Defense of the Nordic Model for dealing with Prostitution (and the right to defend it)

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Pondering
Defense of the Nordic Model for dealing with Prostitution (and the right to defend it)

I use the term “prostitution” because I am only discussing prostitution and “sex worker” is a more umbrella term.  It is in common usage and no disrespect is intended.

I wanted to first deal with the issue of the equality of voices on the topic of decriminalization of prostitution. I do not claim that these voices justify prohibition. My sole point is that there are many stakeholders and they all deserve equal consideration. The notion I read in another thread that only people intending to work as prostitutes should be listened to. I could not disagree more. I am a liberal socialist not a libertarian anarchist.

Unionist’s entire post explained an important point perfectly.  Here is the conclusion:

http://rabble.ca/comment/1405214#comment-1405214

“There is no fundamental right in any constitution that I know to be an employee in a particular field, or to employ others in particular fields. The state can decide that no one should set up a plumbing business within city limits. It may be dumb, or it may seem unfair, but it's not an infringement on human rights.”

 

I can’t think of any field of legal work that matches anywhere close to the rate of injury suffered by prostitutes even when it is legal. 100% of workers are not harmed by prostitution but the acceptable rate of worker injury is strictly limited in a progressive society.  It does not have to come close to 100% or even be as majority of workers. If an industry cannot meet very high worker safety standards it is shut down.  

Proponents of decriminalization and/or legalization claim that when prostitution is legal it is just like any other job, like massage therapist, therefore much safer because it can be regulated. For Canada to legitimize an industry being “safer” is not enough. It has to be safe, not just safer.

Making moral judgements has become demonized as though the only morality that exists is religious and that the only just laws protect people from force.  If all participants in an exchange are in agreement then it is no one else’s business what they do. 

This is not the theory behind Canada. In Canada we believe in collective rights like health care and minimum wage.  We also set an age under which children may not work. Driver’s licences are also controlled by age.  A responsible 14 year old can’t drive but an irresponsible 18 year old can. We just chose an arbitrary age that we believe is a reasonable balance.  We did these things not just to protect society but to mold our country and our communities into the kind of place we want to live. A place where children go to school for an extended period of time and are fully supported. We have a right to demand people wear seatbelts because accidents cost society.  The price of living in a community is adhering to its laws regardless of personal agreement.

I believe it is PEI that bans strip clubs, and Verdun does not allow bars. It made the news when they allowed a micro-brewery to serve beer.  Street food has been illegal in Montreal for ages. They are just beginning to allow a limited number of highly controlled food carts. We use community zoning because we believe that people in a community have the right to band together to mold their community to suit their desires. Some members of the community might not like it but majority rules.  We have a right as Canadian citizens to mold our entire country not just our individual communities. That includes the right to consider fully banning prostitution.

Harm does not have to be proven for us to set standards that reflect our values as a country.

Many women in Saudi Arabia are perfectly content and happy with their lot in life. They consider themselves privileged that men must take care of them.  That doesn’t mean western women can’t consider that life demeaning.

Individual prostitutes may feel that prostitution is not demeaning and that is their right but it does not mean that other people can’t argue that the profession as a whole demeans women as a whole. That is not a personal attack.

Prostitution does not just have an impact on prostitutes and their customers. It has an impact on broader society. It affects how children grow up perceiving women and sexual intimacy and their place in the world every bit as children are affected by how woman are viewed and treated in Saudi Arabia or Sweden.

New Zealand is the posterchild of the pro-decriminalization lobby:

http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/483694/20130627/sex-trade-streets-prostitution-sexual-new-zealand.htm

June 27, 2013  - Sex Trade on Streets: New Zealand Urged to Address Rampant Street Prostitution

The New Zealand government is urged to do something about the rampant street prostitution in Manukau, Christchurch and other areas as it plans to shift the responsibility of dealing with the issue to local councils….

Ten years after prostitution in New Zealand has been legalised, sex workers can still be seen in suburban shopping streets.  Residents have grown frustrated especially along Hunters Corner in Papatoetoe. …

Street prostitutes have been accused of thrashing and vandalising the neighbourhood and having sex in public.  Some businesses have closed because of prostitution in nearby areas.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10875922

The world's first transsexual mayor, former street prostitute Georgina Beyer, admitted yesterday she was naive when the trade was legalised….

Beyer, a former Carterton mayor and Labour MP who championed the push to decriminalise sex work a decade ago, said lawmakers glossed over the issue. "We thought, naively, that with the liberalisation of prostitution, that it would not be desirable necessarily to be a street worker."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said human traffickers were probably involved in the importation of prostitutes. "My Asian informants tell me how rampant it is," Peters said.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Police-target-child-prostitutes-in-Auckland-City/tabid/423/articleID/160528/Default.aspx

However Debbie Baker, of the Street Reach support group, says one 12-year-old was working the streets for her parents.“She was going out there and earning money, taking it home and giving it to her parents.” Ms Baker says the girl’s parents knew what she was doing. A 14-year old girl arrested last night reveals she is working to streets to fund a drug habit. Police don’t charge the girls, instead calling in CYFS or family. But it’s not long before they are back on the streets. One girl who spoke with Ms Baker told he she would work the streets until she dies, aged 30.“I say, ‘Why 30?’ and she goes, ‘Cos that’s all I think I am worth’,” Ms Baker says. Her team tries to re-educate the girls, while police want better lighting in the streets. But underage prostitution has always existed; it used to be Hunter’s Corner in Papatoetoe, now it’s Auckland City. But with the pressure on in Operation City Door, business will no doubt move somewhere else.”

http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/publications-archived/2002/prote...

However, research and anecdotal evidence suggest that child prostitution is a growing problem in New Zealand. ECPAT NZ has recently completed the first stage of a three-stage research project on the extent of CSEC in New Zealand. Initial findings revealed that child prostitution is reported throughout New Zealand, in rural districts and towns as well as cities.

The racial aspect:

While the number of Maori children involved in prostitution is unknown, it is likely that Maori are over-represented among child prostitutes because the risk factors that give rise to children becoming involved in prostitution are more common among Maori families. Maori youth are more likely to have family problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol, live in poor neighbourhoods, and lack positive cultural identity. This latter point is exacerbated for many young Maori by the cultural alienation that has been produced by a perception of historical injustice; the urban drift of Maori; and the subsequent breakdown of traditional support structures. Some aboriginals consider prostitution an extension of the damage of colonization.  

