Juno Mac: Selling sex is a working class job

In another astute piece, Juno Mac notes that when policymakers say the nature of commercial sex itself is the problem, they sidestep the less attention-grabbing concerns of working class people; concerns like keeping electric on, or managing childcare costs that are rising faster than wages

“There is nothing so demeaning as having to take groceries out of the bag at a self service checkout because your card declines.” says Dot, a 32 year old sex worker from Camden, London. She posts ads online and clients visit her at home while her 7 year old is at school. She considers herself ‘an ordinary, mid market hooker, no frills’ and says that her hourly rate from the job is more than 18 times what she earned serving popcorn in a cinema. “The minimum wage is not enough for anything; neither are benefits. I can’t afford anything I need without sex work.”

Nobody reading British papers in the last decade will have failed to spot at least one headline sparking panic about rising numbers of people like Dot selling sex to keep themselves afloat. It’s equally impossible to miss that sex work remains as controversial a topic as ever. Conflicting schools of thought question whether the best answer to the urgent problems in the industry would be to remove the criminalization that surrounds it – or adding more.  The New Zealand model of decriminalization has attracted some notable supporters, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, and Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. At the same time, several countries have followed the example of Sweden and adopted the criminalization of clients, leaving sex workers struggling for safety, and still criminalized themselves.

Within the Labour Party, anxieties about the sex industry continue to play out in policy discussions. Labour MPs mount bids to ‘flush’ the UK of brothels (a brothel is legally defined as two or more workers, even if there is no boss), whilst others have called for increased police power to issue ‘crackdowns’ on those working illegally on the street. One describes prostitution as ‘demeaning at best’ while another says that prostitution can’t be a real job because ‘a man’s orgasm isn’t productive’, both illustrating how legitimate feminist concern over rape and exploitation in the sex industry often crumbles away to reveal nothing but subjective distaste for the actual services performed.

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286740cookie-checkJuno Mac: Selling sex is a working class job

Juno Mac: Selling sex is a working class job

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