"I really value that experience because it gave me confidence to then pursue other relationships."
September 12, 2012 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The Moral Significance of Sex Workers and People With Disabilities

The TLC Trust(NSFW) is an orgainzation that "provides opportunities, advice and support to disabled men and women so they can find appropriate sexual and therapeutic services." In South Australia, there is a 'call to legalise sex workers for people with disabili[ies].' Scarlet Road is a documentary about "the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele – people with disability." - Trailer.
posted by the man of twists and turns (57 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also of note: The Sessions, an upcoming drama based on the life of writer Mark O'Brien, with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.
posted by Madamina at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2012


[Next person who makes a whore joke gets permabanned.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:59 PM on September 12, 2012 [101 favorites]


I found the essay a little hard to follow, but I think I agree with the main thrust (ha!) of the piece. If we can set aside our hangups about sex and sex workers, then some of the hidden value they provide to people like the folks with disabilities described and quoted here is revealed. And by extension, more properly valued.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Daaamn, must be a rough day here on ol' Bluey.

I'm certainly in favor of legalizing sex workers for people with disabilities as proposed in South Australia, but only in the same way as I'm in favor of legalization of marijuana; as a first step towards larger legalization. The government has no business legislating what I or anyone else can do with our bodies so long as I am not directly injuring someone else.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 PM on September 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is a genuinely fascinating topic, and one that frankly had never occurred to me before.

And this part in particular got me thinking:

As many of them will testify, being a person with a disability makes acquiring sexual and romantic fulfilment difficult.

Replace "person with a disability" with any number of other things - not conventionally beautiful, poor social skills, had abusive parents, etc. - and the sentence is still true. Which makes it possible to cast the profession of sex worker in an extremely positive, almost wholesome light. That's awesome.
posted by jbickers at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm wary of arguments like that. It's trivial to show that sex work is often not an extremely positive, wholesome thing, and thus gives supporters of prohibition ammunition they can use to maintain the status quo. Whether sex work is wholesome or not should no more be an issue than whether hamburgers are wholesome or not when considering whether being a fry cook should be legal.

When looking solely at the moral implications (rather than legal) the above does not apply, of course.
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I recently read an impassioned post on the internet by a guy claiming that one of his tasks as a home health worker was to position disabled people into sexual positions.

The backstory is: There is a well known series of photos depicting two very disabled people, with no obvious mental impairments, having sex. These have been floating around since like the dawn of the internet. Every once in a while they get reposted somewhere.

Last time I saw them. Amidst all the lulz someone asked the question "how did they get in those positions" someone chimed in and said that it was his honor and privelege to help disabled people have sex. It was his position that all adults have the right to have sex with whomever they choose, as long as they both consent. And said disabled couples often used his services as sort of a sex aid. That opened some sort of flood gate of parents, friends and siblings of people with disabilities saying that they hoped their loved ones could experience something most of us take for granted, and thanking him for his work.

Even if the guy was just fucking around, and maybe he was, you never know on the internet. It was great to see so many people talking about their children, friends and siblings. People who see their loved ones as human. They are individuals who may need some help, but they are human like the rest of us with needs and desires.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:17 PM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I was talking about the moral implications. Whether or not a person should legally be allowed to use their body how they see fit is a no-brainer.
posted by jbickers at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2012


Previously.
posted by availablelight at 1:25 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


That Previously that availablelight just posted is really really good. I remember reading it when it was first posted.
posted by jonbro at 1:33 PM on September 12, 2012


Forget sex work: think about the ways in which many disabled people aren't even touched, period. For some, the only way they are ever touched is when someone else changes their catheter or turns them in a bed. For others, much more independent, other people still simply keep their distance.
posted by Madamina at 1:36 PM on September 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Even if the guy was just fucking around, and maybe he was, you never know on the internet.

