Work Is Work

People who say “sex work is work” are idiots.

Slavery is also work, so what?

This deeply Protestant idea that something being “work” immediately confers some sort of special dignity on it is completely illogical.

Forced labor in concentration camps is undoubtedly work. So are the activities of the guards.

Hey, you know who was a really hard worker? Stalin. I’m hearing Goebbels was also quite hard-working.

It’s not about work per se. It’s about the nature of the activity performed and the conditions of labor.

15 thoughts on “Work Is Work”

  1. It should always be about the content of what’s being produced and the purpose or motive behind it, and whether or not what’s being produced is beneficial/creative/enhancing or is destructive/detrimental/counterproductive.
    The substance of whatever is produced or results is what counts most of all, not “how hard they work at it” or “how many hours they put into it”—nor, most importantly, whether or not it’s a “legitimate” paid occupation or profitable endeavor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, Tal. Students drive me up a wall with complaints of “why did I get a low grade when I worked so hard and X didn’t work nearly as hard but he got a much better grade.”

      It’s not about effort. It’s about results. It sounds unfair but it’s a fact.

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  2. I think the point here is precisely the distinction between work as labor and work as a calling. You hit the nail on the head in bringing up Protestantism. You have Weber’s argument that Protestantism’s push to sanctify daily life, as opposed to life in a monestary, set up the idea that a person should have a job as a calling and not just as a set of tasks to put food on the table. This allows eventually for the “spirit of capitalism” that combines a desire for money with a personal asceticism. I want to work hard and earn a million dollars not in order to buy a mansion but so that I can invest it and earn two million.
    Can a person find that being a prostitute serves a “higher” cause than not starving and not getting beaten up by a pimp? Whether they can or not, I fail to see how putting them in jail is an improvement. Can we at least agree that prostitution should be decriminalized?

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    1. Consider that while she’s in jail, she isn’t beaten and raped by the pimp. Maybe a glimmer of humanity can awaken from the ashes and help the authorities to put the pimp in jail. Almost never happens but it’s worth trying because the traffickers who trafficked her aren’t stopping.

      This isn’t one-person crime. It’s organized crime. And it always goes together with a lot of other crime. In CA, for instance, most prostitution is run by cartels or the Eme. Which part should be decriminalized?

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      1. Prison inmates are not beaten and raped by other prisoners? Making sure that the actual prostitutes are not deemed criminals would be a good start. If you want to fine them for being a public nuisance that is something else. Obviously, things are more complicated when you deal with those who organize the business.

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        1. Female jails aren’t male jails. There’s nothing like the amount of rape a prostitute experiences on a regular day outside. That’s the whole “job.” There’s nothing else in the job description.

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              1. They definitely need to go somewhere. I just don’t think it’s prison. Or at least normal prison.

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  3. I met a local prostitute who had turned political activist, developed a bipolar disorder, and had this discussion a few times.

    According to my experience, an error that most people make that mixes everything up is that they don’t take the time to talk about the sense of words. In this instance, if we were physicists, the word ‘work’ may be sensed as meaning the transfer of energy, while if we were labor unionists, the word ‘work’ may be sensed as meaning any action performed that is part of an employment agreement, or even be sensed as being the employment agreement itself.

    So, the way I see it, prostitutes are correct to use the word ‘work’ to describe what they do in several senses, in that they are transferring energy, are performing actions as part of a commercial agreement etc.

    Where the discussion gets a bit bendy is when the word ‘work’ is sensed as meaning ‘job’, because the word ‘job’ itself is sensed not only as an employment agreement etc as above but also as one that has conditions that are equitable between both parties, moral according to societal standards of the day, in the interest of both the individual & society, and in which human rights like the right to freedom, the right to dignity etc are upheld.

    Since prostitution is generally held as being dignityless or even dignity destroying, and also because there are many valid arguments that prostitution goes against the interests of the individual due to things such as disease, loss of dignity, societal devaluation, goes against the interest of the society due to contributing to degeneracy/vice, what seems to happen is that many people reject sensing ‘sex work’ as being a ‘job’.

    So, if you just spend a minute talking about what ‘work’ is and in what sense, the discussion is both easy and a bit banal, really.

    Note: I take no part in prostitution and never have, but am the kind of person who somehow manages to have a conversation with everybody, including prostitutes etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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