Prostitution and Pornography: Important Questions Part 2

This is the Second part of my questions regarding Porn and Prostitution. You can find the first part here.

1. Sometimes people are very lucky in having a job they love to do. But most of the time, even those who have great interest in doing what they do lose interest due to the dynamics of “doing it for a job”. Hence, most people are not so happy in the jobs they have where they continue doing them due to the fact that they need to have a job in order to earn a living. Yet, there is an assertion that women who work in the sex industry are working a regular job just as everyone else—this assertion comes in conjunction to the truth that most people are not happy in the jobs they have. When men assert that it is women who choose to work in the sex industry (as they assert the opinion of some women as valid while others’ opinion as not), then what happens to the choice of such women–not in terms of the job chosen but in terms of choice in relation to sex– when it comes to women who work in the sex industry? Meaning: a woman may “choose” to be a sex worker. Is it not possible for that woman to be unhappy with the job she has just like the rest of people in all other career fields or is the sex worker sheltered from such lack-of-satisfaction-in-the-job? And if the woman is not happy in the job she chose as a sex worker, what does this mean for her consent to have sex within the job?

2. Relating to question 1 above: Some days people wake up and they do not feel like going to work. When a sex worker feels that way and yet she must go into work and have sex with men, what does this do in relation to her consent to having sex with those men? Or must the sex worker’s consent/choice to work as a sex worker be seen as greater than her consent to have sex in order for her to take on that job? As there is a difference between the choice/consent to work in the sex industry and the consent to having sex, what is the difference between these two things?

3. Porn works in such manner that there is an audience…the choice of the scenario and the actors and the actresses are made in relation to catering to what the audience wants to see. Not only that, but the video recorded cannot be free from sex or sex-related activity. Meanwhile, people around the world go online as the audience to these videos. They also have a choice…a choice that they assume will be met in accordance to that which they are demanding to see. The porn industry met their demands using those actors and actresses people see in those videos. When it comes to sex, how can we use the term “choice” when the people who are having sex in porn videos are acting in a manner that suits the demands of others and what they want to see? Do you consider that a “choice”? And if so, whose choice was/is it?

4. If a sex worker is merely engaging in a mutual sexual activity between two consenting adults: herself and the male-clientele…then I must ask: Why doesn’t the man get paid at the end? Who decides which person gets paid? And why is it that the woman is the one who is most likely to get paid at the end? Why isn’t the male-clientele considered the prostitute in that situation? Where is the mutuality in that sexual activity? And where is the mutuality in consent—since consent does demand a mutuality? Is the mutuality established by balancing money with sex or is it established by balancing money with the will of the woman?

5. When we speak about “choice” in regards to the area of sex, we need to be careful. A woman who is doing porn, for example, will be asked, “do you like your job or are you forced to do it?” And the woman will have no choice but to say that she loves her job since saying otherwise will damage her career. And if we ask the same question towards the woman who is working as a prostitute, she may say, “THIS IS MY CHOICE” in order to escape the lectures and the reactions that people may otherwise have against her—it would be her way of saying, “leave me alone! I do not want to hear your condescending remarks”. These women did not choose to live in a sexist world where people may view them as women who have made poor choices and as women who are no good and as women who could have done better for themselves if it was not for themselves. In “choosing” to work in the sex industry, these women may have taken such path as a reaction to the lack of understanding in the sexism that they have faced where their career felt as an empowerment due to the fact that they were able to overcome the ideas that people formed of them as they are given the opportunity to express how they feel and how they have been treated. To choose to do porn and to choose to be a prostitute, in truth, relates the idea of “choice” with the idea of “I stand up for myself because you do not know me and you do not know what I have been through”. Yet, when the general public hear the words, “this is my choice” they are associating the word “choice” with the woman’s desire to sleep with men and her love of doing it for money. Is the woman’s choice to work in the sex industry based on her love to sleep with men and please them sexually or is it based on a sexist society that has isolated her, judged her incorrectly, labelled her, and made her feel like she is the problem in the sexism she has faced? And what is the role of sexism in forming the choice that a woman makes to become a sex worker?