No, that is an actual, legitimate, and documented service that attendants may provide to people with disabilities. It is usually negotiated between the person with a disability and the attendant. Attendant work is already quite intimate- an attendant may also provide assistance with toileting, feeding and dressing. This service does not involve the attendant being sexual with the person with a disability; it simply involves the attendant facilitating the experience of the person with a disability.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


This was, I thought, a very funny and sensitive bit by an Australian comic about taking his friend's disabled brother to a brothel. It's long but worth it.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pretty sure this was the "I help disabled people have sex" guy you are referring to. I found it via this AskMe thread.
posted by jessamyn at 1:46 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is good to know it is a legit service, and that there are people out there helping people have sex.

Pretty sure this was the "I help disabled people have sex" guy you are referring to. I found it via this AskMe thread.

It was actually on reddit, in /r/wtf of all places, and it may have spawned an AMA. Didn't want to drag reddit into this.

That may be the same guy though.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:59 PM on September 12, 2012


Which makes it possible to cast the profession of sex worker erototherapist in an extremely positive, almost wholesome light.

FTFY.
posted by acb at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2012


from the article: "What makes a (non-coerced, voluntary, etc.) sex worker any different to a pop-star? Some say that the main difference is that the sex worker engages in sex. However, that’s just a restatement of his or her career: you might as well say a pop-star sings. Is there something special about sex that somehow makes it beyond something we pay for? "

Thing is -- yes, there is. Sex is different. We feel totally differently about the person/people we have sex with than we feel about someone who touches our teeth or our toes or even our internal organs. Sexual abuse is different from physical abuse -- and sex work is different from any other kind of physical work.

I'm not saying that I don't want it legalized; I support anything that would promote the safety of sex workers. But I don't think we should pretend that sex work is not unique, and historically has been work of a last resort and strongly associated with drugs and other problems/coping mechanisms, even where it is legal and/or practiced in a sexually liberated culture.
posted by jb at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw a movie many years ago where Season Hubley played a prostitute...one of her regular clients was a double amputee in a wheelchair, and I remember being so touched by her familiar, tender conversation with him. He lived in a cheap hotel room and was obviously pretty much alone in the world, but even though he was paying her for sex she still was tactile with him (stroking his head and hand) while she asked him about his day such before getting down to business. That was the first time it ever occurred to me that sex workers could be compassionate and probably provided a much-needed not only physical but emotional service to a neglected segment of society. So, anyway, long story short I see nothing wrong with paying for sex *IF* the worker is not cheating the person, abusing him/her, etc.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting piece.

Hard to tell if someone like this happens in the States, or would even have traction, because my understanding is that it's actually pretty rare for prostitution laws to be enforced against Johns (unless they're pimps/traffickers/brothel owners).
posted by likeatoaster at 2:31 PM on September 12, 2012


I've had friends who work in group home for low-functioning adults with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities. Upon realizing that all of those disabilites don't have to have any effect on the sexual needs of a person- I felt aweful that it just hadn't occured to me. Just because you can't sit up or think clearly doesn't mean you don't need to eat. It's the same damn thing.

The residents had sex and masterbated- and it was part of the duties and responsibilities of the staff to help them, by getting modified tools or movies, or even positioning them.

Sex workers provide a really good service- I don't like the idea of legislating who is pathetic ENOUGH to warrent a legal trip to a sex worker and who isn't. That shit is dicey.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


This sounds like the sort of issue that may be easily parsed: if both the sex worker and disabled person consent and consider it within their dignity to commingle, then it's none of my business. That I find the idea reasonable surely doesn't hurt, either.

