The other day on Thought Catalog, an article referred to “prostitutes” as “products,” which got me thinking a lot about the ways in which society views sex work (and often women in general) as objects and female sexuality transactional, bought and sold like perfume or a new lipstick. They are often used as props or as window dressing, like the Bond girl or Girl Going Wild who stands around adding little to the scene but her ephemeral beauty and her boobs.
A recent video posted to YouTube helps us to consider the ways in which we passive consume female sexuality — whether that’s in our entertainment or actually buying sex. Sex work can be fully consensual, when sex workers get into the business for the same reasons that anyone else takes a job (see: money), yet it can also be an industry that degrades and enslaves, and we need to stop and consider the histories behind consumption. We need to consider these women’s stories and lives and begin to ask questions.
The video is a bait and switch, where a crowd watches women perform in the windows of a brothel in the Red Light District. After the mostly male audience begins to get into the choregraphed dancing (a little reminiscent of Chicago), the scene changes with a stark reminder of the realities behind the industry. Our entertainment comes with costs, and those need to be considered.
We need to build a culture that views sex responsibly and mindfully, and part of that is knowing where your sex comes from. I think the “End Demand” idea leaves much to be desired in terms of advocating for sex workers’ rights, especially those who stay in the industry, but for me, this video is about building empathy and respect. It’s about looking through the glass to see a person with a story. Instead of just watching, we need to listen.
Check out the video below.