Friday Videos Love Jamming

Tanita sent me this thought-provoking and wonderfully interesting video. It's longer than our normal Friday videos, but given that it's all about breaking down stigmas of judgment and condemnation against sex, the extra time is needed to explain things. Recasting sex by comparing it to an improvisational jam session allows Canadian sex educator Karen B. K. Chan to say some amazing things: 

Link

Thanks for this, Tanita! 

I hope your weekend is full of excellent jam sessions of every kind! 

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Friday Videos

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  1. 1
    Vicki says:

    This is excellent. I have a strong urge to share it with everyone.

  2. 2
    MissB2U says:

    What a great video, and what a wonderful way to explain things!  I’ll definitely be sharing this one.  Thanks SB Sarah!

  3. 3
    GHN says:

    A great video, and definitely thought-provoking!

  4. 4
  5. 5
    CarrieS says:

    I love this! 

  6. 6
    Faellie says:

    Pretty good, but I’m not convinced by “it’s OK to pay for it”.  If you have to pay someone, it’s because they won’t consent unless you do – which means you are paying to have non-consensual sex.  That doesn’t fit with the rest of the excellent message.

  7. 7
    azteclady says:

    I love it—love it.

  8. 8
    PamG says:

    I agree with this caveat.  Also, if you pay for it or are paid for it, is that not a return to commodification?

  9. 9
    Vixenbib says:

    No, you would be paying to have consensual sex. Unless the person you are paying is having sex against their will. (And we know that this can also happen without any payment being exchanged.)

    However, there does seem to be a contradiction in Ms Chan’s message in relation to paying. She encourages us not to think of sex as a commodity (see 5:20) but as ‘a process, a pleasure and a collaboration’. But if one person in the collaborative puts a price on their participation (financial or otherwise), this automatically reframes sex as a commodity. (Doesn’t it?).  I don’t think it’s possible to avoid this connnotation under these circumstances. 

  10. 10
    Sarah says:

    I just assumed that she was talking about prostitution in brothels and the like.Like those in Nevada in the US and in other countries. Canada did just legalize prostitution last year.

  11. 11
    Shawny Jean says:

    It’s legalized-ish. The Supreme Court struck down some parts of the laws against prostitution, but there is a whole appeals cycle to go through before anything actually changes.
    Canada’s cool and all, and I think the Supreme Court case made some interesting points, but to say prostitution is legalized here might be a bit of a stretch for now.

  12. 12
    Allairegifford says:

    I’ve never really thought about it like that…hmmm.

  13. 13
    Lori says:

    That’s like saying that if you have to pay for a dress it’s because the store won’t give it to you unless you do, and therefore buying a dress is stealing.

  14. 14
    Sarah says:

    oops sorry, It is a step in the right direction though.

  15. 15
    azteclady says:

    What about a person performing music or theater or something like that?

    Theater and concerts are a process and a collaboration, as the artists feeds off the energy of the crowd—yet the audience paid to be present.

  16. 16
    LauraN says:

    A mother says to her child, “You are a special and wonderful person with a whole world of possibilities to choose from.  You can be whatever you want to be!  So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”  The child responds, “I wanna be a sex worker!” 

    Sure, some people go into that line of work because they enjoy sex and think it’s a nice way to make a living, but most people become sex workers out of desperation and because they have few choices.  I don’t find it useful or honest of Ms. Chan to equate sex that has been paid for as just as consensual as any other kind of relationship, whether short or long term.  There is some form of coercion involved in getting the sex worker into that situation, even if it’s society or circumstances or whatever that is putting pressure on the individual rather than the John.

    Anyway, how can you have a real “jam session” with someone who has been paid to respond in ways that YOU find appealing?  How can you tell if someone is really enjoying playing his or her “instrument” if his or her payment—and even safety—is dependent on how good YOUR experience is?  Sex that has been paid for is inherently one-sided.

