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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Sex Work | Philosophy Tube

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Hi, I m Olly Thorn. Just wanted to come out before tonight's show begins and

assure you that it's gonna be strictly educational and completely above board; like it's suitable

for classrooms. Classrooms with cool teachers, but yeah. We are gonna be talking about some heavy themes including sexual assault and police

violence but there's absolutely no graphic imagery. It'll almost certainly get demonetised by YouTube,

which is partly why it's sponsored by Skillshare, and if you like it you should check my Patreon! Okay. Showtime.

Are you watching closely?

With the right magic words anything can disappear. People. Money. Even ideas.

Are you watching closely?

First things first: 'sex work' is a broad term covering all sorts of jobs. You've got dancers, adult film stars, webcam performers,

escorts, phone sex operators, fetish and domination works, and even within full service providers (that's people who have sex with private

clients for money) you've got street workers, people who do it out of a flat, people who do it out of hotel rooms

We call itsex work,’ rather than prostitution, becausesex workcovers that wider

umbrella, whereasprostitutionspecifically denotes a crime. Sex work is a big industry with people of all different genders and races and

classes doing all kinds of different jobs, some of which criminalised, some are legalised, and some are decriminalised.

And heres the first big point of the day - decriminalisation and legalisation are not the same thing.

If something is legalised then it is allowed within tightly controlled spaces, like smoking is legal but theres rules about who can do it and where.

If it's decriminalised then its just allowed: like as of 2003 gay sex is decriminalised in England.

You have to be over a certain age and you cant do it in public obviously but you dont need to apply for a gay sex license, its just the same as any other kind.

You might have thought it was a little earlier than 2003, but group gay sex was illegal till then.

So sometimes things are partially criminalised and partially not and it can be a little murky. So if only I could conjure some kind of expert

OLLY: Well I guess lets get started, for those who arent familiar would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about what you do?

RILEY: Hi, Im Riley Reyes, Im an adult performer and Im also the chair of APAC,

the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, which is a labour group by and for adult film performers.

APAC works in conjunction with other sex work organisations a lot because honestly a lot of sex work overlaps:

many adult film performers also escort, also webcam, also dance, and any legislation that affects one group of us often will affect all of us.

OLLY: I imagine Ill have a lot of people saying, “Youve not spoken to anybody whos really representative of the industry.

But I guess something that Ive been finding or the impression I get is that its so diverse that nobody can really be the one perfect representative of it.

Who do you see leading discussions about sex work and whose voices would you like to see amplified more?

RILEY: Largely I see discussions about sex work, at least in the public eye, being led by White Feminist celebrities who are interested instopping sex trafficking,”

theres very little public discourse about sex work as labour rights at all. Lately thats been changing!

Ive been so excited to see the wordSWERFentering popular usage in Leftist spaces

(SWERF is a Sex Worker Excluding Radical Feminist)

that is a very, very recent term and its only been in the past few years that Ive seen non-sex workers proudly stand up for sex work as valid labour.

Some sex workers play the game cause they enjoy it, but a lot do it because they need the money and the deck is very much stacked against them.

In England it is legal to buy and sell sex. But if you do it in a flat with someone else that's technically brothel-keeping, which is still illegal.

If you do it outdoors you might be charged with solicitation, which is still illegal. If you advertise, depending on where you do it, that might be illegal.

If you help a sex worker book gigs cause they cant use a phone, if you borrow money from a sex worker,

if youre a driver or a bodyguard for a sex worker, then you are profiting from somebody elses sex work and technically that's pimping - which is still illegal.

So if you need the money, how much are you willing to gamble?

Cause working in a flat with somebody else will be safer but its against the law. Itd be great to have a security guard, but technically its illegal.

If you are working outdoors you're gonna wanna talk to clients about prices and condom use before you get in a strangers car,

but better hurry up cause if you get spotted you could be charged with solicitation. Or hit with a Prostitute's Caution, which will show up on a background check.

And we're not done playing yet.

In Northern Ireland it is legal to sell sex and criminal to buy it. But because that transaction is a crime, if I utter the magic wordsProceeds of Crime Act 2002

all your money can disappear if the police suspect

- not prove, suspect -

that you got that money selling sex. And its illegal to rent a flat to a sex worker, cause profiting from somebody elses sex work is pimping.

