"Who're You Calling a Whore?" | A Response

Yes Means Yes

Flipped again

"I think that sex workers commodify men. I remember looking at guys in strip clubs and seeing dollar signs in place of their heads. [...] I hate it when people assume that the only people commodified in sex work are the workers." -- Mariko1

The idea of creating a commodity, a thing to be bought and sold, out of people is dehumanizing. In this case, I'm not sure that the clients are commodified. Turning a man into a dollar sign is dehumanizing and objectifying, but he isn't up for sale. He is the consumer and he is paying for a commodity, a good or a service, which is the sex worker.

Mariko's point though, seems to be that reducing people is not a one-way street, and is a valid one. Any consumer can easily be dehumanized in the face of profit, but Mariko points out that in the sex industry, consumers are further alienated because, "A lot of clients feel shame around going to a strip club or seeing prostitutes," and sex workers also suffer "feelings of shame and social rejection in silence." This double whammy whereby both the supply and demand surrounding sex and sexuality are considered shameful in the general public puts a tremendous amount of stress on everyone involved.

Objectively selling

Living in New York City and walking daily through the predominantly gay neighborhood of Chelsea gave me a broader view of negative sexual objectification.  The very same tactics that are used to sell women to men are used to sell men to men. Or, the very same tactics that are used to sell products to men through women, are used to sell products to men through men.

Phone booth and bus stop adverts, store window displays and the local rags all suggest that the male models are reduced sexual objects. Men are not immune to objectification, however they seem to be objectified less often.

1 Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti, Foreword by Margaret Cho, Essay 23, "Who're You Calling a Whore?: A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry", by Susan Lopez, Mariko Passion, Saundra, Pages 273-286

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