Disclaimer: In the following piece I do not propose to speak for the people I am speaking about. I do not intend to group or classify them a ubiquitous entity, they are each unique, autonomous human beings. This is a work of opinion.
So… Stormy Daniels, hey? Big news, isn’t it? An adult film star sleeping with the Cheeto. Scandalous! Titillating! (Use of pun intended or not dependant on if you think it’s funny.) And totally disgusting.
What? no. Not her. Not what she does. The only thing I find off about her is her taste in men. What’s vile is the way that people have spoken about her since the story broke. Slut. Hooker. Whore. And it’s not limited to the right-wing trying to discredit her. It’s also invective being used by opponents of Trump to make HIM look bad. (he doesn’t need the help, folks.) Liberal, “progressive” people saying things like, and I direct quote: Raw-dogging a porn star.
This piece is not about Stormy. She is just an example of the vitriol society has towards sex work. It’s about the utter hypocrisy that is displayed across political spectrums.
Let’s start with the obvious. Pornography. I’m not going to debate the merits of porn. I am not interested in arguing about who watches it, why, etcetera. (WOMEN WATCH PORN.) What’s fascinating about it is that it’s legal. It is the exchange of money for a service. Being compensated for sexual services. What makes it legal? Recording it and selling it. Yet sex work is criminalized. the only difference is recording it.
Now in what fucking universe does that make sense? (Ha. Fucking.) No, this isn’t an invitation for the puritans to start an anti-porn argument.
Which would be odd, they seemed to be in to some pretty public kink.
When it comes right down to it, sex work is perfectly legal as long as you record it in some fashion, be it photographs or video. The hypocrisy is that there are an uncountable number of people who have no issue with porn, watch porn, think nothing of the legality of porn… yet are opposed to sex work. They are adamantly opposed to a woman using bodily autonomy for income. (unless they get to watch a video of it I suppose.) you can type in to google any particular type of porn you’d like to watch and get results. It’s as if the sex being broadcast changes it from sex work to something entirely different.
Used SFW to not show unwanted nudity. Now I’m getting emails from cookie fetishists.
This is the part where it get’s tricky. Because I want to raise my voice in unison with sex workers. I want to be on their side, but run the risk of misrepresenting individuals in sex work whose attitudes or opinions differ than mine. I hope that any who read this would challenge anything I say that is not ok. I write this from a place of privilege and can easily misfire.
But the reality is that pretty much every anti-sex work argument is based on fear mongering, myth, and outright lies. People argue that it fuels human trafficking. The opposite is true. The criminalization of sex work leads to criminalized operations. When it’s illicit, the unscrupulous monsters will swoop in. Predation on underage women is not a sex work issue, it’s a pedophile issue, and must be addressed entirely separately. (this is also not an issue of gender, as sex workers come in all gender expressions.) Kid diddlers aren’t going to stop when legal consenting adults operate as sex workers.
Likewise, Sex workers are not responsible for your marriage. They aren’t making your spouse or partner cheat. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the argument that because it’s available, it’s at fault. This is one of the most specious arguments, and stop blaming a sex worker for your lousy partner. I have heard there are some workers that won’t even provide service to someone if they suspect they are married. Who’s the immoral one?
Sex workers choose to be sex workers. Yes. There are examples where people have turned to sex work as a last resort. Just like people will take any job that they don’t want but have to put food on the table. The fact that it is sex work is irrelevant to the reality that frequently (and when it comes down to it, most of us) do things we aren’t enthusiastic about to pay the bills. But that doesn’t mean sex workers aren’t happy with sex work. I have befriended a number of people in the business of sex work on twitter, and the prevailing attitude is they like what they do. The things they hate are bad clients, judgmental shitheads, and people who try to barter a deal. Not the work they chose for themselves.