So if you are caught selling sex in Northern Ireland you face a potentially unlimited fine and eviction from your home

all without trial for doing something that is completely legal.

I think some of us have this image ofbeing arrestedwhere its a gentle knock on the door and they say,

Im terribly sorry Mister Thorn, weve just seen some of your tweets from 2007: Im afraid youre gonna have to come with us,”

and then they lead me away stoically whilst my wife cries softly on the doorstep and wonders just how many more dark secrets this quiet coastal town can hold.

When in fact if youve ever even come close to being arrested youll know its a humiliating, unpleasant, and often quite painful experience.

As research for this episode I put out a call on Twitter asking sex workers all over the world to share their stories:

VOICE OF MISHA MAYFAIR: "Several officers who had been watching the building for a few hours and presumably knew that it had no clients in (just workers and management)

burst in, held me against a wall, separated all the workers and basically terrified everyone.

All of our details were taken down so immigration checks could be done, which now means were all on record with the police as prostitutes.

They then sat us down and informed us that the whole thing was awelfare checkthat was carried out for our benefit,

which is ironic given that if they had decided we were trafficking victims then we would have been put into immigration detention.”

My friends had iphones, laptops, and cash savings wrongly confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act, several of which still havent been returned.

The Metropolitan Police invited press photographers to the raids, and purposefully did not let people get dressed before they were taken into custody.

Im still scared Ill come up in some of those photos and be outed at my day job. Several friends were taken from custody to immigration proceedings.”

OLLY: Theres an unspoken assumption I think that arrest, imprisonment, or threatening somebody with those things is morally neutral.

But I would invite you to consider those things as forms of violence:

- when somebody is arrested or detained they are harmed by that and so the question, “Is this harm justified?” - which it might be - is always gonna be worth asking.

In England solicitation and advertising are summary offences, meaning they dont have to prove it in court - if the cops say you've done it then thats enough

which is supposed to streamline things but obviously gives the police a lot of power.

Often, whether or not you get punished is at the officers discretion, which can be questionable when it comes to sex workers.

In the US full service sex work is criminalised almost everywhere and in several major cities

you can be arrested for intent to commit prostitution if they find that youre carrying condoms.

That's enough! Sometimes. Depending on who you are.

I was actually in New York recently and carrying condoms and Im not even American,

but theyre not gonna profile me as a sex worker and stop and search me, are they?

I could have walked up and slapped de Blasio on the ass and theyd have gone, “Eyyy, I love this guy! You wanna free hot dog; you wanna hold my gun?”

In her book "Playing the Whore," journalist and former sex worker Melissa Grant notes that since the 70s and earlier,

many sex workers have consistently identified the police, not clients, as the major source of violence in their lives.

Which has led some thinkers to suggest that there might be some kind of/

/trick going on here. Some people on the receiving end of this violence have said,

It doesnt feel like youre arresting me for solicitation, cause walking around with condoms is legal after all;

it feels like youre profiling me and arresting me for being trans.

It doesnt feel like these laws are there to protect people cause they clearly dont; it feels like you just want to see a lady disappear.”

OLLY: So I guess this kindof leads us quite neatly onto decriminalisation. What is to you?

What is it to the people you work for and with? I see a lot of people conflating it with legalisation as well.

RILEY: Decriminalisation would allow sex workers to operate without fear of arrest but relatively independently and without a lot of infrastructure

whereas legalisation would probably require a lot of licensing, maybe specific venues, and tends to lead to sort of a brothel system.

OLLY: And Ive heard from some people that legalisation can create a two-tier system where if you dont have the money to afford the license or the right ways in which to,

if you cant jump through the hoops for whatever reason, then youre kinda still criminalised.

RILEY: Right so the most marginalised people could still be criminalised under legalisation if they cant afford all of those licenses and fees,

or the most marginalised would be forced to work for Some Guy who has the money to own a brothel

and pay for all their licensing in exchange for them to be under his thumb, which... I don't like.

