Ask the Dean of Sex: Women’s Empowerment and the Sex Trade
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 01:03
Reporting live from sunny Las Vegas—and it is a MUCH different world out here. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have returned; however, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak a little bit about my observations while in “Sin City.”
From my first night in town, as I walked along The Strip, I observed both men and women slapping cards in their hands to get the attention of passersby. As I looked over, they were handing out advertisements for prostitutes while wearing shirts with a phone number, guaranteeing that “girls” would be to you in 20 minutes. After about the 20th time (and hearing other such gems as “Titty, Titty, Bang, Bang”), the first thing I wanted to do was put a giant sign on my chest saying, “No! I’m gay!” just to make it stop. Interestingly enough, it took me a little while to move past my feelings about the heterosexual assumption (card distributors were only handing out cards to men), and focus on my male privilege. In this sense, the structure of sexism was clearly at play. Once I did this, my mind wandered to all of the women who were making a part or all of their living in this profession.
Poof—my head started to hurt (have to love a little cognitive dissonance, eh?). I’ve directed The Vagina Monologues five times…I’m all about encouraging people to explore their own sexuality, especially those who have been made to feel that they don’t have a sexuality, namely women. Break out Fifty Shades of Grey! Is working in the sex trade just another form of empowered sexuality?
The short answer is yes, it can be. As I’ve said numerous times to multiple parties, if you have made a conscious decision out of an empowered worldview and understand the potential risks and consequences to your actions, then by all means, go for it. If you have other options and are choosing this one from among multiples, awesome. I might argue that there are some of these women out there; however, is it all, or even most, or even some? I doubt it. Sexism as a system of oppression silences individuals, blocks them from upward mobility, and flushes people out of the economic system (think Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables). When faced with a choice of a minimum wage job ($7.25/hour = $290 gross pay/week), or responding to an “out call” for $100 an hour (or more), how long do you think it might take to bend one’s own notions of right and wrong? In a place where women use their bodies as a commodity, how long do you think it takes for men (and women) to think of them as only tools for the buyers’ pleasure?
Agree? Disagree? Join the conversation at thelaf.com. If you’re interested in submitting a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it in the box outside of Farinon 124. Don’t forget, it’s Women’s History Month, so check out all of the awesome programs happening by visiting gsp.lafayette.edu/whm.