Institutions which hold power – capital, the media, academia, the political classes, men’s sexual power and ruling class privilege – have had to reformulate themselves to justify their existence. They can no longer assert that they have power because it is given by nature, rather all power relations have to be justified morally. This is done by hiding them … The nobility, corporations, the media, intellectuals – all suddenly claim themselves to be defiant, marginalised or deviant.
The story of the sex worker fits into this. It unites an old, gender-role preserving practice with a new rebellious language. It becomes a symbiosis between the neo-liberal right and the post-modernist left. The neo-liberal right get a language which declares prostitution a form of free entrepreneurship and as something which relates to individual freedom. The post-modernist left get an excuse to not fight the prevailing power structure by referring to the voice of the marginalised.
The post-modernist left is, as Terry Eagleton writes, a reaction to the neo-liberal hegemony. After communism’s collapse parts of the left reacted by masking their defeat as a victory … Instead of pointing out injustices some sections of the left have gone over to defining the status-quo as subversive.
When it feels difficult to question injustices it becomes tempting instead to redefine them – perhaps injustices are not injustices if we look at them more closely but, on the contrary, rebellious actions? All at once pornography, prostitution, veils, maids and drug use begin to be explained as marginalised phenomena, as a woman’s right, or as an individual choice with subversive potential.
- Kajsa Ekis Ekman