I think the biggest goal of all of the sex work organisations I talk to is the full decriminalisation of full service sex work and thats not just of selling sex itself,

its of buying sex, its of helping people who are selling sex, its of creating homes where you can work cooperatively and sell sex

because I understand that in the UK the selling of sex itself isnt the problem but all of the parallel activities are still criminalised

which leads to workers still living under this kind of threat of constant police violence.

Youre still forced into a black market situation which is always more unsafe for labour!

Decriminalisation puts the power in the hands of the workers and in the hands of labour

and legislation in many cases requires you to have some wealthy capitalist who can pay for all of your licenses and the legalised brothel

whos going to take a large percentage of your money and control the way in which you move through the world.

Because its supposed to keep people safer, decriminalisation is supported by Amnesty International and the World Health Organisation,

and if thats the name of the game then it makes sense to look at New Zealand, where sex work has been decriminalised since 2003 - mostly.

I saymostlybecause its still illegal for migrants to sell sex there, whether documented or not,

so all that violence we talked about - the raids and the deportations without trial - is still going on, just targeted mainly at sex workers of colour.

Despite some people worrying that decriminalisation would increase the number of sex workers in New Zealand

it isnt clear that that's happened - well come back to that at the very end.

For our philosophical purposes though, if you think that more sex workers is intrinsically a bad thing

then you would need to argue why, and well come back to that later as well.

Decriminalisation isnt a magic bullet though. As mentioned, migrant sex workers are still being disappeared,

people still get bad clients and have bad shifts and if they have management, management doesnt always handle it well.

Social services are still underfunded, and LGBT people, especially trans people, are still being discriminated against for other jobs,

and homelessness has not yet been eradicated by abolishing landlords,

so some people still choose sex work cause its that or poverty, and, as with all wealthy nations that poverty does not have to be there:

as with all wealthy nations that poverty does not have to be there:

its there because gambling with peoples lives is more profitable than actually taking care of them - yay capitalism!

Total decriminalization is incredible and it is SO important that it happens everywhere.

It's allowed us to work openly, to have some protection against police violence and even to seek the help of the police when necessary.

In fact there have been a number of legal cases where clients have been taken to court by workers because they violated the terms of their service.

That said, it's my opinion that it just moves sex work into having many of the same flaws as any other job

Because we need to work (whatever form that takes) to survive, people get trapped in it just like any other dead-end job

especially those without other career opportunities, access to higher education or the like. I talked to several people in this industry that do it just to survive

I don't want to shoot down the idea of decriminalization but I also think alongside that we need to talk about the wider structural problems with how we work in general.”

Decriminalisation is one approach - lets take look at another one, the Nordic Model. Its been used in Sweden,

Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Canada and a number of other countries, where selling sex is not illegal

but buying it or profiting from the sex work of somebody else is. Sometimes referred to asending demand.”

Andexit servicesare set up to try and help get sex workers out of the industry.

Its seen by many as a very progressive, very feminist, very Swedish way of protecting sex workers.

But in their book "Prostitution Policy in the Nordic Region," scholars May-Len Skilbrei & Charlotta Holmström say

there isnt really such a thing as *the* Nordic Model.

Like an Ikea cabinet, it seems sturdy at first but there's a suspicious number of pieces left over!

In Sweden theres azero tolerance towards prostitutionstance and some social workers have been reluctant to do things like give out condoms to sex workers

cause they might be seen as endorsing it; but in Denmark and Finland its a bit different.

The punishment for buying sex also varies quite a lot.

And those sorts of differences are maybe to be expected, but - are you watching closely?

If you are travelling from outside the EU to Denmark, Finland, or Sweden

you can be stopped at the border if they suspect (again, not prove) that you are intending to sell sex.

In other words non-EU citizens can be refused entry if they are suspected of intending to do something that is legal for everyone else.

I mentioned evictions in Ireland already; if youre a sex worker in Oslo the cops will contact your landlord

and threaten to charge them with pimping if they dont evict you, even though you havent done anything wrong.

Norwegian law says you're supposed to have three months notice before youre evicted,

but according to a report by sex workersrights group PION hundreds of sex workers have been evicted illegally,

without notice, losing rent and deposit money, and the cops do nothing.

The presence of sex workers in public is often treated as a nuisance, even though again they havent committed a crime.

