“From my window I can see the girls waiting downstairs in the doorways, and it has always fascinated me how these women display their bodies up and down the street like gaudy trinkets in a second-hand shop"
Random thoughts whilst researching sex worker images. This blog is very much my online (yet public) thought process as I try to make sense of the images I discover. As I try to contextualise them. There maybe no rhyme or reason to my posts. They may appear ranty. This may appear attacking. I don't think I am far off the mark though.
Sex undeniably sells. What is sexier than the idea of being fucked? or the possibility of sex? Yet sex work is considered cheap and dirty. Grubby. Sex used to get us to spend money is acceptable. Using sex as an individual to make money is not. The internet has given a platform to photographers to push (knowingly or not) the war against sex work by producing a never ending stream of images that portray sex workers as either prostituted women needing protection from depraved men or that sex workers are fallen deviant women who need protection from themselves.
Photographers alter the visual reality of sex work. Photographers inevitably contribute to the stigma of sex work. The relative ease of image sharing is creating and contributing to the visual cultural reference point of sex workers where only two discourses are possible. How do you photograph sex workers who choose sex work free of the choiceless choice scenario of circumstance?
Photographers create romanticised images of sex workers to suit artistic expression or edit them during post production to emphasise the perceived grottiness of sex work. Not too dissimilar to wedding photographers who edit in the happy every after effect post production.
Whilst there is no denying the beauty of Speers work in the Bordello series her comments dismiss sex workers as used objects once owned. Loved for a moment in time and then discarded by those who once possessed them. The comments border on whorephobic and contribute to the misunderstanding of the modern sex worker. Why photograph the beauty, the mundane and the reality of modern day sex work when we can re create a romantic debauched and decadence interpretation of paid fucking from a Paris that does not exist anymore.
There is beauty in the daily lives of the hidden indoor independent female sex worker. How do you photograph the woman who chooses sex work? If others promote the photographic narrative of the debauched deviant (the work of Speers) or the hapless brothel victim (Jane Hilton)
Modern sex work is work. Modern sex worker imagery falls well short of the mark in conveying this.
bordello bɔːˈdɛləʊ/ noun North American noun: bordello; plural noun: bordello 1) a brothel.