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
There's always someone in the
There's always someone in the bourgeois left that wants to argue for the legitimacy of prostitution.
Well, no wage work is
Well, no wage work is 'legitimate'.
Juan Conatz wrote: Well, no
True, but prostitution is not wage work; it's prostitution.
I'm a bit ambivalent towards
I'm a bit ambivalent towards this particular article on sex work, but don't get how prostitution isn't wage work? Is it because its illegal? Is it because some sex workers are forced into by gangsters or drug addiction?
In either of those cases I'd say it still counted as wage work.. and then you've got those who weren't forced into it by gangsters/drugs, are they not wage workers either? If not, why not?
Ed wrote: I'm a bit
To elevate prostitution to the level of socially useful, productive labor is to demean labor.
Prostitution is a degrading occupation that turns one of the most intimate of human activities into a commodity. No self-respecting worker who values human affection, compassion and solidarity engages in such a practice because it is the absolute objectification of humans.
Prostitution is the basest form of slavery.
Oh, and one more thing: To
Oh, and one more thing:
To claim that the money a prostitute receives for their degrading work is 'wages' amounts to claiming that the sustenance a chattel slave received was wages.
Wages are an economic category correctly assigned to that portion received by labor when it creates value that is arbitrarily divided by the owner of the means of production.
"WHENCE DO WAGES COME, AND WHENCE PROFITS?
What you now stand in need of, aye, more than of bread, is the knowledge of a few elemental principles of political economy and of sociology." --Daniel De Leon, 'What Means This Strike'
Mate, I think you're making a
Mate, I think you're making a really common mistake and then running with it to the point of making really offensive statements about an entire category of working class women which, I imagine, you've never met..
So yeah, what you're saying is right about women who've been kidnapped by gangsters and forced into prostitution, but there's no way you can put that on the same level as a woman with limited job opportunities who decides to start selling sex from a flat somewhere.. I mean, she could just as easily find a job cleaning rich people's toilets.. is that more respectable? Getting on your hands and knees scrubbing the back side of the toilet of someone who doesn't want you to look them in the eye? For minimum wage? Whatever, I'm not judging either, they're both tough fucking situations but there's no way I'd say someone doing either one had no self-respect..
As for socially useful, come off it mate.. when I was working in a call-centre was I doing something socially useful? Was I fuck.. I was phoning working class people at home when they were having dinner or putting their kids to sleep and trying to sell them shitey insurance.. social use is not the defining aspect of 'wage work'.. working, and receiving a wage, is..
BookO'Dead, your moralism
BookO'Dead, your moralism dressed up in radical dogma aside, if a sex worker were to ask for solidarity and legalisation/ an end to police harassment what would you do? Refuse to engage with them and condemn them as 'bourgeois' or an enemy of some 'true human affection' which you're suddenly the arbiter of?
Admin edit: no flaming
Admin edit: no flaming please.
Book O'Dead wrote: There's
Question: how exactly are you defining "legitimate"?
I'll fully admit to speaking from a position of ignorance here but, FWIW...
I don't really think sex work is inherently, in and of itself, more "degrading" or "illegitimate" than any other form of work. Arguably the emotional intimacy sex brings with it may have a personal emotional and social impact when turned into "work", regular activity with relative strangers, but that itself is so tied up with social norms and values that I'm not sure it's that useful a route to go down. At the very least, problems around prostitution need to be situated in a wider social context - the need to sell our labour to survive, the lack of available options in which to sell our labour (for women in particular), patriarchy in general, etc.
From that point on, though, things get a bit convoluted.
On the one hand, often pieces focusing on the plight of sex workers tend to focus on the abusive, exploitative nature of that work to the point that the women themselves are deprived of any and all agency, with the assumption being that they couldn't possibly have chosen that work (even to the extent any of us can "choose" what work we go into) voluntarily and that it therefore must be down to drug addiction, abuse, trafficking and the like. Any role for working class people who might have limited options to make a living and go for sex work as an available option - or, for that matter, those who have other options but choose this one - tends to get thrown by the wayside, and/or get written off as bourgeois apologism.
On the other hand, it's also true that some arguments focusing on the positives of sex work, seeing it as a sign of liberated women, embracing their sexuality, making a decent living, not being exploited, doing what they love, etc., can often be used to obscure the abusive nature of the industry. While all capitalism is exploitative, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that some professions can be more unpleasant and abusive than others - and prostitution, often, does seem to be more than most.
On the other other hand, as described in the article here, a lot of anti-prostitution ideas and campaigns to "save" the women involved can often lend themselves to social conservatism in all sorts of ways. One point for example is the migration issue, and the way that authoritarian measures around migration controls and deportation can be justified on the grounds that the state is merely protecting women from abusive sex bosses. That they're also threatening them with arrest, deportation or imprisonment is just by the by, of course. And, as noted in the article, many anti-prostitution campaigns are influenced by religious conservatism, which should at least be food for thought.
On the other other other hand...sex workers are workers, and as fellow workers, IMO the only consistent approach is to support them in workers struggles, against abuse, intimidation and exploitation by both state and boss, against the social pressures which can leave people with few other options, in fights for better wages, conditions, and against this system as a whole. Questions of whether it's a "legitimate" profession, whether it "cheapens" the act of intimacy, whether it's socially useful and such strike me as secondary at best.
Lastly, this comment I find frankly rather strange:
I don't understand why a socialist would cast judgement on the prostitutes themselves. Surely, even if you have a moral, philosophical or political objection to prostitution in and of itself, the blame would lie with a social system which forces us to sell our labour to survive, which provides many of us with few available options for selling said labour, and which treats women's bodies as sexual objects? Putting the blame on the prostitutes themselves, moralising about "self respecting workers who value human affection" is, as Ed suggested, akin to blaming callcentre workers for the pointlessness of the products they sell, or blaming factory workers for the worthless tat the electronics industry produces or whatever - right?
Ed wrote: I mean, she could
ONE CHILD: Mommy, what kind of work do you do?
HOUSE MAID [annoyed]: I clean rich people's toilets, now leave me alone!
A DIFFERENT CHILD TO HER MOTHER: Mommy, what kind of work do you do?
PROSTITUTE [nervously]: I clean rich people's toilets, now leave me alone!
wojtek wrote: BookO'Dead,
I would tell them to go find honest work.
I believe in class conscious proletarian morality, the highest form of morality hitherto. Prostitutes are not the enemy; they too need to be liberated, but the path to liberation is not the one you propose.
Book O'Dead wrote: I would
I'm stunned that somebody on this site is talking about "honest work." I am trying to find something to say to you that won't be considered flaming and literally can't.
Jesus, this might be the angriest I've ever been on this website.
Book O'Dead wrote: wojtek
I'm sorry but that's just appalling.
I'm not even sure how to begin addressing this, except to say that if your instinctive reaction to people doing jobs you consider "unethical" is to tell them to find honest work then I think you should seriously think about what you're saying, and how exactly that fits with you being a socialist. Would you say the same to, say, factory workers working in a weapons factory? Would you blame bar staff for alcoholism (and the social problems that come with it), and tell them to just "go find honest work" (cos jobs are so fucking easy to come by these days!?)
Perhaps you would. But still.
jonthom wrote: Book O'Dead
They certainly do.
Here's an example: Why is it that the activity a prostitute engages in is called "sex work" but the same activity by their customer is not? After all, aren't they both engaged in the same thing?
As far as I know, prostitution is a practice that emerges out class divided society; It did not exist prior to the establishment of private property and the division of humanity into social classes, starting with the male/female dichotomy.
The aim of communism is to abolish classes and all of the social evils that accompany it, including the status of commodity that people find themselves in when they exchange their labor power with another. In its proper context and under normal circumstances, sex is not a form of labor, it is a natural activity engaged in by people who trust and care for each other; it is for enjoyment and/or procreation.
I do not condemn the prostitute for their lamentable predicament. I do condemn capitalism and all other forms of class-divided societies for helping to impose this occupation on men, women and children. I empathize with people who are caught up in this destructive vice, be they prostitutes or the customers who seek in them what they cannot obtain at home.
I have no sympathy for those who seem to think that prostitution--the selling of sex in exchange for money or favors--is an inevitable condition that must somehow be palliated with reform measures.
redsdisease wrote: Book
The question invites the answer.