6. To work in the sex industry is to make a living by working in the sex industry. One needs a job out of necessity. To choose to be a prostitute for a living is to choose to be a prostitute out of necessity. This necessity is contradictory to the idea of choice when it comes to sex and the consent to have sex. For a woman who is making a living by having sex is one who is having sex for the sake of a necessity. And in essence, that woman is having sex due to being imposed into having sex. How is it the choice of a woman to earn a living by working in the sex industry when choice is replaced by the necessity to earn a living?

7. To earn a living by working in the sex industry is to say that a woman needs to sleep with a man in order that she is allowed to have food, water, and shelter. And although a woman may earn that living in other ways, it does not mean that the existence of these other ways are enough of a justification to replace the dynamics of choice for those working within the sex industry. Most people will connect the idea of “choice” in regards to “other available options” although the idea of “choice” must stand correct to the truth behind the value of “choice” in and of itself. In terms of a job, even with the inclusion of a choice, there is always a must. Hence, it is one thing for a woman to say, “I must cut hair in order to pay for my living expenses lest I starve” and it is another thing for a woman to say, “I must sleep with men in order to pay for my living expenses lest I starve”. The first “must” is connected to the fact that one must work in order to get paid—the choice to cut hair as a way of doing it turns it into a “must” once that choice is selected. First she chose to work as a hairstylist and now she must do it to get paid. And for the sex worker, this “must” is connected to the sexist obligation that a woman has to please a man sexually lest she faces abusive consequences—the “choice” to sleep with men turns it into a must once that is selected. First she lived in a sexist society where men treated her in a sexually exploitive manner then she needed money then she chose to combine the two since she must combine the two in her actual life anyways. All people must pay for their living expenses lest they starve; but the women working in the sex industry will express such statement in relation to her status with men. And for the woman cutting hair for a living, we may ask, “why does she cut hair?” and we will have an answer that speaks about her interest in hair styling. And we can ask the second woman, “why does she sleep with men?” and we will have an answer that speaks about how she must do it lest she starves since the men who she will be sleeping with are ambiguous in identity and the desire for a woman to have sex will never go past that which her consent allowes her and into the “must do” zone. Meaning that a woman can never be so interested in sex where her consent is not in relation to her interest and where her interest is towards all men and not towards specific ones–for that is the idea behind consent. If a woman must sleep with men lest she becomes hungry, thirsty, and homeless; can we say that she is threatened by society collectively into having sex with these men through the punishment of hunger, thirst, and homelessness? And if one was to say, “no, these women are not threatened by that since they can choose another job” then you need to understand that the idea of “choice” is not able to carry itself throughout the point you would be trying to make as it changes definitions. So if you were to say, “no, these women are not threatened by that since they can choose another job” then I must ask: which “choice” are you speaking about when you are talking about the other jobs she “can choose” from?

8. Our world has been arresting, punishing and persecuting sex workers ever since history has been recorded. To blame the women for working such jobs has been a cunning manipulative form of sexism that is meant to make women see themselves as the problem for the problems they are facing as it was/is meant to paint men in an innocent light for being the ones who “want better for women” where women become the ones who are not realising their own “grand” value. The development of this story has not seized to back off of women and back off of the intent to manipulate them. For today, the insistence to persecute women is finally coming to a “victory” lap where many countries and governments are deciding that it is wrong to persecute those women for prostitution as if it was ever okay to do so to begin with. As a result, men have been given a new sense of righteousness to assert that women have the choice in being prostitutes to replace the sense of righteousness they once had in asserting that they want what is better for women. Furthermore, as a result, many women are sighing is relief for not having to sit behind bars. As women fight for their rights not to be jailed due to prostitution, they are using the reason of “MY CHOICE” as a way to assert their right not to be jailed—although what they really need more than anything is not to be put behind bars. These women are being used to paint an image– as jail is being used to make them put it on record— that it is their choice to work in the sex industry. When women say, “it is my choice…do not jail me!” does this sound like a statement made in relation to the choice you are insisting her to state for the record in order that she does not go to jail? Or does this sound like a statement made by a woman in relation to the job she has regardless of jail time and persecution? Second: Are women only to be freed from having to sit behind bars if they were to state it to be their choice to work as sex workers? And finally: Can women not be put behind bars…not due to their personal choice to be sex workers…but due to the fact that it is not their fault if they are working as sex workers?

