This image is being shared on the Internet and giving us radical feminists a major round of *headdesk*. Although the sex-pozzies claim to care about consent, they consistently show that they have no idea what it is.
Paying someone to make her agree to have sex that she wouldn’t otherwise want is not obtaining consent—it’s coercion. Coercing someone into sex is abuse.
Instead of viewing consent as “using methods to get her to say yes to something I want”, it should be viewed as “finding out what she actually wants and respecting that.” Imagine if men did this?
What women in prostitution really want isn’t sex with gross entitled assholes, it’s money. If you want to “support your local sex worker,” then provide her with rent money and food, without making her submit to sexual abuse. Give her a chance to put food on the table and also the power to decline unwanted sex. Now that would be support!
What this graphic is really trying to do is normalize prostitution and assure men that they can use coercion to obtain a “yes” from a woman and that makes it consensual. It tells us to “support” women in prostitution by pretending that they fully consented to the things that johns do to them. (This is also known as “victim-blaming” and “gas-lighting.”) And it brings us farther away from what consensual sex really is.
Anyone who has actually had consensual sex knows that it would be completely absurd to pay anyone for it. That would be as nonsensical as paying a friend to laugh with you about some hilarious inside jokes. It’s not something you pay for. It’s something that you do together for the joy of it and no money is required.
Rachel Moran explained everything there is to explain about prostitution in her book Paid For, and it would be impossible not to reference her here. In Chapter 16, the Myth of the Prostitute’s Sexual Pleasure, she talks about how women feel a “range between mild distaste and outright disgust” (p162) in their interactions with clients. She says that only two men out of thousands that she met ever pleased her, and these two exceptions actually proved the rule that prostitution is incompatible with women’s pleasure. The first time she met a john that she felt attracted to, she had consensual sex with him and then found that she could not accept money from him. She found it impossible to treat this experience as prostitution, because it wasn’t. The second man seemed pleasing at first until he reminded her she was being paid. At that moment she began to dissociate again, and she was reminded to never let her guard down during an interaction with a client because it is always preferable to dissociate rather than experience the feeling of being paid for and used, even if the man is unusually well-mannered. Moran concludes that “Female pleasure does not belong in prostitution, and both male and female participants intuitively understand that it has no place there.” (p166.)
Sometimes johns will claim that they give the women they buy sexual pleasure. These men tell themselves this because they do not want to consider the truth that the woman is faking it to earn money.
In consensual sex, both partners have freely chosen to be there and are having sex for the joy of it—not to gain an external reward or avoid a punishment. Both partners care about each other’s needs and desires and communicate to each other what they would like. In consensual sex, participants find out what their partner wants, either by asking, or observing their body language, and they avoid doing anything their partner doesn’t like. No one has to dissociate and no one feels disgusted. They feel joy and excitement. This is not at all compatible with prostitution, which is a system that allows men to use their money and power to coerce cooperation from a woman in order for him to get what he wants.
There are many more ways that women are coerced into saying yes to things they don’t want. Wives say yes to their husbands even when they don’t feel like it to avoid having discussions about it. Women are taught that we are responsible for keeping husbands happy and that he will cheat if we say “no.” And husbands do cheat if their wives don’t submit to their every whim.
If sex pozzies cared about making all sexual interactions consensual, they would abolish all the social institutions and cultural constructs that coerce women—such as compulsory heterosexuality, femininity and masculinity, the pornstitution industry, BDSM, traditional marriage, and patriarchy in general. But the sex-pozzies’ real interest is in making excuses for abusive men and trying to pretend that abuse is really okay. If they were actually positive toward sex, they’d join radical feminists in working toward a world where women’s consent is actually necessary and valued by men. When our “no” means nothing our “yes” doesn’t mean much either.