In Quebec strippers argued against the decriminalization of lap dancing.  They believed if it were allowed that eventually it would be a requirement for the job. Now it is. Women don’t even get paid for their stage work. They have to pay the bar and do a certain number of free stage dances. They only make money from lap dances.  Allowing strippers to lap dance did not improve their working conditions nor lead to higher pay. It just ensured that if you can’t work as a stripper unless you are willing to do lap dances. They do private backroom dances too but the men are not allowed to touch them and there are guards close by. I don’t think the rule is there because the owners want to protect the girls. I think the rule is there because they want to protect themselves.  If prostitution is decriminalized I am certain that rule will vanish quite rapidly. The job of stripper will demand even more of them.  A regulation law saying they don’t have to won’t help any more than the lap-dance law protected strippers from lap-dancing becoming the norm in their field of work.  They won’t make more money either. They will just have to do more for their money.

There are a myriad of survivors of prostitution who believe that full decriminalization will lead to more harm for women not safer working conditions. These are experiential women. I give them great weight because these are women who have been the most harmed by prostitution excepting those who have not yet escaped. Who better to speak than the actual victims we want to protect?

Willing participants that want to continue working in the field are the very ones that are empowered enough to leave if they so choose. They have money, they can retrain and get out of the business. They don’t have to subject themselves to the violence of the industry. There is no moral imperative forcing us to accept and protect prostitution as an industry.  We can deem it too harmful and expensive to be of net benefit to society.

Be it decriminalization or legalization everyone gets a vote on what kind of country we want Canada to be. We have a right to look at a full range of countries to see how it has affected them.  We should be looking at the connection to increasing trafficking and child prostitution. We should be listening to survivors who are the acknowledged greatest victims. We should be listening to aboriginal women who consider it a vestige of colonial conquest.  It is not progressive to ignore these voices because they are not as loud or not present on this message board. 

To be progressive is to actively seek out the oppressed and listen to their voices not just the voices that are loudest.

Pondering

I am not going to cite a bunch of studies unless absolutely necessary because they have already been cited in many other threads on this topic.

As I noted in my introductory post New Zealand is the decriminalization posterchild.

I don't believe that New Zealand is an effective model for Canada because it is so different. It has a total population of 4.4 million which is about the size of B.C. It is off the coast of Australia which had already decriminalized. It is also near Thailand which is renound for prostitution. It's location does not lend itself to a radical increase in sex tourism or trafficking. Easier to just set up in Australia. 

Even so there is evidence of problems with prostitution in New Zealand including trafficking, child prostitution and unhappy communities that simply don't want prostitution on their streets or next door to their homes or in buildings with daycare. There is a racial component because Maori women are over-represented in New Zealand as are aboriginal women are every where. There is also a happy Prostitutes Collective that is very happy with decriminalization even though it has not addressed all the ills of the profession. Other organizations claims decriminalization has caused more harm than good.

My own opinion, no studies, is that normalizing prostitution has a adverse effect on atitudes towards sex and towards women. I am particularly disturbed by the rise of child prostitution. I can see how young people see it as easy money and don't realize how deeply it could scar them. I am horrified at the thought of streetwalkers parading in front of my home or operating (as opposed to just living) next door to me. I don't want to pass by a brothel at the local mall. Even if Canada were similar to New Zealand I would not want our country to be like that. I believe the majority of Canadians would be appalled. Support in Canada is high for legalization, not decriminalization. People would be expecting compulsory health checks and red light districts.

Amsterdam and Germany are more likely models for Canada. Both are struggling with uncontrollable trafficking and migrant workers. Anyone who cares enough to explore beyond the promotional material can see problems that have grown instead of shrinking.

There is no human right to work as a prostitute or anything else. No one has a human right to sexual services either. The issue is what is best for all women and what reflects the society we want to built. For some people the balance will come down on the side of decriminalization or at least legalization. For others like myself it is the Nortic model. What disturbs me the most about this debate is the attempts to shut it down, to pretend that there is a clear unequivocal answer. There is very little hard evidence on either side. What we do have is examples of how things have gone in various countries. Which places have systems that make you think you would like to live there with both the benefits and the drawbacks? Which country does Canada most resemble and what was the outcome there? This is, at the very least, a very complex topic that affects all of society not just the women who choose to work in the industry voluntarily.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Why isn't this in the sex workers forum?

Pondering wrote:

My sole point is that there are many stakeholders and they all deserve equal consideration. 

No, they do not.

The voices that speak from lived experiences should be prioritized: the voices of sex workers themselves. There is by far NO agreement across the board on this, from sex workers, so it's not as if this would be an easy discussion.

Why do I prioritize the voices of sex workers? Because it is their bodies that are being talked about, theoretically dissected and pondered over. They live their lives. The rest of us are just yammering. Or, shall we say, babbling.

Pondering wrote:

The issue is what is best for all women and what reflects the society we want to built.

Um, WHAT?

What is best for all women?!?!? Wow, this exists? Who'da thunk it? And who will tell us what this is, this magical thing? Not the women themselves, noooooooo. (Also, "all" women are a hell of a lot of people. Seems a bit grandiose.)

Oh I get it. Men will decide this. Men will take care of us in this and other complex matters. Yippee!! What a great idea! 

And hey, leave Saudi Arabia out of this, your ignorance, racism and xenophobia are showing.

P.S. There ain't no supply if there ain't no demand. Blaming, focussing on and targetting sex workers (as "the problem") (and even framing sex work in general as a "problem" that "means" something about our society and needs to be "fixed") is classic top-down, hierarchical, patriarchal thinking. Way to go. In the feminism forum. In 2013.

P.P.S There's a difference between legalization (which your New Zealand quotes are all about) and decriminalization.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I think this is in the feminism forum and not sex workers rights forum because Pondering does not want to discuss sex worker rights but abolishing prositution -- is that correct?

Pondering, I appreciate you leaving the other thread when I asked you to hop off (really, that was great). The statement:

The issue is what is best for all women and what reflects the society we want to built.

is a complex one.

To give said benefit of the doubt (and your preface), I'm assuming you want people who are in 'prostitution' who are there not out of choice to not have to be there. I think we can all agree we don't want that -- that's not really a discussion.

But, your points on who deserves consideration first and "what society we want to build" are making some disrespectful statements.

I agree with Maysie that the first consideration goes to the people doing sex work -- what do they want? If, like you gave the parameters for, they are there because of oppressive situations, etc., and want to leave, then yes, we obviously need to have those resources available.