If you cannot respond it must be because there is no other statement that addresses the original question.
jonthom wrote: Book O'Dead
If a homeless person came to me with a request for some kind of support I would not tell them to go find a job, I would help them. If a worker at a factory asked for advice or help in their struggle against their exploiter I would help them as best i could and tell them they should take over their workplace.
What would you say to a prostitute who told you that their pimp was beating them up? Take over the whore house? Fight for legislation? Expect reforms? Negotiate with the pimp? Call the cops? I cannot see myself giving support to those ideas!
Your argument is just
Your argument is just bizarre, Book O'Dead. On the one hand you say sex work isn't really wage labour because it's not 'socially useful'. Everyone else has dealt with that argument.
On the other, you say it can't be considered wage labour because
So what other 'natural' activities done by people who care for each other don't count as work even when they're done for a wage? Caring for children? Caring for the elderly? Counseling? Tending the sick?
If your idea of 'empathy' is to tell someone to get 'honest work' (I bet no one ever thought of that without your help!), then you have a very strange definition of empathy.
revol68 wrote: Book O'Dead
Insofar as capitalism is concerned your work is socially useful. You may not enjoy it but you are producing value to the capitalist for which they pay you wages.
This is sort of a ridiculous
This is sort of a ridiculous argument to sort of sidestep your conservative moralism on the issue, imo
princess mob wrote: Your
You cannot equate the work you list with prostitution. Those are socially useful and often profitable occupations.
Prostitution is socially necessary only in a dysfunctional society wherein many people are either deprived of the opportunity to have normal sexual relations or because they've become dissatisfied with the ones they already have.
So what would you tell a prostitute that complained about their working conditions? I would tell them to find a better occupation, one that doesn't dehumanize and debase them. I would tell them that prostitution is not an honorable way to earn a living; that it is not an edifying example to teach their children that giving your sexual favors for money is a good thing.
I would much rather have my kids know that I clean toilets for a living than that I am a human toilet, a repository for all of the depraved misfits looking for a quickie.
Book O'Dead wrote: You cannot
sex work is profitable and the workers can be exploited.
Most of the work in our society is unnecessary. When I worked in a call centre selling crappy insurance I wasn't being productive. I was however making money for myself and for my employer.
I sincerely hope that no one ever asks you for solidarity.
Book O'Dead, out of interest,
Book O'Dead, out of interest, have you ever spoken to any sex workers about their work? Even more, have you ever spoken to any sex worker organisers about the things that they do to organise at their work?
Also, the fact that you say sex workers would lie about their work to their kids because they would feel stigmatised for it, is not an argument that it's inherently bad/not 'honest work' etc. It's an argument that sex workers are stigmatised.
Book O'Dead wrote: So what
As others have said, this is conservative moralism posing as socialism. This isn't a hypothetical question either, there are sex workers who use this site who I count among my friends and comrades, and who have a far more nuanced take on sex work than 'get a decent and proper job acceptable to my mores'. Some people choose sex work over unemployment or precarious/casual wage labour. Some people choose unemployment or precarious/casual wage labour over sex work. The problem isn't which choice proles make, but that proletarian freedom consists of such choices. There are considerable difficulties organising as a sex worker, not least as its often highly casualised, notionally self-employed, often illegal and so on, but the response of 'get another job' is the staple reactionary response to complaints about working conditions.
Next to chattel slavery,
Next to chattel slavery, prostitution is the lowest form of human debasement. To make demands in behalf of them for better "wages" and more livable conditions is equivalent to expecting the owner of chattel slaves to make improvements on their standard of living. Absurd.
Moreover, it is reformist and reactionary to expect the political state to palliate the suffering of people when all it can do is make things worse for everyone.
The thing to do is to work to put an end to such injustices; to make war against the system that imposes that dishonorable choice on the poor. Put and end to capitalism and build industrial democracy, and the stench of prostitution will be swept away like a bad dream.
"Give us a truce with your reforms! There is a sickening air of moral mediocrity and childish aspirations at times like these, when great-man issues are thundering at every man's door, demanding admission and solution!" --Daniel De Leon.
Are you for real? What the fuck are you talking about?
edit: Gee, I sure hope the word "fuck" doesn't upset your puritan... I mean... uh proletarian morality.
"dishonour", "debasement", "stench of prostitution". it's like I've stumbled on a Christian right forum. Seriously wtf?
No this is absurd, or rather in a single sentence there's two non sequiturs: (1) It doesn't follow from considering sex work to be work, and not a moral blemish on the noble proletarian condition, that people want to make demands on behalf of others. And (2) making demands on behalf of others (representation/speaking for) is not analogous to making demands of slave owners.
So not just the morality, but the reasoning skills of the Christian right.
You still haven't really
You still haven't really given a reason as to why sex work is this different thing. 'Socially useful' and 'productive' aren't really holding weight, as there are tons of jobs that are neither one of these (call centers, widget making at factory etc) or don't fall into them neatly (care giving, housewives, parenting). A couple of us have already refuted your stance on this, but you continue going on about how sex work is different in some way.
I'm not super familiar with this subject, other than what I've read from the conflicts between second and third wave feminism and random anarchist trans/queer stuff, but there usually seem to be two arguments made against sex work.
1)There is some sort of sanctity to sex, and by agreeing to exchange sex for money, a violation of the sanctity of sex happens.
2)You can't separate patriarchal society from sex work and it always reinforces patriarchy, if not furthers it along.
The first argument I'm not really sure how to respond to. It's a kind of moralism, particularly conservative and or religious. We can probably all agree that sex is a lot different than other human activity, but I think it's hard to place morals on it outside of issues of consent between people and safety (such as using protection, etc. If there's some sort of non-religious perspective that advocates that the sanctity of sex, you should say it, because I'm not immediately aware of it. Also, if sex work violates it, then what else? Sex outside marriage? Sex with multiple partners? Polyamory? I mean that's the logical conclusion I see out of this.
The second argument, I don't think holds up, either. You can make the argument that all sorts of stuff 'reinforces patriarchy'. From being housewives, to monogamous relationships, to heterosexual relationships, to presenting yourself as feminine, etc etc etc. It's an accusatory rabbit hole that doesn't get us anywhere.
@Book O'Dead: The same woman
@Book O'Dead: The same woman being a prostitute in capitalism, and therefore having sex for a wage, MAY just fuck with almost everyone in a communist society, this time "for free", because she doesn't need money anymore and just likes sex. I really don't see how one behaviour is more objectionable than the other unless you despise "sluts" in general which is a pretty bourgeois stance on sex.
Book O'Dead wrote: Here's an
:confused: well...of course they are. but one is the client and one is the worker. if I go out to pizza hut then both I and the staff there are participating in the food industry on some level - but putting it like that would be rather odd.
sorry if I'm missing something but I'm not sure what point you're getting at here...
well, obviously. but that's true of wage labour in general - a system in which people have to sell their labour in order to survive. often the way we're forced to sell our labour can be very unpleasant, and some industries, such as prostitution, do seem more potentially dangerous and harmful than others - in part due to their being criminalised. I'm not sure how that's relevant though.
(out of interest, are you in favour of prostitution being illegal?)
So are cooking, childcare, and a host of other activities. What is it about prostitution specifically that differentiates it from all the other natural activities that have been turned into commodities by capitalism?
Surely our solidarity with fellow workers is based on seeing them as fellow workers, not on the moral qualities of the work they happen to be doing?
Good thing nobody here said anything of the sort, then.
And while you might "empathise" with folks involved in sex with, that empathy evidently doesn't extend to having solidarity with them as fellow workers, nor to actually supporting them in improving their situation (except to the extent they should just go off and find "honest work"...)
Hard to say really, but I'd like to think I'd have at least a basic level of solidarity and human empathy, and show support for them in trying to improve their situation - whether by finding other work or improving their situation in their current work. As oppose to your approach of moral denunciation and calls to find a "real job" that frankly could have come from any tabloid in the world.
a) What is it about sex work that you think makes it somehow fundamentally, inherently different and morally inferior to all other forms of work?
b) If a group of sex workers where you lived were engaged in some form of social struggle - against their pimps, police raids or whatever - would you support them or not?
c) Where do you draw the line? There's a million and one jobs that are socially damaging to one extent or another - do you extend your moral judgement to anything else or is sex work a special case?
