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How would sex work and prostitution be handled in a commune?

Submitted by mouse in AskRaddle

First thing's first, I fully support independent prostitutes and sex workers under the current system of capitalism. People have to do what the have to do to get by, and prostitution can often be a better-paying and more enjoyable job than what capitalism provides, for some at least. As long as no "pimp"/boss is involved, I see no issue.

Other more "legitimate" (I wish I could think of a better word at the moment) forms of sex work are also important, such as those used to help the disabled. In an anarchist commune, I can see how these roles could be a form of mutual aid.

However, prostitution is inherently one-sided. If all citizens of a commune had their needs met, than someone who is the prostitute of today would not have to sell sex to survive. Therefor, "prostitution" would be reduced to just regular consensual sex or "hooking up", correct?

So would prostitution vanish in a currency-less commune? Would other sex work be held as a form of labor one could choose to do as their sole position? Where does "prostitution" end and "sex work" begin?

Looking for more free-flowing thoughts and not exact answers to every question, don't worry haha

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Catsforfun wrote

I think that would depend greatly on the culture of the commune. There is nothing inherently wrong with exchanging sex for things or favors. I think it’s about social bonding as much as pleasure. It makes sense when you fit sex into your schema of sharing and social cohesiveness.

What come to mind for me is: How much cultural healing would be necessary for me to feel good about that?

With regards to what you said about ability, it’s an oppressive cultural factor that erases the sexuality of folks affected by ableism. We likely would have no need for sex workers in that context if people affected by ableism are allowed to be seen as the humans that they are. Again, cultural factors.

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mouse wrote

We likely would have no need for sex workers in that context if people affected by ableism are allowed to be seen as the humans that they are

I wasnt thinking in that way! preach :)

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Freux wrote

Nobody is owe sex, so I don't know why you are saying that "sex work that help the disabled" is more "legitimate". Prostitution is sex work so there is no distinction to do about "where does prostitution end and sex work begins". Sex work would still exist, the difference like with all other kind of work is that people aren't forced into it for survival.

I'll keep it at that as I'm not a great source on the subject.

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AgitatedStatesOfAmazement wrote

Prostitution is sex work so there is no distinction to do about "where does prostitution end and sex work begins".

Doesn't sex work encompass a wider umbrella like pornographic acting, stripping, etc?

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Freux wrote

Exactly, what I meant is prostitution is under the sex work umbrella therefore "where does prostitution end and sex work begins" makes no sense as it is sex work.

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mouse wrote

^ that's probably what I was trying to say

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Freux wrote

Then what did you mean by "where does prostitution end and sex work begins" as you clearly separated them.

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mouse wrote

thats why i felt iffy using the word legitamite. I guess i meant... "currently socially acceptable"

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Freux wrote

Currently socially acceptable, by whose standard? Sex workers get more disrespected than Jeff Bezos, and risk a lot including their life.

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mouse wrote

that's true... i dont really remember what i was trying to get at

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Green_Mountain_Makhno wrote

I see no way that sex work would continue in a real commune...

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GaldraChevaliere wrote

From my perspective, probably in the way BirdMonster envisions it. Emotional labour is still labour, and even camming one on one sessions largely consist of asking a client about their day, listening to them complain about their jobs or spouses, coaching eggs and giving them transition advice. If a totally independent commune were to be established, it'd probably just wind up as an alternative to therapy with the option of helping people with sexual hangups and baggage. The biggest difference for me would be that without the threat of starvation/eviction/arrest, I'd be free to choose what services I want to offer someone safely and without fear of violence. People who want to continue in sex work would be protected and able to keep doing what they like, people who do it solely for survival would hopefully be safe and secure enough to drop out of it entirely.

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Green_Mountain_Makhno wrote

Correct me if I'm wrong, but at that point it seems like it's not really sex work or prostitution, but solidarity/mutual aid. Are we on the same page with that?

