Today’s society seems to dehumanize people with certain professions. What first comes to mind are careers in acting, singing, reality television and even sex work. Celebrities, for instance, are people just like you and me, with feelings and insecurities. Yet, they receive insults or even threats by the thousands on social media. Other professions, like prostitution, also seem to let people forget all too easily that the service they are paying for is being provided to them by a person and not an object.
In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Year of The Flood, she writes about characters who must work at a strip club called “Scales and Tails”. Part of their job was to wear these high-tech full-body condom suits that also covered their faces and usually made them look like animals. This, in my opinion, is to essentially dehumanize them; to forget they are someone’s daughter; to forget they should be respected both physically and emotionally; to forget that they might have children of their own; to forget that they are human.
When someone doesn’t have a face you can see or even skin you can touch, it makes it easier to forget they are a person and therefore easier to do what you please with them without having a guilty conscience. When Ren and Amanda are staying at Scales and Tails for refuge and try on their old costumes for fun, they are quick to take off the part covering their faces when two male strangers walk in. They cautiously do so in order to seem more humane in the eyes of potentially dangerous men. Furthermore, people in the field will most of the time give their clients a fake name like Candy or Star when asked about it. Additionally, these will most likely not sound like real names. Moreover, sex workers, whether they be prostitutes, strippers or phone sex operators, are probably best known for the fantasies and scenarios they create for their clients. This also is in some ways fake and misrepresentative of their actual personalities. Hiding the employee’s true identities with costumes, masks, fake names and fake personalities all seems to be in effort to conceal their humanity when, ironically, being as intimate as physically possible. In light of this, it is important to remember that we are all one in the same, therefore, we all have the same needs and the same rights to respect and dignity. Shouldn’t that stand for sex workers as well? Do you think it is right for them to expect dehumanizing treatment?