In Which I Realize I Am Old.

There comes a time when the world lets you know you are getting old. It’s usually an event denoted by a single action. When your children roll their eyes at something you said which would have been cool just a short while ago. Or when one reaches a certain milestone birthday. When one consults the mirror and sees fine lines marching across one’s face which were not there the previous day. Or like me, I found out on Twitter today I am old. My firmly held viewpoints on certain subjects is now considered passe, out of date and offensive.

...Am I confused or are my viewpoint out of date?
…Am I confused or did someone change the definition of sex work?

I weighed in on a ‘discussion’ between the comedienne Margaret Cho and Twitter user THE Foo (@politibunny) and the subject matter is something very close to Margaret Cho’s heart, sexual assault, sex abuse and surviving sex abuse. The actual ‘discussion’ quite tedious and is not the point I am trying to make. I added my two-cents here and said “Sex workers have rights too. They’ve a right to not be violated just because they sell their bodies for a living” and the response was swift by Twitter user Nora: “ew what? Sex workers don’t sell their bodies, yo. They sell their time, an experience, and a service.” 

I must be really confused about what a ‘sex worker’ does, or I’ve been hiding under a rock for too long. Yes, sex workers do provide a ‘service’, a very personalized one, I must add, personalized to each customer. Last I checked they are selling sex as preferred by the customer, and yes, they use their time (obviously) to provide an experience, but don’t they still do all this with their body? Aren’t they using their body to provide this experience and service?

Then it hit me, I am not confused. I am getting old. There is now a politically correct way to describe sex work where it’s a viable career option and somehow I missed it. Another lovely Twitter users (GrossMetalFuck) also chimed in to educate me about what sex workers do.

Thank you, GrossMetalFuck (catchy handle).
Thank you, GrossMetalFuck (catchy handle).

“…to say they sell their bodies is an objectifying statement” – So again, they are selling a ‘service’ (with their body) but it’s a ‘service’ nonetheless. I am not ‘objectifying’ anyone, but merely describing a job description, the oldest profession in the world no less. I must be having a slow day today. No, wait, I am just old.

I am an all-inclusive feminist, I am not a SWERF (Sex-worker exclusionary radical feminist) or a TERF (Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist) or second wave or third wave feminist. I got cross-eyed just typing this. Anyone who defines herself as woman, regardless of how she became a one (born or transitioned) is included in my brand of feminism. No one (man or woman) should be sexually assaulted, ever, period. No one should be violated without their consent, period. Not ever, not under any circumstance, no ifs ands or buts.

Though not backed up by science or research, I believe transgender people and sex-workers are a particularly vulnerable group for assaults. Not because, as the lovely GrossMetalFuck pointed out, “Sex workers also aren’t inherently violated any more than non sex workers are. And there are more non sex workers”, but sex workers and transgender people are at the margins of society, their profession and transgender status does not provide them the same kind of sympathy or protection as other women who are not in those categories. When sex workers and transgender people are assaulted, there’s a kind of ‘they deserved it’ attitude. When your line of work is providing a service which is sex related, what does it matter if you are raped? If a transgender person is raped or attacked, the sentiment is they provoked the attack by not being upfront about their transgender status, like the story of Brandon Teena, a transgender male who was brutally raped and murdered for daring to live his life as a man. I believe all people deserve protection from sexual assault.

So, back to me being old, forgive me if I strongly feel that sex work is not something a girl should aspire to if she’s got other career options. Sex work, in my mind should be work of last resort, which many girls around the world, sadly, have no choice but turn to sex work for their basic survival. Many girls are also sold into sexual slavery without their consent and if given a choice, they’d rather not be servicing sex to her customers (trying to be PC here). This does not mean I am sex-worker phobic, but before a woman decides to sell her sexual services, she must have had other goals and dreams. But if she didn’t, that’s fine too, she still doesn’t deserve to be violated.

I mean, they don’t grade fathers. But if your daughter’s a stripper, you fucked up. – Chris Rock

If this makes me an antediluvian prig with a stick up my behind, then so be it. Chris Rock said many times, his job as a father is to keep his daughters ‘off the pole’. Amen.

5 thoughts on “In Which I Realize I Am Old.

  1. You’re right, as a generalised demographic we ARE at greater risk of harm, that’s precisely why people on Twitter were discouraging you from saying we sell our bodies. The phrase has a negative historical association, one whose linguistic meaning can be used to justify our abuse (‘but I bought her, I’m entitled’). More to the point it’s inaccurate. It’s more likely that we ‘rent’ our bodies, but it is important to distinguish the fact that we do not relinquish our autonomy in selling a service, unlike in, say, slavery, an extreme example of what the sale of a body actually looks like.

    Without raising too much of an argument, on your latter points all I would say DOES betray your age is your assumption that sex work is the end of the line for everyone, a failure. As someone in my twenties with direct experience of navigating new independence in our economy, I can tell you that it is BECAUSE of my ambitions that I am a sex worker. I come from poverty and have worked hard for my education. I’m beginning my postgrad soon and if I were relying on a minimum wage I couldn’t have the life I’m striving for; I would merely, barely, survive. Just my two cents.

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    1. I appreciate your perspective. I wrote this post sort of poking fun at myself. And if I’ve offended or insulted sex workers, I am sorry. I don’t mean it like that. And I am an inclusive feminist as some of my other writings have shown. I don’t believe for one second that sex workers do not deserve protection from bodily harm, or that their rights are not as deserving as other women, not for a second. I was merely surprised to be ‘called out’ on Twitter that I used the incorrect term ‘sell’ as opposed to ‘rent’, which is clever, I was trying to think of alternative word I couldn’t come up with one and rent is good. I’ll remember it for next time.
      As for it being a negative thing in the end, on this point, I will insist that it is not a profession I want for my daughter or myself. If there was a no-go list of profession for my children, sex work would be on top of that list along with a few others. I don’t judge people who choose sex work as a viable career path or a temporary career to get to a better path such as yourself, which, congratulations by the way on your post-graduate work. I understand the argument but I just cannot agree with it. BTW, I am almost 37, old, but not that old, yet, perhaps just old fashioned in some ways.
      thank you for your input. I appreciate it.

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  2. Seems like a useless debate about semantics more than a comment on aging.

    But to be more accurate, sex workers don’t sell their bodies. They rent them. It’s kind of like software. Microsoft doesn’t actually sell you its operating system. It leases it.

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    1. It’s in part poking fun at myself at not being in the lexicon of ‘cool’ anymore. Just 5 years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead making such a ‘gaffe’. But it doesn’t change my fundamental belief that sex work is work of last resort, which might make me antediluvian. There is a moment in one’s life when you realize you no longer speak the language of the youth…and that your beliefs is no longer in sync with what’s acceptable (and be totally ok with it) thus you are no longer ‘young’ if not yet old. 😀

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      1. Well, the definition of a “gaffe” is “to speak the truth accidentally.” What you did was more of an imprecise definition.

        That whole “speaking the language of youth” idea probably wouldn’t apply to me. When I was a youth (like in high school and college) I utterly loathed “youth culture.” I spent a lot more time listening to classical music than to Flock of Seagulls.

        I did get into trouble a few years ago for defending sex work to a SWERF. I was labeled a misogynist for a (perhaps misogynistic) remark that there’s a very narrow distinction between marriage and sex work. Later when she realized all the young and hip were pro-sex-work, she came over to my side and forgot about my misogyny and cynicism.

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