Having read Gay Talese's Thy Neighbor's Wife, a survey of American sexual culture from the 1950s-'70s or so, I recollect discussion of traditional Swedish masseuses whose protocol included manual "release". I don't know whether these people were known to extend their services to the particularly disabled, but it sounds like a similar therapeutic process.
posted by mr. digits at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2012


**I mean that it suggests you only get a freebe because you're pathetic not that disable people are pathetic. Ugh. That camr out icky**
posted by Blisterlips at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And on a completely different note, I find this piece incredibly complicated and it is such a ridiculously nuanced set of issues that I feel a little wary of setting things down in text because I'm still articulating where I stand on this. At this point, I find this piece incredibly frustrating on two levels:

One, I'm reaching the kind of sadly-Dworkin-like place where I emphatically reject justifications of sex work. I find it incredibly frustrating that the debate about sex work has been framed as an issue of personal choice for the practioniers and not for the clients, because then it's easy to jump to the liberal position of personal freedom- you get to choose what you do with your body- rather than the more complicated idea that sex is not a commodity (usually understood as the idea that it's something women possess that they give or don't give to men). I think the key idea that underscores sex work is not that sex should be for sale, but that (mostly*) men should be able to buy sex. That it should be a commodity, and that if women, as a whole, won't give it you for free, you should be able to put a price on it and buy it. I really vehemently reject this idea, that anyone is entitled to be sexual with another person.

Two, this particular justification for sex work seems like a dour portent for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society. It implies, at least partially, that people with disabilities are so unattractive or damaged that they have to pay for sex because no one would have it with them in the context of a mutually satisfying romantic relationship or non-romantic friendship. I vehemently reject that idea as well. The problem that needs solving isn't that disabled people have sex drives; it's that non-disabled people don't know that disabled people have sex drives.

(And, conveniently, the solution to the first "problem" is incredibly simple: hookers! A solution to so many problems since time immemorial! It requires that nothing about society change for even a second! The solution to the second problem is, you know, education about disability, breaking down prejudice, widening the societal scope of what is attractive, varied images and depictions of people with disabilities as sexual beings- super easy, right? We could get that done in a weekend.)

*I do applaud that the article shared the experiences of some women with disabilities as clients, not practioniers, of sex work, and I am not attempting to erase their experiences.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:08 PM on September 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh, God.

The idea that some special legalization of sex workers for disabled people will allow disabled people to get to some enlightened sexy place is really making me...okay, not angry, not angry, not not not not not.

I use a wheelchair. The idea that I need help finding a sexual partner or help getting to sexy sexy land is deeply repellant and, frankly, just so wrong. I do not need to be placed in the sex ghetto, thanks.
posted by angrycat at 3:16 PM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I really vehemently reject this idea, that anyone is entitled to be sexual with another person.

This is an extremely poor framing of the issue. The belief that sex work should be legal no more means that one believes people are entitled to be sexual with another person than the belief that theater should be legal means I believe people are entitled to make others dance like a monkey for their amusement.
posted by Justinian at 3:17 PM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is an extremely poor framing of the issue. The belief that sex work should be legal no more means that one believes people are entitled to be sexual with another person than the belief that theater should be legal means I believe people are entitled to make others dance like a monkey for their amusement.

People rarely stop other people on the street and offer them money to dance like a monkey for their amusement, though.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2012


That doesn't seem relevant to whether it should be legal or illegal. It certainly reflects on the general skeeviness of the men involved but I don't see how one can justify making something illegal because some dudes are skeevy.
posted by Justinian at 3:28 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


(I further note the extremely relevant point that prostitution is illegal and that happens anyway, so seems even stranger as a justification of illegality.)
posted by Justinian at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find it incredibly frustrating that the debate about sex work has been framed as an issue of personal choice for the practioniers and not for the clients, because then it's easy to jump to the liberal position of personal freedom- you get to choose what you do with your body- rather than the more complicated idea that sex is not a commodity (usually understood as the idea that it's something women possess that they give or don't give to men). I think the key idea that underscores sex work is not that sex should be for sale, but that (mostly*) men should be able to buy sex.

Oh for heaven's sake. So you find the idea of legalized sex work appealing if it gives women freedom, but not if it gives men freedom? How about if only male sex workers were legalized, for purchase by straight women or gay men? Ah, but that gives the game away, doesn't it?