And, saying that women in sex work are creating an undesirable (not your word, but it seems close) society is not okay. 

...

I must say, it is difficult to discuss these, well theories, because they take place in an unrealistic vacuum. There are many types of sex work, sex workers and reasons why sex work happens.

If we are talking about women forced in under oppressive situations, well I agree with Unionist on the previous thread that it is the sex trade, or, like a situation common in Vancouver street prositution, the women are escaping terrible circumstances and it is the only choice.

So, while I appreciate you leaving the other thread to have this conversation elsewhere, I'm not sure how productive/viable it is if it is discussing a model and situation that only includes one part of a situation (somewhat generalizing it) and does not include the other voices in the sex work conversation.

lagatta

I certainly don't agree with everything pondering said - including defending some very repressive community models such as the archaic dry laws in Verdun (yes, lighter side, but socialism should not mean the "nanny state" rightwingers always decry). And don't think the ills associated with sex work are sex workers' fault - they are the fault of patriarchal, capitalist society, but I think pondering was just being clumsy there.

However, I'm sick of susan attacking and berating anyone on this board who has an outlook different from hers, including former sex workers who are speaking out against the ills, violence and oppression in that trade. I most certainly don't want any sex worker killed, hurt or starving - I've participated in several marches for the murdered women (most, but not all, sex workers of Indigenous descent in Vancouver and elsewhere).

Sometimes socialists do want an end to certain industries - asbestos mining and processing is a big one, especially here in Québec, where entire towns and regions depended on it. But finally even the Québec government came down against it. It is our duty then to help people in such sectors find other work or adequate compensation if that is not possible.

There will be more such sectors if we are serious about transition to an ecosocialist, post-petroleum society. Of course if there are far fewer cars produced and used in cities and towns, that will mean, in the short term, a big boost in electric trains, buses and trams, and even bicycles and e-bikes. But there are other sectors, such as arms production, which have no place in such a society. Many would also include publicity - no, not ads saying someone has opened a grocery or clothing store, but the whole glittering interface created by publicity.

My major area of disagreement with susan is that I'm of the opinion that the harms to sex workers are inherent in the trade. Sure, there are sex workers who like their jobs, earn a decent living and don't have to rely on drugs to face the alienation from their own bodies. But a great many serious studies show that they are in the distinct minority. I know my own personal "sampling" is skewed in the opposite direction from susan's as I've mostly had contact with street sex workers and other street people, most of them Indigenous, and people who work with this clientele. And have seen very dire consequences.

I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, but a great many feminists here in Québec and other French-speaking societies share this general orientation, while insisting on safety and support to people in sex work.

Francesca Allan

Thank you, Lagatta. I had been afraid to post something similar. In fact, I had been afraid to post anything at all. But I have been reading all these threads carefully and I truly believe that you and Pondering are offering an awful lot to the discussion.

And Maysie, your interpretation of what Pondering said is ridiculous. You're just looking to be indignant.

Pondering

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:
  And, saying that women in sex work are creating an undesirable (not your word, but it seems close) society is not okay.

Whoa!!!!!!!!!! No not even a little bit close. The women are welcome, the industry (in my opinion) is not. What a terrible mindset, that a woman who works as a prostitute cannot be separated from it, as though it is integral to her being.

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:
I must say, it is difficult to discuss these, well theories, because they take place in an unrealistic vacuum. There are many types of sex work, sex workers and reasons why sex work happens.

Yes, but it is not necessary for it to be 100% harmful in order for a country to deem an activity causes enough harm to ban it. There is no obligation on the part of society to support any particular activity or industry. We could decide that the pollution caused by air travel is too damaging to validate it's use. The fact that air travel also has many benefits and employs many people does not supercede the collective right to decide it's not something we want in Canada. Oil workers voices do not carry more weight than anyone else's on the topic of the oil sands. Verdun banned bars. Bar workers did not have more right to an opinion than anyone else. Drinkers didn't have a larger voice than anyone else.

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:
... like a situation common in Vancouver street prositution, the women are escaping terrible circumstances and it is the only choice.

I don't agree that it is the only choice, that it is their destiny to live in terrible circumstances or worse circumstances. I agree with AWAN http://www.awanbc.ca/aboutus.html. That terrible conditions drive disadvantaged women into prostitution doesn't make prostitution better than the original circumstances they are trying to escape.

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:
So, while I appreciate you leaving the other thread to have this conversation elsewhere, I'm not sure how productive/viable it is if it is discussing a model and situation that only includes one part of a situation (somewhat generalizing it) and does not include the other voices in the sex work conversation.

I didn't realize that anyone's voices were barred from the conversation in the feminist forum. Rather, the Sex Worker's Forum seems at least unofficially limited to pro-decriminalization proponents and quite hostile to any other perspective.

Given that the Nordic model is strongly supported by many major feminist organizations this seemed like a more appropriate venue to inject some balance, especially as some feminists support decriminalization.

The characterization of people who are against prostitution as judgemental authoritarians who don't care about the safety of prostitutes is bullyng.

Pondering

Maysie wrote:
Why isn't this in the sex workers forum?

Because I was cautioned in one thread. Looking around at other threads in that forum suggested to me that it was the wrong place to present this argument.  If a mod thinks otherwise and wants to move the thread there I have no objection. It wasn't my intent to be disrespectful. Just the opposite.

Maysie wrote:
What is best for all women?!?!? Wow, this exists? Who'da thunk it? And who will tell us what this is, this magical thing? Not the women themselves, noooooooo. (Also, "all" women are a hell of a lot of people. Seems a bit grandiose.)

I think that is pretty disrespectful. How about what is best for women in general or most women? This insistence on claiming only experiencial women are impacted by prostitution and have a right to a voice seems like an attempt to silence opposition.

Maysie wrote:
Oh I get it. Men will decide this. Men will take care of us in this and other complex matters. Yippee!! What a great idea!

I wish we had a better balance between men and women in government but until we do it's that or anarchy. I'm not an anarchist. I think your sarcasm is disrespectful especially in the feminist forum.

Maysie wrote:
And hey, leave Saudi Arabia out of this, your ignorance, racism and xenophobia are showing.

I don't know why it is xenophobia to use Saudi Arabia as an example in which some women embrace what many other women would consider a demeaning situation. I think your attack is inappropriate.

Maysie wrote:
P.S. There ain't no supply if there ain't no demand. Blaming, focussing on and targetting sex workers (as "the problem")

The Nordic model focuses on the johns and pimps as "the problem". Prostitutes themselves are not breaking the law. They cannot be arrested. This has led to a reduction of stigma for the women and an increase in stigma for the johns and pimps.