And as far as this insistence that prostitutes should just try and find an "honourable" profession...
Book O'Dead's arguments are
Book O'Dead's arguments are eerily reminiscent of the activities of a small clique of anarchists in Southampton in the late 1980s - two women and two men. To be fair to the general anarchist milieu in the city at the time, their activities were viewed with horror. Ultimately their campaign against prostitution boiled down to some cocktail of radical feminism ("you're betraying your sisters" kind of thing) and an unacknowledged moralism bordering on misogyny (both male participants came from a Catholic background). 'Highlights' I've heard of included shouting abuse and throwing stuff at prostitutes in Derby Road (when I asked my partner what, she said "Anything they could get hold of") and one of the women pouring a pint over a strippergram in an Eastleigh club.
I've never seen so many
I've never seen so many half-baked, misinformed and perverse opinions regarding prostitution!
The sexual exploitation of people is the lowest rung of capitalist hell.
I think that some of you avoid using the word "prostitution" by insisting in the term "sex work". To me it reveals a certain insecurity about your own views as well as the futile desire to elevate it into something it is not: honorable work. There can be no honor in selling your body and your intimate person to strangers for money or favors. It is the subjugation of the deepest self; a repugnant thing to anyone who wishes to retain a minimum of self-respect and personal integrity.
In light of that assessment, it is ridiculous to even discuss whether what a whore makes is wages. Those are "wages" I could do without! I am confident many others feel that way.
Some of you have raised a false equivalency by comparing prostitution to child care and other honest occupations. I believe that any genuine worker that heard that argument, if they are intelligent and honest, would spit in your face for that insult. I certainly find it insulting!
The only possible similarity between what a whore does to their John and child care is that most people who use prostitutes are sexually immature, insecure and need a mommy or daddy surrogate to spank their monkey so that they feel sexually relevant. Such people need a psychiatrist, not a whore.
One of you used an awful example comparing the transaction between the whore and the John to buying a pizza. Unless the person that sold you the pizza sits down and eats it with you the analogy is false--not to mention ridiculous.
I am not a prude about sexuality. I think that it's a wonderful thing when it happens between consenting adults and, sometimes, when its good, it's the only good thing that ever happens to people that have nothing else in life to look forward to. For me, sex has always been something that happens between people who deeply care for each other, people who have first come to know each other and wish to seal their bond of solidarity, friendship and love in a way that excludes vulgar transactions that place a money value to human affection and tenderness. You can't get that from a whore, no matter how sincere they may try to appear.
I am not a religious fundamentalist that believes in imposing his personal morality on others. I am indifferent as to how you enjoy your sex. But i will not accept that prostitution and its practitioners is somehow another category of legitimate work for whose emancipation from capital we must strive. On the contrary, we must struggle to abolish the conditions that make it an inevitable choice for so many poor oppressed workers; we must make prostitution disappear from the face of the Earth!
My principal concern, of course, is what sort of message do we give to our children when we sanction a deplorable behavior that involves the transaction of sex for money. What do we say to them, "yes honey, when you grow up you too can be a whore"? They deserve better than that, I think.
But fundamentally, what this discussion reveals is the atrocious level to which our morality as workers has sunk under capitalism; that we are willing to tolerate and defend the sexual exploitation of others--whether voluntary or not--is a sign of how rotten this system is and how infected we are by its decay.
Finally, I repudiate your objections to my proletarian morality because they are wrong.
Quote: what this discussion
:D You forgot to quote De Leon.
Or Lenin, for that
Or Lenin, for that matter.
This attempt to use Marxian categories to dress up some Victorian moral concerns is ridiculous. Prostitution is wage labor, prostitutes are workers. It does not matter if their labor is productive or not. Unproductive labor can take the form of wage labor and workers who do it are part of the working class. Anyone who verbally subscribes to Marx's analysis should know that.
This is a bizarre line of
This is a bizarre line of argument. Because you don't think sex should be a commodity, you attack those who, having little else to sell, sell themselves. I don't think labour power should be a commodity either, therefore I'd better start slagging of everyone with a job as an immoral, perverse, half-baked, misinformed, dishonerable, debased stench.
Also who was it who said that
Also who was it who said that call centre work is as degrading as prostitution? Am I going fucking nuts if I think it was Kathleen Hanna?
I should add that what I
I should add that what I wrote above about prostitutes being wage laborers is actually a bit more complicated, but still does not justify Book O'Dead's analysis.
Sex work can be productive in the sense of producing surplus-value for the boss, i.e., the pimp. Here the sex worker receives a wage and is exploited in the economic sense. There's no denying that they're a wage laborer, while the pimp acts as a capitalist.
Sex work can be unproductive (i.e., not productive of surplus-value) in the case of "casual" sex workers who work on their own. Here it is a mere exchange of services (i.e., commoditites) between the client and the sex worker, like (to use Marx's example) when I have a tailor make me new pants. The client does not "exploit" the sex worker (or the tailor) in the economic sense. But the price of the commodity the casual sex worker sells is generally not independent of the prices in sex enterprises (i.e., illegal brothels run by pimps or offi question about them being cial, semi-legal prostitution) with which they compete, and what the casual sex worker thus earns may even be below the value of labor-power (which is one of the reasons it's not usually a lifetime plan).
But still, even though the casual sex worker does not earn a wage, he or she is generally a member of the working class, just like the unemployed, "illegal" workers or "independent contractors". Whether one is a member of the working class is not determined by their legal relations, living standards or whatever silly criteria sociologists choose. Of course one could construct examples like, say, a bored factory owner's wife who lives off his husband's dividends and does casual sex work in her spare time, but this is not exactly the dominant reality of sex work, is it?
Book O'Dead doesn't have an
Book O'Dead doesn't have an analysis, he's just spouting bigoted crap.. His view amount to "prostitutes are amoral scum" and should be considered on par with "black people are lazy and work shy" or "homosexuals are deviant monsters". I'm really not sure why the mods are letting him use libcom as a platform for this bile. It seems pretty ass-backwards to censor Uncreative (whose partner is a prostitute, btw) for flaming but allow B O'D to carry on expounding this shite.
Seriously his views are far below the worst of anti-sex work feminists, who at least pretend to be on the sex-worker's side, even if they reduce the prostitute to a helpless victim with zero agency. It's pure Christian moralism (and even most Christians I know have a more enlightened view of prostitution than him).
just to clarify, speaking for
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.
jura wrote: I should add that
Yeah this is true in terms of how Marx used the term productive labour. But its worth remembering that Marx was writing a critique of political economy. So his point in his use of the category "productive labour" was to say that for 'political economy' and it object, capitalist relations of production, that labour was consider productive not in terms of its creation of use-values but rather in its creation, not only simply of commodities, but more precisely of surplus value.
This might seem an arcane and academic point to make in this thread. But I'm making it solely to emphasize the point that others are making. Book O'Dead is using Marxist terminology to hide an extremely repulsive and anti-worker morality. And this is true not only because his comments on this thread are repulsive and anti-worker, but also because his comments on this thread clearly do not arise from a Marxist theory of wage labour.
For Marx being a productive worker is not a positive thing. As the above Marx quote states:
Juan Conatz wrote: Book
You forgot all the other words, especially "sexual exploitation".
jura wrote: Or Lenin, for
In Victorian London houses of prostitution proliferated, precisely because the rural poor had been displaced by the changes brought about by the industrial revolution and because there was a male large clientele whose private sexual life was oppressive. I can't recall the exact number but I can refer you to John Fowles' "The French Lieutenant's Woman". In that novel he provides accurate numbers.
For my views regarding prostitution to be Victorian they would have to be hypocritical (condemning the practice and its victims publicly while indulging in them privately). Such is not the case.
I believe that some here defend prostitution as an acceptable occupation from ignorance and because it is fashionable.
jolasmo wrote: Book O'Dead
You assign to me words I have not used and sentiments I do not share. Please address the topic rather than falsely characterizing my position.
Joseph Kay wrote: This is a
Do you think sex should be a commodity?
Do you think that labour
Do you think that labour power should be a commodity? If not, do you pour vitriol on those who sell it?
wojtek wrote: I grade this
I grade this in the 12 to 14 year-old level. Do you have permission from your mom to be on the Internet?
