I had an interesting conversation the other day around the intersection of feminism, patriarchy, and sex work. It’s complicated of course, and feelings run strong, for me and others. For the first time there was enough clarity in the way I expressed my views about it that I have the urge to share it more widely.
So here goes; why sex work should be decriminalized, destigmatized, regulated, and respected – because feminism!
In my view we can legitimately think of the spectrum of human activity as arising from one or a blend of three primal modes: extremely simply they are nurturing, fighting, and fucking.
A more polished and encompassing way to put it would be to say at any given time we are in some way acting in one of three roles: caregivers; nurturing and providing for the (physical, emotional, fiscal, etc.) needs and desires of ourselves or others connectors; attracting, befriending, seducing, persuading, or convincing others to form (platonic, professional, familial, sexual, etc.) bonds warriors; defending, attacking, or assuring the (physical, emotional, fiscal, etc.) safety and well being of ourselves or others
Also known as service, sales, and security. Doctors, politicians, police officers. Nurses, journalists, soldiers. Accountants, actors, activists.
Within each mode there’s a wide range of different activities, but the ones we tend to naturally fixate on and view as the most controversial expressions of each mode are primal, elemental – bearing and caring for kids, fighting in battle, and seduction and sex. One could say that of the shades of all human urges they are the pure saturated primary colors.
Think about each of these elemental human activities in terms of how they’re viewed by society. One can be praised and respected for bearing and caring children or fighting in battle in many personal or professional capacities as a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, surrogate, mentor, soldier, peace officer, security professional, or player of rough contact sports. If one works in the field of connection and seduction though, it better be as an actor, politician, sales or advertising executive, or perhaps a fashion model – who are allowed to be nude so long as they appear as hairless plastic prepubescents without nipples, starved to the point of frailty, posed in submission and drained of all expression. If on the other hand one is paid for any activity that directly or even tangentially involves sex, seduction, erotic movement, sexy images, or even sensual touch there’s virtually no quarter of public society that doesn’t view the work with some combination of disgust, rage, and pity.
It’s one of the last greatest lingering plagues of the patriarchy that our culture can’t realize that not all sex work is coercive, abusive, or detrimental. There truly is nothing wrong with acknowledging basic realities of human nature and accommodating healthy sexual needs.