When I hear the word "sex trade worker" I'm reminded of the phrase
"collateral damage." Cleaning up the language doesn't change the
situation. If the word "prostitute" hurts your feelings - it SHOULD. It's
humiliating work. I agree that it's master-slave, and that's what the
customer is buying - power over another person.
The people who pay for expensive prostitutes - the jet-set clientele - are
exactly the class of people that should disappear. I don't know if we
should facilitate their master status by legalizing prostitution and
encouraging an open market.
This attempt to dignify sex work is well-intentioned and sometimes
positive. Bridgette Bardot was hardly a slave, but did she provide a
meaningful contribution to society? I certainly enjoy contemplating her
red-hot persona, but does this "benefit" outweigh the gender roles which
her work reinforced? Was her work consensual, or were her options more
limited than a man's?
Other sexy-workers (eg Anna Nicole Smith) have had a harder time surviving
their role, of course.
Then again, Playboy smashed open doors for women by giving them good
paycheques and career paths that threw the barefoot-and-pregnant social
order into a tailspin. It also helped undermine conservative support for
full-spectrum sexual repression, a development which continues to weaken
Morlock, your comment is pithy, but it's a bullshit comparison. Just
because it sounds good doesn't mean it's true. Access to the body is much
more intimate than access to the brain.
Think about how desperate your economic situation would be before you let
someone - a stranger, bad breath, rude manners etc - penetrate your butt
with their cock. I don't know what you do for a living, but picture your
average client / co-worker / customer and imagine you have to have sex with
them. All of them.
Now think how hard-up you'd be before wasting the same hour writing a lame
paper or article. Hell, you write here all the time - giving strangers
access to your brain. There's a reason you aren't, instead, standing in
Time's Square holding open your butt cheeks. (Or maybe you are -
Michael Albert has a great experiment - he'd ask janitors how much you'd
have to pay them to be a doctor. Would you refuse to be a doctor if they
didn't quadruple your wages? How about triple? Double? The same? Most
of the ones he asked would happily trade places with a doctor for even the
Meanwhile, ask a doctor how much of a pay cut they'd accept to become a
janitor. You'd pretty much have to pay them MORE to be a janitor, because
of the social status they'd lose.
The economics of labour is bullshit. Labour only has exchange value (as
Stephen Leacock said), and exchange value is totally distorted by power and
privilege, legal frameworks etc. Legalizing prostitution might lower its
exchange value, rather than raise it, as it would for drugs. Maybe there's
already research on this.