Maysie wrote:
  (and even framing sex work in general as a "problem" that "means" something about our society and needs to be "fixed") is classic top-down, hierarchical, patriarchal thinking. Way to go. In the feminism forum. In 2013.

Feminism is neither anarchist nor libertarian. You could say that about all forms of collectivism. When people act collectively there will always be some that don't get their way. Your comment seems more directed at political systems than feminism. Being against prostitution is certainly not anti-feminist. The windows of Amsterdam displaying women like cuts of meat and the drive-in stalls in Germany turn my stomach; even the name, stalls, not cubicles.

Maysie wrote:
P.P.S There's a difference between legalization (which your New Zealand quotes are all about) and decriminalization.

Decriminalization means there are no criminal laws concerning prostitution. New Zealand has decriminalization not legalization. My quotes concern how decriminalization has impacted people in New Zealand. It is not just prostitutes that are affected.

I think that your entire post has been pretty insulting and dismissive. There are many feminist organizations that are against the legalization (edited to add decriminalization) of prostitution. Unless you are claiming that Sweden is a non-progressive patriarchal country the Nordic Model is a valid feminist and progressive viewpoint.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks for replying Pondering, and Lagatta and FA as well.

I don't want anyone to feel "bullied" on this thread and feel they can't express their opinion. It is babble after all! So thanks :) 

Okay, let's start over because I think there are lots of people who would like to discuss this topic and this sort of frame that lagatta has stated

I'm of the opinion that the harms to sex workers are inherent in the trade. Sure, there are sex workers who like their jobs, earn a decent living and don't have to rely on drugs to face the alienation from their own bodies. But a great many serious studies show that they are in the distinct minority. I know my own personal "sampling" is skewed in the opposite direction from susan's as I've mostly had contact with street sex workers and other street people, most of them Indigenous, and people who work with this clientele. And have seen very dire consequences.

Maybe we should all set some parameters? I think SD can provide great info and context to the conversation, but being that it is a trickier subject, stuff gets heated. A good way to hopefully increase conversation is by knowing we're all on somewhat the same page. 

Lets create some grounded observations that we all adhere by and then continue the conversation? As mentioned in a previous thread, we don't have official rules worked out, but I think we can start this conversation again.

For example, Can we all agree that there are many types of sex work and though some people choose sex work, there is a larger population that is there under either oppressive circumstances and not choice?

How does that sound for everyone, and then maybe we can create a better outline for future conversations on sex work and sex worker rights and use it as guidance in that forum?

quizzical

 

Maysie wrote:
Why isn't this in the sex workers forum?
Pondering wrote:

My sole point is that there are many stakeholders and they all deserve equal consideration. 

No, they do not.

i don't get why you think this? as your point below in quotes doesn't ring factual to me.

Quote:
The voices that speak from lived experiences should be prioritized: the voices of sex workers themselves. There is by far NO agreement across the board on this, from sex workers, so it's not as if this would be an easy discussion.

you seem to be selective about what voices from lived experiences you wanna listen to even though you quite readily state there's no agreement between those who have lived experiences.

Quote:
Why do I prioritize the voices of sex workers? Because it is their bodies that are being talked about, theoretically dissected and pondered over. They live their lives. The rest of us are just yammering. Or, shall we say, babbling.

no actually you are only prioritizing here at any rate 1 voice. and it's the voice of 1 white woman who wants to run a brothel. i spent a lot of time and effort reading everyone of the threads here on this! you’re ignoring all the voices of aboriginal women here in Canada and around the world who considers the reality their over represented in the field and consider the legalization or "decriminalization" of prostitution to be an extension of patriarchy and colonial occupation. you try to appear "equal" above by saying we're all babbling yet your remarks are downright nasty and uncalled for towards pondering. incredibly mean and slanted commentary on your part above and below meant to shut down this conversation i think....

Pondering wrote:

The issue is what is best for all women and what reflects the society we want to built.

Um, WHAT?

i agree with ponderings comment. a few days ago i may not have until i spent hours reading. from just using the Netherlands experience where violence against ALL women has gone up 40+ % since they legalized prostitution are under UN supervision now i think ALL women need a voice. to me there's no damn difference between decrim and fully legalized except fully legalized has more regulatory aspects than decrim from what i've read anyway.

Quote:
What is best for all women?!?!? Wow, this exists? Wh'da thunk it? And who will tell us what this is, this magical thing? Not the women themselves, noooooooo. (Also, "all" women are a hell of a lot of people. Seems a bit grandiose.)

Oh I get it. Men will decide this. Men will take care of us in this and other complex matters. Yippee!! What a great idea! 

^ this is really uncalled for!!!!! 

Quote:
And hey, leave Saudi Arabia out of this, your ignorance, racism and xenophobia are showing.

huh?

Quote:
P.S. There ain't no supply if there ain't no demand. Blaming, focussing on and targetting sex workers (as "the problem") (and even framing sex work in general as a "problem" that "means" something about our society and needs to be "fixed") is classic top-down, hierarchical, patriarchal thinking. Way to go. In the feminism forum. In 2013.

this is quite the rant. i think making laws catering to white male sex tourism and white male exploitation of indigenous women classic top down, hierarchical, patriarchal thinking!!!!!

Quote:
P.P.S There's a difference between legalization (which your New Zealand quotes are all about) and decriminalization.

i don't think so legalization has more ability to regulate and the results seem to be the same anyway...cheap sex for white men while wages drop for women....and all the rest of the social implications and crime trafficking stuff.

susan davis

are you refering to me as the white woman who wants to open a brothel?  is that what you took away from my posts and experience? i don't know what to say.....

what about the african canadain, first nations, chinese and those of mixed race who took part in development of the cooperative brothel idea? what about the male  and trans workers? did you actually read anything i wrote about it? especially in terms of the make up of the development team. it is not simply some white woman who wants to open a brothel....

i have been a sex worker for 27 years. i have been in prison, been in raids, experienced what "legalization" brings in canada, its what we have now.

i also don't think its fair to say i berate people. just because you can't answer my challenges to your way of thinking....

it seems taht the people who are claiming its a one sided arguement are actually wanting to have a one sided discussion which excluded sex workers who don't fit into their idea of all sex workers being victyims and wanting to escape.

its alright, its what we face constantly. go ahead, talk amongst yourselves, decide what's best for sex workers even though none of you are sex workers.