9. To jail women and persecute them for acts of prostitution is an act of evil by society against them. And when I say that this is “an act of evil”, I mean to say that it is an act that is meant to make her below prostitution itself and not above it where the harms that come from doing it are also owned by society in terms of how she is allowed to see them and see herself—and how she is allowed to see that harm is as something that she deserves…and how she is allowed to see herself is as someone who is harming others more than she has been harmed. To punish women for having sex for money is quiet insulting to be honest with you since the history that women have faced show that men are the ones who are still willing to even rape women for sex. And when the problems in society are never free from the sexism and what it has caused, putting a woman behind bars for men’s core belief in sexism (women are sex objects) becomes an evil act that places her as the problem for everything wrong in the world today. When women are put behind bars for prostitution, what is being said is, “we as a society deserve better than those acts”. Yet, the questions become: Who the hell are we saying that “we deserve better than that” to? Why are such statements directed towards those women as if it is their job to better society when it is due to the way women have been mistreated that we do not have the better society that we supposedly deserve? Is it our job to better the world for women who are not treated well in it as of yet? Or is it the job of women to try to pretend to live in a world that is already all well and dandy?

10. If you sleep with a man without the inclusion of money in the equation, that is allowed and legal. If a woman was to sleep with a man for money, that is often seen as illegal and wrong. Who is the law trying to protect: women or men’s wallets? When a woman gets paid to have sex and when we are threatening to jail her if she was to get caught doing it, then I must ask: Are women threatened when they have sex with men for money or are women not threatened when they have sex with men for money? And when the women has sex with a man in exchange for money despite the threat to jail her, can we not say that such threat to jail her proves that it was not within the woman’s choice to have sex for money since there is a threat against her when having sex in that fashion?

11. Women who work in the sex industry often face sexually transmitted diseases. The legalisation of sex work has been encouraged in an attempt to argue the point that these women need protection from STDs. If I was to drink a cup of poison tonight and it kills me, the autopsy will show that I had drank some poison. I assume that further investigation would have to be carried, correct? Why is that? I will answer this question: Further investigation would have to be carried due to the fact that it is to be assumed that a person would not drink poison voluntarily lest it was an attempt at suicide. With all the harm that sex workers are facing around the world, it is obviously ridiculous and insulting when I hear people say that despite the harm, these women are “choosing” such career paths voluntarily—-and it is most insulting when such statements are made without-further-or-due and without any additional investigations and without any willingness to walk in someone’s shoes. Hence, I will go right ahead of you and state a position that you may take in reply to what I am saying: Women can get STDs without having to be prostitutes and porn stars. And to such statements, I will say: Woman are treated as if they are prostitutes and porn stars without being prostitutes and porn stars quiet often as well. Therefore, I will tie these two things together and ask: are women who are not prostitutes and porn stars choosing on the behalf of men to be treated as if they are prostitutes and porn stars or is this an aspect of our world that men are willing to take the ownership of “choice” for? And do women who are not prostitutes and porn stars have to accept being treated as if they are prostitutes and porn stars due to the natural way such issues progress and regress? In addition, are porn stars and prostitutes to be dismissed due to the casual nature in which men have been treating women lately? For if men treat us that way already, might as well get paid for it, right? 

