“Sex work is empowering”
irresistibleoverwhelm · 21/06/2021 23:42
I was marking a student exam essay today on French culture and the city in the 1860s, and the essay was really good until it suddenly got to historical representations of street prostitutes.
This suddenly diverted into a load of claims that the nineteenth century was full of “moralism”, but that nowadays we know that these “sex workers” were “empowered” by capitalism and by knowing that they were earning money for themselves!
(The texts were explicitly about the dirt and poor health of 1860s street prostitutes living in slums. Definitely NOT some kind of Moulin Rouge man-fantasy about rich courtesans.)
Jesus! Have the wits of today’s young people gone begging? Have they all been totally addled by this sex-positive anti-swerf nonsense? Being a prostitute in nineteenth century was not “empowering”, nor was it a choice. It was nasty, brutal, painful and dangerous, FFS.
This kind of discourse is just pernicious and wrong. We’re going backwards, not forwards.
Orangecircling · 22/06/2021 00:02
This one is the culprit.
Librariesmakeshhhhappen · 22/06/2021 00:07
Your student should know better.
Let's, for a minute, drink the kool aid and agree that in the modern day, sex work is a choice giving women independence and empowering them to take charge of their bodies or whatever other crap people come out with. Let's assume that's right.
Even in that situation, the essay would still be a pile of shit because prostitution in the times you're discussing would never match up to the empowering way it is shown as now. It was an entirely different world, with women with totally different socioeconomic possibilities. So even if prostitution is what that student thinks it now is, she cannot take her 2021 lenses and use it to describe the career of those women at that time.
What an idiot.
Hawkins001 · 22/06/2021 00:41
Tis a pickle when viewing history under the perspectives of today's society, unless you had a time machine or had studied a variety of sources and different contexts, it can be an intricate history quest to dissect the modern views and perspectives, compared with how society was in different eras of history.
RickiTarr · 22/06/2021 00:49
Slightly more subtle but someone sent me this the other day. You have to scroll. It’s a new branch of historiography. 😏
Tuberoses · 22/06/2021 01:20
Imo the whole narrative about sex work being empowering is bollocks imo. There’s nothing empowering about allowing someone to visit their desires upon you in exchange for money, because you don’t have an alternative way to earn it. I guarantee precisely zero sex workers would still do it if they won the lottery. Risking your health and personal safety to pay the bills is not empowering.
RickiTarr · 22/06/2021 01:23
That article about indigenous people in Britain suffering when the invaders left. What a reversal of the usual condemnation of invaders ruining indigenous culture!
IKR? Seems you now select and marshal your history to suit your narrative (and I’m not a Brexiter but good grief).
thinkingaboutLangCleg · 22/06/2021 11:22
these “sex workers” were “empowered” by capitalism and by knowing that they were earning money for themselves!
Every kind of sexually transmitted disease, the dangers of pregnancy, internal injuries, and minor scratches/abrasions festering into sores, all with hardly any effective medicines and for just enough money to starve on. Much like prostitution in some poor countries now.
So empowering ….
NCwhatsmynameagain · 22/06/2021 12:01
I am finding this narrative that is increasingly peddled, a really disturbing one. It’s typically coming from privileged middle class (young) people who genuinely seem to think prostitution is ‘diary of a call girl’ style sexscapades for serious cash, and have zero awareness of the sad, ugly, frightening reality that ‘sex work’ is for the majority of women who are forced to take this route- the violence, danger, substance abuse, trafficking, this is the experience for the majority of women, who take or are forced down this route with no other options.
It’s worrying that this view is being normalised into society.
There is some overlap with the whole sex/gender thing, but I won’t get into that because apparently sex & gender issues are entirely separate from other feminist topics
QuentinBunbury · 22/06/2021 12:09
So when there was no effective medicine for STDs and syphilis was relatively common and nasty way to die, these women were empowered?
Can I just plug Hallie Rubenfolds "The Five" as a good historical analysis of what working class women's lives could actually end up as?
Honestly. So open minded their brains have evaporated
Whoarethewho · 22/06/2021 12:15
I am more concerned that those marking papers determining the future of others having such ingrained and moralising attitudes. It hardly seems fair and massively thought policing. For what it's worth I can see both sides and certainly this section of Mumsnet seems to be a minority view amongst my peers.
irresistibleoverwhelm · 22/06/2021 12:36
Ahaha 🤣 I’m afraid this is not exactly the killer point you seem to think it is.
“I’m more concerned that those marking papers of students studying history should have the kind of moralising attitudes that require students to actually take notice of the actual historical documentation and evidence, and not allow them to make up fantasy narratives that suit their own political biases.”
Indeed, so much thought policing 😂
Has it not occurred to you that if students want to write guff that ignores actual fact then they should be writing op-eds for student magazines then, not studying a university discipline?
Or in this time of fake news are we all just allowed to make up whatever we like, and then cry “thought police!” if anyone points out glaring factual errors? Are we meant to be giving out degrees for that? What on Earth would the point be?
CharlieParley · 22/06/2021 12:39
[quote RickiTarr]Slightly more subtle but someone sent me this the other day. You have to scroll. It’s a new branch of historiography. 😏
Oh dear. I mean I could forgive the codswallop about the Romans leaving, but to skip gaily to this:
The beginnings of the return to prosperity had to await the Christian mission of Augustine and his followers in the 7th century, who reconnected the island with the mainstream of the continent.
The three Germanic tribes who were asked to come defend the island and who then settled obviously did not in any way connect Britain to "the mainstream of the continent". All that travelling to and fro across the channel was clearly not a connection.
There was massive and permanent disruption which occurred in lowland Britain between 410 and the arrival of the Christian missionaries in 597.
Yes, that was Britain being colonised by yet more peoples who changed the islands forever. But where the Roman invasion connected Britain to mainland Europe, this much more successful invasion did not.
Only after the arrival of Augustine and his followers did the material culture of the Anglo-Saxons begin the long slow path of recreating the quality of what had been available to the British under Rome.
Funny how this happened all across Europe after the Roman empire fell to ruins. And Christianity wasn't half as benign in those centuries as this academic seems to think.
lilyofthewasteland · 22/06/2021 12:49
How can a situation in the time and place concerned that was characterised by overwhelming abuse of power by men against that group of women be described as "empowering" for the oppressed women?
It's not about personal views, but a fundamental failure to understand the time period being discussed. It's an illogical statement.
Power dynamics are there to be observed, they're not a matter of opinion.
lilyofthewasteland · 22/06/2021 12:56
I'm no expert on the specific decade in which it began, but wasn't this a time in whichfrance was subjecting prostituted women to forced STD tests and forced treatment?
But not any of the men.
Isn't that a perfect example of a group people being disempowered?
TheWeeDonkey · 22/06/2021 13:10
The Five is such a good book Quentin its scary how women's lives were so precarious then and how they still are now for many women.
If there's one word that pisses me off its empowerment, its a croc of shit thats been sold to impressionable young women and girls by men. You don't get power at the end of a mans cock.
Keepemguessing · 22/06/2021 13:25
Some interesting links on this thread:
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