maybe one day you yourselves will experience what its like to be completely ignored and dismissed as self deluding when it comes to something that affects and matters to you. i hope you will all remember when you did it to sex workers.

the nordic model of criminalization doesn't work. sex workers are saying it, governments are saying it, courts are saying it and feminists are saying it. trying to say that is working will not change the facts.

just because you don't like sex work or wouldn't do sex work yourself does not mean we do not have a right ot live and exist in canadian society. just because you fear having a brothel next door doesn't mean we should face increased risk under criminalization.

trying to exclude us as you have by starting this thread in another section and as you would clearly like to do in society over all will not work. we are not prepared to sit back and allow the slaughter of our community to continue.

i have a right to weigh in on this and will continue to do so inspite of being labled some kind of bully berating people.

quizzical wrote:

i don't think so legalization has more ability to regulate and the results seem to be the same anyway...cheap sex for white men while wages drop for women....and all the rest of the social implications and crime trafficking stuff.

now your calling us cheap...typical

lagatta

Susan, as I read it, the rates were cheap, not the person providing the service.

Francesca Allan

Lagatta, agreed.

I think this conversation's going nowhere and I think SD's the reason. I'm not going to read anymore.

lagatta

There is a downward push for work and services in all fields from bosses and clients. I get it all the time, as do my colleagues. That is capitalism, it doesn't mean any human is cheap.

quizzical

 

tks lagatta! i clearly separated cheap sex for men from the women who work for a wage. a declining wage in every country that's decrim'd or legalized prostitution.

i tried really hard to to write it both as i felt and understood. i understand and believe to be true in some sex workers feel selling "sex" is just a "service" like any other service supplied in society. i understand some sex workers want a livable wage with a safe life without stigma and criminal charges to all be gone from what they consider a workplace situation. i know some want prostitution and sex work to be just a normal job position in society.

what i think we're discussing is the reality of...can sex work ever be 'the norm'?

FWIW susan you don't have the corner on knowing the ignoring dismissing and accusations of self-delusion. and throwing it out there along with dramatic and false accusations of we're all just allowing a slaughter to continue if we don't support you does nothing for your decrim position.

quizzical

lagatta wrote:
There is a downward push for work and services in all fields from bosses and clients. I get it all the time, as do my colleagues. That is capitalism, it doesn't mean any human is cheap.

i was writing when you and Francesca Allen posted. it takes me a bit and sometimes the wireless goes down too. tks to you both for getting what i was saying!

i

susan davis

you don't know what the rates are....how could you know if the rates are cheap? the way you said it it sounded to me like you were cheapening the work i do, calling me cheap.

as far as throwing out the exclusion accusations and anything else i say in that regard, i am reacting to what i am reading. total disregard for what sex workers themselves are calling for.

owning the corner? i have written numerous reports, engaged hundreds of sex workers acorss canada and coordinated numerous projects....what have you done?

it seems like you read something on the internet and now suddenly have the solution. have you engaged sex workers? or anyone who will be directly affected by the outcome? do you have personal lived experience?

i don't just challenge abolitionists here, i challenge them where ever i meet them. i will stand up for my community and represent what they have directed me to represent.  

if being challenged by an actual sex workers means the converstaion goes nowhere, i am happy to be blamed

Francesca Allan

susan davis wrote:

if being challenged by an actual sex workers means the converstaion goes nowhere, i am happy to be blamed

No, no, Susan. You're doing it again. I don't object to your posts because you're an actual sex worker. I object to your bullying and mis-characterization of valid (though differing) points of view. There's a good argument to be made that sex work harms women, whether or not you choose to entertain anything different from what you steadfastly believe.

Shit! I said I wasn't going to read this thread anymore. Okay, starting ... NOW! 

susan davis

i am not a bully. i am passionate about this issue as it affectes me directly. any entertaining of the idea of re criminalization under the nordic model represents a threat to our safety and stability. it is also not supported by sex wokring people.

my statements do not constitute bullying.

points of view of sex work damaging women over all, are based in fear of sex workers and have no place in discussions of how to prevent the disaster in the case of the missing women from happening again. the fears which drive the idea that sex work harms women's rights or safety is in part the reason this disaster happened.

it is always the position that i am either some how a priveledged sex worker or that i am bullying when i challenge these myths of sex workers lives and when i try to promote what actual sex working people want.

discussing opinions which could have an impact on sex workers lives without including sex workers in the conversation is exclusionists and harmful. you, people here on babble, have power in your lives to influence decisions made about this in the future. people read what's written here. i will challenge any assertions about our lives which are  based on myths and bias to ensure people understnad when reading here, that sex workers are not prepared to be excluded from this converstaion any more.

keep your opinion off my body.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Far be it from me to speak for others, but I'm on moderating duty this month so I'm gonna try Wink

I've been viewing and mildly commenting on this thread and it seems we might have another case of "what you say" vs "what you are" 

SD, your passion and information on this topic is much appreciated; your personal experience is invaluable to this conversation. I think what others have commented on is they feel cornered with your tone and reaction to their posts. They want to be part of the conversation, but feel shut down when is comes to discussing.

I don't think anyone here is trying to force an opinion on your body, but we (babble community) also don't want you to feel that way. It could potentially be helpful to elaborate on why you feel that way in relation to this thread.

We've had a bit of a thread drift from Ponderings topic in general.

As outlined a couple times, I think most acknowledge that sex work can be positive and consensual. With that acknowledgement though, the area that tends to want to be discussed is when sex work is not consensual and not positive. I think that can be discussed without a generalizing that all sex work is negative and not consensual and have a productive chat.

So... in summary, you're all great and, and I don't know how to finish this post. Go babble. 

 

susan davis

i feel that way in relation to this thread because it impacts me directly. opinions what sex workers might or might not feel or might or might not need do nothing to improve the situation and dangers we face everyday. discussing the nordic model of criminalization is trying to force an opinion on my body.

its has been shown over and over that this approach has not contributed to curbing the industry or rescuing women from violence as its proponents had hoped. instead we see the same old slanted policing, sex workers as criminals and a low priority when facing violence or as some how un derserving of protection.

people perpetuating the myth that somehow the nordic model has saved women and sex workers in sweden do nothing for estabilishing a safe and inclusive society where sex workers can live openly and in safety without fear of dicrimination.

idealogical positions which seek a utopian world where everyone is happy, gets to choose their job, has meaningfil and intimate relationships are all well and good, but we are nowhere even close to obtaining such a goal. in the mean time sex workers are left to the wolves all in the name of some crazy social experiment.

when people write here about swedish sex workers having greater access to police protection and social services and supports to exit should they want to, it is completely over blown and not true. sex workers in sweden are paying the price for this myth.

in canada we don't spend even 1/2 of what they spend in sweden on supports. if its not working there even with the financial support the sweds have dedicated, what makes people think its a viable option here? do people really believe that harper will pony up the dough? and are people willing to back up thier "opinions" with higher taxes to cover the cost?

the problem is this kind of thinking is so shallow and never considers the broader systems required to achieve their goal. what is being expressed are opinions and they have no place on things that affect my body/ safety/ life.

lagatta

But if we don't agree with Ms Davis, we are evil villains attacking her body, safety and life? Come on.

