Call it what it is, it’s prostitution.
The dignity of men is something they take very seriously. Dignity, even and especially, under (male) law, is predicated on the concept of choice. The male concept of dignity is based on status due to class structure.
A lot of people with little choice also like to claim they have choice because it is linked to the concept of dignity.
The rhetoric around prostitution being an industry of stigma and shame for the prostituted relies entirely on making sure men do not look bad. Men are shamed only by association and proximity to the prostituted person rather than their creation and ongoing demand for us.
They use us because we are there, and they want to feel dignified in doing so.
There is no cognizance by the general public that men put us there. There is no cognizance of who benefits from us being there. There is no cognizance of who created the situation of us being there.
The rhetoric used to sanitise prostitution as ‘empowering’, ‘sex work’ and worthy of a status of ‘dignity’ exists entirely to make the men who exploits us look non-exploitative. The pimp lobby know the primary function of the term ‘sex ‘work’ is to benefit and further the sex trade (i.e men’s ‘right’ to buy us for sex and to profit from it.)
The well-meaning general public, who use the term ‘sex work’ in the hope of not appearing bigoted or denying us ‘choice’, help reinforce the rights and dignity of pimps and johns. In the interests of male dignity, dignity is inseparable from the word ‘choice’. In terms of the (male) status quo dignity is underpinned and measured by choice. Heaven forbid someone appear not to have a choice! What is really being said when we use the term ‘sex work’ is that she ‘chooses’. Now isn’t this convenient?
For this reason, (one of many), it is not incumbent on myself or any other prostituted person to prove, let alone be grateful and endorse, the term ‘sex work’ as a dignifying.
We do not commit the undignified acts against us and as such have nothing to prove,( or be grateful for), when the media or the general public uses it. In fact, the implication that we do is insulting and more seriously, an obfuscation of exactly who is committing the acts here.
We are prostituted. The word is ugly and visceral. Put simply, it is truthful. This is why the pimps and johns don’t want us to use it, and why the general public may not want to hear it.
We do not owe dignity to the pimps and johns. Nor do we owe the general public a sense of ease or feeling better about themselves when it comes to prostitution.
If you are reading this as a non-prostituted person, or someone who uses the term ‘sex work’, I would ask you to consider who benefits from this euphemism. Most of us are familiar with the effectiveness of ‘weasel words’ , just think how easily ‘collateral damage’ slipped off the tongues of warmongers. If we can wise up to that, we can extend some critical thinking to what we participate in when we call prostitution ‘work’.