12. This is a very important topic within the sex industry for me: Young teenage women. Most people cannot make up their minds on the career path they want to take at the age of 18 and 19. The sex industry is open to women who are as young as 18. Do you think that a young woman of that age is making the right decision in deciding to join the sex industry? And I understand something: just by simply asking that question, young women may feel like I am questioning their adulthood which may make them feel defensive in how they respond to questions about victimhood. Yet, in pornography such women are labelled as “newbies” and as “naive” and as “young” and as “immature”. Within the sex industry, these girls are marketed as “too immature to know any better” where that becomes the selling point. Is this “too immature to know any better” something that is true in regard to these girls in their real lives or is it something that is only true as a fantasy within porn? And if you were to say that this is who they are in real life, then are you not encouraging men, as you are painting these young women, to treat these women in a certain manner as to exploit them sexually? And if you were to say that this is only true as a fantasy within porn, then truly what the fantasy would be about is not in regards to an adult but in regards to a young minor since that woman is not that way in real life…isn’t that so?

13. Again, in regards to young women in the sex industry: When many of the men who are shown in porn videos and when many of the male-clientele who sleep with prostitutes are men of the age 40 and older, we call this “oppression”. And this oppression has been noted in cultures where young women are married off to men who are much older than themselves while they are still 18 and 19 and 17. Usually and most of the time these types of marriages happen against the will of the woman. What is the proper interaction that should happen between an 18 year old woman and a 40 year old man? To distinguish between marriage and “just sex” in such situation feels like a curve ball thrown at women where we are, yet again and once more, put in a state of unease where in one hand, we know that this is wrong and on the other hand, we are unable to prove it or express it properly. So I will try to address it from a curve-ball angle: The age of adulthood is set in order to draw a line between parental/adult interference and the life of the child who just turned 18. So, therefore, now I must ask: Did the teenager finally become an adult in order for a bunch of 40 year old men to project their adulthood onto her? Is this a choice that proves that the young woman should be counted as an adult since no one wants to be an adult in order for adults to tell them what position (in this case: sex position) they should take? Relating back to the sexual fantasy of a “young immature virgin”: Is porn/prostitution making a child out of an adult woman while leaving sex itself to account for the proper way an adult woman should be treated?

14. I was driving on the highway today and there was a huge logistics truck that had the logo, “reliable” written on it. Reliable means dependable and responsible whereas liability means responsibility and accountability. Every job out there in this world requires this main characteristic in their employees: For him/her to be reliable—can we depend on you? Within the sex industry, do women have to be reliable workers? And what is their responsibility? Can men rely on these women for sexual satisfaction? And most importantly, who else can they rely on if not those women? Can they rely on other men to complete the job? And since the answer is “no”, then I must ask: What is this reliability based on then? Is it the woman herself or is it due to the fact that a woman has a sexual organ that men do not have? And second: Isn’t it sexist for only one group (women) to be seen as “good for the job”? That is sexism in and of itself, isn’t it? Third of all: Do women hold liability for the sexual behaviour that men engage in? Are they to be held accountable for how men feel sexually?

15. When it comes to young women who are 18 and 19, I am often angry at the course of action that is taken when we speak about their status in the sex industry. Whenever anyone tries to defend these women, the answer is always the same: They are consenting adults. Do you think that these women turned adults in order for men to use their age of consent as a tool to tell us to back off? I understand that an 18 year old and a 19 year old should have their freedom as adult responsible human beings. But with this newly established adulthood, what is the responsibility that is being moulded in their foundation if they were to join the sex industry at such young age? Are we establishing the idea that with adulthood comes a responsibility over sex in society from a woman towards a man without them ever living independently to see otherwise? 