Some of the stuff she has posted here is practically "grooming", and very dangerous to vulnerable youth. And all of it is a defence of capitalism and capitalist alienation.

susan davis

its not just me lagatta, its sex workers. and now i am endangering youth with my posts? please.

all i ask is that people post informed positions and back up their statements with facts. news paper articles are not facts. please post one thing which demonstrates the assertions of supporters of recriminalization under the swedish model.

or show me one sex worker, actually working sex worker who support recriminalization under the end demand model.

if you think that talking about these things from such an uninformed and biased position is not damaging to our lives and safety, you are naiive. look around you, where is it helping anyone to perpetuate myths about our lives or about the success of this approach?

you claim to want to improve our safety, save us from victimization...but then you say its about protecting youth....it seems you don't care about our safety at all, but rather would put the safety of vulnerable youth ahead of us. i would also say the link between decrim and youth expolitation is thin....

you don't have to agree, but i do demand that people discuss this from a realistic perspective and that people provide links to support  assertions about the actual impacts of the different approaches. not for people to just engage in speculation about things which have a serious impact on the lives and safety of members of my community.

RosaL

lagatta wrote:

But if we don't agree with Ms Davis, we are evil villains attacking her body, safety and life? Come on.

Some of the stuff she has posted here is practically "grooming", and very dangerous to vulnerable youth. And all of it is a defence of capitalism and capitalist alienation.

 

Yes, Lagotta!! (Just dropped in for a moment.)

quizzical

susan davis wrote:
....you don't have to agree, but i do demand that people discuss this from a realistic perspective and that people provide links to support  assertions about the actual impacts of the different approaches. not for people to just engage in speculation about things which have a serious impact on the lives and safety of members of my community.

demand from a realistic perspective? whose reality are you speaking of? 'cause as far as i'm concerned we're discussing "things" which will have a serious impact on the lives and safety of the members of my community.

and realistic perspective? your over romanticizing or romanticizing at all sex work is hardly a realistic perspective!!!!! trying to force us to believe this romantic view is insulting on so many levels.

i like your post lagatta

Mórríghain

lagatta wrote:
... Some of the stuff she has posted here is practically "grooming", and very dangerous to vulnerable youth. And all of it is a defence of capitalism and capitalist alienation.

Prostitution is a fine example of a capitalist economic activity.

susan davis

how am i romaniticizing it? i talk about violence, i talk about murder, i talk about exploitation, i talk about prison, i talk about addiction...that's romantic for you?

dimissing the fact that some sex work is fulfilling and that many sex workers choose this work as their best option, does not constitute romanticizing it.....

by realistic i mean by citing actual ethical research that proves a particular point. i mean not basing your "opinion" on an "opinion". i mean that in order to really adress these issues we must look at the underlying truth, not what people's fears are. where is the "evidence" that abolition if prostitution will end violence against women? or that it will end human trafficking? or that abolition will majically save marginalized women from harm?

in terms of ending capitalism, why do you have to pick my job to eliminate? why not close down all retail outlets or grocery stores? do you really believe your argument of "its capitalist, so its bad"? does this mean that all means necessary must be used to stop the evil capitalist prostitutes? people will suffer and some will die but its all in the name of fighting the good fight to end capitalism?

you guys are really reaching....

quizzical

lagatta gave you example of jobs being eliminated 'cause they're damaging to society at large.

i'd like to see all tar sand jobs eliminated for the same reason and i say this even though my partner is 1/2 the year dependant on AB pipeline jobs.

there's all sorts of job eliminated in the forest industry 'cause  practises weren't good for the environment and to follow good practises were too expensice for companies to operate. and were talking 200,000 or more in BC alone. they had to be retrained. fishing jobs are gone 'cause of quotas......all sorts of jobs go by the way side 'cause society deems them too damaging.

there's a thread you started in the sex worker forum where you got all romantic and talked of loving your clients and how fulfilling it is as a career choice. the reality is you swing back and forth  between yelling "we're allowing a slaughter to continue" and saying how wonderful sex work is.

after all is said and done i think what is now called sex work for those facing physical and mental challenges in achieiving a life partner(s) should have legal rights and access to what my mom calls "sexual physical and occupational therapy" and there should be a job title and position licensing reflecting a health care provider status for the therapy positions.

the rest of the 'sex tourists' don't need an industry providing them exploitation access.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Okay. I think we've given ample time in discussing why we're frustrated with this forum/discussion at times.

Instead of beating a dead horse, more of less, I think if we move away from statements like this:

[an example] of jobs being eliminated 'cause they're damaging to society at large.

because it is disrespectful to sex workers who provide a valuable service, and only reference those reasons why sex workers are put in non-consensual situations, and acknowledge there are various types of sex work and reasons for sex work (both negative and positive) and discuss them accordingly, things can get better.

 

susan davis

quizzical, if you believe some clients should have legal rights and access, how can you support criminalizing them? under the nordic model of criminalization, those in need would be classified as criminals.

the mechanisms you describe in terms of training have also been discussed by sex workers. what you are talking about is supporting decriminalization.

your complete polar opposite description of sex buyers as sex tourists looking for access to the exploitation industry simply seems to be your belief of all sex work being negative for society but doesn't really jibe with your previous statement...

mixed messages. i don't understand why supporters of the nordic approach don't believe sex workers care about ending exploitation in our industry. we do. we have developed and continue to refine processes which are practical and would adress many of your concerns without putting the safety of some workers over the safety of all workers.

it would also not brand all men as potential rapists looking for little girls to exploit.

if you believe some clients of sex workers need the service and should have legal rights to it, why would you support their criminalization? especially knowing that criminalization in any form harms sex workers?

Unionist

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

Okay. I think we've given ample time in discussing why we're frustrated with this forum/discussion at times.

