FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Memo to Sex Workers

You can write the story without the names. Prominent White Male gets caught with Extramarital Female-bonus points if she’s profiting from the transaction. Prominent White Male steps down in disgrace, muttering and apologizing all the while. Extramarital Female rides the wave of publicity to launch or accelerate a career in modeling (Donna Rice), broadcast journalism (Paula Zahn) or perhaps even fashion accessories. (Monica Lewinsky’s handbags did look so cute with silk stockings).

Public’s reaction to the ‘scandal’: Shock. Sure, in part because that’s all we know. But also in part because what we know comes from the media, who reproduce shock as the only option. And sex workers, who help keep those same newspapers afloat, silently comply.

One need only peruse the back pages of weekly tabloids to get a sense of the enormous amount of ad revenue from sex work that floats these papers. Even major papers run thinly veiled prostitute ads under ‘massage.’ The same papers that run stories reproducing the shock at this unthinkable revelation get hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising revenue from.sex workers. Who do they think those working girls’ clients are? Someone isn’t doing their math.

The indoor (as opposed to street) sex workers who advertise in newspapers quietly and unobtrusively service singles, husbands, boyfriends-and even wives and girlfriends-from all walks of life, all over these United States of America. Those sex workers pay rent to landlords. Many pay taxes on their income. They enable strained marriages to stay afloat, help relieve the stress of many a harried executive, and provide options for anyone having a hard time getting laid for whatever reason, to have consensual sex without much risk of rejection and without bugging the uninterested. Sex workers are an integral part of the media economy, and as reviled and ‘shocked’ as some people are to think of it, provide what most of their clients consider to be an extremely valuable service.

Though it pains me to do so, I will stop to preempt conflation of sex workers who choose the profession with those who are forced into it, leaving aside for the moment the tremendous philosophical complexities involved in the notion of choice in any realm. Now really think about this one: Just as we don’t talk about sweat shop workers in the same breath as clothing designers with their own boutiques, so am I not conflating economically oppressed, drug addicted or underage sex workers (or anyone who needs help to get out of the business because it is damaging them) with educated adults who make rational choices to trade sex for money. The subject in this moment is the grown men, women and transgender sexual service providers whose profession of choice forms an integral part of our social fabric and our economy.

I want to enjoin any sex worker who currently advertises in a newspaper or website that’s covering the Spitzer story to use their economic power to demand that the media provide a more balanced account of sex worker’s lives, their work, and their clients. Has anyone, even one reporter at one paper, thought to ask Governer Spitzer WHY he resigned instead of assuming it would be obvious to everyone? Would any other profession tolerate these assumptions being promulgated in the very media they support with thousands and thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money?

Think sex workers don’t organize? Think again. In 1997, the Lusty Lady in San Francisco’s North Beach became the first-ever group of strippers to unionize, achieving many benefits workers in other professions consider basic, like sick days, and protection from arbitrary discipline and firing. Other clubs have since followed suit. The infamous Mitchell Brothers theater, a high-end strip club, in 1998 paid out over 1.65 million dollars in back wages to dancers based on a 1991 suit brought by a group of former dancers claiming they were employees, not independent contractors.

Now it’s middle-class sex workers’ turn. Ask your ad representative when the newspaper plans to run some more balanced coverage of the profession whose dollars they’re only too happy to take. And if they can’t answer, tell them to talk to the editorial department and get back to you when they have something positive to say-then maybe you’ll consider forking over your hard-earned cash.

JILL NAGLE is a blogger, freelance writer, and editor of Whores and Other Feminists (Routledge, 1997), an anthology of writings by feminists in the sex industry, and associate editor with Kerwin Kay of Male Lust: Pleasure, Power and Transformation (Haworth, 2001). She can be reached through her blog: www.jillnagle.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
September 25, 2018
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail