When Sex is Work

Lorenzo Bernini

Are we really ready to consider prostitution as ordinary work, even as a tool for women’s emancipation? When we define prostitution as an exchange between subjects in a symmetrical position, don’t we run the risk of ignoring issues of sexual difference and gender inequality? These two questions opened this first seminar in which the attendees attempted to answer using theoretical reflection and political and personal experiences. Most of the participants stressed the centrality of embodiment and self-determination. During the discussion, other themes were touched upon: in particular, sex work’s relations with disability, the affective components of care, the precarious intellectual work and the new forms of intimacy. In all interventions, a common position emerged: the need to go beyond a moralistic judgment of prostitution and the necessity to investigate the symbolic and material conditions under which subjects become sex workers.