Another week, another silly article about sex work not being proper work… As usual, the author suggests that, if sex work was real work, kids would be taught the relevant skills in schools. Thing is, there are tons and tons of jobs they don’t teach you how to do when you’re at school (not least because there are so many different kinds of work that they’d never be able to fit them all in and still find time to teach kids that nothing is more important than wearing the proper uniform even down to the right shade of grey trousers – now there’s an interpretation EL James probably never thought of.).
Schoolkids are not taught how to make the perfect latte, drive a train, lay bricks, harvest spuds or change an adult with dementia’s incontinence pad. That doesn’t stop barista, train driver, builder, farm labourer or care worker being proper jobs.
There are other things to consider, as well, about what we mean when we talk about ‘real’ work. Alongside all the idiot motivational memes about doing what you love, and successive UK governments’ lip service to the greatness of creative industries, it’s still fucking difficult to make a living out of artistic or creative work. Many of those artists, musicians, authors, photographers and dancers find themselves being told that, if they don’t have a
wealthy partner or parent to support them, they should get a ‘proper job’. Sometimes, those giving such advice mean well, at least to the extent that they think the aspiring creative might go and work ‘in the media’ in some capacity (usually ignoring the fact that, these days, any kind of media or entertainment industry salaried post is likely to require six months or more of unpaid ‘interning’ before you’re anywhere near getting the minimum wage.
I think about work when I’m writing fiction, as well as when I’m ranting or musing, though. I quite like creating characters who earn their keep in ways that have at least some connection to the fetish scene: owners of an adult shop, makers of fetish gear, club promoters, etc. This has a certain amount to do with the fact that I know more about that sort of working life than I do about, for instance, working in a big merchant bank or running a cute little cupcake shop, so I don’t have to worry too much about getting something spectacularly and obviously wrong. Unlike, of course, those authors whose protagonists not only make billions out of writing erotic romance, but do so while dressed in leopardskin and lying on a black velvet sofa eating profiteroles and dictating chapters between bites.
Want to read about characters with jobs in and around the kinky scene? Check out Black Heart.