Sex is not a commodity, but labor is. And labor is often difficult, sometimes very much so. Home care workers will regularly dress a person, clean their (literal) shit, help them fill out forms that list their every detail... But stimulating them manually, that shouldn't be "a commodity," whatever that means? As this article makes clear, access to sexual attention can be truly liberating for a lot of people (and angrycat, your comparison of your sexual ability as someone in a wheelchair but otherwise able to think and type to the sexual ability of someone with crippling multiple sclerosis is blindingly insensitive). For others, it'll just be a bit of fun, like going to a stand-up club. Either way, it's not your place to judge.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:56 PM on September 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I really have an issue with conflating the intimate labour of home care/nursing with sex work and prostitution. It is different and obviously so or otherwise it wouldn't be something that is requested/required above and beyond the physically intimate home care/nursing. If it were all the same 'thing', if it were really just a case of moving from cleaning someone to giving them a handjob, why would they need the handjob? If it's all the same, if home care is already intimate enough to be applicable to sex work, why the sex work on top?

Because sex is different to intimate physical care. It is different emotionally, physically and mentally. Conflating the two, acting like sex work is just an extension, is dismissive of lived experiences and of sex in general.

My preference would be the Vorkosigan Saga-esque Betan LPSTs (Licensed Practical Sex Therapists). People with some grounding in medicine/physiotherapy, psychotherapy, disability awareness and with their own governing body and regulatory systems. Some sex workers do this on their own, but without that overarching body you have no recourse when things go wrong (abuse etc) and no means of actually enacting governmental/regulatory change. And no real way of helping the disabled and their carers to choose someone who is going to actually help.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:44 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


the more complicated idea that sex is not a commodity (usually understood as the idea that it's something women possess that they give or don't give to men).

Those sorts of ideas are everywhere, if we're talking about the idea that a person's value is diminished when a man puts his penis in them while the penetrating man gains value, or that a woman's value is dependent on how she can give up her sexual value to men, or that a man's value is related to how many women he can get to give up their sexual value to him.

Probably someone else has expressed it better or given it a name (I'd like to know), but is that an OK sort of summary of the kind of thinking you mean?

I imagine that for some (or most, or maybe even all) male clients those ideas probably are involved - it seems like they'd be motivations for men to have sex with women in any context. However I'd also argue that opposition to sex work usually depends on accepting just those same ideas as premises.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 5:08 PM on September 12, 2012


it seems like they'd be motivations for men to have sex with women in any context.

I guarantee you that those ideas are not "the motivations for men to have sex with women in any context." Really.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:11 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh for heaven's sake. So you find the idea of legalized sex work appealing if it gives women freedom, but not if it gives men freedom? How about if only male sex workers were legalized, for purchase by straight women or gay men? Ah, but that gives the game away, doesn't it?

Nope, that's not what I said. I said that I reject the framing of sex work as an issue about the practitioners, and not the clients, because while there are both male and female sex workers, most people who buy sex are men. I'm also not talking about whether I think sex work should be legal or illegal; I'm talking about sex work in the context of how we do sexuality and sexual relationships.

Sex is not a commodity, but labor is. And labor is often difficult, sometimes very much so. Home care workers will regularly dress a person, clean their (literal) shit, help them fill out forms that list their every detail... But stimulating them manually, that shouldn't be "a commodity," whatever that means?

When I say sex is not a commodity, I mean I don't think it's something that can be/should be traded for economic reasons; it shouldn't have a market value. There are tons of threads in our culture that focus on sex as something you get or achieve, and if you think of sex that way it's hard to articulate why you think it shouldn't be on the market.

Basically, I think of sex as something that isn't a trade ("I give you x in exchange for y") but a collaboration. Like being in a jam band. It's something you do/create with other people, and if you want to find other people to jam with you you can, but there's nowhere you can go and pay to play lead guitar with a band for a night. It would be weird to offer people money to play in your band with you, probably because it changes the dynamics of what is supposed to be a good time for all. That's all I mean.