Instead of beating a dead horse, more of less, I think if we move away from statements like this:

[an example] of jobs being eliminated 'cause they're damaging to society at large.

because it is disrespectful to sex workers who provide a valuable service, and only reference those reasons why sex workers are put in non-consensual situations, and acknowledge there are various types of sex work and reasons for sex work (both negative and positive) and discuss them accordingly, things can get better.

 

[my emphasis]

Hi Kaitlin,

I've been reading and trying to get educated. Opposition by many organizations, whether feminist, aboriginal, or others, to sex for sale is not just when it's "non-consensual". Some people - even among those who support decriminalization - genuinely believe that the very existence of prostitution is a byproduct and a symbol of the degradation and commodification of women - even when it is "consensual", which the vast majority of sex for money transactions in Canada no doubt are. By framing the debate in the way you've suggested, you effectively ban the view that sex work for pay (like work in the armaments or tobacco industry or consensual work for less than minimum wage) should be ended - and the only "legitimate" conversation is about how to end "non-consensual" sex work.

If that's the new babble policy (which of course it isn't), it ought to be the subject of clear, open, and broad discussion. Otherwise, I suspect, you will be losing the few female babblers we have left who are still actively participating in the feminist forum. Besides others.

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

Okay. I think we've given ample time in discussing why we're frustrated with this forum/discussion at times.

Instead of beating a dead horse, more of less, I think if we move away from statements like this:

[an example] of jobs being eliminated 'cause they're damaging to society at large.

because it is disrespectful to sex workers who provide a valuable service, and only reference those reasons why sex workers are put in non-consensual situations, and acknowledge there are various types of sex work and reasons for sex work (both negative and positive) and discuss them accordingly, things can get better.

 

Okay, here's the difficulty. I'm going to be blunt about this. 

Some of us, don't actually acknowledge that sex work is a valuable service.

Honestly, getting your rocks off isn't a right any more than me going out for a pedicure is a right.  I do not have the right to well-groomed toes, even if it makes a huge difference to me or my feelings about the world. And yeah, I realize my analogy is trivialising sex work.  I did it on purpose.

See, the problem I have is that when you start saying sexual contact is a right, you're opening the door to debate over privelege vs rights.  I don't think that's a good road to go down. Some may agree with me, some won't.  Regardless, for me, the principle is that while you can choose to do what you like with your own body, when you step back and look at the big picture of commodifying sex and, the majority of the time, women's bodies, you're working counter to the basic principles of feminism.

You can even say that my outlook is moralistic.  I totally agree with that. My ethics are based around the equality and autonomy of women in general, and from what I can see here, despite susan's maunderings about how she adores her clients, sex work as an industry (mind, I'm talking big picture here, not about individuals) does nothing to further that.

ETA: Whut Unionist said.  (<3 )

And what Unionist points out is why I will discuss this topic in the feminist forum, but not in the sex workers' forum - several of us have been actively discouraged from voicing our points of view or criticising arguments put forward in the swf.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks everyone for your responses!

I want to say this (in a positive, non-getting angry way)(really):

(1) U and TB, though your thoughts and opinions differ from mine in some areas, I appreciate the way in which you stated them (mostly Wink) and that we can have this conversation, just, well, in general. So, yay.

(2) Having this conversation in the feminism forum or the sex workers rights forum, for me, is not really a problem. However, I am the temp babble moderator, so there could be difference there. (I go by the seat of my pants, which subsequently have a hole in them. that was a joke) If people for more comfortable in FF than SWF, by all means, but does not negate the duality of sex work as we have all discussed.

(3) I identify as a women and feminist and think statements like 

the principle is that while you can choose to do what you like with your own body, when you step back and look at the big picture of commodifying sex and, the majority of the time, women's bodies, you're working counter to the basic principles of feminism.

are counterintuitive to what I believe in the realm of sex work and my feminism. However, I am completely aware that others do not share that point of view, and feel we can discuss this with respect to both opinions. no? (and also keep in mind that we do have a babble with real life implications for positive based sex work and that said remarks can be seen as an attack or judgement on that person's body)

I used to think all sex work was not good becasue of the commodification aspect, and because I wouldn't want to do it regardless. I have since changed my tune because I spoke with sex workers and read alternate literature and realized that me not wanting it doesn't mean other cant want it. I'm not saying others have not done that or had those thoughts, I'm just stating that that is how my perspective changed.

(4) I don't think there is any one type of feminism that either completely includes or completely excludes sex work because it is a grey area, so talking in absolutes doesn't really accomplish much. I also think the comment that we will lose the few women babbler left because of conversations like this is unfair. 

I think with intense and heated conversations like this, trust is an issue and building rapport takes time. Everyone on this thread (and in babble in general) probably knows that and have exhibited great strides in communicating on this area as well as others. Hopefully this will become a place where women babblers feel encouraged to voice their opinions and not discouraged! :)

(5) this has been the biggest thread drift ever from the original topic, but I think we have had some really valuable conversation here on the theme of "talking about sex work" but don't want to rename Ponderings thread without permission, or potentially babblers would still like to talk about this

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Because that was a long post on my end and I want to share thanks with everyone for voicing their own opinions with respect here is my favourite picture on the internet:

And I guess it can be viewed as a metaphor. :)

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

A metaphor for what?  The grin before the carnage? Sorry, not getting it.

Your #3 - How is, big picture here, the sex industry and its commodification of female sexuality/bodies - mind, industry, not workers themselves per se - conducive to the equality of women in a larger social sense? Because frankly, I don't understand how the position that the contribution to our overall culture sex industry creates is the commodification of the female is counterintuitive at all.

My point is utterly divorced from any idea of wanting/not wanting to participate in sex work.  I question the value of sex work as an accepted and condoned part of our overall culture - furthermore, I think it detracts from where we'd like the culture to go, if the destination is equality for women.

#4 - I disagree.  It's not really a grey area.  Sex work is not a positive force in the world, IMV, and my feminism certainly reinforces that position.

onlinediscountanvils

Thanks for that post, Kaitlin!

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:
I used to think all sex work was not good becasue of the commodification aspect, and because I wouldn't want to do it regardless. I have since changed my tune because I spoke with sex workers and read alternate literature and realized that me not wanting it doesn't mean other cant want it.

