The Business of Sex
This issue is dedicated to the business of sex. Not to be confused with only “sex work,” the business of sex also encompasses all of those many other professions that are still tied up in the idea of sex in some way, yet, for various reasons, are not currently situated under the same umbrella. Sure, the stripper up on stage is making money off of sex (or by selling the idea of it, anyway), but so too is the sex therapist, the dildo manufacturer, the sex party event organizer, the lingerie model, the intimacy coordinator, the go-go dancer, the cocktail waitress, the sex researcher, the gynecologist, and so many more. At QM, we believe that each of these jobs is equally worthy of respect, and are committed to reducing the social stigma surrounding them.
To work toward this goal, each essay in this issue touches on the relationship between sex and business in a unique manner, both to reveal the many ways in which sex is involved in “legitimate” industries, and to underscore the legitimacy of sex work as a real and respectable business. In “Critique of the SWERF: On Feminism and Sex Work,” for example, Kaylee Walker takes this stigma head on, and refutes the position held by some feminists that sex work is inherently exploitative. Instead, Walker argues that a belief in the autonomy of all individuals over their own bodies is at the core of feminist philosophy, and that those who tout sex-negative views, which selectively deny the agency of some individuals based solely on whether or not they receive payment for certain actions, are, in fact, in direct opposition to true feminism.
The question of agency is also a central theme in “The Stripper’s Dilemma,” where Reese Piper examines whether or not it is in the best interest of strippers in the United States to fight for their right to be classified as employees. Although she makes it clear that these strippers do indeed qualify for employee status, she outlines a number of compelling reasons why those in this job may not want to push for this classification. In doing so, Piper implicitly reaffirms Walker’s assertion that sex workers do indeed possess agency, thereby further supporting the position that all occupations involved in the business of sex are equally dignified and worthy of respect.
In “Respectability in Sex Education,” Zachary Zane focuses his attention on a different area within the business of sex. In this essay, he explores how stigma can also affect those who work in sex education, and calls attention to the line within this field that separates those who are currently seen as providing acceptable forms of education from those who are not. Ultimately, Zane argues that the presence of this line in sex education is further evidence of our old and outdated puritanical values, and that these negative and harmful attitudes surrounding sex are holding us back from living our best and most sexually fulfilled lives.
The other essays included in this issue also engage with this theme in some way. For example, Damian Emba explores the politics of respectability in his essay “The In-Between: Go-Go Dancing,” where he reflects on his time as a go-go dancer, while in “Sonya Saturday Likes a Challenge,” I describe a conversation SB Swartz had with artist Sonya Saturday about Saturday's participation as a nude model in a friend’s 3D art show. Zane and Piper both also contribute a second piece to this conversation, the former in “Let’s Talk About Sex (Toys) Baby,” which focuses on the use of sex toys among men, while the latter addresses the relationship between autism and sex work in “Autism, Sex Work and Empathy.”
In addition to these essays, this issue also includes a “Business of Sex Profiles” series, which features individuals who do various jobs related to the business of sex. Each profile outlines what the individual does, where they live, what they like and don’t like about the job, how they got into their particular line of work, etc. On its own, each profile provides readers with a fascinating window through which to learn more about a variety of jobs. As a whole, much like the issue itself, this series challenges the stigma surrounding sex and sex-related jobs more broadly by showing just how many occupations are out there that are in some way tied to sex, and puts a human face on the people who do them.