Every Sex Worker Is Somebody’s Daughter, Ctd

by Dish Staff

The sex-worker-as-daughter debate, which Elizabeth launched, continues. Two readers cite two different missing pieces from the conversation thus far. One writes:

I am amazed by the Every Sex Worker Might be Somebody’s Daughter thread’s blind spot: not one person brought up the men who do sex work. Escorts and male performers in straight and gay pornography are all… somebody’s son.  Yet that doesn’t seem to worry anyone much. The same double-standard as always: sexually active women are sluts, sexually active men are studs.

The other sounds off:

The thread on this topic seems remarkably tone-deaf.

Should we evaluate all public policy issues through a “would you want your son/daughter to…” lens? Of course not. Is there lots of misguided, counter-productive, or irrelevant moralism and paternalism involved in some public policy? Sure. So some of the points made in the thread are well-taken, taken in isolation. But.

We also are all somebody’s child, or parent, or caretaker, or sibling, or spouse, etc. And these relationships tap into a specific part of our brain, and give us a specific set of perspectives on life. And sometimes it is positively healthy to ask ourselves to access that part of our thinking and feeling to a greater extent. At the least, speaking as if a whole realm of human awareness should be amputated from public concerns seems at best hugely unrealistic. Just think about the gay marriage issue. Homophobia was fine if you barely knew gay people even existed. Civil unions seemed OK if you knew that they existed, but didn’t know too much about their lives. But gay marriage became a moral imperative for many people because they knew and loved gay people personally, and saw them as, well…somebody’s daughter, or your own son or daughter. And that made a difference in how people saw the issue.

On another note, I think that people who want to jettison the “think about if she were somebody’s daughter” approach are just pretty naive about men. This line isn’t just a tool of patriarchal oppression. It’s used to counter-act male instincts (women have them also, but less strongly). And if you give men permission to stop asking the “what if she were…” questions, and give them free reign to assume that she might just as easily be a porn star, you might find that the results have a lot less to do with smashing the patriarchy than you first thought.