Joseph Kay wrote: Do you
So you think sex should be a commodity or not? Come, man, that's not a hard question to answer!
Book O'Dead wrote: Joseph
Do you think any form of human activity should be a commodity or not? If not, do you pour vitriol on those who sell it? Come, man, that's not a hard question to answer!
georgestapleton wrote: Book
exactly. Answer the question, book.
To your question: of course we don't think sex should be a commodity. Nor do we think labour power should be a commodity. Neither means that we stigmatise workers: we support workers struggling in their own interests (whether they are sex workers, call centre workers, factory workers or whatever).
Now you answer the question.
Book - it doesn't seem like
Book - it doesn't seem like you've addressed the vast majority of points raised on this thread. Perhaps you didn't notice them, it's obviously difficult to keep track of the huge stack of excellent points raised in objection to what you've written. So to summarise:
-How do you define "socially productive work"?
I think many people would see it as work that is actually, tangibly beneficial to those around them (work that would still need to happen once we abolish capitalism).
Am I correct in thinking that you think "socially productive" means making a profit for a boss? (You seemed to suggest this earlier in response to someone saying call centre work is not socially productive.) If so, in what way is this "social"? And apart from producing a profit, in what way is this "productive"?
-If you define it in this way, then you're obviously wrong, but aside from that your own logic defeats your line of thinking. Sex work makes profit for a boss in plenty of circumstances. So if we go by your weird definition, sex work is 'socially productive'. Conversely, there are jobs that I would define as socially productive (ie childcare, nursing, cleaning) which are degrading and horrible - not because of the work itself, but because of the coercive dynamic which is an inevitable aspect of working for a wage.
-Do you have a judgement of people who have consensual sex with those they do not have deep feelings for? Do you think those people need psychological help? If so, why? If not, why not?
-Have you ever been a sex worker? If not, how on earth do you know how degrading it is?
-Have you ever organised at work? If so, would you not be deeply livid if someone told you the solution to getting better conditions at work was to get a less degrading job?
-Where's your evidence that sex work has only existed since the birth of capitalism? I thought it was the 'world's oldest profession'...?
-What's your objection to the term 'sex work'? Seems like you're the one who can't cope with the reality if you have to use the loaded term 'prostitution'. Besides, it seems like an inadequate term as it doesn't cover people who work in other kinds of sex work, ie the porn industry.
-Do you think phone sex, stripping, burlesque, porn, nude modelling etc are degrading?
Book O'Dead wrote: I believe
It's obvious that you know fuck all about prostitutes and the work they do from your posts here. Maybe you should answer this question, put to you on page 1 on this thread:
It's not a hard question to answer.
Steven. wrote: just to
It's you guys' site at the end of the day, and I'm not trying to have a go, but the posting guidelines do say:
... which I think applies in this case.
I've been in favour of
I've been in favour of banning Book O'Dead since his first post, simply because his writing style drives me up the fucking wall. :bb:
But seriously though, it's obvious that Book O'Dead is having the absolute craic on this thread. I think he actually does believe what he's saying, but he's trolling all the same, the rhetoric alone of calling people "whores" is due a warning. He's winding people up and loving it.
I'm amazed by this. Book
I'm amazed by this. Book O'Dead makes anything other than support of sex workers struggles look ridiculous. I'm not one to encourage bigots on the assumption that no one could possibly be convinced by them, but he's more absurd than any straw man I would dare create to illustrate why I should be as deserving of solidarity as other workers.
No one said prostitution is "honorable work". They criticised the concept of honourable work in itself. I don't fuck people for money because it's honourable, I do it for the money. But I've never done any job because it was honourable, I did all of them for the money. I'm unclear on which work is honourable and which isn't. Is every worker doing work which becomes obsolete post-revolution doing something dishonourable. Are they all worthy of the same derision?
I'm not really arguing that prostitution isn't repugnant if by repugnant you just mean gross. Or do you mean morally repugnant? I don't see how prostitutes are the target of your disapproval when we're exchanging sex for money which we need, and our clients are exchanging money for sex which they don't need. I can see why you'd be disparaging of the people hiring us. I'm pretty disparaging of them myself. But apparently I'm the one lacking in self-respect and personal integrity whereas the people who have no issues with paying me so I'll have sex with them are merely immature and insecure.
Although earlier you claimed
I've seen no empathy from you towards prostitutes. I've seen mainly judgement and some pity. But apparently I'm afforded as much of it as clients who are "caught up" in this vice because they're not getting what they're entitled to at home (cry me a fucking river).
But amongst your condemnation you also say that
which if it were true would mean that is social necessity until such point at which we no longer have this dysfunctional society. In which case I guess we're providing some sort of valuable service, or what? I don't even agree but it's pretty amazing how you manage to be so down on prostitutes while leaving men's entitlement to have their every sexual whim satisfied completely intact.
Also, "normal sexual relations".
You also came up with a pretty bizarre definition of "socially useful" here
which wouldn't include the work I currently do but would if I had a pimp.
Clearly no worker here is a "genuine" worker.
That must be lovely for you. Apparently cruising for consensual, mutually enjoyable, anonymous sex is also out then? Just to be clear, imo, there is a world of difference between that and prostitution. The former being something that I hope will continue to exist in a post-revolutionary society, and the latter being something I hope will be abolished along with all other work (no sooner, as I'd be out of a job). But it seems you have quite a specific idea of when people should have sex which goes far beyond whether or not it's exploitative.
You've realised you can't pay people to like you. Well done. Sad though it is, you can pay them to pretend to like you.
This is obvious.
I'm Uncreative's boyfriend btw. He says the mods decision was fair enough and that I can speak for myself.
@Book O'Dead Have you ever
Have you ever actually known/ talked to any sex workers?
I'm certain that sex work is not a product of capitalism. I went to Pompeii once and there's this place
There was certainly a thriving sex trade in 79 ACE and before you start mentioning slavery again, I'd like to point out that the Guild of Prostitutes was a powerful entity. I wrote a paper on prostitution in Victorian London once, can't exactly remember the details but it was a little bit more involved than your French Lieutenant's Woman analysis.
"What sort of message do we give our children?"
Well, I have no idea what you tell your children, if you have any, but I tell mine that they should respect other people and not judge them for what they do for a living.
Book O'Dead wrote: I've never
You and me both mate!
This is really just ridiculous; the only person with this fixation over "honourable" versus "dishonourable" work here is you. Why you think the rest of us are tailoring our language around a concept nobody else has even mentioned is beyond me.
I tend to use the term sex work for a number of reasons. Partly it's just a fairly commonly used term anyway (e.g. the IUSW), partly because it encompasses fields other than prostitution such as stripping, porn, etc. - and partly because it emphasises they are sex workers, who, like anyone else, are forced to sell their labour in order to survive, and often have few options for other fields to go to.
You on the other hand have repeatedly used the word "whore", a harsh, aggressive, dehumanising and thoroughly misogynistic term which is frankly appalling for any self-declared socialist. Presumably your "proletarian morality" doesn't extend as far as treating fellow workers - even those in industries you find reprehensible - with basic respect.
I would continue but Stewart Lee got there first (from 5:10):
Quite possibly. I imagine for those actually involved in sex work, doing without said wages would be a bit of an issue.
Elaborate. What, precisely, is a "genuine worker"? Do you have a newsletter of some sort?
I'm also curious as to whether your vitriol is purely limited to prostitutes, or if it extends further. Factory workers building bombs to kill other proles, for example. Or callcentre workers selling credit cards that get other workers into debt. Or folks selling drugs on the side to try and make ends meet. Or, well...pretty much any profession, really.
You say you're not a religious fundamentalist. Fair enough. But the fact is that, at least from my perspective, your line of argument is pretty much identical, except presented in the language of Marxism rather than faith. The disgusted outrage directed towards those who sell sex, the constant moralising ("perversion", "vulgar", "honourable"), the dehumanising and abusive language ("whore"), the plaintive cry to "think of the children", the almost missionary zeal to, as you put it, "make prostitution disappear from the face of the Earth!"...you're basically Pat Robertson with a red flag.
See, here's the thing. For starters, this whole concept of "legitimate" and "illegitimate" (or "honourable" and "dishonourable") work is a bit of a peculiar one, and is basically a fusion of traditional conservative morality on the one hand and socialist lingo on the other.