16. When it comes to oppression, we must note that oppression is an act that silences women and projects their (from abuse) negative feelings towards themselves. And this oppression is established as correct for the women through an experience that limits her to it. And the oppressor establishes righteousness from the eyes of the woman through the righteousness within her mind that expects the same righteousness from every person who is around her. And the oppressive acts become a thing excused by the idea that one cannot have it her way all the time, and they are excused by the righteousness she feels in herself and cannot help but assume for it to exist in others, and they are excused by the experience that she must see positivity in since she is still alive after experiencing it when it could have been otherwise (meaning that experience itself is always seen as a positive thing since the person is still alive afterwards). Hence, when asked whether she is oppressed or not, a woman often says “no” because the point of comparison is often minimized by the fact that she must see things as better in order for her to see herself as better and in order for her to be within a reaching distance of a better so that she may seek it and get out of that oppression. The negative feelings that an oppressed woman projects towards herself is often seen as “I deserve this”…hence, for sex workers, is the “I deserve this” statement being expressed as, “this is my choice”? And isn’t it true that if other women express their oppression by feeling like “I deserve this”, that the sex work must express it by saying, “this is my choice” since the difference between “deserve” and “choice” is that one chooses what they think they deserve? 

17. When it comes to the choices women make in her life, I must ask: what are these choices? And what do we consider as “an important” choice and what do we consider as an “optional” choice? I shall answer that since I am merely arguing with the world in the comfort of my room: An important choice, whether for a man or a woman, is that which one must invest much time into—where time means energy and resources etc. And an optional choice, whether for a man or a woman, is that which comes with many chances that we must make often—hence, what to have for breakfast is an optional choice that I will be making tomorrow which is why I may not eat my preferred food if I do not have it today. For sex workers, the repetitiveness of having sex means that they are having sex quiet often and they are getting many “chances” to make a new choice. First: with every chance that a woman gets, is her chance to quit prostitution and “choose” not to work as a sex worker the same as the chance to merely sleep with another person? Second: If the sex worker is getting plenty of chances to choose to sleep with another person another time within the industry but not many chances to quit, then doesn’t quiting that job become an important choice that she is being denied from choosing? Third: the more the sex worker is having sex, the more her “grand” and “all empowering” choice is turned to a lousy “optional” choice, isn’t it? And does that not prove that the woman cannot possibly value working within the industry more than she values not working in it? Fourth: To be denied an important choice to quit working in the industry while one is working in it means that the more time and energy a woman is spending working in the industry, the less important  her  choice is every single day as she makes it. and the more she is denied the chance to make an important choice for herself…Meaning: the more time the woman invests in the sex industry, the less important she becomes (if we are to insist that she is working there out of her own choice)… Is this not exploitation? 

18. To be attacked is to have to face people in an overwhelming manner as to feel that one is not able to realize where they are going to be positioned. In essence, if 10 people were to come towards me at once—even before they reach me– I will say, “Omg…I feel like am going to get/getting attacked”. Some women within the sex industry sleep with many men at once. Are these women attacked by those men or is her ability to realise a starting point and to know herself to be the target of where they will be heading beforehand being abused in order to give the appearance of a friendly encounter? And when was the last time you were confronted by 10 people at once? When was the last time 10 people came walking towards you at once without feeling threatened by it? For even if you were to be questioned by 10 different people–one after another—you would feel a sense of unfairness and a sense of harm from them towards you, isn’t that right? So when was the last time anyone had 5-10 people come at him/her—one after another—even in a positive manner and they did not feel a sense of oppression no matter what? Such interactions are indeed unnatural for a human being to be put in. Never mind, I know where such interaction happens: in football when men rush towards a person in order to tackle him mercilessly. If porn stars and prostitutes are the NFL players of sex, are the rest of the women still in High School playing flag football? And “which porn star do you think I most closely resemble in order that I feel like am hot”? Would that be the question asked if high school football players were to express that same question by wearing the Jersey of their favourite NFL player?  

These are but some of the questions that I must ask today in regards to porn and the sex industry. I will probably ask more question in another article as I am no where near done!

About the Author
Liliyan Hassan

Liliyan Hassan

Founder: Go for Women

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