Almost all the police attention is paid to women who sell sex to men outdoors, as opposed to anybody of any other gender doing it anywhere else,

and almost zero attention is paid to Nordic citizens who go abroad to buy sex.

One of the supposed advantages of the Nordic Model is that pimping is illegal. Which sounds like a noble goal,

but as we saw earlier landlords and friends of sex workers are vulnerable to pimping charges

becauseprofiting from somebody elses sex work;’ the law cant distinguish between third parties who are helping and third parties who are hurting.

Moreover even if we say, “We just wanna catch the bad guys,” the way law enforcement do that is by arresting sex workers and searching through their phones,

which is obviously an unjust invasion of their privacy but also more to the point doesn't help them pay the bills.

All of which seems pretty inconsistent with the idea that these laws are about protecting sex workers. It seems were still trying to make them -

These inconsistencies make more sense if we think of the Nordic Model less as a legal approach and more as a philosophical one.

In Sweden in particular, supporters tend to think of sex work as something done to women by men,

as opposed to something that people of all genders negotiate a decision to engage in cause they need money.

We see this sort of approach to the legal sex industry too. In the UK, an anti-sex work group recently went into strip clubs in Manchester and Sheffield

and secretly filmed the dancers without their consent to try and catch them doing something illegal to get the clubs shut down.

It was billed as trying to save women from exploitation but it wasnt consensual, and it exposed the dancers itodanger of being outed and losing their jobs,

which again seems like its more about making them disappear.

Although public health is often a concern when it comes to sex work, its usually approached only in terms of the risk of sexually transmitted disease;

there isnt often much chat about police violence, deportations, evictions, and poverty, all of which are pretty hazardous to your health.

Which suggests that its less about the health of workers themselves and more about the imagined health of the community.

The narrative leaves no room for discussions of disability or gender accessibility of the work, immigration issues,

and especially the reasons trans women engage in sex work... And no room for discussing and processing trauma and violence we face on the job,

from clients, police, landlords, parents, banks, etc. lest it be used against us to further paint us as victims to be saved against our will.

Working under the Nordic Model is extremely frustrating, because I'd rather move on from proving I know best for myself to actually improving rights for sex workers,

and improving sexual and mental health in general. Sex workers are experts in our field and yet we've been relegated to justifying our existence.”

Sex work has a lot of symbolic baggage attached to it: the bodies of sex workers can become bargaining chips in conversations

that are really aboutwho are we as a neighbourhood, or a nation.” Sweden in particular has a reputation for being clean and orderly and equal (for given values of those words)

that many public figures in Sweden and elsewhere want to maintain.

Goddamn virtue-signalling Swedes!

I mean I kid, but also yeah. The Swedish YouTuber Mia Mulder has said that all kinds of people invoke an ideal of Sweden for different reasons but it is just a country:

parts of are nice, parts of it arent. The magic wordSwedencan be a kind of misdirection,

especially when conversations about sex work are being used to smuggle in something else:

RILEY: SESTA and FOSTA are federal bills in the United States that have criminalised certain kinds of sexual speech on the Internet.

Basically what they've done is made it illegal to talk about sex or sex work on online platforms and they have made the platforms liable for that speech.

So if someone were advertising sex work on craigslist, or talking about sex work on YouTube,

in a way that could be seen as trying to sell it they could be criminalised, the platforms themselves. YouTube or Craigslist.

Thats why Craigslist has shut down their personal ad section and that is why tumblr is no longer a place where sex exists.

Like everyone was very upset when they lost sex offof tumblr and I dont think they realise it was a direct

domino effect from something that was designed to stop sex work under the guise of wanting to stop trafficking.

Not only do they lose the online places where they advertise that keep them offof the street and out of the arms of pimps,

they also lose the ability to gather and congregate online to screen clients. The places where people put up blacklists or screening mechanisms

that would help them know people who are bad or unsafe clients got removed under FOSTA/SESTA as well and made everyones lives more dangerous.

FOSTA and SESTA and a lot of anti sex-work legislation is sold as a way to combat trafficking

and when I hear the wordtraffickingI think of, like, the movie Taken, which, if you havent seen it:

Liam Neeson plays a man called

whose daughter is kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.

