Prostitutes, Dirty Jobs, And The (Flawed) Concept Of Degradation

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Certain concepts are inherently subjective. Art, beauty, and the extent to which body hair is attractive come to mind. One concept, which isn’t subject to nearly as much scrutiny, is that of degradation. By that, I don’t mean the kind of degradation you see in a car that stays parked in the desert for too long. I’m talking about the kind of degradation we ascribe to certain people, jobs, and lifestyles. Sometimes, they’re all the same thing.

The concept of degradation gets thrown around a lot whenever sex and the sex industry comes up. It also gets thrown around whenever someone talks about a lousy job they’ve had. I’ve shared one such horror story about my first job, complete with depictions of baby vomit. For the sake keeping the discussion concise, I’m going to try and focus on the sexier side of this issue, but only to a point.

The problem with degradation, be it in the adult entertainment industry or the fast food industry, isn’t just with the subjective nature of the idea. It’s the inconsistency with which it’s applied. In some cases, the inconsistency reflects a mix of double standards, generalizations, and assumptions that require mind-reading abilities on a massive scale.

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While degradation has a dictionary definition, there’s no universally-accepted criteria to determine what act, job, or life is truly degrading. It is possible for someone to be happy working as a prostitute, just as it’s possible for someone to be happy working in fast food. Not everyone is going to share that sentiment, but that doesn’t make their happiness any less valid.

When it comes to the adult industry, though, degradation takes on a greater importance. Beyond the misguided crusade to label porn a public health crisis, the frequent criticisms of the industry are often built around how it degrades the people in it and the lives of those who consume it.

Words like objectification and abuse will often get thrown around. They’ll often highlight people who have had bad experiences, as though a single experience is enough to generalize an entire industry. By that logic, every fast food worker was as miserable as I was at my first job and still has nightmares about baby vomit.

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That logic is flawed, but it still gets taken seriously when the adult industry is involved. The stories of those who don’t feel degraded or objectified don’t get told while horror stories of former porn stars and sex workers get pushed to the center of the discussion so that the degradation is on full display to evoke the necessary emotions.

It’s such a common tactic when talking about the sex industry that it’s kind of expected. Nobody is really that surprised when news comes out about a former porn star who suffered horribly. Nobody is surprised when a former prostitute details how terrible and degrading the experience was for them. Never mind the fact that human memory has a nasty tendency to exaggerate. That’s when degradation matters.

However, it’s the situations where degradation isn’t applied that can be just as revealing. While it’s somewhat understandable that the adult industry would be scrutinized more since it involves sex and sex makes people uncomfortable, it also negates the degradation that others experience.

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Most of us who have worked menial service jobs at some point in our lives know those experiences well. Fast food workers tend to have more than a few, but those are the most obvious. Think about the people working these jobs and don’t look for reasons why it may be degrading. Think about why we, as a society, don’t consider it as degrading as a sex worker.

A trash collector literally has to touch our trash, no matter how much it smells or leaks. Why is that not considered degrading?

A janitor has to clean up our messes for minimal pay and no gratitude. Why is that not considered degrading?

A factory worker has to stand on an assembly line around dangerous machinery, functioning as an easily-replaceable cog in much larger enterprise. Why is that not considered degrading?

A bartender has to serve drinks to obnoxious customers, listen to them whine, and deal with occasional bar fights. Why is that not considered degrading?

Image result for men in coal mines

There’s a long list of jobs out there with varying degrees of degradation. From interns to cashiers, they all have plenty of potential for degrading experiences. Whether it’s from the work itself or the managers who make the work miserable, there’s plenty of degradation to go around. However, it only seems to matter when sex and women are involved.

To put the inanity of that concept into perspective, consider this. Earlier this year, five porn stars died and that was major news. Granted, that is quite an anomaly given that deaths within the porn industry are extremely rare. However, when compared to other industries that are more dangerous and degrading, it’s not news at all.

In 2016, over 100 people died working in the roofing industry and nearly 1,000 died working in the trucking industry. These aren’t injuries, social stigma, or bad press. This is death, by far the most serious kind of degradation. These are also industries where the majority of the workforce doesn’t consist of beautiful women and doesn’t give some the potential to strike it rich.

Image result for Jenna Jameson

Again, and I know this question is already getting old for some people, why is that not considered degrading? The entire concept seems to break down when you see it being reserved for a specific class of people within a specific kind of industry. The fact that the class consists primarily of beautiful women is not a coincidence.

