by Dish Staff
Elizabeth’s post about sex workers as the theoretical “daughters” of those opining on the topic continues to cause a stir. Adam Ozimek argues against thinking of adults in this way, no matter the issue at hand:
Whether you’d want your kid to do something is a terrible, selfish, and self-centered way to think about policy. You hear this kind of argument when it comes to drug use too. “Do you really want your kid to be able to smoke pot?” But the laws of this country aren’t the rules of your household. Stopping your kid from smoking pot or becoming a prostitute isn’t our job, it’s yours. Quite frankly if you need the law’s help in that regard then I’m guessing you’re going to have other problems on your hands anyway.
Ozimek, perhaps spoiling for a Dish guest-blogger show-down, goes on to quote Freddie making such an argument:
On the left you hear things like this when it comes to labor standards, especially around the globe. For example, I recall Freddie deBoer once wrote of an NPR piece on labor conditions in China:
Would Ira Glass ever allow his children, when grown, to work 60 hours a week? In those factories? In those conditions? Of course not.
Here we have not only have every U.S. citizen being treated like your child, but every worker in China, a country of 1.3 billion people that is thousands of miles away. That’s quite a paternalistic reach.
Many readers also responded to Elizabeth’s provocative argument. And it turns out that no, not everyone is losing sleep over the possibility that their children are or might become sex workers. Some speak from personal experience:
My friend recently went to LA to shoot porn. Her parents were fully aware; and she went with her husband (she only shot solo stuff and “girl girl” scenes. Her parents gave their blessing; I’m not sure “approve” is the right word, but they definitely were not upset by her decision and they were happy she seemed so excited.
I suspect a lot of parents would be like this: your primary desire is your child to be happy and safe; and after a certain point you get convinced that both will be true within that industry.
That said, it WAS a very odd experience. This is a girl who had had sex with only one guy in her life, and one girl; yet her second day there she is taken to a shoot in a hotel room, meets another young nervous girl, and in 15 minutes is having sex with her on film. The fact that she loved it was beside the point; there is something very weird about having a third party arrange your sex partner for you, and you having sex with them within 15 minutes of meeting them.
My friend is also a cam model on one of “those” sites; and she could easily make $75k this year. This is working from home, maybe 15-20 hours a week, setting her own hours, doing something that she loves to do. What parent WOULDN’T want their child to be in a situation like that?
Another reader astutely notes that even non-controversial romantic situations have the potential to freak out one’s immediate family:
“I submit that virtually every honest person — those with children of their own, as well as those who merely possess a functional moral imagination — will admit to being appalled at the thought.”
Sure, and every one of us is appalled at the thought of our parents having sex, too. That doesn’t mean sex for old people is wrong. It just means we don’t want to think of it. We don’t like to contemplate the sexuality of the people we have a close non-sexual relationship with. When we men don’t are appalled at the thought of our daughters having sex for money, it’s just a more advanced version of not wanting to think of them having sex at all.
And another makes a feminist libertarian argument:
I think the key thing to understanding this is the framing – Father, Daughter. It’s an entirely paternalistic approach, treating these adults as if they were children. “I know better than you.” The gender aspect matters to a degree, since it touches on the tendency towards protectiveness/possessiveness towards the sexuality of daughters, but even if we were talking about a mother or a son, the key point is the same. This sort of logic and thinking should not be what drives us. Your children are not yours to make decisions for once they become adults, nor should it remain in that frame. Just because someone wouldn’t want their daughter (or son) to sleep with half the people at their college, doesn’t mean that we should outlaw sex.
We need a society where everyone’s choices are respected, not treated as perpetual children. Laws should be about reducing risk associated with those choices (focused on making sure no one else screws us over, literally or figuratively) not about making our choices for us.
A different reader – one with daughters! – argues that there are options worse than sex work:
What a lede – it just made me shout out, in the presence of both my kids “THAT’S NOT TRUE!” Having a daughter as a sex worker is not my worst nightmare – there are many fates worse than being a sex worker, and being a sex worker can actually prevent some of them (dying homeless, being “forced” by finances into a bad marriage, starving while working “legit” fast food, etc.). My daughters both agreed. And then they added that most of the true hazards of the sex business come from its illegality.
Another reader dissents:
One does not have to be an uptight sexual prude to expect more from one’s daughter beyond having sex for money. Does this mean I do not respect sex workers? I respect them if they made their own choice to be in the sex business; but I often wonder if they truly did.
Why? Because I shared a rehab group therapy with a number of young women who worked the sex trade as teenagers and then young women. The experience showed me that none of them did sex work as an ambition; none said they sold their bodies as a deliberate choice to work in the sex trade. Most told how they started peddling their bodies for sex as strippers, or because a man offered to pimp them (one was 14 when her volleyball coach raped her, then turned her out). Sex work was a way to pay for drugs, and to feel loved for a bit. None spoke highly of the sex work they did. All were trying to end doing it, and those with daughters were very concerned their children might end up in sex work, because of how they got there.
Add to it none saw sex work as a viable way to make a living.
My stance on this front is: I do not want my daughter to aim so low in her life, that sex work becomes her only option, or an option at all.