  17. 17
    CarrieS says:

    In this kind of argument, I find it useful sometimes to differentiate between the reality of sex work in the United States, and the idea of sex work by itself.  I realize that sex work in the US is actually pretty varied, but I think it’s evident that most people who engage in sex work, or at least many, many people, do so because they see a lack of other options and they are treated with disrespect by society.  However, I’ve had manicures and pedicures and full-body massages, and been bathed by a nurse.  These were all times when I paid someone to take care of my body in non-sexual but very intimate ways.  I treated them with respect and gratitude and they made my body feel better.  In the abstract, I can picture sex work as being just as caring and just as respected, although I agree that it might be one-sided.  The person who gives me a pedicure has consented to do so, even though I paid them. 

  18. 18
    azteclady says:

    We—yes, I include myself here—believe that most people who are sex workers are coerced into it somehow. Circumstances, lack of other skills, outright slavery, whatever.

    But even if most sex workers were indeed coerced into it, most does not equate all (see The Honest Courtesan—be advised she doesn’t mince words, suffers fools gladly, or agrees in any way, shape, form or degree with the general belief), and so it’s to that “not most” group that Ms Chan’s statement applies.

    Our—collective, thread-wise—reaction to equating “being paid for sex” with consensual sex is perhaps exactly what she means by changing the way we view sex.

    (In the following quotes, emphasis mine)

    I don’t find it useful or honest of Ms. Chan to equate sex that has been paid for as just as consensual as any other kind of relationship, whether short or long term.

    Perhaps I’m being overly literal here but it seems that you are equating sex with relationships—in the case of paid for sex, wouldn’t it be more akin to an interaction, just as that concert or theater performance?

    There is some form of coercion involved in getting the sex worker into that situation, even if it’s society or circumstances or whatever that is putting pressure on the individual rather than the John.

    I agree that there are many cases where coercion plays a part, but again, we are taking it for granted that all people who elect to work in the sex industry must do so out of some negative force in their lives.

     

    So while the “jamming” analogy is not perfect, the need to change how we view sex is pretty clear, I think.

  19. 19
    azteclady says:

    crap. didn’t close the tags correctly! (SBSarah, if you could fix it…?)

  20. 20
    LauraN says:

    True.  But your manicurist wasn’t taking the risk of going with you to a private or semi-private place where you might treat him or her with respect or you might, say, beat him or her once he or she had finished doing your nails.  He or she also isn’t exposed to social scorn, disease, police harassment, etc.  He or she is not going to spend the night in the county lockup if he or she is caught plying his or her trade.  With so many negative consequences of being a sex worker, I just think that it’s misleading to consider it a career like any other service career.  It irks me because legalizing prostitution, while improving the health, safety, and social standing of prostitutes (major benefits, certainly), doesn’t address the social inequalities that lead some men and women to end up turning tricks to make a living.  I just think it’s such a comfortably middle-class attitude to inform sex workers that because we think having sex is natural and ok, that we think that their career is ok, too.  Be happy, prostitutes!  Sex is ok with us!

    If we lived in a society where more people had more choices and those who chose to be sex workers did it freely, then I’d be more on board (here I’m thinking of Inara from Firefly), though I still maintain that such an encounter is inherently one-sided.  But until that day, I cringe when I hear statements like Ms. Chan made.  I’m sure she meant it well, probably in a desire for people to treat sex workers with less disdain.  I can appreciate that.  But that doesn’t mean that I agree with her.

  21. 21
    LauraN says:

    Relationship wasn’t the best word to use—I meant it in the loosest sense, as in a relationship that might only last one night or a few minutes.  As for the coercion, I agree that some people choose it freely.  However, if we’re looking at sex as a jam session, then what does a jam session look like if Musician A has paid the other musician(s) to play in such a way that Musician A will be gratified?  If one musician pays the others, then the others must base their playing on what will make their patron happy (ok, good so far) but the patron has no responsibility to base his or her playing on whether or not the other musicians are enjoying the session (not so good).  There’s no reciprocity.  It’s not really a jam session, it’s a band with one lead singer and nameless, faceless studio backup musicians.  The patron is the star and all the other musicians must play in the style, tempo, key, etc that makes the patron happy.  They also should pretend to like it, if they want to keep their jobs.  Or maybe they should show that they don’t like it, if that’s the kind of experience the patron wants.  I just don’t think that paying for sex fits into her analogy at all.

