To be honest I think this is a tricky one! So with my heart in my hand I’m going to tackle a subject that may be a little uncomfortable for some. In recent days there has been much talk about the “working girls” who are providing personal services for FIFO workers across Australia. The report in this week’s Huffington Post among others
highlights some really important issues that as adults we should be able to talk about without screaming, discriminating or legislating.
Firstly, the most important issue raised in the article was that these women (let’s set aside their profession) are also FIFO workers. Most have families that they leave behind, many have dependent children and for quite a few the decision to undertake their FIFO work practice was in fact quite a complex one.
Secondly, who are we to judge them? What right do some in the media and hotel management industry have to say that these working women are Not ok? Not welcome and Not providing a necessary and essential service?
Thirdly, the Huffingtonpost correctly reminds us that the personal services being offered by the “working” women are legal and hugely in demand in not only the mining communities in question but also in the cities where most people live. The rather indignant Hotel Manager cited states clearly that the working women and the men who visit them are polite, conservatively well dressed and highly respectful of everyone around them. This gracious admission leads me to pose the question WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF ANYONE ELSE’S WHAT TWO ADULTS ARE DOING CONSENSUALLY IN A ROOM THAT HAS BEEN PAID FOR?
Are hotel managers and reception staff the new keepers of the moral code in FIFO households, workplaces or regional and remote Australia? Are adult men and women who choose to use the services of a personal service provider any worse than the millions of people who download and use porn daily? The issue of porn usage and the FIFO worker was discussed openly in a recent FIFO families forum with some very interesting commentary.
This whole discussion reminded me of an incident that happened a long time ago when I lived in Tom Price, a residential mining town in the Pilbara and was invited by my then husband to attend a strip night. I went, stood in the corner laughed a lot, took some mental notes that are etched in my head forever and generally felt like I understood my man and the hundreds of men in the room a little better than I did before I walked in the door.
What I saw that night taught me something I could never have learned from a book, a TV program or personal discussion. The “working girls/dancers/ strippers” gave the hundreds of men in the room that night something they needed, something they wanted and something the men were happy to pay for and – those men loved them for giving them what they wanted – they were laughing, screaming and whooping like preschool children at the joy of just being allowed to be tittivated and sexual in the company of their friends. Did they hurt anyone? No! Did it ruin marriages? I’d suggest not? Did it release tension, frustration and fill them with simple pleasure? I think so!
Should functions like that be stopped or should partners talk to each other and accept each others’ need to be sexual while away and be in relationship?
Back to the FIFO debate and knowing that workers are away from their significant others for 2 or even up to 4 weeks at a time it’s hardly surprising that “sex workers” are present in FIFO areas. Is that wrong? Is it right? Perhaps it’s neither. Perhaps there is no right and wrong in the arena of human sexual behaviour between consenting adults.
I am left with questions about what is happening when a culture cannot accept that abstaining from intimate, sexual behaviors for extended periods of time is, for many healthy decent people, totally unacceptable and totally unnecessary. How do any outsiders, hotel managers, city councilors or other moral judges know what private agreements people inside a relationship or marriage have made with each other about their sexual needs? Whose business is it anyway to ask? Certainly in my view not the hotel managers that’s a given and not the city councilors who are trying to impose moral, social and sexual standards on adult workers and their behaviours. So who do you think should be talking about this issue and with whom? What is your view? Do you think the discussion about Sex workers in FIFO communities is a discussion for politicians, business managers and moralists or should it be left to the individual people living inside FIFO relationships?