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The problem with the sex industry

They don’t call it ‘the oldest profession in the world’ for nothing.
Prostitution has existed throughout recorded history and is here to stay.

But there are huge problems with the sex industry.

The sex industry actually includes many kinds of sexual services – peep shows, strip shows, erotic dancing (no contact), lap dancing (contact on dancers’ terms), girlfriend experience, so-called ’tantric’ massage, sensual massage with happy ending or a blow job but not sex, straightforward sex and ultimately sex with extras, such as anal, fetishes, orgies, BDSM and the like.

Girls dancing neon sign

The industry runs on needs and dependencies.
The client needs the sex worker for her services.
And the sex worker is often dependent on a steady stream of clients for her income. It’s as if she is the employee and the client is the boss.
And the client is not the only boss.
Many sex workers are employed by agencies or pimps who take 50% of their profit, or even more, and don’t provide them with much in return for this hefty commission.

The industry standard is to keep the client satisfied and so the sex worker constantly sacrifices her own needs and boundaries.

Clients often push for extra time and for services which were not on the menu. Lap dancers get touched. Tantric bodywork professionals are being asked for happy endings or to let the client touch their bodies. Erotic massage practitioners get asked for sex. Escorts have to put up with clients who are disrespectful, who mistreat them and take them too hard, who demand more than what they previously agreed to; clients who are drunk or who are on cocaine, ‘ice’ or other drugs. Sometimes the client insists on them drinking or taking drugs as well, or they do that of their own accord, to fit in, to be liked by the client, or to numb their own feelings.

Many providers agree to bend the rules in exchange for more money but then feel bad with themselves for having done so.

A sex worker often feels that she is not in control. Not in control of her time, needing to be constantly available and work during the nights. And not in control of her body, as her body is what she sells.
Ultimately she might feel that her body doesn’t belong to her.

This the ultimate objectification of the feminine. The sex workers have to maintain their body or ‘enhance’ it (breast implants and plastic surgery or at the least photoshopping their online photos) in order to sell it.

Sex workers are often forced to work during the night, which messes with their health. I spoke with high-end escorts who ate junk food in the middle of the night on a ‘shift’ during which they saw five different clients.

Sex workers constantly have to fake.
But they don’t just fake orgasms. They fake their interest, their enjoyment of the client’s company and conversation.
They fake their mood, always pretending to be happy and vibrant.
They pretend that the client’s sexual moves are pleasurable and effective even if they are experiencing pain and discomfort. Thus they perpetuate the client’s lack of sexual skills and his lack of understanding of women’s sexuality.
Many sex workers try to get a man ‘off’ as quickly as possible. Thus the man never learns how to last longer, pleasure a woman and deeply connect with her.
Sex is a transaction. He pays. He cums. He leaves.

And they fake something else.
Many sex workers lead double lives, constantly needing to tell lies and hide their true source of income. They are often lonely, not able to share their hardships with anyone apart from their colleagues.

Sex workers start by faking it for the client, and gradually they are faking it for themselves, pretending that ‘all is well’, but not even sure what that means, what they are experiencing, what they are feeling, and what it is that they really want.

Some sex workers even experience a state of disconnection not much different to that of rape victims.
I have spoken with sex workers who were unorgasmic, didn’t enjoy sex and didn’t really love or appreciate men.

This is not to say that all sex workers are like this. I’ve also spoken with sex workers who loved their work and their clients and provided much more than sex. More on that later.

One might assume that prostitution is easy money, but it’s not always so.
Some sex workers live paycheck to paycheck, or rather night to night.

Others make a lot of money but still experience loneliness and suffering. They say that the money makes up for their loneliness but deep down inside they know they are fooling themselves.

Sex workers are often judged, shamed and ostracized because of their profession.
And there’s someone else who is hiding and deeply fearful of being exposed.
The client.
Seeing a prostitute is strongly frowned upon in our society.
Men doing so risk losing their relationship, family, a lot of money, their status and reputation.
Think Hugh Grant.

But it’s not just about the shame.
As mentioned earlier, many of these men are in a state of denial, engaging in a relationship that is based on dependency and exchange, having to pay not just for sex but for the illusion of love.
Thus they are perpetuating their lack of sexual skills, emotional skills and relational skills.

Many women go into the sex industry as a last resort or as a temporary solution for their financial challenges. But many get sucked into the system and are then unable to get out of it.

The working conditions and environments are often damaging for the sex workers and not supportive of their activity.
Strippers are forced to wear high heels and work in a freezing cold strip club. A friend of mine developed a bone outgrowth on her knee for having spent so many hours kneeling. The clothes and outfits they wear are meant to arouse desire but they don’t really celebrate the female body or allow the dancers/strippers to be comfortable when they move. Once again, it’s all fake.

Where it’s illegal, the sex industry still exists but is ruled by criminal organizations.
And even where it’s legal, it is still criticized and marginalized.

The state of the sex industry is an expression of society’s shallowness, ambivalence and suppression of sexuality and sexual expressions.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I believe that the sex industry is a natural, vital and potentially transformational aspect of society.
I believe the sex industry can be different.

And I have a vision.
A vision for a conscious sex industry.

Read about ‘my vision for a conscious sex industry’ in the next article, here.

* This article talks about female sex workers, as they are the majority of the sex industry, however it is also relevant to male and trans gender sex workers and providers.