When it involves men putting their lives at risk to make a living, it’s not degrading. It’s just work. When it involves women having sex for money, though, it’s degrading. It’s as though no woman could possibly want to get paid to have sex without being degraded. It’s as though every woman’s mind is so fragile that they cannot possibly understand the risks and must be protected from it.

That last part was sarcasm, by the way. I’ll give every woman a moment to stop fuming, but it’s something that should concern them, if only because it treats them like children who can’t make decisions for themselves. Whether it’s radical, anti-porn feminists or uptight religious zealots, the idea that women are so easily degraded should be insulting to any woman who values their sense of autonomy.

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It should be just as insulting to the men who work jobs that don’t involve sex, but are far more dangerous, both in terms of risk and degradation. If one entire industry is going to be condemned on the basis of degradation, but not apply to others, then that’s not just illogical. It’s downright asinine.

It just becomes another excuse to whine about an industry where people have sex in ways that might make priests, rabbis, mullahs, and monks uncomfortable. It also becomes an excuse to overlook the danger and toil that people endure in other industries, just to make a living.

In the end, it’s insulting to men, women, and everything in between. There are serious issues in any industry, regardless of whether or not naked people are involved. However, if degradation is only going to apply to one special class of sex work, then that should reveal just how empty it truly is.

9 Comments

Filed under gender issues, human nature, sex in society, sexuality

9 responses to “Prostitutes, Dirty Jobs, And The (Flawed) Concept Of Degradation

  1. P.Alessio

    For men, a dirty or a dangerous job is still a job: it fulfill a respectable need of society (pick up the trash, inseminate the cows, defeat the bad guys) and does not compromise your morals or your private life. Try applying that logic to a whore – try telling her after she received a load of sperm on her face that “it is just a job”. A trash collector can wash his hands and then use them to hug his family, and no one will think bad of it. A slut that sucks some dicks only to use those lips to kiss her family members is disgusting… and the family members themselves would find it so, no matter how many time she cleaned herself. et some prospective.

    • Anthony S

      Couldn’t disagree more.

      I’m the partner of a sex worker who freely chose her line of work and enjoys it. She is not the slightest bit degraded by what she does. She provides a service and a damn good one. She provides company to lonely people, people who aren’t confident enough to find a partner or someone who will be willing to have sex with them. And she also provides services to people who just want to have great sex. And there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

      And I don’t care how many dicks she sucks or pussies she licks. I am very happy to kiss those lips every chance I get. And I feel damn lucky that I get to do so.

      That’s my perspective.

      • P.Alessio

        If you stopped at the first paragraph, who knows, you could have passed for an average liberal: stupid, but not insane. Considering yourself “very lucky” to kiss her lips no matter “how many dicks she sucks” reveals the truth though: you are just a pervert. Enjoy your STDs, cuck what can i say.

    • S

      WOW Alessio…I think you are the one that needs some perspective. This country is still a free country is it not? We are free to do anything so long as it doesn’t go against the beliefs of the right-wing religious nut jobs such as yourself. The problem with people such as yourself is that you will stop at nothing to exert your beliefs and morality on others. Personally, I don’t care what you believe and you are entitled to your opinion but, when you (and the government officials you help to elect) that infringes on my beliefs and my freedoms! Keep your opinions and your version of morality to yourself.

      • P.Alessio

        Keep my opinion and version of morality to myself? That is MY argument. A woman wants to be a prostitute? Her life, her problem. But i’ll keep my freedom of thinking she is a human latrine, thank you very much. I’ll keep my freedom to say that it is horrible to even compare dirty, but honest and necessary jobs, to a disgusting trade of one’s own intimacy for money like is prostitution. I’ll vote for any politician that supports government programs and educations aimed at making it clear that being a whore is NOT a good thing. This is my freedom, and i’d like to esercize it without you infringing on it.

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  4. Tristan

    If a woman wants to be a prostitute and you have a problem with it, then that is YOUR problem not hers. She doesn’t care what you think of her. Yes, you have the freedom to express your hatred toward women you deem lesser than, but realize that whenever you tantrum like this all you’re doing is announcing your own insecurities about your sexuality. If you find yourself trying to control personal decisions other people make about their own life that in no way effect yours, then you owe it to yourself to get a little introspective and try to identify what aspects of your own life are out of control and work on yourself instead. Because the truth is the only people we can really control are ourselves. We hear your cry for help but only YOU can help yourself.

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