Conversation About Sex Work and Sex-Negativity

February 16, 2019 - 2:00 pm

The Tower
778 Barton St E

I want to discuss some of the ways that a sex-negative perspective has helped me think about my situation more clearly as a sex worker and a cis woman who fucks men for a variety of reasons, and I want to share stories and discuss with others who are interested or for whom those ideas resonate in some way. I’m interested in the kinds of sexual labour we perform and/or refuse, and how we understand ourselves and coercion/consent in this context. I think this conversation also has broader implications for care work and other feminized labour under capitalism, so I was picturing this as a discussion open to all, not just sex workers. I also want to put forward an explicit pro-sex-work position but from an anarchist, anti-capitalist (and anti-work) perspective.

This conversation is open to all except cis men. This is an imperfect way of creating a space where it’s possible to talk about patriarchal power dynamics in our lives without contending with those same power dynamics within the conversation itself, as much as that’s even possible. Trans and non-binary people, sex workers, black and indigenous people and other people of colour, queers, women – please come and participate if this conversation sounds at all interesting or relevant to your life!

About the facilitator: Aria is an anarchist, sex worker and queer person of colour living on occupied Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory.

Excerpt from “undoing sex: against sexual optimism” by c.e.:

“A story we are told:

You are on the brink of sexual freedom; it is here and at your disposal. It is asked only that you ind it or make it. If before we were ugly, we may be beautiful now—still, you must make yourself natural, whole, and good. You were traumatized but you may recover, simply possess yourself. This is work to be done but it is a good work. Work on your shame, perhaps even fight those who shame you, and it follows that you will be free. At the end of it you will be whole and you will have reclaimed your natural pleasure. The right of man is to fuck and to orgasm. Feel free with your body to do these things because they are good. The feminists and the sexual liberationists knew this and this is why their movement is over. Cosmo and Oprah know this now and therefore everyone knows it. Sex is good and pleasure is powerful, and it is this proposition that will save us from our pain.

Michel Foucault repeats this tale in its barest bones: “someday, sex will be good again.” Yet for all that such optimism may aspire to, it exists seamlessly with the brutal realities of gendered life. Rape goes on unabated; the lives of so many remain consumed in domestic and reproductive labor. It is not that optimism is simply ineffective, that it has been appropriated and de-fanged by a system of repression and may thus be saved, but rather that it exists alongside shame and silence, each playing their part in a broader production of sex and gender. If it was once radical and marginal to assert an essential, or simply available, goodness to sex, it is now central, institutional. Far from the domain of some radical set, it is at once an ideology of patriarchy and of the majority of its opponents, a disparate, heterogeneous collection of discourses united in common aim. It is the optimism that insistently, cruelly returns us to the work of fucking.

This optimism is what I position myself against.”