Swiss sex workers are pushing for brothels to be re-opened, with their own set of unique precautions in place. But if you’ve been antsy for some good ol’ paid missionary, you might have to keep waiting, because in addition to hand sanitizer, masks, condoms, frequent sheet cleaning, proper ventilation and other measures, sex workers are suggesting that brothels require that sex be conducted in either doggy style or reverse cowgirl positions.
It’s not just that the Swiss are an ass-centric people –– the idea, instead, is that these positions allow for better distancing between the sex worker and the customer and reduce the risk of transmitting respiratory droplets amongst each other.
But how much does this actually help keep people safe?
As it turns out, doggy style might provide adequate distance while banging it out –– depending on what country you’re in. Because despite the U.S. broadly abiding by a six-feet-apart rule for social distancing, the World Health Organization only recommends keeping a meter (about three feet) apart. Most of Europe follows that standard, and some countries have landed at a figure in-between.
Using the Pythagorean theorem and some other geometric tools I haven’t applied since the 9th grade, you can calculate the hypothetical heights required to reach six feet of distance. In Switzerland, the average male height is 5-foot-9. Let’s assume that on his knees, he’s about 4-foot-3. Per the Pythagorean theorem, where person A equals 54 inches and the distance between their heads is C (72 inches), person B would equal 47.62 inches. Therefore, the person in the receiving position, B, would need to have a hole-to-mouth length of nearly four feet. Assuming the torso and head are equal in length to the legs, person B would have to be eight feet tall. This is pretty unlikely, considering the average height of a Swiss woman is 5-foot-4.
However, since the WHO is headquartered there, Switzerland is one such country with the meter-distance recommendation. This is far more attainable during sex: Utilizing the average Swiss heights where the 5-foot-9 person (A) is on their knees and the 5-foot-4 person (B) is on their knees with their head on the ground, C equals around five feet of distance between their heads. Obviously, the exact distance will depend heavily upon not only the person’s height but also their proportions and how they perform the position — e.g., if person B is up on their hands while in the position, the distance will be smaller.
But whether these positions entirely prevent the spread of COVID-19 isn’t really the point. Instead, the rules are a means of harm reduction. It’s the sex workers themselves who are requesting that the brothels re-open. After all, while brothels are closed, many sex workers still need a source of income, and many customers will still seek their services. Without the usual brothel regulations and security in place, however, both sex workers and their customers may risk their health and safety by conducting business elsewhere.
“It’s great to have an established set of safety protocols based on the advice of knowledgable health professionals,” says Dr. Lanae St. John, a certified ecologist. “That said, people who seek to have sex with a sex worker, and the sex workers themselves, are going to do what they’re going to do. We have to trust that folks are going to do the right thing and protect themselves and the other person as well.”
“The real key in my mind will be the practices for cleaning and disinfecting the spaces and the self-care practices for the sex workers themselves between clients,” she says. However, “Doggy-style and Reverse Cowgirl plus Side-by-Side, aka “Spooning” are positions that can create more than one forearm of space between participants’ heads and are not face to face and therefore less risk of droplet transmission.”
Basically, it’s better for the brothels to be open, and doggy style and reverse cowgirl at least mitigate some of the risk of spreading each others’ respiratory droplets, especially if everyone is wearing a mask. Plus, considering that doggy style ranks as the favorite position for both men and women, there’s not much to complain about.