Sex is an undeniable part of video games now. Arguably, it always has been (although we don’t talk about 1982’s Custer’s Revenge. Or I don’t). These days, it’s definitely a selling point for a game—see Bioware RPGs and The Witcher—and if not a selling point/something the player has control over, then it’s at least something that entices players to play when the protagonist gets down with their love interest. In this way, while sex is being portrayed, I wouldn’t exactly call it sex positivity. Recently, though, I came across a game that fulfills actual sex positivity by giving the player the full choice in their decisions when approaching a sexual encounter. None of that “if you choose not to have sex here, you lose the relationship” or “you can’t even skip this, so have fun boning lmao”. Today’s web crush approaches sexuality from the oft-overlooked aspect of consent, and I couldn’t be happier.
There are a couple topics within feminism that really polarize feminists. One of the biggest ones is sex workers and sex worker rights. There are a lot of issues that come to play here, such as sex trafficking (which is the forcing of women and men into sex work and is not the same as someone who chooses to be a sex worker), poverty, objectification of women, and much more. Still, the rights of sex workers has become a divisive issue for feminists around the world.
In the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity (though to a lesser extent in Serenity) Inara Serra is one of the main characters and also a sex worker. In the world of Firefly, Inara is considered a Companion, which is similar to a very bastardized western appropriated version of a geisha. A Companion entertains, has tea ceremonies, attends parties/events with their clients, provides for their clients’ spiritual and emotional well-being as needed, and yes, has sex with their clients. Despite the general acceptance in society of Inara’s profession and even her standing as a member of an elite class of people, she often comes under fire for her profession as a sex worker.
So today, I am going to explore whether or not Joss Whedon, the writer of Firefly, intended Inara to be a positive example for the rights of sex workers or if he is attempting to show that sex workers are a symptom of an inherently problematic society.