Fair Trade Lapdances, Free Range Escorts, and Organic Porn

by Bubbles on August 31, 2011 · 9 comments

in Silly Media Coverage

Sustainability in action: most stripper clothes are line-dry only.

Having long said that lapdances are a low-impact renewable resource, I was tickled to read this Utne Reader reprint of Anna Simpson’s article from Green Futures about an imagined sustainable sex industry. Obviously the desire to buy a product made by workers who are treated well is an established trope in sustainability/free trade circles, so eliminating forced trafficking is a given. But aside from a short discussion of consent, it’s more of a funny little exercise in hypotheticals than a serious stab at sex industry issues.

Making the case that this piece is mere woolgathering is its lack of understanding the sex industry as an existing low-impact endeavor. We do not have to move a lot of product around, even in porn and magazine work, thanks to the Internet. Most of us work in one place, and while some travel, it’s probably pretty low-impact compared to travel in other industries. We do not leave a paper trail, hence low consumption of paper and ink. Many of us can work in the same office (club, hotel, work space), minimizing the need for new construction and consumption of resources.

Simpson seems to have relied more on conjecture than research. For instance, some of her imaginary ideas, like “hand carved FSC-certified sex toys,” and ethical porn, pretty much already exist. Here’s one of her hypotheticals:

Or, maybe best of all, you opt for an evening in with your sweetheart. You’ve got everything you need: condoms made from rubber tapped sustainably in Brazil (see ‘How condoms could save the forest’), hand carved FSC-certified sex toys, delicious fair trade dark chocolate body paint (70% cocoa solids, 100% lust)…

Without searching I can tell you there are vegan porn sites and sustainable sex toy manufacturers. That whole chocolate thing though—no. Unless it’s got almost no sugar content, we can tell you that using sweets in bed is a great way to get an infection in your downtown business district.

Simpson really messes with dancers here:

Perhaps you’d rather a spot of ethical lap-dancing? You can be sure the performers are all willing and well-paid: it’s certified by Care and Consent, the highly reputable international certification body for ethical sex. You tip generously, knowing that 50% of the profits are covenanted to the local women’s community centre.

I’m not so sure she has much of a clue about how stripping works when she suggests 50% of the profits go to a women’s shelter. For one thing, handing over 50% of our take is part of the chain club, employee-model exploitative business structure many of us despise (and the way legal brothels work in Nevada). What, pray tell, is wrong with the person doing the labor keeping her tips? Surely she wouldn’t suggest waitstaff in a locavore restaurant give away 50% of their money. Even considering this demonstrates being seriously out of touch with the realities of the service industry. Perhaps she thinks dancers get paid by the club and not from our tips. But still. It smacks of the Texas pole tax to suggest that strippers be responsible for funding a women’s shelter.

Thinking about where sex work fits into a sustainable worldview is a fun exercise. In stripping, the environmental pros are: I don’t use a lot of resources to produce my product, I don’t need a lot of capital, it’s a renewable product, and scalable in income without increasing impact. The cons are that much of my wardrobe is petroleum-based, I always drive to work because of safety concerns/lack of availability of mass transit, and I waste a lot of water in the shower shaving. I’d love to know where our readers think they’re most and least sustainable in sex work.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elle August 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Regarding the lap dance donation thing:
Stupid stupid stupid.

It’s cute that Simpson took this lighthearted approach, but really, bigger issues, people!!!

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Sex Mahoney August 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Wait staff SHOULD have to give up half their tips to sponsor local public education campaigns on polite restaurant behavior. Course topics include: Children, leaving them at home or teaching them to be quiet; Wasting Food, and other ways to stick it to Haiti; and of course, Tipping, why 20% is the new 10%. That last one could be beneficial to the stripping industry as well.

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Iamcuriousblue August 31, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I just read the article the yesterday at the checkout counter and was similarly disappointed. I wanted to like the article, because the basic idea of promoting “Fair Trade” models within the sex industry is a good one. The sex industry is a mix of people there by choice doing work for their own benefit and of exploitative practices (and, of course, much gray area in the middle), and obviously, many of us wish to support the former and not the latter.

But, on the other hand, the article simply reeks of every “green consumerist” cliche imaginable, especially when they talk about stuff like “fair trade bullets” and bring up “fair trade sex” along the same lines. This is the kind of stuff that those opposed to the sex industry entirely would pounce on to make the whole idea of ethical practices in the sex industry sound like utter parody. The author also seems to really like the idea of “offsets”, while ignoring the fact that carbon offset is a basically discredited practice more akin to indulgences in the medieval Catholic church than anything that’s actually effective. It seems like that’s where the idea of donating stripping money to women’s shelters comes from, which implicitly endorses the idea that there’s some kind of connection between stripping and domestic violence.

I do like the basic premise of “fair trade sex”, though, and hope to see the idea explored by somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about.

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Sequoia September 1, 2011 at 1:58 am

she sounds like a bit of a dipshit, especially suggesting the 50% of tips towards donations thing. umm…how bout no. how bout you donate to my homeless ass? haha.

loved the title of this too, free range escorts, yes!

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jane whatsername September 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I advertise for free on the internet, I rent a room from the brothel that is literally two streets from my home, the only consumables that i use are condoms, lube and massage oil that i buy from the local sex worker org (and they make a profit which they use to continue promoting the health rights and wellbeing of sex workers) and a new pair of stockings once a week. Other cons would be the amount of showers i take and laundry of my clothes, towels, linen etc.
My product does nothing to harm the environment or me or anyone, infact can bring happiness and compassion into peoples lives.
My money is largely cash, being spent often from big business to me (small local business).

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mumtaza October 2, 2011 at 5:16 am

I think I actually saw a review of fair trade chocolate body paint on Kitty Stryker’s website. Believe the story was she took it to a porn shoot. Ha ha ha, it really does exist.

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