Sex Work, Emotional Labor, Feminism, Gender Diversity, and… Hi again!

Photo by Davis Aquilina

Photo by Davis Aquilina

When I wake up at 6am it turns out I get some good thinking/articulation done. I think it also helps that I recently moved to a wonderful sex-positive household, and unpacked more in the week after moving in than I’d unpacked in the past three years… I think I’m… Happy?! Happiness does my brain and body good, and a little while ago, early in the morning, I found myself responding to a friend’s musings about sex work online, I also found myself responding to some of the negative and dogmatic responses she had received — her post being pro sex work. As I was responding I thought of you, my readers here at ABC’s. So I’m sharing my thoughts from that conversation; I hope you enjoy reading on…

CONVERSATION ABOUT SEX WORK — specifically pertaining to sacred sexuality within chosen and ethical working conditions: Here’s a general summary of the conversation: “Legalize Sex Work, especially Sacred Sex Healers!”, and then “But why pay for something that’s supposed to happen between lovers for free — that’s the one twoo way and righteous”, and then some “But what about God?! Don’t waste your seed on multiple people, make it to the afterworld and save yourself for the love of [insert deity here]… and then “But massage is paid for and that’s intimate touch too and healing”, and some “Women do this service to men who need it for reasons of advancement and sexual healing and it’s a sacred path for women to choose taking,” then more “but really monogamy and not paying for sex ’cause… um… not paying for sex!”… 

Here’s what I had to say: There are two points I would like to make on this post that I don’t see being discussed but that I feel are extremely relevant to this topic, and they pertain to Gender and Labor. These ideas intersect in different ways but are related. As long as we look at sex work as “women’s work for the benefit of men” it will not be regarded as the deeply spiritual and healing thing that it is. It will continue to be headlined under the dogmatic false-duality heralded by patriarchy and never be seen as a just function within the industry that it is a part of: (a viable and much needed aspect of) the Healing Industry. That said there is also a need for us to look at the fact that people — regardless of gender — take on the roles of both sex workers and clients. Men, Women, Transpeople, Intersex people, Genderfluid individuals… All of the peoples both heal and buy healing when it comes to sex work for varied and personally important reasons. This is relevant because sex work is not an industry (when worked within freely and ethically and intentionally) that can be defined as a dogmatic function of patriarchal oppression, especially when we look at the reasons people both provide and seek out these services. I believe sex work can be (at least) a radical reclaiming of the body for people who are giving and receiving within sex work, sex work can provide an important function for individuals who desire and need it, and in fact be the antithesis of a repressive labor of exploitation.

The other point I’d like to give some time to is concerning gender — because we regard and speak about (contemporarily and historically) sex work as “women’s work”, the worn path of discussion about whether or not it should be paid for is an entirely tired and generally insulting downward spiral into the depths of (again) dogmatic and patriarchal thinking. There has been a cultural discussion for decades (recently re-energized) about how our society does and does not find value in work we consider to be “natural to the feminine instinct”. A great article for reference: “Where’s My Cut?”: On Unpaid Emotional Labor

I, for one, am all for people capitalizing on their talents and passions regardless of gender for the benefit of both themselves and others in this lifetime. Should sex work be legalized? Yes. Should sex work be paid for? Yes. Should people who engage in sex work and sex workers be stigmatized for their connection to an energetic flow that our society would have us repressed and segregated from? No! Should scumbags who use the reality of societal repression of sexuality as a way to demean and control others in the sex industry be viewed as criminals of the state and prosecuted accordingly? Yes! Do we deserve safety while exploring our sexual energies/bodies/desires in this lifetime? Yes! Is sex work gendered? Hell no. Are people who need and find and benefit from services within the sex industry a single gender/sex/orientation/identity? You better believe it ain’t so…

So, where are we left? Well, I think at: respect people for the journeys they take in this lifetime even if those journeys are foreign to you. I don’t need a pacemaker, and you might not need sexual healing from someone other than your primary partner. I’m not judging you for your heart condition; walk a mile in my shoes and you might not find yourself with much steam to judge the needs of my vagina… My ultimate hope is about safety though, and building a better industry to carry out its essential core values: healing, wholeness, and happiness… Which cannot happen if the very discourse we have on the topic is rooted in sexism, homophobia, religious and/or sexual repression, cis-centrism, false dichotomy, and by abandoning mention of rape culture and the effects of trauma on a person’s ability to develop a safe and healthy sexuality to begin with… Sexual Healing might just be the oldest profession in the world because we desperately need it.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin 

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~Thank you.

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