Since I started posting to this blog I have been using the term “CTS”, which stands for “Consensual Transactional Sex”. What does it really mean? Why do I use this term? Where did it come from? Today’s blog will answer those questions.
Understanding the term CTS
The term itself is fairly easy to define since it is rather self-explanatory. But it is a good idea to examine the words themselves to understand the term. Let us take a somewhat backwards approach, starting at the end and working forward.
This isn’t such an easy word to define. There are a lot of interpretations of what the word “sex” really means. Within CTS I am using the word sex to describe intimate physical contact between people. This may or may not include various types of sexual acts, including (but not exclusive to) intercourse, oral copulation, anal copulation, erotic touching, fetish activities, etc. It can also describe activities where there is no physical contact, such as peep shows, online sex, phone sex, or pornography. Any activity that involves eroticism or sensuality can fall under the umbrella of “sex”.
Using such a broad term allows for inclusivity within the community and prevents the marginalizing of people who are interested in activities and relationships that others may not experience or even understand.
A somewhat easier thing to define than “sex”, but still not something to be overly simplified. What this means is that two (or more) people have come to an agreement regarding the transfer of currency, goods, services, or some other tangible thing in exchange for some form of sex.
This means that there is an implicit agreement regarding transaction. However this does not mean that any specific activity is being paid for. Time is the often the primary factor. The transaction is meant to pay for the time that the participating parties will be spending together, doing whatever it is they desire to do.
This may sound like some trick to attempt to get around anti-prostitution laws—and in some of the advertising that has gone on in the past it was—but it is really the truth. What a client is really paying for is the time they will spend with a sex worker, and the opportunity for pleasure that the time provides. There are no guarantees in Transactional Sex.
This is the biggie. The most important word we are dealing with, which is why it comes first in CTS, and why I choose to cover it last.
Consent is the key element in CTS. It has never been more important to the discussion of this topic than it is right now. Consent is the difference between what is truly right and what is truly wrong.
No one can give consent except the participating parties. No one can give consent on behalf of the sex worker or the client. Only they can. And this is what separates our community from the disgusting world of sex trafficking.
In real CTS, no participant is being forced to do so. Everyone is doing this out of their own free will. Every part of what they do is their own personal decision. The involved parties have mad a personal, explicit decision to participate. Without that it is not consensual, which means it is not part of CTS.
This is the reason I use this term, Consensual Transactional Sex. It fully defines the choices that we make to participate. The emphasis of this term is not on sex, but on consent—choice. This is particularly important in this time of rampant sex trafficking and the efforts of governments and other groups to crack down on it. There needs to be some specific, precise term that separates the good from the bad. The term CTS provides this separation. It takes away the pimps and traffickers, and leaves behind those who choose to be a part of this world.
Going forward, a term like CTS could prove very useful in the fight for decriminalization. It could provide those that make and enforce laws with a tool to protect and rescue those who are not consenting, while allowing the consenting adults to do as they wish without fear of needless legal ramifications.
I came across this term in a handful of academic and legal papers on the subject of prostitution. It was not being used in as formal or “proper” manner as I make use of it, but that just allows us the opportunity to do so. A new way of discussing the community that is honest, accurate, and without the stigma of past terms. I hope this term can catch on, because I feel like it is something that we need in order to develop more legitimacy in the politic, social, academic, and cultural battlefields that we face today and in the future.
Good definitions are the foundation of clear reasoning and clear discourse. Bravo!