A NEW WAVE OF REVOLUTIONARY FEMINISM
Groups of “feminists” are demonstrating in the U.K. for shutting strip clubs down; laws in the U.S. have become stricter to fight against prostitution; social media are closing down the accounts of girls who show their bodies or use hashtags related to sex. Women’s bodies are not objects, women’s bodies are not at the service of men’s pleasure, they yell. Sex work is anti-feminist. At least this is what some people think… usually people who have never spoken to a sex worker in their whole life.
We are accused of using their bodies as objects. But let’s be honest: aren’t we all doing that? Is it possible to avoid using one’s body as an object for producing money in the capitalist societies we live in? A clerk dedicates their fingers, back, eyes for an office job, forcing their body to sit in front of a computer for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week; a waiter uses their body for running back and forth in the middle of tables of demanding, rude customers, even on Christmas Eve. We are all part of an exploitative system. And let’s not be silly: nobody is selling themselves here. What we sell is a service. We work with human beings and this means understanding what customers want. Do they want connection? Do they want affection? Do they want a fantasy? Do they want to be listened, loved? Or do they just want sex? This is the service we provide: understanding and entertainment. Sex work combines sexuality, money and affection.
It seems to be ok for some people to dedicate their bodies to work and to make money, whereas for sex workers it’s not. Society imposes very strict rules on sexuality and punishes with shame those who decide to transgress its dogma. And the dogma is: sex is something sacred, romantic, therefore it cannot be monetized, nor shared with too many people. Sex comes with strong values attached, it is romanticized, therefore making it commercial becomes nasty. This dogma is valid for some categories of people more than for others. Surprise surprise, moral rules apply to women more than to men. Society makes us believe that this romanticized values must be valid for everybody, and doesn’t take into account that not everybody’s attitude towards sex conforms the norm. For some people sex can be something else. For some people sex is just sex, for some others experimentation, for some others a job. As long as it doesn’t harm anybody, everybody has their right to experience their sexuality in the way it suits them best and being against sex work means being against people who are trying to experience alternative views on sex. Our bodies, our choice.
Asking for money for our emotional labour and our physical contact can be a revolutionary practice. Not necessarily, of course, and for some sex work is just a job to earn money, like any other job, but for our collective it definitely is a feminist act. Womxn are constantly harassed, when they walk in the street, when they are dancing in a club with their friends, when they take the public transport. Men whistle at them, as if they were dogs, showing no respect, and make dirty comments about their look, loud comments, because they think they have the right to do it. We do not ask for these attentions. We have found our way to survive this sexist, patriarchal, capitalist jungle and flipped the situation to use it to our advantage. In sex work the rules are inverted. Men are used to getting what they want without even having to ask for it; on the contrary, sex work is build on consent: not only men have to ask, but they also have to pay for it. Sex work becomes an act s of subversion.
We are tired of repressing our sexuality, we are tired of taming our bodies and covering our skin under the imperative of morality. In a world where whore and cunt are the worst insults, we are claiming our right to express our sexuality. If you focus on this language, it will unravel the subtleties of a misogynist narrative. Even the mere fact that public discourse talks about sex workers as If they were all cis women and about customers as if they were all men. Many sex workers are trans, but they become invisible to the majority. When male sex workers are considered, it is taken for granted that they are gay and that their customers are men as well. A woman can never be a customer, a woman does not have the right to enjoy the paid services of a sex worker. In the rare cases where it is admitted that women can also be customers, the public language makes sure that they do not fall out of their gender role: they don’t call it “pay for a male hooker”, they call it “the boyfriend experience”.
I am not going to lie, the sex industry is not all about feminism. On the contrary, it is pretty misogynist… But this has nothing to do with the nature of the job, it is rather because it is run by people (mostly men) who are drunk in power and addicted to money. But the Berlin Strippers Collective is here to change the scenery. It is time to open everybody’s mind to a new wave of revolutionary feminism.
* This article refers to voluntary sex work. We do not support any kind of practice that involves forcing people into sex work. Human trafficking is one of the grimmest crimes and we condemn those who make it possible, both human traffickers and also customers who decide to pay for it and create a demand for the market.