Thursday, November 24, 2005

Prostitution as Labour

I was reading a particularly annoying analysis of pornography today, and I couldn't quite put my finger on what was making me angry, until I got to this quote:

Prostitution should not be recognised as a form of labour. Rather it is a form of violence whose root cause is male demand for prostitution and other forms of commercialised sex and is rooted in gender inequality
Why can't it be both?

Of course prostitution, particularly brothel or pimped prostitution, is a form of labour. You're selling your body, ususally in particularly coercive conditions.

I find the idea that men buy women's bodies deeply disturbing. I believe that the commodification of women's bodies effects all women, and knowing there are men who believe that I'm walking around in a commodity is really scary. But this doesn't make prositution any less a form of labour.

I think the problem here is not the analysis of prostitution, most of which I agree wiht, but the lack of analysis about the nature of labour relationships. A lot of labour relationships are coercive and violent; workers die every day because of their jobs, and many more are injured. I have a problem with all form of labour relationships where people are bought and sold. To me, saying prostitution is a form of labour is not saying that prostitution is OK, but saying labour as it stands isn't ok.


  1. Well, it all comes down to primate sexuality, doesn't it. Whether prostitution is legal, covered by labour laws, or not, it's going to happen, because one of the things we primates do is trade resources for sexual acts, and it seems fairly hardwired (trading mating rights in return for resources is quite common across a lot of mammal and bird species, particularly the gregarious ones).

    What do you suggest instead of the current regime?

  2. Anonymous2:24 pm

    all down to primate sexuality eh?
    great, lets all keep shuffling on our knuckles untill the sun finally burns out.

  3. > I find the idea that men buy women's bodies deeply disturbing.

    1) Surely you can't buy their bodies any more than you buy the body of your labourer.
    Im sure if you told a prostitute to cut down your tree they would tell you where you could stick your tree.

    2) there is pleanty of male prostitutes out there so it is sexist to exclude them from the debate.