We don't support our fellow workers because we respect their profession; we support our fellow workers because they are workers. That the class is divided in all sorts of ways - professional versus manual, public sector versus private sector, the white, grey and black economy and so on - doesn't change that.
I doubt anyone here would disagree that we should struggle to abolish the conditions that leave people with few other choices than prostitution. But your vitriolic, hateful, moralising tirades against those who make that choice in the here and now are really just appalling.
Tell me. Who exactly here is "willing to tolerate and defend the sexual exploitation of others"?
If you can possibly bring yourself to read the words of one of these perfidious harlots you've been railing against so strongly, this might be of interest: To the would-be sex work abolitionist, or, 'ain't I a woman'?
I think you guys, and this
I think you guys, and this shitty article, are wrong.
Yeah, BOD is a worthless misogynist who we should really stop responding to since he doesn't have a brain, but what is all this SEX WORKERS DON'T NEED YOUR HELP crap that you guys and this shitty article is pushing?
Sex workers have to sell themselves because of the capitalist system, they have no agency because ALL workers have no agency. And the idea sex working isn't especially degrading is just a bunch of obtuse pedantry, 93% of dutch sex workers would leave the entire industry if they had a choice. And the remaining 6% probably enjoy their job the only way anyone at all can enjoy a job in the capitalist system while still being in the working class.
BOD, those "whores"(you fucking misogynist) would become GOOD RESPECTABLE WORKERS (white men) if the capitalist system didn't screw women especially hard.
And morality wise, the real problem are the capitalists who have reduced every intimate social relation in society, even what is supposed to be the MOST intimate, into just another goddam thing to be bought and sold. Yeah, post that dumb ANTI SEX BINGO CARD HUR but my point still stands that sex workers probably don't want to do what they have to.
Of course, this isn't an excuse to be a giant dickhead and shun them for being in a bad position, I'm just saying that we shouldn't put our head in the sand to appeal to a bunch of left-liberals who've never even seen a prostitute in their entire lives. We should organize and aid all working people, oppressed people, and people who our elitist and selfish society shuns - not because it's "anarchist" but because it's the good thing to do.
And since everyone's turning this entire damn comment section into how "useless" morality is, I might as well just say that I don't much care for how we view sex in the modern world much either.
I guess I'm just a terrible anarchist, but I don't think our culture of one-night stands and meet-someone-lets-"screw" is worth preserving. I think sex should be a special act of intimacy between two people who love each other, not put on every billboard and all over TV. I don't think the first thing a guy thinks when he meets a nice girl should be CAN'T WAIT TO FUCK HER SILLY
And why is the internet under the assumption that caring for our children is a bad thing? Why does everyone ask call me a republican when I say 5 year olds probably shouldn't be watching Blood Death Massacre 69 while downing a barcadi breezer? If you want to insult BOD, just call him a sheltered misogynist. Be mean the right way
Also he's not a "moralist" because Jesus helped lepers and prostitutes, he would just be another dumbo to the Great BOD.
Also that guy in the article picture defended sweat shops and apartheid so theres that
On a related by tangential
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.
That's all to say nothing of the "morality" of engaging in sex work. Yes, capitalism will find a way to commodify anything, no matter how sacred we believe it to be. Perhaps one sex worker believes that they have made a good choice, and they are in an occupation they like. In that case I would feel obligated to support them in a fight against their boss or the state even if I had personal reservations about their work. Suppose another sex worker hates their occupation, and believes they have been forced into it by circumstance. This situation points out that capitalism creates a situation of limited and shitty choices for working class people, and I could hardly be judgmental that someone chooses one shitty choice over another shitty choice, when all the choices on offer are shit. And in that case I would still feel obligated to support such a sex worker in a fight with their boss or the state. Making the shitty (if you believe it to be such) "choice" to be a sex worker isn't totally fucked like the choice to be a cop or a strike breaker or something.
Also, I don't think anyone here wants sex work to exist in a post revolutionary society, but I also think most of us don't want "work" in its conventionally understood sense to exist either.
I'm not down on prostitutes,
I'm not down on prostitutes, they have their own problems to deal with. I'm down on imbeciles who argue that it is a worthy occupation.
Oh, and for those of you who think I should be banned for assuming a principled stand on the question: Isn't the call to ban me for my dissent the coward's way out?
Book O'Dead wrote: I'm not
Yeah and apparently we'll get no help from you.
Has anyone here described it as such?
Coward? I can't see anyone here feeling threatened by what you're saying. The calls to ban you are just because you've been such an offensive bigot. I think that's fair enough though I'd rather you stuck about because you're the funniest joke I've seen on here in a while.
Everyone seems to be able to counter your arguments perfectly well so no reason to get rid of you for that reason. You still seem to be having problems with it though. Will you please answer the questions to you.
I think we should keep Book
I think we should keep Book O'Dead, if only as an example of what much of the working-class movement was like in the 19th century, in the glorious times of craft workers proud of their worthy occupgations etc. etc. Literally like some Book of Dead.
Seriously, you have no other justification for your views than "morality". There simply is no way your views can be justified by an analysis of capitalism (i.e., productive - unproductive, working class - capitalist etc.). This in itself should be like a big fucking red light that something ain't right with those views.
Where the fuck are you getting this from? Both the above article and the comments below criticise anti-sex work feminists and Book O'Dead's anti-working class misogyny precisely for failing to offer any meaningful solidarity to sex workers.
Yes, and this point is explicitly refuted in the article above, which I'm guessing you haven't actually bothered to read:
So what is your actual issue here? From the rest of your post, it looks like the old Chestnut that sex work is different because sex is special:
Juan Conatz has pre-empted this argument above:
The fact is, for lots of people, lots of the time, sex isn't this great mystical spiritual bond or whatever. Saying that prostitutes, swingers, cottagers etc. are exploited because they have sex that doesn't meet these criteria isn't much of an argument.
Konsequent wrote: Book
Anyone here who insists on calling prostitutes "sex workers" is arguing in favor elevating it to a dignity it does not deserve. Prostitution is an undignified trade that deserves the stigma that is attached to it.
While some here will argue that there is a basic indignity about being a wage worker of any kind--something I tend to agree with--I would disagree that there is any kind of stigma fundamentally attached to the work done by a mail carrier, a bus driver, a steelworker, a soldier, a street sweeper, a waiter, etc., however exploited those workers may be.
Book O'Dead wrote: I'm down
I'm down on imbeciles who argue that working as a researcher on economic policy is a worthy occupation.... because that is my what I work at and I want the abolition of waged-work and the idea of "a worthy occupation" is absurd even though most people would think I have one.
Seriously, this idea of worthy and unworthy work has nothing to do with Marxism, working class struggle or communism. All of which, of course, want the abolition of prostitution but not because we think prostitutes are 'deplorable', 'perverse', 'repugnant', 'vulgar' 'whores' lacking in 'self-respect and personal integrity' and 'morality'. Jesus, I feel sick even quoting you.
And fwiw, I also don't think its the case that prostitution is simply "another form of wage labour". It plays a rather difficult to disentangle role in being paradigmatic of sexual relations under capitalism. The recent issue of The Commoner is quite good on this. In particular the essays by Silvia Federici and Lara Agustin
How am I being misogynistic? Except for one post in this thread I have referred to prostitutes in the gender-ambiguous "They", "Their", etc.
Perhaps you have brought out your own brand of misogyny by assuming I have been referring exclusively to women. A Freudian slip on your part, methinks.
Book O'Dead wrote: How am I
Are you really so oblivious that you don't think the word "whore" could have certain, shall we say, less than favourable gender attitudes associated with it?
jonthom wrote: Book O'Dead
Perhaps only in your own gender-biased mind.
So what you're saying is that
So what you're saying is that his name is less an internet handle and more what he secretly jerks off to every night? Well, judging by his grade-a posting...
Anyway, I agree with Laborbunds' proposition that we ought to think about a "proletarian morality" and how capitalism affects societal values.
Why is it that some clothing - a necessity - cost thousands of dollars if it got "Chanel" on it? Why is it that having more useless consumer goods proof of obvious virtue and having less proof of being "workshy"? Why is it that we consider greed wrong until a guy in an expensive suit is doing it? Why does right wing politics revolve around contempt for the weak? Are the values of working people and rich people different? If so, how are these values seperately developed?
