ARE SEX WORKERS ‘ESSENTIAL’ WORKERS?
Previously, we’ve written about the legitimacy of sex work in our post SEX WORK IS WORK but with NSW currently in lockdown and only essential services being available, it really begs the question – is sex work essential?
Throughout the lockdowns and ‘stay at home orders’, certain services and professions were permitted to continue operations – deemed ‘essential’ for the greater community.
The classification of different services has lead to many heated debates over what is considered “essential” and what isn’t.
Depending on what you value and enjoy, or even the circumstances you find yourself in, what is essential may vary widely person to person. You may not significantly need a type of service however that may not be the case for other individuals.
Sex Work During COVID
During the various stages of the COVID pandemic the industry has had to adapt like every other business in the country. Utilising COVID safe planning and changing certain business structures and policies.
Unfortunately, due to common misconceptions and generalisations of the industry by the wider community, policy development and community health measures regarding sex work has been a polarising topic.
Rather amusingly, the topic of sex work and sexual services in relation to COVID has mostly arisen when discussions about gyms and group exercise classes have been put forward by both politicians and vocal members of the pubic and press.
It goes without saying, but we feel it is worth mentioning that our establishment and our services are vastly different from that of other industries – including gyms (with maybe the exception of mutual cardio benefits). So too are the differences of what people seek from each service and the benefits received. We feel that engaging in ‘whataboutism’ does a disservice to the greater community and minimises individual experiences and needs.
Not ‘Just a Root’
We brushed on the positives of sex work in our previous post SEX WORK IS WORK but how exactly is sex work considered an essential service?
Many people when thinking of sex work, simply picture the mechanical elements of sexual intercourse and of climax. While this is obviously a component of the industry and the services rendered, its is quite reductive to conflate the two and it is most certainly not a reflection of the entire industry.
Certainly, there are individuals where sexual services are used exclusively as an outlet for sexual expression and release, however there are just as many individuals who derive many therapeutic benefits from the services of a sex worker, that may not even be sexual in nature.
There are many clients whose only physical contact, affection or even in some cases, communication is solely with sex workers.
While many mental health services remain available during the pandemic (arguably with not as much funding or ease of access as it should), there are certain limitations of these services. Due to both professional and ethical boundaries, physical contact can be quite limited. That is not to say therapy should be sexual in nature, we mean the benefits of tactile therapy, of deep pressure therapy (firm but gentle squeezing hugs) and the like have long been shown a positive effect on mental health.
Mental health professionals, therapists and doctors reach ethical boundaries when we talk about cuddling, holding or caressing their patients. Many then choose to seek these services from sex workers.
The necessity for these services are also shared by clients with disabilities who may not have access or the ability to seek alternatives.
Services for Disabled Clients
The joint position of national peak organisations regarding people with disabilities and their right to access sexual services is found at the link below:
The support amongst disability support groups and organisations is unequivocal. People with disabilities have every much a right as the general population to have a fulfilling and rounded life, one that includes the ability for sexual expression and exploration.
For some persons with disabilities, the opportunity to be able to explore sexuality and to even have a sexual life may be limited to interactions with sex workers. Some may find these interactions to be confidence building or may simply enjoy the adult company.
So, is it ‘Essential’?
As with almost every service, it really depends on purpose of seeking such a service.
We would argue that there are many at risk individuals and marginalised members of the community that rely on intimate services from sex workers. Members of society that do not have the ability or access to physical contact with another person who benefit greatly from the companionship.
We do however also take this time to recognise the importance of community health and continue to work closely with NSW Health to ensure the safety of our clients, ladies and community.