But, surprise, hes actually Special Agent

And he has to rescue his daughter by killing all the brown men in Paris.

So in that movie, ‘traffickingmeans kidnap and rape that crosses international borders.

But the wordtraffickingis often used to describe situations that aren't like that.

Lets say you live in Brazil and you wanna move to Madrid - cause you wanna see the world and travel,

or maybe youre LGBT and Brazils not the most friendly place for you right now -

but you cant afford it or you cant get a visa, so you go to a people smuggler and they say, “Yeah, well get you into Madrid;

obviously youre gonna owe us though, and youre gonna pay off your debt when you get there by doing sex work,”

and you say, “Alright, thats probably not gonna be my favourite thing in the world, but…”

in her book "Sex at the Margins" anthropologist Laura Agustin talks to a lot of people

who have made and continue to make those sorts of decisions for themselves.

When you get to Madrid, if youre caught, your smuggler could face charges of sex trafficking and you might end up arrested.

But there is a bit of a difference between that situation and the Liam Neeson situation because you wanted to be in Madrid.

The cops will say youre avictim of trafficking who has been rescuedand Agustin says just watch out, cause

words liketraffickingandrescuedcan be a magicians misdirection.

What might have actually happened is

youve been arrested, imprisoned, your wages have been confiscated and you have been deported back to a country you didnt even wanna be in often without trial or even charges

Meanwhile the police will say that theyre feminists and say, “Look, we helped all these poor people! Give us more money foranti-trafficking operations.””

Now sometimes you might get to Madrid and find the debt is a lot bigger than you were told, or the working conditions are terrible: exploitation definitely happens.

And in that situation you cant go to the police because you're an undocumented migrant and a sex worker, and they will be violent and deport you

when what you really want is to stay in Madrid but just improve your conditions.

So again, some migrants and sex workers and migrant sex workers say the big threat is actually the law.

The YouTuber Jim Sterling once said something absolutely brilliant, “If you want to cut down on video game piracy you gotta provide a better service than pirates.”

If you don't want people to download music off YouTube make it faster to buy it off iTunes.

if you don't want people to have dangerous backalley abortions give them convenient abortion access.

And Mac and Smith say if you wanna cut down on migrant sex workers, and imigrant workers of all kinds, being exploited and endangered,

decriminalise human movement!

Some people see that as a utopian idea - some people get scared by the wordsOpen Borders’ -

but what if we said, “Okay, if you're bringing guns into the country, or you're moving a lot of money without paying tax, or you are wanted for a crime,

then the border is there for that, but other than those things, human movement is decriminalised.

No moredetention centres,” no more visas, no more language tests or income requirements - were just not doing that anymore.”

That would be less work and it would save a lot of money, but for our philosophical purposes it also reflects a completely different way of thinking about borders,

one where we put individual peoples safety and happiness first.

RILEY: I think a big people miss who are against sex trafficking is that even if sex work were fully decriminalised sex trafficking would still be illegal!

Even though agricultural work is legal trafficking people into it is illegal: labour rights violations are labour rights violations

and if we decriminalise sex work we can begin to treat the violations that occur under it as just that and people will be able to come forward and report that.

OLLY: Yeah cause I guess at the moment if people come forward and report it then they run the risk of being deported or of being arrested for a crime.

RILEY: Right, a sex worker cant come forward and file something with the labour board about the way in which her pimp is mismanaging her money.

OLLY: Mmhmm, under criminalisation at least - cause I know that in New Zealand that has actually happened!

Under decriminalisation people have actually brought legal cases against management

RILEY: Beautiful. And another thing is under partial decriminalization like the Nordic Model a worker could come forward with complaints but a client couldnt.

For example if a client were to see a worker and realise that she seemed scared, uncomfortable, and perhaps underage he would have no-one he could report that to.

That has happened! I know somebody who works for a decriminalisation organization in Florida

who had someone calling her from I think Sweden saying, “I saw a girl and I think theres something wrong but I cant call the police: help me!”

Weve heard a lot about decriminalisation, now lets hear the other side.

Some people say that sex work, whether its full service or whatever, is violence and therefore it should be criminalised.