And finally, the classic FREE SPEECH "argument"
"Isn't the call to ban my paper for an alternative viewpoint the coward's way out?"
-Julius Streicher (google it, he's like the logical conclusion of the daily mail)
"Dude dont call chicks whores"
"WELL ITS ONLY OFFENSIVE IF YOU GIVE THE WORD MEANING YOU BANANA"
Can you tell us your reddit account along with how many ladmags you've subscribed to? Also, on a scale of one to ten, how bad was your relationship with your mother?
Book O'Dead wrote: jonthom
I'm sorry but this is just laughable. "Whore" is, along with "slut" and a range of other terms, employed as a specifically gendered insult - most often referring to women who are believed to be overly promiscuous. While it can be applied to men, ignoring the gender aspect and pretending it's some sort of neutral, inoffensive term or job description really just defies belief.
I'm done with this thread,
I'm done with this thread, because it's frustrating and angering me, which is not the reason I engage in discussion here. But just thought I'd throw in, Book O'Dead, you have basically not responded substantially to my or really anyone's posts. In the end it keeps coming back to morality and the sanctity of sex, which you haven't explained, defined or given any sort of extended argument for, which is annoying, because many here (including myself) have responded in good faith (at least at first).
Quote: Book O' Dead wrote: I
Lord have mercy on this mind jailer and deliver him from evil. Go get an 'honourable' job and stop indoctrinating children! Teachers... lowest of the low.
If those statement are aimed at me they are beneath contempt.
Moreover, I am not dishonestly arguing in favor of some abstract right of free speech when I say that it's a "coward's way out" to want to ban me for expressing an unpopular opinion (however unfortunate the coincidence of words may be).
I understand that my privilege to participate in this forum is contingent on my abiding by certain rules of behavior (which I presume includes a ban on the sort of reckless insinuation you've just made against me), and limited by my adherence to certain ideological principles. I am under no illusion about free speech in this or any other moderated forum. After all, I know, perhaps better than you, that I have the whole world outside of this forum in which to exercise my "freedom" to opine.
Verily, that is not how a
Verily, that is not how a proper English gentlemen calls those dirty tramps! A good gentlemen calls these wo-men of ill repute - who sell their bodies to just about any man - harlots. They shall be damned to hell, like all dirty street people, stinking vagabonds and shiftless beggars. Don't they know the poorhouse is just down the road? Now let me tell you the proper place of a wo-man,
- Book of the dead, page 376
Book O'Dead wrote: Anyone
So, if all work is basically undignified, why does prostitution in particular deserve the stigma attached to it? Why not other jobs? You mentioned soldiers as an occupation without and undeserving of stigma and I have to jump on this. You see, it really does piss me off when people on the left get on their moralistic high ground hating soldiers. I grew up around soldiers and as much as I hate my government's foreign policy (and the military itself), I still kind of have an affection for soldiers. I was first introduced to radical ideas going to barracks parties in my teens. You see an army barracks is like a college dorm for poor kids, and its a great place for a rebellious army brat to learn about heavy metal, different ways to get intoxicated, and class society. So the first time I heard the word "anarchism" used in a non-pejorative, non-hot topic kind of way, I was in a barracks. And I support soldiers when they resist, when they mutiny. I like things like IVAW. Just seems natural to me that most soldiers are poor kids, pushed by shitty circumstances into making a shitty choice, and when they refuse to accept the choices and circumstances as given to them, its a positive thing worthy of solidarity.
Now one could easily make the argument that soldiers deserve a great deal more occupational stigma than prostitutes. And I base this on the fact that a soldier's job is to deliberately kill other human beings (other proles most often) in order to advance the interests of the capitalist classes of their various countries. No matter how much shit we talk about defending the country, protecting freedom, etc, at the end of the day the job of the soldier is to murder people. They are, after all, gangsters for capitalism.
Prostitutes may do something that seems icky to you. Perhaps your personal sexual inclination is that sex is a special, intimate human activity and shouldn't be turned into a commodity. I know that this is my personal sexual inclination. But I also recognize that its only that: my personal inclination and not a universal ethical principle. So prostitutes might (or might not, who knows?) have a different personal sexual inclination than you, but they don't deliberately kill other human beings. So why would prostitutes deserve the stigma of their occupation but soldiers don't deserve such a stigma? If anything, the stigma attached to prostitutes is a major factor which contributes to the shit conditions they often endure.
Also, I'm assuming that like me, you are an American. I assume that because the proposition that soldier is a "worthy" occupation but prostitute not smacks of that good old American morality where violence is just fine for the whole family but sex is an awful, dirty thing best not spoken of. Imagine yourself blowing up a city full of people (imagine puppies and kittens in the city if you like). Then, imagine yourself having sex for money. Let me know which one bothers you more.
I'm all for discussing what's messed up about prostitution. I've been thinking of writing something for some time on how I experience alienation specifically as a prostitute and the, to me, somewhat troubling insights into the commodification of sex. When I compare the sex I have as work with the sex I have for fun and/or to express how I feel about someone, it reminds me of how grim capitalism is. The article doesn't contradict this. Neither do the people posting here.
I'm a bit concerned about the phrase "supposed to be".
The left-liberals and anyone who refers to sex work as empowering or, worse still, thinks that some sex workers enjoyment of their work should be the basis of our solidarity, are infuriating, granted. But once again, neither the article nor the posters arguing with BOD have said this.
So in a post-patriarchal, post-capitalist society you would be against people having sex with each other for the fun of it if they weren't in love? How is this desirable or enforceable? I know a number of people who have no interest in sex with people they merely respect and find attractive, but only really enjoy it with people they're romantically involved with. Other people enjoy having sex with people even if they aren't in love. Please tell me how why this should not be?
The term sex workers is hardly a euphemism. It just describes what it is. It is sex which is work. Do you not think it's sex? Do you not think it's work? You've just described it as a trade.
Who deserves the stigma? The prostitutes? The clients? "The trade"?
I couldn't care less about which word we use tbh. I use prostitute as a subcategory of sex worker for those workers who are actually having sex. As a rentboy I don't think my working conditions have a massive amount in common with those of someone selling phone sex other than the stigma and as I've mentioned to my coworkers numerous times I think we have better things to do than concerning ourselves with this. You did make me wonder about this briefly, but as this thread seems to illustrate quite clearly, I can at least count on a lot people with similar political outlooks to myself for support which is something I appreciate.
What on earth is "fundamentally attached stigma"???
Book O'Dead wrote: I would
I have no idea why BOD was allowed to post beyond this.
Good point, Izbl.
Good point, Izbl.
Book O'Dead banned due to
Book O'Dead banned due to horrific misogyny. Hopefully can get the thread back on track now.
lzbl wrote: Book O'Dead
Well we'd not all had time to read the thread, I only just saw it now. Sorry about that, he's gone now anyway.
@Juan Contanz (since Senior
@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.
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.
Great post by laborbund. I
Great post by laborbund. I think Jura touched on something really perceptive when he joked:
It's not just De Leon quotes, I think Book has been expressing a lot of the leftist 'hangover' from the workers movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The struggles of the last 50 years or so have really undermined the idea that there is a positive side to labor that just needs to be freed from the parasitism of capital. At the same time, important work has been done to show that the structures created within capitalist society are more than mere epiphenomena of exploitation, but the ways in which that exploitation is reproduced on a daily basis. The two most important of these are gender and race.
And yet you would have us go back to a 19th century craft unionism politics where productive labor is a noble endeavor carried out by breadwinning, native white men of probity and dignity?
Give me a fucking break, Sam Gompers.
The morality you keep harping on about is, as people have pointed out, the hypocritical moralism of the Victorians. That is to say, it is the morality of an ascendant ruling class that found it necessary to distinguish themselves, on the one hand, from the unwashed, degraded masses and, on the other, from the decadent, rentier gentry.
Included in this moralism, of course, was an attack on all sorts of vices: alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc. That these efforts were largely attempts to craft an obedient and productive working class while simultaneously blaming the victims of capitalist accumulation says a lot about your political project here.
