“With a few notable exceptions, people do not get into the sex industry for reasons that have anything to do with desire for sex, any more than a person enters janitorial work out of a love for cleaning. The exchange between worker and customer is a complicated negotiation of need, illusion, denial, boundaries, and specific neuroses; but central to the exchange is cash. By keeping the debate about sex work focused on sex, and not work, the true nature of the issue is obscured. The arguments rage around ideas of obscenity, appropriate and inappropriate sexualities, representations of femininity, notions of morality: Important issues in their own right, but in the context of the sex work debate they function more as a smoke screen that keeps us from confronting what’s really going on. In this framework women are sluts instead of workers, or victims instead of cognizant participants in an economy. The real question here is, why are our options so lame? What are the economic realities that make the sex industry the most viable choice for many people?
That’s where feminism comes in. That’s where outrage becomes appropriate. The wage gap, welfare “reform”, sexist and racist hiring practices, the decline in the real value of the minimum wage, lack of universal access to healthcare or rehab services, and the widening disparity between the rich and poor: These are the things that undermine the social fabric and degrade the status of women more than me tramping around in heels could ever hope to. We have to ask ourselves, what is so compelling about blaming naked women for their own oppression? What kinds of confrontation are women avoiding by interrogating each other rather than actual power structures?”
Janelle Galazia, “Staged”
from Working Sex: Sex Workers Write about a Changing Industry
I didn’t read this as her saying sw was only an option for the desperate but rather all our options are circumscribed and terrible. Unless you get lucky, but for working class people mostly you will be working your whole life, never get out of debt, making less than white men and getting shafted on child care, maternity leave, blah blah blah. Most of our options ARE less than awesome.
And—I’ve been thinking about this for a while and on my phone from bed is not the place to really explore this but just to SAY—I’ve been thinking a lot about the way that both conservatives and certain feminists act like we’re cheating, or trying to get something for nothing, or whatever; you know what I mean, as if it’s not just the nudity or the commodified sexual/ized services that make us shameful, but our rejection of the pitiful incomes, over work, lifetime of debt that comes with “respectable” jobs.
As if a life time in debt and the inability to afford healthcare is innately more noble than the options offered by sex work.
Obviously I’m speaking of attitudes toward sex workers who knowingly and willingly work in the sex industry and not coerced, trafficked, or unwilling workers.