Now, “Sex work is violence,” is not the same point, philosophically speaking, as, “The sex industry features violence.”

This might seem Jordan Peterson levels of pedantic but the reason it's crucial is that if we say, “the sex industry features violence

then we can have a chat about waht's the best way to reduce it. Mac and Smith acknowledge, absolutely theres

violence and exploitation - weve been talking about police violence for ages

and they still support decriminalisation as the best way to reduce it or at least mean that you're not also gonna be running from the cops.

Whereas if we say, “Sex work is violencethen the implication is that no amount is ever okay and some kind of criminalisation is the only answer.

Radical feminist Julie Bindel, and many many others, argue that sex work is bad in itself.

They give examples of women who have suffered violence whilst working in the industry, or interview former sex workers

some of whom, it must be said, support criminalisation or the Nordic Model, but theres a magic switcheroo going on here.

Are some people traumatised by their time in the industry? Yes.

Do some people who do it want to stop doing it? Yes. Could a lot of the people who do it use help? Yes.

And some sex workers acknowledge all of that and still argue for decriminalisation as the best way to reduce them.

If you wanna be an abolitionist its not enough to show that the sex industry features violence; you need to argue that sex work is violence.

Theres a common argument which says that if money is changing hands then you cannot consent, and therefore all sex work is rape.

If you wouldnt do it but for the cash then thats not exactlyenthusiastic consent,” is it? And its just adding insult to injury if you also have to pretend like youre enjoying it.

A lot of people take this line, including supporters of the Nordic Model,

and I myself used to be very persuaded by it until I realised that I am actually a living counterexample.

Im a professional actor in my non-YouTube life, and occasionally when youre an actor you get asked to do a love scene.

Ive never been asked to have full sex with somebody for a role, but Ive done a lot of scenes where Ive been physically intimate with people

that I wouldnt want to were it not my paid job, and even one or two that I didn't enjoy.

In July Im hopefully going to be playing Claudio in a tour of Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing - if you follow me on Twitter you can find out when and come see it

and there might be some intimacy required for that.

So as an actor I get physically intimate for money without always enthusiastically consenting, I pretend to enjoy it, and thats okay.

And you might say, "Well its completely different!"

but many of the things I do in my job like kissing someone, getting naked with them, pretending to be into them - sex workers get hired to do.

Id say its not a totally different cocktail, its just that one of them's quite a bit stronger than the other.

Now if I was doing a passionate kissing scene with another actor and in the middle of it they just grabbed my dick, and we hadn't agreed to it, thats assault.

But there is a legit difference between sexual intimacy that is my job and sexual assault in my workplace.

And a lot of sex workers say the exact same thing:

VOICE OF MISHA MAYFAIR: <“Labeling all of those experiencesrapeerases the truth, my reality, and my agency.

It also means, as many sex workers have pointed out when dealing with prohibitionist propaganda,

that myyesand mynowhile Im working are equally meaningless, so there would be no difference between my experience

with a client who respects my boundaries and one who doesnt.

As an adult human being, I assume responsibility for my own best interests. Sometimes I decide those interests are best served by freely consenting to unwanted sex.

Maybe 20% of the time I truly hate the sex, 20% of the time I like it, and the other 60% is tolerating it.”

Argument Number Two against decriminalisation. Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai was a communist - and I dont mean Sexy Online Communist,

she fought in the Russian Revolution. She was also a feminist: when the Bolsheviks made a big push

to get Russian women literate, equal wages, voting, proper sex education and so on, and Kollontai spearheaded a lot of that.

She was sympathetic to the fact that many sex workers choose it to avoid poverty, but she still thought they shouldnt do it.

Its not just appropriate for some people to leech off others without producing anything.

Like landlords: they dont make anything useful for society they just take other peoples money, so they need to be given other jobs.

After the Russian revolution a lot of sex workers tried to form trade unions; the Bolsheviks didn't like that

and did basically the same thing that we do nowdetained them in detention centres and placed them in rehabilitation programs.”

Butproductive workis maybe not all that clear cut: like a factory worker obviously produces something and a landlord obviously doesnt,

but there is a grey area - does a therapist do productive work? Does a masseuse?

