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Definitions of work and employment

Sarah Ditum, who possibly isn’t as bright as she thinks she is, has reviewed a book on sex work here. I’ll leave the dissection of Sarah Ditum’s main arguments to others, but one statement leapt out at me as spectacularly wrong headed. Ditum says few forms of employment have been devised solely for the benefit of those who perform them,

Now, as a statement, that’s loaded with assumptions, most of them indicative of the narrowness of Ditum’s ideological framework.

Before the triumph of money under capitalism, increasing degrees of work were created solely for the benefit of those who performed it. Eliminate money and exchange and, of course, all work is solely for the benefit of those who perform it.

Ditum’s preference for ’employment’ over work as a description of what sex workers do is a telling choice. Even when sex workers re entirely independent, she appears to believe they are employed, not self employed.

Now, there’s been plenty written here before about the tensions around independent sex workers in a capitalist system. We wrote, too, about the perils of making sex work a special case.

If you assert, as Ditum does, that no work is created for the benefit of the employee you’re signing up to the logic of capitalism, that our only option is to sell our labour for a fraction of its value so that others, who do not work but own capital, can enjoy the larger part of the value we create. You also open up though, to those with an open mind, the pathway to take our line, that the peculiar obsession of capitalism’s supporters with preventing sex work from happening is part of capitalism’s obsession with preventing alternative economic alternatives to wage slavery. In that debate, Ditum’s ole appears to be that of useful idiot, masking the resistance of capitalism to alternatives to wage slavery behind a mass of moralistic arguments that blame some women for other women’s oppression.


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This entry was posted on February 17, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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