A few weeks ago, I was in the company of a fetish model who kept vociferously stating that she does not do nudity. She wasn’t responding to anyone asking her to spread her legs, she was just stating it for the record in a way that made it clear that she has a lot of contempt for people who get naked for money. I wanted to slap her. It was clear that not only did she think she was participating in a higher form of art by not revealing her mons pubis, but that she herself was an artist for not getting naked and appealing to baser instincts. Whatever.
Now – to be clear, there are LOTS of things in the sex industry that I presently would not do. Actually, most things under the rubric of being a sex worker. Pretty much anything that involves taking my clothes off and/or being sexual with strangers in any way (except if I’m behind the camera). However, I don’t judge people in the industry for doing what they’re doing if there’s informed consent involved. However, I have been known to mouth off at people who I know if I think they’re doing something stupid – not all work in the sex industry is good work, and even sometimes even when it’s fully consensual, it’s a terrible idea for the worker involved.
Certainly, I’m not saying all workers should consider doing anything and everything to make a buck. Personal boundaries are super important. But that attitude of “my work is better than yours, therefore I’m a more worthy and less degraded person” makes me absolutely bat shit crazy. A few years ago I saw one of these moments happen between $pread staffers, so it’s definitely something that infects the sex worker rights community. And though I’d like to say that folks working as activists are aware enough of class and industry prejudices and privileges (or the perception of the latter) that this wouldn’t be an issue, sadly it still is a problem.
Whether you work in the sex industry or not, saying that you would never ever do a particular sex act (or act of sexual commerce) while wrinkling your nose to show your disapproval is just plain old not awesome. Feeling that way is fine (I do, about plenty of things), but expressing it in a way that makes other people feel like you think they are despicable – not so good. Personal boundaries with sexuality are highly personal, and there’s no denying that the squick factor exists, but its important to respect people’s choices and predilections.