Phone sex, labor rights, and free market capitalism

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ABC News reported that over the last year and a half, as the recession has continued to take a toll on employment opportunities, the number of women who have young children engaging in sex work has risen 400 percent. This figure comes from ratracerebellion.com, an organization dedicated to finding mothers at-home work. The numbers seem a bit shocking, but then again, hasn’t sex work always been considered a “recession-proof” occupation?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November 2011 about 8.3 percent of women in the United States were unemployed, a number that has doubled since the recession hit in 2008. And desperate times lead to desperate measures. Parents, especially, can’t afford to just scrape by — they have more mouths to feed than their own.

Aside from the irony that pro-austerity politicians who trumpet “family values” are causing this to happen, I think there’s an important point to be made for worker’s rights here. Whenever I hear people give dissenting opinions on legalizing (or even decriminalizing) prostitution, many arguments generally consist of: “poor women should not be forced to do such immoral work.”

Most people would agree that economically forcing women into sex work is not right. An economy should not be in such a state as to make people resort to doing work that violates their morals.  Americans have a tendency to stick to the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” logic if it’s applied to an innocuous job, such as working at a fast-food restaurant. However, when put in the context of jobs traditionally viewed as “immoral”–for example, sex work–they tend to realize the fundamental flaw with such thought.

Source.

I am not trying to argue that sex work is immoral, but this case does highlight the fact that supporting “freedom” is not as easy as simply endorsing free-market capitalism. Libertarians (and other far-right thinkers) seem to think that “the freer the corporations, the freer the people,” but if such freedom forces one to do something against her or his morality, who is truly free?

  

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