It is no surprise that bourgeois moralism had an affect on the early workers movement, since that movement arose not from some philosopher's head, but from the real world of capitalist society. But when you go on about 'whores' and 'dignity' and 'proletarian morality' you are reproducing some of the great and enduring failures of the working class movement, failures that extremely brave people (yes, including sex workers, caregivers and their allies) have risked so much to struggle against. And you would shut them up again?
Do us all a favor and join us in the 21st century.
Edit: FYI I addressed this to BOD while he was in the process of getting banned (yay).
libcom wrote: Book O'Dead
I like the "back on track now" sentiment, but it might be a good idea to address how BOD's comments were specifically mysoginist. He earlier made the point that he was using gender-neutral pronouns, and should thus not be looked upon as a mysoginist. Another poster (sorry I've forgotten your user name as its not right in front of me!) aptly pointed out how he was still being a mysoginist, but it might be useful to put something up about how contemporary sexual morality and condemnation of prostitutes is most often bound up with some woman hating bullshit. It shouldn't be necessary on a libertarian communist site, but it probably, unfortunately, is. If only for confused newcomers.
I mean, I think other posters
I mean, I think other posters have done that quite well so far. Do you mean posting something on this thread specifically, or in general, or in the posting guidelines?
I mean, sure the words might be gender-neutral technically, and of course people other than women are sex-workers, but the word "whore" is, I'm pretty sure, one that is applied as an insult to women who sex work and women who don't, in the same way "slut", "slag", and all those other words are used. I think perhaps you underestimate the minds of confused newcomers.
Yes he could have been describing people of any gender with words like "whore" and "human toilet", but it's unacceptable whoever he was using them about and has place on this site as you rightly say yourself.
Conservative PM Booklius
Conservative PM Booklius Deadlius thought it was immoral because a) WOMEN OUT THE KITCHEN and b) because it's "dirty".
I haven't watched TV in a loooong time. We couldn't afford one if we wanted too. We got a 5 year old PC, a 2 year old itouch, and a Nook (which is mine because my mom is awesome).
I just finished work, but SA was down, the computer was crapping up, and I was in the proces of downloading books from the pirate bay to get on my nook. I decided to go on Netflix and watch this "breaking bad" tv show everyone keeps on going on about.
IT IS AWESOME, but this is besides the point. In short, the show is a dramaticized depiction of the lucrative drug trade from the perspective of a neophyte protagonist and his streetwise friend. The show is a morality tale and by time the end of the last season, they're both brutal, mentally damaged murderers. Seriously, it's great, I marathoned four seasons in a couple days. Gets crappy in season 3, but it picks up quickly.
The show depicts everyone below a certain class level as, basically, urrhumans. They're scary, they're dangerous, too stupid to be evil, too smart to be good. Pretty much everyone who isn't middle class/upper class are so stupid they're a danger to themselves and others. These poor people have no restraint, they are portrayed as a sort alter-human race that exist to make trouble for all the better folk. Sex workers are just methhead junkies who don't have their priorities straight, gang members are child murderers, and lower class children can kill with ease. They are sometimes physically unclean.
If you watch Breaking Bad, you probably wouldn't even remember that poor people exist considering how little screentime they get.
Most of the baddies are really rich, but this is never an indication of their character. They are not ravenous zombies, like the poor people in Breaking Bad. If you've seen the series, just watch it and pay attention to class just slightly. You'll see what I'm talking about.
The show teaches a sort of bizzare morality in this respect. If you are below a certain class level, you become feral. Sexually promiscuous and vindictive if you are a women, violent and cruel if you are a man.
I could talk about some very... interesting themes in the series regarding class but I think you get my point. Morality is a very important theme in the show, so it's even stranger that the poor are essentially irredeemable.
This is the good, american morality that Sire Book Dead believes in. His hatred of sex workers comes from a media that tells people that poor people are a species apart. It's Jerry Springer morality - the only morality that matters is that poor people (especially poor women) can only be inherently bad and for no reason.
Their stories, reasons, and realities don't mean anything - perhaps they're too stupid to even think.
It's a Victorian morality, but even more inconsistent and akward. Porn stars are just fine, but "hookers" and "whores" aren't. Porn actresses are seen as middle class (they're not), so they get a free pass by these types. "Prostitutes", however, are a bunch of "toilets".
I might, however, be putting class too much on a pedestal in lieu of plain jane misogyny. Good ol' Book Dead might have just hated "sluts" and his hatred of sex workers might have been the conclusion of that. Personally, I think it was a deeply classist sexism, considering the amount of classist tropes he invoked.
oh christ i just remebered "depraved misfits". Ughhhhhhhh
Ramona wrote: I mean, I think
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.
I think most of our newcomers wouldn't ignore something we bring directly to their attention. I also think people have a tendency to skim, especially when something seems uncomfortable or challenging. I seem to run into a lot of people who share at least some of BOD's notions in radical circles. The majority of these people are newcomers. Maybe it just seems like a lot of people to me, but I can totally understand where many newcomers to Anarchism or radical politics in general bring in some reactionary baggage they've picked up somewhere. I can't understand getting all crazy and defensive about reactionary viewpoints like BOD did though.
Agreed again? smiley face.
Steven. wrote: just to
then change them so anti worker bigotry is against the rules.
laborbund wrote: I was
Yeah, point taken! We're working on an intro to gender for the library, hopefully that'll be useful in future.
That sounds great. I look
That sounds great. I look forward to it!
georgestapleton wrote: The
i had nothing to do, so i made these into a pamphlet: http://zinelibrary.info/sex-and-work
Can we put this in the Library? :D poetry! "Ode to a 19th Century Sexist"
Yeah, I'd be interested to
Yeah, I'd be interested to see the libcom group's take on gender politics.
If the word whore was gender
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.
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.
So I haven't finished reading
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.
Yes chilli, overall I agree
Yes chilli, overall I agree with you but if work is abolished, then it won't be sex work.
jonthom wrote: Stewart Lee
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.
Steven. wrote: Yes chilli,
laborbund wrote: On a related
Just to say, Laborbund, that I think a the topic of a proletarian morality would make a really good subject for a blog.
NNN - Have you seen the Wire?
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.
Chilli Sauce wrote: Just to
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.
Chilli Sauce wrote: I'm not
Exhibitionists film themselves having sex all the time even now and it's not considered work. I assume this would continue post-revolution.
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.
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".
Konsequent wrote: I do wonder
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.
lzbl wrote: I agree it's
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.
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".
Chilli Sauce wrote: Going
On a note related to this, even now some health workers or carers occasionally "help out" severely disabled people with sexual "services"
Steven. wrote: Chilli Sauce
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.
sex workers like all workers
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
Chilli Sauce wrote: Going
I wonder who'd watch the watchers.
That is brilliant. I'd never
That is brilliant. I'd never come across that quote before.
Fourier could even fix your
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.
As amusing an idea as I find
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.
Do you know what I rarely
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.
bounce wrote: Do you know
Who is this directed at? There are sex workers commenting on this thread already, Konsequent for instance.
It's obviously directed at
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.
Most people on the thread are
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.
caterpillar wrote: It's
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?
It wasn't obvious to me
It wasn't obvious to me either. Seems like bounce charged everyone with refusing to listen to and denying solidarity with sex workers, which was blatantly not the case.
This is why despite being a
This is why despite being a sex worker and an anarchist I avoid anarchist discussions on sex work, because even pointing out that sex workers should be central to and leading discourse on our work offends people so much that they don't want to listen. I never said it was everyone in the thread but it also wasn't just that one person and even some of the supportive comments were completely lacking in any recognition that people outside of sex work can only add so much to the discourse. But yeah, how dare I point out that sex workers are better placed to discuss all this stuff.
bounce, may I ask how you
bounce, may I ask how you would like sex work to be organised, what would be different?
Re. Charles Fourier, I remember my lecturer first telling us about his erm controversial ideas, we were really shocked! haha.