They dont really make products, but they do provide services that people need and a lot of sex workers say their job dovetails neatly into that service economy

Like when you go to a bar they say, “How are you? Enjoy your drink!”

The guy who cuts my hair, hes always like, “Hey, hows the YouTube going?

Hows your wife?” and Im like,

She left me after I got arrested for tweeting,”

and hes like,

I wasnt paying attention at the start of the video cause I usually just put them on in the background or I watch them at double speed

while I'm doing something else so I dont know what that's a reference t”-

and that emotional aspect is all part of the job. Thinking of labour only in terms of products and manufacturing is very...

Well, it's very Bolshevik!

Argument Number Three against decriminalisation is that it sends the message that womens bodies are for sale to men.

And obviously this ignores all the women who pay for sex and all the men who pay for sex with other men

all the people who pay sex workers for things that arent really sex - but alrightalrightalright

There are some women who say that they enjoy sex work and find it empowering and they choose to do it, and the response is,

Just because a woman chooses it doesnt mean its a feminist cause. If you are choosing to buy into this very patriarchal, very misogynist industry,

you are reinforcing the idea that women exist for male consumption, which isnt just an abstract concern about optics

its an idea that regularly gets women of all backgrounds harassed and even killed.”

The journalist Megan Murphy is very critical of the sex industry and she says thatchoicecan sometimes be a magic word -

“‘Choicefor some may equal repression of others.”

This concern about sending a bad message is definitely one that I can sympathise with -

there is some evidence that when you create a market in a thing you change the way people think about it.

What this criticism misses though is that you can only play the hand youre dealt.

And a lot of sex workers say, “Yeah, in an ideal world my job wouldnt exist but what are the alternatives?”

When I put that call out on Twitter, multiple people in the UK got in touch to tell me that sex work was easier

and less degrading than trying to get the disability benefits that theyre entitled to:

VOICE OF MISHA MAYFAIR: <“With Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance I would be expected to live on about £400 a month.

Putting myself through all that for money I can make on one really good brothel shift just seems completely pointless.

Sex work is the only job where disabled people can almost always accommodate our disabilities and make enough money in the short hours we manage to have an acceptable quality of life.”

OLLY: If somebody gets criminalised and then gets ripped out of that, like put in prison or whatever, or deported, then thats somebody who had a life -

RILEY: What happens to their sick grandmother and their autistic son?!

What Mac and Smith say too is, “Okay, if you wanna talk about women making choices that hurt other women - lets talk about women who choose to become cops.

Who choose to work for the private security companies that run the detention centres. Who choose to become lawyers who put sex workers behind bars.

All the examples Megan Murphy gives of harmful choices are like full service sex work and stripping,

and she doesnt talk about those other ones cause those are still seen as respectable professions.

I mean if you wanna talk about women making choices that hurt other women

Julie Bindel and Megan Murphy have both said some pretty horrible things about trans women!

And that doesn't mean we can't play the harmful choices card, but if we are gonna play it we should do it consistently.

Kollontai said, “A man who buys the favours of a woman does not see her as a comrade or as a person with equal rights.

He sees the woman as dependent upon himself and as an unequal creature of a lower order who is of less worth to the workersstate.

The contempt he has for the prostitute, whose favours he has bought, affects his attitude to all women.”

Very similar to Megan Murphy there, only in communist language.

But the way Kollontai puts it

its much clearer that this is actually a problem with men!

The issue she's describing is that men, even communist men, can be sexist, and that definitely is a problem.

But sex workers say that criminalisation and the Nordic Model make them collateral damage in the effort to tackle that.

Its interesting that even through very different ways of looking at the world, similar arguments against sex work get produced.

VOICE OF MISHA MAYFAIR: “Whore is perhaps the original intersectional insult.”

RILEY: I always tell people the worst thing about sex work is the stigma and a lot of them are shocked:

people think Im going to tell them things about sleazy agents or terrible producers or bad clients,

but the worst thing about sex work is the stigma that is heaped upon you from the outside world.

Stigma loses people their loved ones, it loses people their families, they get harassed and trolled, and stigma also strips people of resources that they need.

