The treacherous terrain of sex and capitalism

A sex worker, furrygirl, posted on Twitter:

Clearly, no one this week can figure out basics like “don’t steal from me,” “don’t tell me you’re just using me,” & “clients: don’t flake.”[1]

It’s probably fair to say that Furry Girl, whom I follow because she’s vegan, progressive, and intelligent, and because she makes interesting comments on Twitter, is attempting to navigate the space of being sex positive in a capitalist setting.

Her experience reminds me of a contrasting experience with another sex worker I met on a vegetarian dating site where she did not disclose her occupation, an exotic dancer (not all sex workers are prostitutes) who had reduced all communication to exploitation. I was willing to at least talk to her, and as we talked, she described her social life as a animal rights (web) activist and either as exploiting men, accompanying them as “arm candy” on “dates” at their expense but refusing any romantic or sexual involvement, or as being exploited by her employers at a strip club. I was just one more mark in a series that sustained her basic physiological needs. I confronted her on this but she was in denial, the conversation was unproductive, and I terminated the relationship.

Furry Girl’s experience of being callously treated by her clients and my experience of being used are flip sides of the same phenomenon.


Fig. 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.[2]

There is a very human need to connect. And while Maslow’s hierarchy is far from the last word on the topic of needs fulfillment, sex is a basic need and relationship needs are just a couple steps above. None of this necessarily involves exchange economics. But in a capitalist society, this all gets confounded with exploitation in women’s frequent evaluations of men for financial stability (a counterpart to men’s common evaluations of women for baby-producing capacity), various forms of sex work, the various abuses of sex in advertising, and even dating sites.

It seems like Furry Girl is trying to keep all that straight. I can only wish her luck.

  1. [1]furrygirl, Twitter, March 18, 2011, http://twitter.com/#!/furrygirl/statuses/48884520858030081
  2. [2]J. Finkelstein, Wikimedia Commons, October 27, 2006, http://www.parts-unknown.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.png

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