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What is the moral difference between sex work and other forms of work?

(347 Posts)
MooFeatures Tue 28-Apr-20 19:09:33

Hear me out. I know the two are different, and that and that a person selling their body (indeed, their consent) for sex is morally different to other types of work which they wouldn’t engage in if that financial incentive (coercion?) wasn’t present. I’m not questioning this position... I’d just like to be able to fully articulate why the two are different. All explanations gratefully received smile

OP’s posts: |
StillWeRise Tue 28-Apr-20 19:11:56

what, again?

RumbaswithPumbaas Tue 28-Apr-20 19:13:41

I just thought exactly the same Still

OhHolyJesus Tue 28-Apr-20 19:13:53

Because women's bodies are not commodities to be sold or vessels to service men. Simples.

The last one on this was how is it different to giving a pedicure hmm

StillWeRise Tue 28-Apr-20 19:24:30

here you go OP

calllaaalllaaammma Tue 28-Apr-20 19:31:07

Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually, 80 percent of victims are female, and up to 50 percent are minors. Hundreds of thousands of these women and children are used in prostitution each year.

It's on a par with the slave trade.

MooFeatures Tue 28-Apr-20 19:38:31

@StillWeRise that’s really helpful; thank you

OP’s posts: |
Goosefoot Tue 28-Apr-20 20:21:56

There are a number of reasons people would say they are different, though not everyone agrees about all of them. Some are also more of a spectrum and others more absolute.

- Some people think it is risky compared to other sorts of work. It's probably on the riskier side but this one is not the easiest to argue as there are other types of very risky work and then you can rather get into the weeds comparing them.

Probably the one that is most absolute is that sex can and does in many cases result in pregnancy, and that has all kinds of implications for the children that might result, and also arguably for the state that may need to support said children as fatherless children are higher risk. Also said child might never be able to know the father which isn't ideal. So an industry creating that kind of problem would be seen in a very negative light.

- Some would argue that while it might be possible in some circumstances for it to be ok, there is just too much potential for abuse and exploitation of the workers and it is not possible to adequately protect them.

- Some people feel that it's too personal and intimate - that sex is too emotionally charged. They will typically point out that many sex workers are people who have been abused and that the work in itself seems to lead to things like disassociation. Others feel that it is no different to other forms of casual sex (hook ups, sex parties.) In general my observation is that this is one argument that people either intuitively feel is true or not and it depends on their general attitude to sex.

BelleHathor Tue 28-Apr-20 21:35:20

Someone tweeted about this series on YouTube. Warning quite harrowing:

BelleHathor Tue 28-Apr-20 21:36:11

Its 4 months between the videos 😢🙁

Thelnebriati Tue 28-Apr-20 22:07:55

Are the majority of pro sex work men willing to be paid for random strangers to approach them and stick their tongue in their mouth for 15 minutes?
Should unemployed men be willing to have anal sex with strange men as a job? Many men like anal sex, and there's no risk of pregnancy.
If hundreds of thousands of boys were groomed and trafficked into this business would that be enough to make it stop?

DidoLamenting Tue 28-Apr-20 22:26:43

There are a number of reasons people would say they are different, though not everyone agrees about all of them. Some are also more of a spectrum and others more absolute

It's the dehumanisation which is wrong. I've seen it argued on here by the pro punter lobby that being a prostitute is better than being a cleaner or a "burger - flipper". It's usually these 2 jobs which the pro- punter lobby pick as somehow being the lowest of the low.

These jobs will also be painted as jobs which command no respect and where workers are looked down on. That's a complete straw man argument in my opinion. I've never in real life came across anyone who wasn't extremely grateful for cleaners , whether commercial or domestic. And as for fast food workers - really does anyone look down on them?

But prostitution breeds contempt on both sides in a way that no other service does. See, if you can bear it, the comments from punters on so- called review sites. I don't believe for a minute, no matter how often the odd happy hooker appears on here telling us about how lovely her regular punters are, the women selling sex don't hold the punters in the same level of contempt. It can't be healthy for anyone.

okiedokieme Tue 28-Apr-20 22:38:57

It's an interesting question. Much of the problem I have with it is whether they are truly consenting, is it circumstances that have pushed them into sex work? But there's definitely some who genuinely chose it and are not trafficked, coerced, no drugs etc - I'm uncomfortable but i would like legalisation to protect them.

Goosefoot Tue 28-Apr-20 23:38:13

It's the dehumanisation which is wrong.

For me this is the crux of it, but I sometimes find it difficult to communicate what it is about with people.

As far as comparing it to other jobs, it may be that there are other people in the workforce we essentially treat as subhuman. Maybe not people around us so much, but what about the people working in places overseas producing for very low prices all the things we need or think we need?

But the point there isn't that sex work is better or justified by that, but rather that no work should be like that. We shouldn't accept that. If people think of burger flippers that way, and there are people trying in some countries to live on a burger flipper's wage, that is the wrong way to think of those people.

Where I find an impossible impasse is that there are a fair number of people who see a lot of non-commoditised sex from the same dehumanising perspective. Maybe it's freely chosen, but it's still fundamentally self-centered and using others as an object. If people think that is ok, even a good way for sex to be, they are unlikely to see sex work as a problem.