Fourier, aye. I don't want to
Fourier, aye. I don't want to sidetrack 'cause this thread has been good but I wonder where all the utopian socialists went. Workers' councils and organising for the revolution is all well and sensible, but where are the folk promising the sea will turn into lemonade nowadays? Hard headed realism is boring, the workers want oneirism.
bounce wrote: This is why
FWIW, I do not disagree with you at all. And I in no way at all suggested that sex workers aren't the best equipped to discuss their own working conditions and the discourse on sex work. If that's how you read my post, then I apologize for not making myself clear(er). It certainly wasn't my intention. In fact I agree with you; it makes perfect sense. We need to take charge of our own fights and struggles.In a lot of cases when people discuss sex work, that is precisely what happens. From what I can tell that wasn't such an issue in this thread. But I do admit that I cannot necessarily recognize what is "good" and "bad" (for lack of better words) class-based discourse on sex work since I am not a sex worker. I would really appreciate it if you could point out how to actually discuss it in a productive way.
bounce wrote: Do you know
I'm not sure anyone aside from the now banned BOD has said anything close to that. There has only been one swex worker commenting on the thread, a poster who has been istened to. The point of discussion is to find out more and you don't necessarily need to experience something personally to have an opinion on it. I think trying to engage with the topic and welcoming contributions from those in the industry is the best we can do (and what I hope happened here) and it is also what I think the community on here tries to do. I'm going to reread the thread because I don't think I interpreted it in the same way as you. If you want to add more of your own opinions or thoughts to the thread then I'm sure it would be appreciated.
bounce wrote: This is why
All i did was ask who your initial post was aimed at, and then i had two people going on about how obvious it was. Ive heard "listen to sexworkers!" used to argue any given standpoint someone might take with regards to sex work, so i was sincerely wondering who you were saying that to, rather than being offended or anything.
bounce wrote: Do you know
I would agree here. Also it's not ideal to have a 5 page thread of mainly non-sex-workers discussing sex work. However I think in this case the reason why it got so long is because someone put up the orginal article by a sex worker and the author's view was immediately dismissed by a non sex worker and so most of the resulting discussion was people pointing out that sex workers should be listened to and shown solidarity when organising. There are a number of articles about sex work on the site and they generally don't result in this much discussion. My impression of it was mainly positive as when I saw the thread 2 pages in most of my responses had already been covered. Had B o'D commented but everyone else not challenged him then at that point it might have just been me telling him to STFU and him telling me I was disgusting and it would have been pretty miserable and a pretty poor show, solidaritywise.
As it was, in the course of the debate inevitably examples were used, comparisons made, etc but the question of what sex worker organising should look like wasn't addressed in much depth. The question of whether to listen to and show solidarity to sex workers is probably the most appropriate one for non sex workers to discuss, if it needs to be discussed at all, which apparently it did, and the vast majority of people commenting were clearly on the more enlightened side of that debate.
My impression of the thread is presumably biased by the fact that I was in a agreement with most of the posts. If you weren't then I'd be interested in hearing your disagreements.
Generally I wouldn't deny anyone an opinion about sex work. People have feelings about sex and about work and are likely to have a view of some kind on sex work but when it comes to discussing the details of the industry I'd expect them to not be so arrogant as to think they understand exactly what it's like. But there's as much disparity amongst sex workers as non sex workers on the subject and even B o'D would be able to find a sex worker who shared his opinion on it so that only really gets us that far. Also when strategising about organising in the sex industry my conversations with people who have experience of organising in a number of different industries but not in the sex industry and my conversations with other people who work in the sex industry but have no experience of organising have both been useful (though differently useful) in helping me develop my ideas in that direction.
Well, I think Konsequent has
Well, I think Konsequent has covered it all, but I'm a bit confused by bounce and catterpillar's comments. The article (while certainly worthy of critique) is about how sex workers should be listened to. The vast majority of posters on the thread (bar the now banned BOD) have defended that position and have, I think, largely deferred to and supported Konsequent when dealing with the one person--the, again, now banned BOD--who was a non-sex worker trying to speak on behalf of them.
Another worthy point many posters on this thread have made is that sex work is still work. As communists and as workers I don't think any of us are pretending that sex work doesn't have it's own dynamics and challenges. But we are part of discourse that says the exploitation inherent to all work--including sex work--needs to be critiqued as part of an anti-capitalist analysis. We're not here pretending to speak on behalf of sex workers or claiming that sex work is some sort of special case where sex workers need to be 'saved from the outside'.
So we may not be sex workers, but we are workers and communists and I think that allows us the space to have a general criticism of work which we can then apply to various industries based on how informed we are about the particulars of those industries--whether trucking or sex work.
In any case, I'd be glad to hear from other sex workers on this thread. I think the most useful and insightful posts so far have been from Konsequent. I think hearing the voices of other sex workers would be hugely beneficial and appreciated.
Likewise I could say your
Likewise I could say your position is liberalism masquerading as socialism.
Aside from the overwhelming data that shows that prostitution is more frequent and that violence, coercion and rape persist when prostitution is legalized (french-Canadian sociologist Richard Poulin, although his work has many flaws, has accumulated extensive knowledge on this topic), what shocks me here is the ideological perversion that would lead left-wingers to think prostitution is acceptable and can be, in its current form, conform to anti-capitalism.
How on Earth did the capitalist commercialization of sexuality become an idea so many socialists hold dear? The most outrageous idea here is that critics of prostitution think they are "saving women from themselves". No. No. No. Prostitution is not just something women do "themselves", it is not a contract between two individuals. This perspective is directly borrowed from a strain of liberalism that upholds that we must let people do "what they choose" in a contractual setting while ignoring that these actions are part of greater structures of economic, collective (prostitution often affects marginalized and immigrant groups) and personal domination. Prostitution is not only an activity but also a SOCIAL INSTITUTION. One that is essentially always at the service of the patriarchy.
Main idea: Prostitution is, like pornography, an activity that CREATES our sexuality through capitalist activity.
Excuse the pun, but what a
Excuse the pun, but what a load of wank.
34825742 wrote: what shocks
Who are you responding to here? When did anyone say any of that? All people are saying is that sex workers, like any other workers, aren't helpless non agents who need to be rescued from their horrible fates. Sex workers, again like any other workers, end up doing the work that they do because either they decided that it was better than their other options of survival or they had no other options. "Rescuing" sex workers from sex work doesn't improve their lives it just removes one, potentially their only, way for them to survive under capitalism.
I mean, no shit that the commodification of sexuality sucks, so does the commodification of pretty much everything. The fast food industry is terrible but I'm glad that when I worked in fast food nobody tried to save me from it by making my job illegal. If helping sex workers is something we're genuinely interested in, then we should be helping them organize to improve their working conditions and gain some element of power over their lives, not demonizing them and helping make their, probably already precarious, lives more precarious.
34825742 wrote: ignoring
Who's ignoring that? All work should be examined with these greater structures in mind.
Plus, does prostition "affect" marginalised and immigrant groups more? I'm genuinely asking - are there statistics for this?
Also what do you mean when you talk about prostitution "affecting" people?
Just to clarify, are you arguing that it would be better if sex work were illegal?
Quote: Likewise I could say
Wow you've got us there. They should totally ban factory work or something. Then all the women who are forced economically to do it will, erm, die of starvation? Wait, wait, hang on...
It amazes me the way people deploy socialist jargon to provide a paper-thin justification for patently moralistic ideas about factory work. The whole "ah but you're ignoring structural/social/economic factors stuff is just such a bunch of wank; no one's ignoring any of that. You're just desperately trying to frame the argument as a binary choice between "factory work is awesome and empowering" (as espoused by the liberal wing of factory work advocacy) and "factory work is bad, m'kay, and factory workers are at best worthy of pity and charity" (and at worst "human toilets" etc. etc.).
Love the way people come on
Love the way people come on here and spout off without reading the thread or the article.
On the subject of criminalisation/decriminalisation, it wasn't really being discussed much as far as I could tell. Personally, I can see how making, for example, the purchase of sex illegal would make me less safe. I've talked to prostitutes working in various environments who say the same. However, I'm completely open to the fact that I might meet some who would benefit from changes that would be detrimental to me and vice versa. Whether its anti-trafficking laws used to deport immigrants, anti brothel keeping laws used to lock up sex workers sticking together for safety, or laws approving prostitution resulting in massive tax bills which aren't payable without worsening conditions, I hear of various ways in which various possible models have been used to make things worse. My point is that there needn't be this assumed connection between ones outrage at the existence of prostitution and ones views on what laws would be less shit.
Quite an interesting
Quite an interesting interview with a sex worker about her life.