it gives them pleasure and feels like a good thing to do, but for me that is kind of on a par with someone liking to cook. It shouldn't mean that person is then expected or pressured to do it all the time. It's just something they enjoy doing.

Konsequent
Oct 18 2012 01:43
lzbl wrote:
I agree it's about necessity.

Do you think that's all it's about? I reckon if someone painted a lot of paintings because they enjoyed painting and then some people in their community came along and were like "Hey will really like your style. Could you do a massive mural of all of us? Please? We'd really appreciate it." then even if they thought it sounded really tedious it might still be ok to ask them to do it anyway. But if there was someone who seemed to be pretty indiscriminately promiscuous and a people were like "Hey we hear you're the [post-revolutionary, stigma-free term for village bicycle] and we've got this bukkake thing we'd like to do. Please? Can you just take one for the team? We're really into it" then if they thought it sounded kinda gross I don't think it would be ok to ask them to do it anyway. But I might be wrong. It might just be that there's such a strong connection in our society between specifically bugging someone into sex and not having any respect for them, that I would judge people for that.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

I forgot to mention I think leaving the house is not really an issue. You don't have to leave the house to have sex. You just need the internet and people will come to you. And if someone is unable to leave the house and is happy for whoever to come over and have sex with them, irrespective of whether they've got any sort of emotional connection with them, then it makes as much sense to think of the person stuck in the house as the one who's providing a service as the person who chooses to come and see them. Also presumably whatever people are apparently in the category of "wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever" would go round and see the people who "for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house".

Steven.
Oct 18 2012 08:50
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

On a note related to this, even now some health workers or carers occasionally "help out" severely disabled people with sexual "services"

Konsequent
Oct 18 2012 17:25
Steven. wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

On a note related to this, even now some health workers or carers occasionally "help out" severely disabled people with sexual "services"

Yeah it sucks that there are endless masturbatory aids for able-bodied people, and nothing much for people who aren't able to do it themselves cos there isn't enough of a market for it. I would expect if people who design these things didn't have to consider profits then they'd spare a thought for making masturbating easier for people with various disabilities.

libera
Nov 14 2012 08:34

sex workers like all workers need to organize so we can all have the revolution which will no longer commodify sex or any work what so ever for that matter. While I admit there are even a few points on the bingo card that may apply to sex work or some sex workers or all workers in general irrespective of their industry......it is irrevalent.. sex work as long as it is consentual is legit and in the new post rev society sex labor may still be performed in some manner however it will no longer be inherently exploitative, just as other labor will cease to be because it will no longer be a commodity and as people become more sexually aware, and transparent sexually to themselves and their partners, all sex in general will be viewed as a free consenting activity between consenting adults because capitalist and patriarchal relations will be abolished....dignity and respect will finally be available in all realms of our lives especially when it come to what we all need in terms of our very different evolving sexualities and sexual relationships

flaneur
Nov 14 2012 10:41
Chilli Sauce wrote:

Going even further, I think there's even a possibility that we may have individuals who may be happy being having their role in society to be having sex with people who for social, physical, or mental reasons don't leave their house or wouldn't have sex otherwise or whatever.

None of this is guaranteed, but I think it's feasible if not likely that some sort of sex work (in as much as we'll abolish work as separate facet of human activity) will remain post-capitalism.

Yeah.

Charles Fourier wrote:
Love in Harmony [i.e. the Phalanx] will be ‘free,’ but highly organized, the aim being to provide universal sexual gratification. Everyone, including the elderly and the deformed, will be assured of a ‘sexual minimum’. To effect this, philanthropic corporations composed of outstandingly beautiful and promiscuous erotic priests and priestesses will joyfully minister to the needs of less attractive Harmonians. The qualification for admission to this ‘amorous nobility’ will be a generous sexual nature, capable of carrying on several affairs at once (this will be tested under examination conditions).