It can also be difficult to draw a line. Obviously prostitution is sex work. Nude modelling? Cam work? Getting naked on an HBO show? It's arguable that maybe we should only ban the ones that are more serious, but then when you have the young women on the HBO show, it's difficult to say that's fundamentally different than what some of the others are doing, and if people are taught to think it is ok they will tend to see those other things from the same perspective.

Coyoacan Wed 29-Apr-20 00:04:12

It's the thousands of women and girls who being trafficked into this business every year that really upsets me.

I would have no problem with prostitution if it were all like "Never on a Sunday".

FloraFox Wed 29-Apr-20 00:57:31

Prostitution is not work. It’s not the oldest profession, it’s the oldest oppression.

bettybeans Wed 29-Apr-20 00:57:49

Those videos of Amanda are so distressing. Absolutely heartbreaking. I was just managing to hold it together during second video until she mentioned the amusement park again. Oh god. Oh girl, I wish someone could save you 💔

Then I got angry. What sort of human being spots a young woman in that state and gives her cash (or more drugs) for sex. Who does that? How can they do it? They do it because prostitutes are seen as less than human. That's how.

When a tiny minority of 'sex positive' women attempt to intellectualise the role and the job it's always people like Amanda that I think of. The ones who don't give a shit about their academic thinking and whose lives are a universe away from ever being empowered. The women I see in my own city who clearly aren't at home writing books or building successful media profiles when they're not out at work. The ones entirely vulnerable to exploration and whose lives are 100% a dangerous mess.

youkiddingme Wed 29-Apr-20 05:17:58

In most other jobs, at least in developed countries, jobs that involve inherent risks, and dirty and unpleasant conditions, do have some regulations pertaining to safety and working conditions.

And even if you regulated sex work to massively improve the safety aspect, there is still the question of the 'value' of it to society. While some people might look down on cleaners or burger-flippers (and I certainly don't), a quick think might remind them that actually society as a whole needs them. The only person to benefit from a prostitute is the punter. And I would argue that, because of the commodification of women's sexuality, society as a whole loses out from the very existence of prostitution. And this is partly why, for many people the job cannot command respect - it is of little value to society as a whole, and the person is rarely respected by the punter. With other types of work, the person may be using their body to work - their muscles - but they will achieve something we can see or comprehend, whether it's a clean loo or a well-stacked shelf of beans.
The narrative that sex work is empowering leads us down the slippery slope that it's ok for women to be forced by poverty into prostitution since there is no difference to having to do any other work for a living.

If men were being killed, trafficked, beaten, and exploited in the same numbers as women I wonder what the position on prostitution would be then.

LangClegTheBeardedVulture Wed 29-Apr-20 06:50:24

If you ask a person who suggests “sex work” is somehow better and less exploitative than working in McDonalds which job they’d rather have their daughter do, their argument falls over pretty damn quickly.

Qcng Wed 29-Apr-20 08:06:45

Working as a prostitute puts you at far higher risk of being murdered than any other profession.

There are loads of statistics out there that vary greatly, a US study found that the average homicide rate for prostitutes was 300 per 100,000 of the population compared to the second most risky (in terms of being murdered) job of a male cab driver where 30 per 100,000 are murdered.
Others estimate 60-100 times higher homicide rate compared to average female population of any profession.

Wherever you look, it's clear that prostitution is astonishingly more dangerous and risky than any other job for many reasons. This isn't even including the psychological and emotion harm that the women experience, many also exit the industry suffering PTSD.

Add this to the collective harm the industry brings to society and women a whole, including perpetuating the most harmful and degrading stereotypes of women that work to hold us all back, it's incomparable to any other job.

HorseRadishFemish Wed 29-Apr-20 08:13:46

..* It’s not the oldest profession, it’s the oldest oppression.*..

That's good. Not heard that one before.

Baconisgoodformeee Wed 29-Apr-20 08:21:54

The ‘what would you want your daughter to do’ argument is a ridiculous one as many wouldn’t want their daughter to be lots of jobs; doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. In some countries people don’t want their daughter to have a job at all - don’t think we should be going down that route.

I’d argue sex work is different to other work firstly for the penetrative aspect - massaging someone’s feet is different to having someone penetrate your vagina and mouth, that’s much more invasive. That’s why giving a massage with a ‘happy ending’, while still sex work, is undoubtedly less extreme/intense for most people. Women also (men as well I suppose but especially women) do see sexual intercourse as some sort of important, extreme act - whether through societal conditioning or biological reasons (creates babies etc) I don’t know.

DidoLamenting Wed 29-Apr-20 09:03:29

The ‘what would you want your daughter to do’ argument is a ridiculous one as many wouldn’t want their daughter to be lots of jobs; doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. In some countries people don’t want their daughter to have a job at all - don’t think we should be going down that route

It isn't ridiculous if the argument being put forward is that prostitution is just work like any other work.

Baconisgoodformeee Wed 29-Apr-20 09:33:57

I wouldn’t want my daughter being in the army. Does that mean that the (often sexists) who say women shouldn’t be allowed in the armed forces are right then?

DidoLamenting Wed 29-Apr-20 09:41:06

That's a false argument and a false comparison.

There are clearly many women in the armed services. I suppose there might be the odd anarchist/lefty/contrarian who would take umbrage at their child being in the armed services. The more likely reaction is most parents would be proud their child was in the army and would say so.

I doubt many parents say they are proud their daughter is a prostitute.

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