It will always remain astounding how the authoritarian left shares so much archaic morality with the right-wing when we talk about the idea of fucking for pay. The most deeply devoted members of the alt-right, the centrist core, and left-wing radicals all turn into pearl-clutching suburban soccer moms when the subject of sex-work is broached. Many on the left have told me that sex outside of procreation or love is icky. They say that people, especially non-male people, should not be allowed to be fully in charge of their sexual organs or sexual lives. This attitude has been shown time and time again, with leftists insisting they have the right to call female sex workers cum dumpsters and other vile names because “that’s what the johns say.” It’s been shown when they insist sex workers are bad because they commodify sex and the soul, meaning sex workers have been made into objects, and are no longer humans. It’s been shown when the left dreams of a post-revolution utopia where people only have sex for free and for love.
These takes are incredibly disappointing, but always seem to hit harder when self-proclaimed leftists push them. So to the leftists, I gotta say: Ya’ll gotta calm down. Sex work and sex workers aren’t going anywhere post-revolution.
The idea that sex work will cease to exist after capitalism falls has always been bizarre, since trading sex existing before capitalism did. No matter how many times I am told that the revolution will end sex work, I’ve yet to be provided with realistic scenarios of how that will happen.
One of the more common talking points I’ve seen is that after the revolution, everyone will have their needs met. Everyone will have housing, food, and basic necessities, so nobody will be forced to go into the sex work industry. While the idea that nobody will feel coerced to enter the industry is amazing and a worthy goal, this scenario fails to even begin to acknowledge the varied reasons one may enter the sex industry in the first place.
Some choose sex work because it is the only job that provides enough money, which matters in a world where workers’ wages have remained stagnant. These workers, to be fair, might leave the industry post-revolution.
Some enter the industry because sex work is the only job with enough scheduling flexibility, which is hugely important if you have a chronic illness, a disability, or are a primary caregiver without much of a support system.
But there are other reasons many enter the industry: because it’s a job and they’re fucking good at it. Or, good at fucking — however you prefer to say it.
What I learned in my time as a sex worker was invaluable. Sex isn’t just a casual activity or a fun thing to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Sex can be, and in my life absolutely has been, work. It is a skilled service I can provide when and if properly compensated. The problem with the left is that they view labor as being valid only if a material item is produced. Sex work doesn’t produce tables, vegetables, or light bulbs. As a result, many on the left don’t see sex work as true work. Regrettably, this ignorance has tainted the conversation, and now the left is scrambling to understand the existence of sex work without understanding who sex workers are, and who is willing to pay to see them.
Post-revolution, the ability to provide these handcrafted experiences is a skill, and there will always be a market for skilled professionals.
The revolution may come and go. There will still be people who want to have sex and want to see a worker for that. I have had fetish clients who want me to do things to them that their primary partners wouldn’t do. I have had clients who have asked me to do things to them that they are too ashamed to ask their partners to do. I have had clients who simply want to have a discreet sexual encounter because their spouse has a health condition that has made sex nearly impossible. I have had clients who want to see sex workers because a pre-scheduled rendezvous fits their life schedule better than trying to hook up online or at a bar. Each of these scenarios has resulted in me performing labor, and it being skilled labor that is custom-tailored to requests of clients, based on compensation. Just because I have no moral qualms about tying up a man and putting cigarette butts out on his feet (yes, I actually had a client who was into that) doesn’t mean I’ll do that for casual fun, or for free.
However, you can only imagine these types of clients existing if we acknowledge the incredibly vast amount of reasons people have sex in the first place. Sometimes, it’s not about love, or about emotional bonding with a partner. Sometimes it’s about the feeling. The experience. The sensations. Filling your own emotional needs. Sometimes the only way to get the experience you desire is to hire a professional. That’s why the argument that post-revolution sex work won’t exist seems silly. People have sex for free now, but hookups and dating apps aren’t giving everyone what they need.
The other common argument I see is that if the revolution is successful we won’t have money as we know it now. Even if true, sex work doesn’t solely rely on financial currency now, nor would it start to after capitalism has fallen. There are sex workers who trade sexual services for housing, luxury items, and so much more.
I often compare sex work to other forms of unrecognized or unofficial labor. For example, I used to have a neighbor who would brew his own alcohol. My neighbor also had a few sexual kinks. We never exchanged a dollar between us, but he would exchange his material goods (in this case his homemade liquors) for my willingness to indulge his kinks. Sex work is merely trading a service for something. That something doesn’t have to be money. Even if we all have basic needs provided for, people will still want luxury items. Things to pamper themselves with. Things to give loved ones as gifts. Nice things to have in the home, to create a sense of beauty.
People are multi-faceted, and very few of us will ever be content with owning the bare minimum of necessities. Humanity has always had a love of beauty, and of owning things that create a sense of satisfaction and joy. I am not sure what sort of bland, colorless post-revolution world some on the left are imagining, but I promise, it’s inaccurate. People will still want to have a nice dinner with family and friends. They will want to read a good book. They will want to go camping. They will want to see a ballet performance. They will want a nice outfit. People want to feel content and happy, and if they can trade a skill or an item to obtain happiness, they will.
Ultimately, we all know this, even if not all of us will admit it. Despite the argument that sex work will cease to exist, I’ve never seen a leftist seriously argue that about anyone else post-revolution. No other independent laborer seems to be out of a job. Nobody is suggesting that painters will stop selling/trading their art. Nobody has argued that actors will suddenly only perform for free. Nobody has argued that caterers will give away their food free. Why is it only that sex workers should be the ones to have a skill set but give services away for free?
I can only conclude the actual reason is misogyny, and a refusal to accept the idea that women can dictate the terms of their consent and sexual autonomy. The irony of a revolution creating sexual and labor freedom, except for those who work by combining sexuality and labor!
Sex, for me, can be a job. If someone wants a skilled service, I will be compensated for my time and efforts. Sex workers didn’t learn how to provide services just to have their skills minimized by moral prudes. Remember this when imagining utopia. Sex workers will remain present, even after capitalism has fallen.