Sex workers DO NOT SELL THEIR BODIES. They provide a service that uses their body. So does your masseuse, chiropractor or physiotherapist, house painters, plumbers and so forth. Society differentiates because it’s sex. Not because it’s work. And it’s the underlying hypocrisy about sex that is the issue.
You loved Pretty Woman but turn your nose up at this. I see you.
Sex workers do not all operate the same. They are not cold-hearted profit seekers with no regard for people. That’s us regarding them. Not the other way around. I can’t speak for all sex workers in this regard. The only thing I can do is speak my own experiences.
First is the interactions with sex workers who I have befriended online. They have all been caring, wonderful people. I do try to remember that they need space and time management because they are working with clients, primarily. But that isn’t unlike me not bothering my friend at work when he has a work deadline. Peel away the preconceived judgements about sex workers, and SURPRISE! They are thinking, feeling, people.
But I want to use a deeper example to personalize it. I am right now in a wonderful relationship. It wasn’t always so. I was in a near sexless marriage that came to an end. Despite the lack of physical affection I received, I remained faithful. (at least physically. Pornhub probably had my family history.) After the break up, I desired sex. Not abnormal. But the thought of the bar scene turned my stomach. One, I wasn’t sure I wanted another relationship EVER. That changed. But at the time I felt like, fuck it, I’m done. But I also didn’t want to be a user. I am not condemning casual sex. I have had sex with people who had no realistic future of a relationship, the key being it was not a misleading attempt to dangle a relationship so you can get some sex. It was two adults who had regard and care for each other that chose physical expression and that’s just fine.
But I am appalled by (mostly) men who play the I want a relationship game and then ghost when they get their rocks off. That is not the person I want to be. I hate these men with the fire of a thousand suns. (do NOT “not all men” me. I’ll spit on your sneakers.) So I sought the services of a sex worker. Twice.
Was it ideal for me? No, for FULL enjoyment for me I require a deeper connection with the person, but the experiences were not negative. I chose not to use the back page classifieds, because there are no assurances that I wouldn’t be fueling an abused person. The symptom of illicit sex work in the first place. I chose local sex workers. They were independent, intelligent women who screened, addressed security concerns appropriately. They were prepared, provided protection, and fully disclosed exactly what their rules were. (Side note, don’t try to break a rule. It makes you an asshole. If it says no kissing, she means it. No, I didn’t try. I’m saying don’t be an asshole.) Just like no shirt no shoes no service, you don’t have an excuse to flout it.
One was more businesslike, and was “in charge” of the sexual service. This was her stipulations.
The other was warmer (although the first was not unpleasant by any means) and was more interested in some get to know along with the service. There was an awareness of a need for more than just sex, but human contact. Hugs and conversation before, cuddle and a kiss on the cheek after, and not a rush to get out. (I do not think someone leaving right away is an issue, it is after all, a business arrangement.)
I differentiate because people just don’t seem to give a fuck that sex workers are complete individuals who run their business as they see fit. It is well past the time where sex work is decriminalized. Yet things like SESTA keep getting forwarded by people who want to maintain archaic moral standards while not living up to them themselves.
Now here’s the parting shot. Some may have read my experiences and sneered. Thinking I couldn’t get a woman to sleep with me without paying (I didn’t try.) or that I engaged in immoral behavior (fuck your morals.) Some may read this and never look at me the same way again. I don’t give a shit. If the take away from this is “Oh my god, he had protected, consensual sex with a sex worker instead of leading on someone or engaging in activities I didn’t want to and paid for it, what a scumbag” you can walk out the door. I don’t care what you think. I did the right thing for me, and what I felt was the best thing to avoid anyone being hurt.
Disclaimer: I am not, in fact, a Honey Badger.
But it’s not about me. It’s about the sex workers who need society to stop treating them like a disease and realize that THEY are the most honest of us, in reality. To my friends online in the sex work industry, I beg your indulgence if I missed anything, or spoke an untruth based in ignorance. My voice is on your side, for what it’s worth.