Like everyone else, I’m feeling the pain of this economic shitstorm. I’m looking for other work, cutting spending left and right, and I’m starting to make unsavory jokes about “finding a corner,” because the sad truth is that I’m more likely to earn money by selling my body than my brains.
Which is why this little story from the Independent caught my eye. Even though things aren’t great in the UK, either, state-run job centers (or “centres,” if you prefer) will no longer list jobs in the adult entertainment industry: that is, strippers, topless- and lap-dancers, and other legal services that are on the sex-work spectrum. The goal is to send the message that “sexually exploitative work is [not] an acceptable career.”
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I don’t find “sexually exploitative” work acceptable, either. It’s a shame that (overwhelmingly) women and children are commodities for (overwhelmingly) men to buy and sell at will. I have enough problems with sex work, period, but 1) I’m using their language and framing here, and 2) this is a fuckin’ Patriarchy. Sex work is exploitative here.*
On the other hand, I know what it is to worry about making rent. And I don’t have kids to feed, and and I do have a partner to split expenses with. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t find more work teaching or tutoring. To get through various lean times, I’ve taken just about every poorly-paid, disrespected job there is outside of the sex industry (although waitressing was close at times): fast food, retail (times a zillion), food service (restaurants and catering!), dishwasher, industrial painter, baby-sitter, office cleaner, adjunct professor…shall I go on? It’s been a fucking glamorous life.
The idea that I might make far more money for far less hours on my feet? And that I might also get the (false, or at least poisoned) idea that I’m wanted and desirable, rather than simply an apron-ed underling to be variously ignored and castigated? Well, I’ve got some lacy underthings in the back of a drawer somewhere. I’m sure I could work up a “Hot for Teacher” routine in no time.
In any case, I don’t know that eliminating ads for “adult” jobs is doing anyone a service, tough economy or no. Work on the economy, education and social safety nets is going to do more for women, and more for society as a whole, than disappearing a line of work, no matter how problematic, that might help women care for themselves and their families.
*Except when you do it, of course. But feel free to hail down your opprobrium at my sex-hatin’ ways.