I am not one who thinks that all must work in the factory for us to have full communism - I, because of my life experiences and disposition would be very good at certain things and willing to contribute to our shared survival in certain ways, and perhaps you would like to contribute in others. There will certainly be a need for physical and emotional support and healing, and developing healthy sexual attitudes, boundaries and relationships. I, while I would be willing to listen and help where I could with that work, would not be the best suited to it and probably wouldn't be able to help very effectively, at least not as effectively as others.

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GaldraChevaliere wrote

It's only 'not really' sex work if we continue to think of sex work as something with an inherent stigma or of sex workers as abject. Mesopotamia had temple prostitutes in positions of relative social importance and honor, and sexuality was a necessary component of pagan norse witchcraft. I think the abjection of prostitution is a comparatively new phenomenon and one that's rooted in christianity and patriarchy, and that in a society where those forces no longer have absolute power, our living conditions and quality of life would vastly improve.

It's still sex work, because what a lot of men don't understand is that taking someone else's emotional burdens on for them is a very stressful thing and it's one of the main reasons why hospice workers and nurses burn out and why therapists all have therapists of their own. I can give an ear to a friend out of love or help a neighbor out of solidarity, but when I do that I am performing emotional labour for them. Likewise if I have sex with that friend to help them detach from a failed relationship or fuck my neighbor as a trade for fixing my plumbing, I am performing sexual labour that carries emotional physical and health risks for me in doing so, and so would like to be compensated for it fairly.

Exploitation is when, as a worker, I have to have sex with strangers or perform a camshow/stripping routine to pay my landlord but must also do so discretely or he will evict me anyway. Fair trade is when I can use my empathy and my skills in bed to help people in my community without the fear of punishment for practicing the world's oldest profession and in return for the help and services I need for myself.

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Green_Mountain_Makhno wrote

I think I get what you're saying, and I totally agree that taking on someone's emotional burdens and helping people work through intimacy, and sex itself is performing emotional labor. I support that idea.

When I think of abolishing the value form altogether, and maybe this is outside the scope of this discussion, but I think we must also abolish trade. If I trade you this for that, we are both establishing a value for those things and commodifying them, whatever they may be. If that trade is a fixed sink for sex, now we are both commodifying our labor and putting a value on it. For that reason, I am of the opinion that we need to think of all of our labor as basically mutual aid and solidarity. Maybe I purposely grow more food than I need and share it openly with any who need. When I have a need I put a call out to the community, and someone with those skills helps me. You do the same.

This can still mean that you and I have different jobs/roles in the commune, but that we realize that what we are all contributing is important - I will grow a bunch of food, and Steve will fix peoples plumbing and Diane will build tools, and you will help people cope with emotions/intimacy/sexual needs. And maybe that looks very similar to what you said, but I think the idea of trading this for that needs to go in order for us to really abolish capitalism. We share in the burdens and joys of life freely, not trading or commodifying our labor, but giving it as solidarity and mutual aid, and receiving the labor of others freely.

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GaldraChevaliere wrote

Where I feel sketch about that in relation to some idealized commune is that if we treat my body and my mental health as something to be given freely, it creates a sort of entitlement to those services. Like, yes, I can refuse and I have more protections than I do under capital, but while I don't see sex as something particularly sacred, I'd be very creeped out by a guy approaching me asking that I fuck him as mutual aid because of the power dynamics that existed before the commune and will continue to exist into its birth. Beyond that I'm sketch about utopian views of communism in general, because I feel like a lot of harm could come to me and my sisters if less well intentioned folk tried to frame it the way you're framing it right now. Like, I can't see it as an Eden where we'd be suddenly free from patriarchy and trans/misogyny just because of the Revolution or whatever.

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Green_Mountain_Makhno wrote

Those are all excellent points. I completely agree that just because capitalism is gone doesn't mean that all of the historical power dynamics and general bigotry/sexism/misogyny disappears, and feeling entitled to sex would be something that a "utopian" commune would have to address. I guess I don't know the best solution, and I definitely don't want to put people in dangerous or coercive or exploitative situations. I think that to expect the situation to exist where that danger is gone immediately is naive, and a comrade's safety is more important than theoretical purity.

Thanks for the excellent and thought provoking responses.