Prostitution is not work – it is a uniquely extreme form of commodification and abuse

AT THE TUC conference in September, Laura Watson from the English Collective of Prostitutes attempted to defend the idea that prostitution is simply another type of work by saying: “We’ve been told several times that it’s different to sell different parts of your body.

“So in one example, you’re selling your arms, and if you’re a sex worker, you’re selling different parts. But it’s a value judgement to say whether it’s better or worse to use different parts.”

These words misrepresent what it means to be a human being and undermine any attempt to defend our human dignity against a capitalist system which is constantly trying to turn us into commodities.

So, although prostitution does have some things in common with work — eg both involve the strange form of “consent” which is effectively forced from one party because they need the money which the other party is offering — we should not allow the prostitution industry to use this partial similarity to claim that a uniquely dehumanising activity (prostitution) can be redefined as “not ideal, but no worse than many other jobs.”

In essence, what we are dealing with here is the difference between someone “consenting” to be enslaved (in a relatively mild form, for most modern jobs) and “consenting” to be raped.

Let’s give the last word to Rebecca Mott, a survivor of prostitution: “Prostitution could be a bit like cleaning toilets — if you had to clean that toilet with your tongue.”

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