I saw a recent email thread from topaz, related to a conversation that I think poses a challenge to the participatory economy model – that is, how would a participatory economy handle sex work?
Here is what topaz wrote. The questions here are interesting and thought-provoking. What do folks on this forum think?
Honestly, the topic of sex work in a ‘participatory society,’ strikes me as more dystopian than utofallopian.
Even rounding down from the 60-90% of current sex workers who experienced childhood sexual abuse, that means that ‘in the future,’ only (about?) 40% of women who experienced sexual abuse and trauma as children 1) either remain untreated for the abuse or 2) live outside social norms or 3) believe that sex work is better than any other form of labor even though all other work is now evenly distributed and compensated for.
How would an ‘iteration committee’ determine the amount of compensation compared to let’s say, being a garbage worker, or dishwasher.
Since one of the primary ideas in the participatory vision is onerousness of work, then would sex work be more or less onerous? Would the ‘attractiveness’ of the client be included in onerousness? For that matter, if attractiveness is being taken into consideration, then where does that stop? Would a ‘more attractive’ cashier receive more compensation once attractiveness has a fixed value? Et voila - class now exists in the classless society. Why would anyone agree to receiving less compensation for their ‘sex work?’ The type of committee which decides compensation based on attractiveness has been ‘theorized’ by Vonnegut in Harrison Bergeron.
Seems like the ‘oldest profession’ is where a lot of the ideas of a participatory economy remain intangible. If in fact sex work is the oldest profession, then a case can be built, that if sex work can not be agreeably brought into the participatory umbrella corporation, (which seems unlikely,) then back to the drawing board. There is a world of difference between egalitarian and mandatory equality.
The March 1990 Journal of Economic History contains an article by Jane Humphries ‘Enclosures, Common Rights and Women…’ which traces the dependence of families on wage earners (men/proletariat) to the loss of commons areas, land becoming owned, instead of land being a resource of life. As we know, for all other life forms, land never stopped being a shared (egalitarian) resource.