Plus, this is getting out of scope so I guess memail me if I am really stressing you out. I feel most certain about my second objection to this article, which is that we should be fighting prejudice against people with disabilities and integrating them more fully into society as people with sexualities and romantic desires just like non-disabled people.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:26 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guarantee you that those ideas are not "the motivations for men to have sex with women in any context." Really.

Right but there's no need for that guarantee. You added a "the" that wasn't there and that I definitely didn't mean to imply.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2012


Basically, I think of sex as something that isn't a trade

That's a perfectly understandable and reasonable position. Why, however, should everyone else be forced to accept what is, at base, just your personal view and not an objective fact?
posted by Justinian at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be weird to offer people money to play in your band with you,

What? Musician-for-hire / session musician is totally a thing.

And people have lots of motivations for playing music, just like having sex. Money can be one in both cases, like it can for so many things.

Only in the case of sex does the government intervene, however.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now calmer, I guess I can say that the sentiment of enabling all people to have sex is a good thing. But anything that entrenches the idea that disabled people and sex are usually far removed from one another is not a good thing.

I've heard guys in wheelchairs talk about the questions they get about whether their penis functions. I guess because they have to deal with it, they've adopted a whatevs attitude about it. I would seriously want to face-punch if I got that question from a stranger. I've had to field questions from friends about my vagina, and I've responded just open-mouthed uhhhhh? I really don't get why an apparent disability opens the door to these what is your sex life questions.

These are yucky interactions. They'll never go away, but for God's sake, don't codify this creepiness of the disabled as unable to get it on unless it's some devotee nonsense. Disabled people fuck, sometimes they need help, there are contraptions that make it easier, end, done. There are dating sites for disabled people. We work around it, okay? Just don't interrogate us or put a I need a pity fuck sign around our necks.

I guess that wasn't much calmer. Sorry. Sore spot for me, obvs
posted by angrycat at 5:46 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


IIRC, there were a couple of scenes in the excellent film Murderball about sex issues and logistics for paraplegic and quadriplegic folks.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:12 PM on September 12, 2012


Having read Gay Talese's Thy Neighbor's Wife, a survey of American sexual culture from the 1950s-'70s or so, I recollect discussion of traditional Swedish masseuses whose protocol included manual "release".

I am a massage therapist. Them's fighting words. Traditional Swedish massage does NOT include sexual release, and massage therapists have paid heavily for the propagation of MYTHS like this.
posted by parrot_person at 8:32 PM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not going into details, but I'm just going to say that know, directly, first hand, not "friend of friend", a person, who, as a nurse, maintained a secret sexual relationship with a quadriplegic person for years.

This was some time ago. Evan back then I completely got it, but suffice to say I, and maybe only one other person at the time could understand the motivations and be accepting of it.
Bravo for this article.
posted by roboton666 at 9:03 PM on September 12, 2012


Prostitution is not illegal in the UK (although lots of things associated with prostitution are illegal, like living off immoral earnings). So I am not clear why judges would be hearing such cases at all, let alone dismissing them if a disabled person was involved.
posted by Major Tom at 12:14 AM on September 13, 2012


The problem that needs solving isn't that disabled people have sex drives; it's that non-disabled people don't know that disabled people have sex drives.

I don't think that very many people are unaware that people with disabilities have sex drives. The problem is that many able-bodied people are simply not interested in having sex with people with disabilities.

it shouldn't have a market value

The sky shouldn't be blue.
posted by snottydick at 10:21 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


geek anachronism: My preference would be the Vorkosigan Saga-esque Betan LPSTs (Licensed Practical Sex Therapists). People with some grounding in medicine/physiotherapy, psychotherapy, disability awareness and with their own governing body and regulatory systems. Some sex workers do this on their own, but without that overarching body you have no recourse when things go wrong (abuse etc) and no means of actually enacting governmental/regulatory change. And no real way of helping the disabled and their carers to choose someone who is going to actually help.
Because what sex workers and the disabled both need most is bureaucracy, paper degrees, and more layers of regulation.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:57 AM on September 13, 2012


Snarl Furillo: I feel most certain about my second objection to this article, which is that we should be fighting prejudice against people with disabilities and integrating them more fully into society as people with sexualities and romantic desires just like non-disabled people.
So we shouldn't provide access to sexual release for disabled people with no other current choices, because the higher moral ground is for everyone to treat each other as equals? And how exactly does a quadriplegic getting a handjob prevent disabled people from being treated fairly?