I wonder who'd watch the watchers.

georgestapleton
Nov 14 2012 11:21

That is brilliant. I'd never come across that quote before.

flaneur
Nov 14 2012 12:43

Fourier could even fix your heartbreak.

And at the heart of Fourier’s society is the idea of Love - a grand feeling of which sex is just a part. And there were special groups in the Phalanxes whose job was to manage the dynamics of Love. If you had been rejected by someone you loved, a special corps of “fairies” would come immediately and take you away, and cure you of your unhappiness.

http://libcom.org/library/how-left-got-trapped-inside-their-own-heads-how-fairies-can-open-door-future-adam-curtis

jef costello
Nov 14 2012 18:51

As amusing an idea as I find the term solidarity sex as a replacement for pity sex I think the idea is going to work out a bit differently. A human interaction like sex can't be replaced by abundance. Like friendship it is something that can be bought under capitalism although no one tends to ask what will we do about friendship after the revolution. I would hope that the communities we live in would help us to make friends, meet people and have relationships. If we didn't see our lives in terms of exchange but in terms of reciprocity then we might see sex differently as there would be nothing to gain or lose from it aside from the pleasure /unpleasure of the sex itself. There'd also perhaps be less to win/lose from talking about it. Without our 'value' hingeing on how well we attract and retain a mate then we could perhaps be more open about these situations without lowering our 'capital' by admitting that we are single / lonely / in need of some sex. Relationships would probably change a lot and perhaps sex would move entriely outside of them, if the typical couple relationship survived at all, but certainly the economic pressures to form and stay in couples would be eased as well as issues such as work schedules childcare and so on. So we'd have much more choice which I at first thought would ;lead to more breakups, but then those pressures also damage relationships. Also we would be more able, I would hope, to reach outside of relationships for help whether it's with childcare, DIY, or any other need or interest. I imagine that a communist future would be like living in a society full of strong relationships on a level that most of us have with friends and family as opposed to one where economic pressures, shitty landlords etc seem to drive you apart from everyone.

bounce
Nov 20 2012 12:58

Do you know what I rarely have seen come up in debates like this, anyone showing any desire to listen to sex workers on the matter. We do exist, we do have voices and rather than debate the merits (or perceived lack there of) without us why not listen to us. Surely you would agree that as sex workers we are best placed to address things relating to our industry. I mean, when it comes to other industries and their specific labour struggles you listen to the people within that industry, while offering solidarity in their struggles, perhaps try doing the same for sex workers.

Uncreative
Nov 20 2012 14:17
bounce wrote:
Do you know what I rarely have seen come up in debates like this, anyone showing any desire to listen to sex workers on the matter. We do exist, we do have voices and rather than debate the merits (or perceived lack there of) without us why not listen to us. Surely you would agree that as sex workers we are best placed to address things relating to our industry. I mean, when it comes to other industries and their specific labour struggles you listen to the people within that industry, while offering solidarity in their struggles, perhaps try doing the same for sex workers.

Who is this directed at? There are sex workers commenting on this thread already, Konsequent for instance.

caterpillar
Nov 21 2012 01:46

It's obviously directed at most of the people on this thread who are busy giving their uninformed opinions on how other people earn a living while not listening to anything actual sex workers say.

bounce
Nov 21 2012 08:12

Most people on the thread are not sex workers and most are showing very little regard as to what sex workers might think about our work or how we would organise etc. It is obviously not directed at fellow sex workers who have commented.

Uncreative
Nov 21 2012 13:18
caterpillar wrote:
It's obviously directed at most of the people on this thread who are busy giving their uninformed opinions on how other people earn a living while not listening to anything actual sex workers say.

Yes, "obviously". So was it "obviously" directed at book o'deads opinions on how other people earn a living, or was it "obviously" directed at everyone else (bar Konsequent and other sex workers) opinions on how other people earn a living? Or perhaps it was "obviously" directed at everyone who isnt a sex worker?