Much too often people have redundant conversations on social media related to dating between cis-straight men and women. Notably, the most popular and controversial discussion surrounding these hypothetical dates decides if a woman owes a man sex after he spends over a certain amount of money on a date.
Women tend to feel the cases of Twitter’s conjectural dates are circumstantial, depending on the woman’s comfort level, her relationship with her date, or how long she’s even known her date. Men, however, tend to feel their “investment” on a woman they’ve taken on a date automatically permits them to allot time after the date is over that often emphasizes sexual interactions.
These conversations very clearly highlight men’s feeling of entitlement to women’s bodies, while also exposing men’s hypocrisy surrounding their prejudice towards sex work and female sex workers. Men’s expectation that a woman owes them sex (or anything physical) after spending money on a date directly contradicts their hate for female sex workers.
Men don’t hate the concept of sex work itself in that the the conversation of what role sex plays in money and time spent on a person mirrors courtship in the very least. Rather, men hate that women who are sex workers have bodily autonomy outside of a man’s influence or dictatorship. Female sex workers set their own terms, rules and boundaries, giving them a certain level of power in a patriarchal society, which is what men are actually uncomfortable with.
That said, the innate power that female sex workers possess in a male dominated society pose these women a great threat. For example, sex work itself is criminalized, rendering sex workers targeted and unprotected from the law. Due to the discrimination female sex workers face on both an institutional and structural level, they experience harm perpetuated by the state- from military personnel, border and prison guards, and police officers.
In addition, female sex workers are exposed to workplace male violence due to misogyny, which is affirmed by the World Health Organization. They state, “Most violence against sex workers is a manifestation of gender inequality and discrimination directed at women, or at men and transgender individuals who do not conform to gender and heterosexual norms, either because of their feminine appearance or the way they express their sexuality.”
Female sex workers can be exposed to physical, sexual, verbal and emotional violence from men in positions of power or male clients looking to exploit them. And because of how systematically criminalized sex work is, sex workers are left legally vulnerable.
Ironically and consequently, men vehemently perpetuate all of the aforementioned discrimination towards female sex workers (and more), yet continue to expect sex from women they take on dates. It’s hypocritical. Therefore, it’s time men change their negative perception of women who engage in sex work. It would quite literally save lives and finally grant sex workers the legal protection they deserve and that is provided to everyone else.
Not to mention, there are a lot of men who treat all women as if their body or time is for sale. Not every woman signed up for sex work, so men shouldn’t treat every woman as if she has. Everyone’s comfort level involving when, where, how and with who they have sex with are different. Women aren’t a monolith. If it’s so easy for men to accept sex work while contextualizing their involvement, it shouldn’t be so hard for men to respect female sex workers and their choice to utilize their own time or body how they see fit.
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