Is sex work anti-feminism?

Regardless of your opinion, I think that it can be agreed that the pornography/sex work industry has played a harmful role in our society; unrealistic expectations of women, desensitization, terrifying fantasies played out, tailored to the male gaze, plus the numerous non-conseual videos shared on these platforms. It is a pressing issue that is impacting the minds of all age ranges, however specifically those in their teen years: Nearly half of children between the ages of 9-16 experience regular exposure to sexual images. Having internet and media access so young and viewing these websites only imbeds certains ways of thinking and perceptions of women into teenage brains (however the media itself is a whole separate issue). Before I comment on the impact of sex work itself, it’s important to know the history of the industry. 

The creation of the pornography industry began in the early 19th century and filsm were widely availiable no later than the 1920’s. The word pornography, derived from the Greek porni (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”), was originally defined as any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes. It is common to find in ancient Greece several depictions of naked men and women, as well as sexual encounters displayed in many formats. The industry as well as the ideology behind it has been around for centuries, however over the years it’s development and wide exposure has only had catastrophic effects.

The main dilemma I want to focus on is the stigmatization of sex work and workers because of the injurious impact of porn. It can be found that degrading and disgusting vocabulary is aimed towards sex workers in these videos such as ‘slut’, ‘whore’, ‘protitute’; these words and specifc content that is uploaded, all contributes to creating a certain mindset towards women in general but specifically sex workers themselves. The idea of madonna-whore complex is present and relevant here as it is a psychological complex said to develop in men who see women as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitutes. Men with this complex desire a sexual partner who has been degraded (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected partner (the Madonna). These ideologies towards women and sex workers are creating an unsafe enviroment for those in the industry.

Now back to the question of is sex work anti-feminism? The answer is as simple as no. Women and men should be allowed to participate in the industry if they would like. Who is to say what somebody of legal age should or shouldn’t do. Similarly, people consistently misjudge the reasoning people enter into the industry or their choices for participating. Although this is not to be mistaken for those forces, coerced or view the line of work as their last option. Whether you agree or disagree, it is obvious that the industry itself is not safe, due to the acceptance and attitudes towards porn. In order to change these misconceptions of sex workers, we need to change the industry itself. 

So before you judge a worker of the industry, think to yourself why are you judging that person. Is it because you disagree with the work itself? Or is it because of the ideaologies of who sex workers are, that has been rooted into your brain?

I’m Bailey Mulvey and I am 18 years old from Scotland but currently living in Spain. I spent a few years of my childhood in Marbella, Spain but moved to Glasgow, Scotland for my education. My parents have always wanted to move back as they miss the weather and life abroad so we decided it was best to move back and now this is my permanent residence. My passion for feminism was sparked by the number of women that will be and have been sexually assaulted in their life. Nearly 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence and I am appalled by this statistic. Women in today’s society are still not viewed as equals to men and the disconnect between the two genders is something I want to work towards abolishing. As well as this, learning that there is over 130 million girls not getting access to education is something as a society we collectively need to bring awareness too and make a change! With SHEQUALITY I am looking forward to helping women and educating people on the issues of today.