  22. 22
    CarrieS says:

    @LauraN – Actually, I was thinking of Inara as well, as an example of sex work in an alternate culture where sex work isn’t stigmatized the was it is in the US.  I suspect that, in essence, we are both saying the same thing – I certainly think that sex workers here and now face an enormous amount of danger and stigma and that many sex workers are horrible exploited and coerced.  I’m just suggesting that that’s more because of culture than because of the actual act of sex.

  23. 23
    LauraN says:

    Yeah, sex workers in an alternate culture would have experiences closer to what Ms. Chan describes, but I still maintain it wouldn’t be a jam session—more another kind of performance (see my reply in #21 above).  But I wouldn’t have been annoyed enough to write about it if all the other cultural stuff didn’t come into play as well.

  24. 24
    Vixenbib says:

    Paid-for sex – exactly like a paid-for theatre performance or a therapeutic massage – IS a commodity.  Even if it were possible for the process to be genuinely consensual and enjoyable for all parties, the person who pays for the commodity is doing so in expectation of being in some way satisfied by the transaction. The sex-worker/performer/masseur has to, ultimately, please their client/audience or they’ll find themself out of work and therefore won’t get paid.  That’s the full extent of the collaboration.  To my mind, this is NOT the same as “jamming”; “jamming” is free – there may well be personal expectations of one kind or another but, ultimately, either party can walk away at any time without ‘owing’ the other anything.

  25. 25
    Vixenbib says:

    Basically, I’m agreeing with LauraN at #21!

  26. 26
    Vixenbib says:

    I would also agree that sex-work is rarely a first or even second career choice for most people, given other real options and support. 

  27. 27
    Carrie Gwaltney says:

    Overall I enjoyed the video anjd the conversations here,. but I had an observation, too. At about 4:05 she states that “There is nothing to take and nothing to give up.”

    Why is this hitting me as not quite the truth? I agree we shouldn’t think about sex as “goods” to trade, but I can’t agree that there are no emotions given and taken, and that those emotions can certainly have a cost.

  28. 28
    Joane says:

    Prostitution is a way of exploiting women, it’s not an option as a career. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with US attitude towards sex or sex work. Personally, I share the Swedish POV: the women are the innocent victims of this business and it’s the clients and the pimps who are punished. I would never talk about such a crime so lightly. There is not something like ‘voluntary prostitution’, really, nobody does that if she has an alternative.

  29. 29
    azteclady says:

    The one and only thing I’m addressing here is this:

    There is not something like ‘voluntary prostitution’, really, nobody does that if she has an alternative.

    First, I direct you to the link to the Honest Courtesan blog. Second, I don’t believe there are a lot of people out there who take dead end, minimum wage jobs when they have an alternative either—is that criminal exploitation as well?

     

  30. 30
    Anony Miss says:

    I loved a lot about this, but the ‘paid for’ thing definitely gave me pause, as it did the above commenters.

    However, what bothered me more was the emphasis on sexual relations being all about mutual shared experience and pleasure and therefore okay. It dispenses with morality and legality however. A married 25 year old having sex with a 14 year old is okay because they both want to ‘jam’? No – there are outside factors (age, legality, etc) that *supercede* this metaphor.

    I liked the metaphor – but I think it’s overly simplistic in its view, and because it is presented SO well and in a charming way, I’d worry about that shaping someone’s world view on sex… not counting the moral and legal bits.

    It reminded me of the late 60’s – if it feels good for everyone involved, go for it. But… that doesn’t always work!

     

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