All of your arguments are just so much intellectual tinsel draped over ancient moralizing about sex. Sex isn't immoral. Having sex isn't bad. Being a sexual partner - even if you're a woman - doesn't make you a temptress, a whore, or a victim.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Snarl Furillo: I feel most certain about my second objection to this article, which is that we should be fighting prejudice against people with disabilities and integrating them more fully into society as people with sexualities and romantic desires just like non-disabled people.

Is that mutually exclusive from getting them laid? Plenty of able-bodied people have problems getting with a partner for whatever reason. Maybe it might not require an extra helper for positioning, or having to manage government funding sources, but it's still similar.

I feel like this is almost a universal design situation: improve access for disabled people to one thing or another, and people who are currently NOT disabled will not only have easier access themselves, they will hopefully see some of the many side benefits or positive, unintended extra uses for a good or service.
posted by Madamina at 11:11 AM on September 13, 2012


Nope, that's not what I said. I said that I reject the framing of sex work as an issue about the practitioners, and not the clients, because while there are both male and female sex workers, most people who buy sex are men.

And what does the gender of the purchasers have to do with anything? Assertion of privilege? You're really going to get sniffy about people with crippling disabilities asserting privilege over sex workers?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would it be useful to separate the notions of sexual therapy and prostitution?

I offer a lay-definition of the two, just for the purpose of my argument.

Sexual therapists and sexual surrogates seem like a good idea. These folks, at least in theory, are trained therapists, not simply people who've decided to dispense sexual acts for pay. Prostitutes are not therapists, but sell sex for money. I don't see anything wrong with either of these lines of work, and I wouldn't distinguish between those who take men and those who take women as their clients.

In the case of the therapist, dealing with a person's physical disability would be part of the training. Why assume that a person who has certain physical issues would not want to have sex? Also, why assume that any given person with a physical issue would need help dealing with it? Who wants the service, needs the therapy, ought to be able to get it. I don't know how to refine my stance to distinguish between the role of a sexual surrogate, and a nurse who would provide sexual release. My inclination is to refer this patient to a prostitute. The nurse might be consulted by the prostitute with regards to certain physical issues.

In the case of the prostitute, all the arguments apply, but without reference to persons with physical issues. My take is that prostitution ought not to be criminalized, although I think certain certificates and regulations might be proper.

A larger debate about sex and initmacy is valid. In the debate about sex and morality, I'm for the consenting adults argument.
posted by mule98J at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So we shouldn't provide access to sexual release for disabled people with no other current choices, because the higher moral ground is for everyone to treat each other as equals? And how exactly does a quadriplegic getting a handjob prevent disabled people from being treated fairly?

Give me an example of a disabled person with no other current choices. Tell me about somebody you know who is disabled who has tried to have a sexual relationship and has found it impossible -- not tough, impossible. Because that is how you are framing it.

If you do not have an example, personal experience, or statistics, then you are operating from a position of ignorance and perpetuating bigotry. You give me a nuanced example that makes sense I will give a full-throated apology.

The problem is that many able-bodied people are simply not interested in having sex with people with disabilities.

I can't speak for all people with disabilities, but I am super super not interested in fucking somebody who is a bigot.

I'm pretty ashamed of the discussion in this thread. It has made me upset enough that I have considered shutting down my account. I'm bowing out of the thread, but I don't want to shit all over people and then run away; if somebody thinks I am way out line feel free to memail me and I will resume the discussion.
posted by angrycat at 12:01 PM on September 13, 2012


All of your arguments are just so much intellectual tinsel draped over ancient moralizing about sex. Sex isn't immoral. Having sex isn't bad. Being a sexual partner - even if you're a woman - doesn't make you a temptress, a whore, or a victim.

