Editorial – Selling Sex Sells

One of the interesting things about the new email subscription list is that it provides a lot of information back to me so that I can see how the email is being responded to. For instance, it tracks how many people open it, how many times they open it, if they click on any of the links, and if so, which ones, as well as how all of this compares to previous mails I’ve sent out and the general rates in the industry.

Part of my job as editor is to come up with nifty titles that get people interested and bring them in to read The Voice Magazine. And while you often hear how “sex sells,” It’s interesting to see it in action. Last week, for instance, one of the links in the reminder email was to the Tricks for Tuition story, which I’d subtitled Fu**ing for Fu**ing. That week’s reminder was opened by slightly fewer people than the previous week, but had a click rate a full 50% higher. One link made up almost half the total number of clicks as well. I don’t think I need to tell you which link that was. So if you ever wonder why it seems everybody is pushing sex at us even if what they’re selling has very little connection? It’s because it works.

Of course, once people got into the article, it seems reactions were somewhat different, you can see the sample I received in the Letters to the Editor section. My own take on the matter isn’t one of moral concern against people doing sex-work to earn money for tuition, but rather one of physical and mental concern for them. Let’s face it, having sex for money is a risky job. Beyond the risks of disease, some of which can be compensated for, there’s the physical danger that comes with the job. As we’ve seen from the Pickton murders, sex-workers simply don’t receive the same level of protection in our society as others do, and as such, are attractive prey for those who want to take advantage of that.

It also takes a certain amount of strength mentally to be able to allow another person to be that intimate with you while maintaining a sense of your own value. You have to be able to separate who you are mentally from who you are as a physical person. I don’t think everybody is capable of that, but a person may not realize it until too late. And while many jobs have other risks that can pose similar threats, sex-work is unique in the dearth of support there is available for people doing it.

That said, I think the larger point of the article, that there are limits as to what we should be willing to do to get an education, might be one worth examining. Is murder-for-hire an acceptable job? What about blackmail or fraud? Here’s a tougher one, what about destroying our environment? Is bulldozing a rain forest or hunting an endangered species something that we should not condemn, even if it is done in service of getting an education? What about pumping effluent into a tailings pond, or a proprietary mixture of chemicals into shale rock to release natural gas? When we ask these questions, we see that the point raised becomes one of “Where’s the line, and how do we determine it?”

Personally, if you want to do sex work to pay for tuition, I won’t judge, but be careful. And understand that even if You’re not crossing your own line, you may be crossing someone else’s. So don’t be too offended if they are.