by Furry Girl


Although I'm normally loathe to give my time to college students seeking a sex worker to interview for an assignment, I recently made an exception for a friend of mine.  The questions were the standard things that everyone asks sex workers, and the interview included a question about how I respond to the accusation that porn and sex work objectify women.

As an ex-feminist, ex-sex positive, and general gold star member of the interweb debaters club, I have spent untold hours fighting about "objectification."  One of the things that people most frequently ask me is, "But what about objectification!?"  Even anti-sex worker activists who claim they can get on board with the idea of bodily autonomy and the right of people to choose to sell sex still have the "gotcha" final argument that porn and sex work are not just a matter of individual rights, but that the sex industry as a whole oppresses every woman in the world by its mere existence due to "objectification."

For the last decade, I've generally addressed "objectification" by pointing out that every single person is objectified at their jobs, so if you're going to get all cryface about sex workers "being objectified as sex objects," you better also be protesting in front of hospitals where people with medical degrees are objectified as doctors, protesting restaurants where people cooking your food are objectified as chefs, and so on.  Most of the arguments made against sex work are arguments that could be made against basically everything, yet aren't.  For example, anti-sex worker activists rail endlessly about how prostitution is wrong because prostitutes are only doing it because they are getting paid, but these agitators don't lobby the government to outlaw elementary schools because teachers wouldn't show up to their jobs if they weren't getting paid.  News flash: almost no one would do their jobs if there was no financial incentive for them to do so.  Doing work that isn't always fun so that we can get something else we want is the definition of being a grown-up, not the definition of suffering oppression.

In my interview, rather than expounding on the hypocrisy and lunacy of the application of "objectification" to sex work alone, I've decide that from now on I'm taking a different position, and I hope that you will, too.

Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists, because in doing so, we're dignifying the idea that it's somehow a real social harm and perfectly valid reason to deny human rights to sex workers.  The instant we go down the road of debating the meaning of objectification (and its equally stupid inverse concept "empowerment"), even if it's to challenge its inconsistent application only to the sex industry, we've already failed.  Objectification, much like "feminism," means whatever a person wants it to mean in order to win their current argument.  Feminists and other such idiots ache for the chance at having such a conversation, because then everything is solely in the realm of abstract theories, so facts can be thrown in the garbage and the side that wins is the side that keeps at it the longest.

The sex workers' rights movement in the US needs to pull its head out of the clouds of bullshit feminist philosophical theories that have nothing to do with anything in the real world.  Stop giving these distractions credibility by addressing them at all, and instead keep the conversation exactly where it needs to be: on human rights, on labor rights, on harm reduction, and on stopping the violence against sex workers created by criminalization.  Feminists and other moralizers know that they will always lose against sane, evidence-based positions, so they purposefully try to change the subject to a go-nowhere discussion about things like objectification and their own emotions.  If we care about making a difference for sex workers (or women and people in general), our duty is to always privilege real problems above pretentious navel-gazing.

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