I just had a friend who does fully legal sex work, who does porn, who got served an eviction notice

for having "known pornographers" come and go from her apartment and that they were making too much noise.

OLLY: Thats interesting cause that means whoever reported that must have recognisedem!

RILEY: Oh yeah, they knew who we were!

OLLY: Mmm, hm mm mm mm mm

RILEY: But many people who face that kind of discrimination simply have to leave and not make trouble

because they don't know their rights and theyd rather not stand and fight so they end up losing their housing.

They could be kicked out their homes, they could lose their banking, they could lose online platforms even if they dont post anything lewd on them,

they could be denied access to mental health care, certainly unstigmatised mental health care;

and let me tell you how hard it is to find a gynaecologist who will have an honest conversation with me.

I think a lot of breaking down stigma has to do with humanising sex workers and I think that work is

happening bit by bit in online platforms and social media in which sex workers have more direct contact with folks.

I know for pornstars we have become so much more humanised through the world of Twitter and people being able to talk to us.

People will say things to us that we dont like and well say, “Oh no, Im a person and you cannot speak to me that way but

Im glad you enjoy my work, please continue masturbating to it. But dont tweet me that with your hand on your d*ck ever again.


It softof ties into the stigma thing of, when you go and see a magic show and they make somebody disappear

its not just that it happens so fast that you cant see it, its that on some level people want to believe that

that person really has vanished and isn't just like stuck in a tiny box under the stage.

RILEY: Yeah but we are: were stuck in a tiny box!

And I have enough respectability politics and privilege on my side that I can come out here and scream at the top of my lungs for everybody else!

VOICE OF MISHA MAYFAIR: "Sex workers are everywhere. We are your neighbours. We brush past you in the street. Our kids go to the same schools as yours.

Were behind you at the self-service checkout, with baby food and a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

People who sell sex are in your staff cafeteria, your political party, your after-school club committee,

your doctors waiting room, your place of worship. Sex workers are incarcerated inside immigration detention centres, and sex workers are protesting outside them.

Although we are everywhere, most people know little about the reality of our lives. Many people want to stop us from selling sex, or fix the world so we dont need to,

or just to ensure they dont have to look at us. But we are notoriously hard to get rid of, at least through criminal law.”

One thing that I didnt have time to touch on that I would have liked to is

who gets to be an expert on sex work? How are data gathered and research budgets assigned?

Cause it turns out that even trying to answer a relatively simple question like, “How many people sell sex in Sweden?”

is incredibly difficult to do and how different groups go about trying to do it reflects their opinion on sex work generally.

And speaking of people doing things that they might not otherwise enthusiastically do cause they need the money -

this video was sponsored by Skillshare!

No, but, for real, it actually was. I had to learn a few magic tricks and how to do things like hold a deck of cards so that it looks halfway decent

and I did actually use Skillshare. They're an online learning community for creators,

they've got like 25,000 different videos. They can teach you how to compose a shot, how to edit....

And in exchange for them sponsoring this video you can see all of that stuff for free. Theres a link in the doobleydoo, and the first 500 people who click it get 2 free months of Skillshare premium!

And for everyone else it's like ten bucks a month.


Thanks very much to Riley Reyes for being in this video; I'm gonna put the full interview with her up on Patreon

for all my Patrons, and thanks very much to you for watching it!

ESTÈRE SINGING: Whispers and signatures were part of her campaign, She kept a list of names (She kept a list of names),

And red lipped for every kiss, The senate fell on their knees, broadcasted on TV

Magdelaine Lavirgin, bordello resident Wanted to be the United States president

Yeah aha yeah aha

Magdelaine Lavirgin, bordello resident Wanted to be the United States president!

Yeah aha yeah aha

A voice of the people and advocate of equal Rights for everyone

A candidate peculiar to represent the future Hijacked the election

And soon she was walking though the marble corridors, Her heels clicked on the floor, (Her heels clicked on the floor)

No one had ever stunned a nation quite like her, The country where dreams can occur!

Cause Magdelaine Lavirgin, bordello resident Was to become the United States president

Yeah aha yeah aha

Magdelaine Lavirgin, bordello resident Was to become the United States president!

Yeah its true, do you believe it too?

The Description of Sex Work | Philosophy Tube