No, but being a sexual partner to someone you might not know well and/or who is paying you is not the same as being a sexual partner within a relationship. It's not ancient moralizing to acknowledge that while some people are okay with casual sex, a whole lot of people are not - it would mess them up. I know that casual sex WITHOUT a monetary transaction has and would mess me up psychologically.

I don't know if sex work is healthy for the sex workers or not. Most sex workers I've known/read about had a lot of psychological issues -- problems that led to them being engaged in sex work to start with, and problems stemming from the sex work itself. Maybe all this is coincidence, but you just don't read about people taking drugs to get through their job as a telemarketer or a data-entry person -- or a massage therapist or hair-dresser. Is there any research on the psychological effects of sex work? or are would it be impossible to disaggregate from the work from the stigmatization?

Like I said up thread - I still support its legalization if that would lead to greater safety for sex workers. But that doesn't mean that sex work is healthy. I also support the legalization of drugs. But is sex work more like marijuana, or like heroin?
posted by jb at 12:03 PM on September 13, 2012


jb: "you just don't read about people taking drugs to get through their job as a telemarketer or a data-entry person -- or a massage therapist or hair-dresser. "

You haven't been reading enough.

You've never heard of someone coming home after a rough day at work and saying, "I need a drink!" What about the stock traders who use cocaine to get through the workday?

I'm pretty sure you don't need to be a sex worker to resort to using drugs as a crutch to get you through your shitty job. I'm also pretty sure that there are many sex workers who use no drugs whatsoever.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:13 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


jb: But is sex work more like marijuana, or like heroin?
Easy one! Neither marijuana, heroin, nor sex work are healthy or unhealthy, in and of themselves.

They all have valid, useful applications*. They all have potential for damaging misuse.

Blanket condemnations and prohibitions against any of them is not useful.

* although morphine might be more useful, whenever heroin is useful, but that's not the point here
posted by IAmBroom at 1:15 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So if you're one of those people don't have casual sex. Problem solved! Seriously, this is a non issue. There is no basis for legislating your own hang ups because you assume they are universal.
posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on September 13, 2012


angrycat, I hope you don't disable your account, but if the discussion in this thread has literally made you ashamed I fear you are too close to the discussion. This has not been a particularly problematic thread. In fact I'd say it has been relatively respectful.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem is that many able-bodied people are simply not interested in having sex with people with disabilities.

I can't speak for all people with disabilities, but I am super super not interested in fucking somebody who is a bigot.


Then it's a tidy little package all around.

Still, there are clearly many people, both with and without whatever we define as "abilities" for whom this fills a need. It's not for me to judge that need and someone else's wish to profit by fulfilling it, assuming the relationship is satisfactory to both parties.
posted by snottydick at 1:24 PM on September 13, 2012


morphine might be more useful, whenever heroin is useful

Actually, it's the other way round: Heroin - under the name diamorphine - is widely used and even injected into pregnant women during labour. It appears to be preferable to morphine, on account of having fewer side effects.

As with other things under discussion here, it's not the thing itself that's the problem, but rather the culture and mythology that surrounds it.
posted by Grangousier at 1:45 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone interested in this topic might enjoy the movie Theory of Flight. Helena Bonham Carter is awesomely honest and sexy and cynical foul mouthed through her speech synthesizer, and Kenneth Branagh is sweet and awkward and hopeless and frustrated as the guy who wants to help, but doesn't actually want to sleep with her (he has a girlfriend.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2012


Grangousier: Actually, it's the other way round: Heroin - under the name diamorphine - is widely used and even injected into pregnant women during labour. It appears to be preferable to morphine, on account of having fewer side effects.

As with other things under discussion here, it's not the thing itself that's the problem, but rather the culture and mythology that surrounds it.
Thanks! Learning is fun!
posted by IAmBroom at 12:09 PM on September 14, 2012


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