Monday, March 31, 2008

late to the party, but what the hell

"The fact is that all prostitution, including Spitzer’s brokering of a high-priced call-girl, is dangerous for several reasons: first, as a population, prostitutes suffer grave victimization and physical harm; second, prostitution degrades the status of all women by affirming the pathology of associating sex with property; finally, prostitution undermines perhaps the most important moment of reckoning in our country’s history – when we established legally that human beings cannot be bought and sold."

Does anybody see what's wrong with this statement?

I mean, okay, besides the various false assumptions in the first two reasons listed. The idea that the reasons many prostitutes suffer grave victimization and physical harm all stem from some inherent flaw in sex work itself, rather than the culture of bigotry and shame that surrounds it, is an assumption with only philosophical ramblings to back it up. The second reason listed is even more pernicious--the idea that what one woman does can somehow degrade all women has been used to legitimize sexism for ages. But the third one? The idea that selling sexual services makes you a slave?

Can we count the ways in which that's fucked up?

There's the idea that the only sex workers who "count" are those who are forced into it and essentially treated as slaves. You're only allowed to be in the picture if you fit a (supposedly) more privileged writer/thinker's view of your profession. If you're doing it because it's better than flipping burgers, or, heaven forbid, because you actually like it, you don't exist.

Well, that's just stupid. But somehow, I don't think that's what the writer is getting at. I think what he/she is saying is far nastier.

I think it rests on this: the assumption that one's sex, alone among physical services, represents one's entire humanity. How else would getting paid for performing sexual services be seen as equivalent to having other people exchange money to use your entire life as they see fit?

And this idea that a woman (or anyone who puts themselves into the feminine role of whore) can be defined entirely by sex is at the heart of the oppression and misogyny that makes the world worse for everyone, especially all women.

1 comment:

sadieko said...

Of all the negative conclusions people draw about prostitution, I have to admit "slavery" was not one I'd ever thought I'd come across.

I really can't wrap my mind around the idea of paid sex=property. Or for that matter, the writer seems to have idea that any sex with another person comes with an sense ownership. (But only against women.) It's performing a physical act at the request of another - assuming it isn't one of those bad situations (which yes, make up the majority of industry as it stands), any "ownership" between the two ends when the money exchanges hands.

I've spoken with people in sex industry who've chosen it. They're very professional.