Sex Workers of the World – Unite!by Bruce Abrahams
As with the LGBT movement, Sex Workers in various combines have fought valiantly for their corner of social understanding and acceptance. Last year they put together their first Opera at the Arcola Theatre and 29th May this year has just seen the end of their second week’s run at The Pleasance.
The 2016 production achieved sell-out audiences and impressive reviews across a range of media from the BBC through Classic FM to The Telegraph and The Sun. Endorsed by the Royal Opera House and supported by the Arts Council as well as Kickstarter Crowd Funding the show achieved as good PR as its cast and supporters could have wished.
The narratives were of course polemic with hints of Brecht and the Threepenny Opera switch-hitting ironic humour and anger. But they sought neither to disguise or glamorise the realities of a sex worker’s life. Rather, the overriding impression was of how ludicrous in enactment – if also too often sad in necessity – was the fulfilment of (largely male) fantasies at the hands of their (largely female) service providers.
Either way, it would have been shameful to leave the theatre without enhanced respect for sex workers and a more nuanced view of their clientele.
Regrettably, unlike their (often overlapping) LGBT cohorts, sex workers remain without any coherent public sympathy and no effective protection or sanctioned operational framework. They are still victims of generalised moral opprobrium that is backed by legislation which denies them security and threatens what little they can contrive even more.
In terms of proposed regulation, quite why it should be illegal for a disabled man or woman to pay for a sex worker when women may be shown sucking an ejaculating male penis or when lesbians are not to be filmed squirting, remains a mystery to anyone with intelligence and moral sensibility. The show was rather good in dramatising these random nonsenses.
As with so much of the law-making that obsesses politicians, we humble citizens are left wondering where they get their ideas from. The French have bizarrely already adopted the so-called Swedish model. One is forced to wonder if the EU will do the same – luckily Germany has a more sensible legal structure. But like so much else in the Referendum Debate so far it looks like as if – in or out – we’ll be doing the same as the less liberal societies in our community anyway.
After all, if we are less restrictive than our continental cousins we’ll have all those sex-workers and their clients flooding into the UK.