Like you, I also changed my thinking on this issue as a result of listening to the opinions and experiences of sex workers. That, and coming to the realization that most of the amazing feminists in my life are sex work positive. When I look around my own community and see who's actively organizing around issues that are near and dear to me (anti-poverty, anti-gentrification, FN solidarity/decolonization, migrant justice, prisoner solidarity, disability rights), sex workers and pro-sex work feminists are at the core of these movements locally. Solidarity is reciprocal. Sex workers in my community are fighting for me, and I'll fight for them.

I was reluctant to comment in this thread because I didn't want to be the one to interrupt the streak of the first 20+ posts by women, which is rare even for the FF. But now that I'm here, I do want to say that the suggestion that Susan is "practically 'grooming'" is so offensive and disgusting, and I cant believe that such a personal attack has gone unchallenged (and even received kudos).

And I'll add my support for Maysie's comments in post #2.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

oda, the comments about susan's comments may be marginally hyperbolic, but she does tend to paint the industry with a sparkly-rainbow-ponies-farting-moonbeams brush.  I think the point to be taken is that she dismisses much of the misery and hardship that is inherent in a very large segment of sex work, and that's problematic in a wider discussion of it.

lagatta

Yes, certainly many feminists (in the major feminist organizations) here in Québec, would disagree with this:

"Instead of beating a dead horse, more of less, I think if we move away from statements like this:

[an example] of jobs being eliminated 'cause they're damaging to society at large.

because it is disrespectful to sex workers who provide a valuable service, and only reference those reasons why sex workers are put in non-consensual situations, and acknowledge there are various types of sex work and reasons for sex work (both negative and positive) and discuss them accordingly, things can get better."

It is the JOBS, or fields of work, that are damaging to society as a whole, whether by commodification, militarization or a host of other negatives. That does not imply disrespect to any workers or "throwing them under the bus". I don't think commoditized sexual relations are good for women or for a non-alienated society in general. And obviously prostitution is not the only example of that; much of marriage (for money and property relations) could certainly be defined as such, certainly before women had rights are persons.

There is another aspect of this too: this discourse hides a much more unsavoury side, advocating to the right to pimp and profit from the sale of another person. This is no nicer if women are the perps, no more than genital mutilation is because it is usually performed by older women.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Timebandit wrote:

Your #3 - How is, big picture here, the sex industry and its commodification of female sexuality/bodies - mind, industry, not workers themselves per se - conducive to the equality of women in a larger social sense? Because frankly, I don't understand how the position that the contribution to our overall culture sex industry creates is the commodification of the female is counterintuitive at all.

My point is utterly divorced from any idea of wanting/not wanting to participate in sex work.  I question the value of sex work as an accepted and condoned part of our overall culture - furthermore, I think it detracts from where we'd like the culture to go, if the destination is equality for women.

I agree with you that something like the sex trade industry or forced prostitution is not in line with my feminism. At all. 

I think the idea of "equality for women" is something quite elusive when we dont consider the lives of those women who are sex work positive. That is not meant as a low blow because what I thought was counterintuitive in this statement

the principle is that while you can choose to do what you like with your own body, when you step back and look at the big picture of commodifying sex 

was that feminism and equality are about women choosing what to do with their own bodies, but they aren't allow to use those bodies for sex work under there own discreation.

I agree that the majority of sex work is not "rainbows" and such, and I also don't mean to paint it that way either.

 

#4 - I disagree.  It's not really a grey area.  Sex work is not a positive force in the world, IMV, and my feminism certainly reinforces that position.

Without sounding like a broken record, my feminism does not reinforce that position on the whole and echo ODA sentiments about awesome feminists in my life that are attuned to the world of sex work and are sex work positive.

That does not mean they/I endorse the commodification of women or the inequality of women, but that the smaller sect of sex work performed by women is something vital and that those currently in the sex work industry are in need of rights in the first place.

Especially since if sex work is going to follow this tangent [all types of sex work] ---> [only positive sex work] there will need to be some point in the middle where women not wanting to be there are able to get legal rights and take control (like away from others) and have access to resources.

The grey area is not only that middle, but that there are different kinds of sex work to me, not just forced sex work.

p.s. the metaphor was something along the lines of "see, we can all get along" or "pit bulls are supposed to be mean, but it's with a baby chick" and babblers can seem like pit bulls but we're not. Mostly I just love that picture and it makes me happy and will bring up any excuse to post it.

quizzical

commodification of women and our bodies.....how's it worked for us so far?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Kaitlyn, sex work doesn't need to be "forced" to be ultimately negative. 

In fact, I reject the notion that there is any such thing as "positive" sex work.  There's just sex work.  One of the fundamental underpinnings of sex work/sex industry (the distinction is so much hair-splitting once money is in the equation) is commodification of female bodies and sexuality.  As long as that is the case - and how can it not be in a commercial endeavour? - there is a migraine-inducing cognitive dissonance, to me, in reconciling that with the most basic aims of feminism. So far, I haven't seen an argument that directly addresses that paradox other than to ask that we simply accept the dissonance and be okay with it.

An endorsement of the sex industry - as a whole or in part - is an endorsement of the commodification of women.  That is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

 ETA:  Have you ever see what a pit bull can do to a bunny?  I have.  Not cute.  Not cute at all. 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

There's a whole other topic going missing here but I'm not sure I can do it justice. I guess I could just say, sex work ain't going away even if the last sex worker in the world gave it up. There's sex workers of privilege and then others. I know it's a sad commentary. Pardon me for blunt truths.

 

There's a much bigger problem for us to solve. Patriarchy. We should realize who our allies and those we should be fighting for are. I don't find this discussion heading in that direction.

 

Y'all are blind if you don't see every male/female, male/male, female/female relationship as a transaction in our capitalist culture.

Francesca Allan

I guess I'm blind.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Just like our businesses they have a >50% failure rate. To tell you the truth, that's just marriage. But like I said, I can't do it justice. Lots won't get it. Just my observations.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I don't know if this helps make more sense but the laws of our land have already put a price on it, now we're just debating what to call it. Like I said, a bigger conversation to have. These trifles are like a mosquito bite. And that's how they like it. We're swatting mosquitoes instead of clearing the forest for the trees.

Ghislaine

RevolutionPlease wrote:

 

 

Y'all are blind if you don't see every male/female, male/male, female/female relationship as a transaction in our capitalist culture.

This is bs. I am definitely not blind and definitely do not agree with it. Many of us are in loving relationships that are not transactions at all. Equal partnerships built on love - mine built at a time when we were both extremely poor and up to our eyeballs in debt. How on earth could this be some sort of transaction? 

Timebandit and unionist, I appreciate your posts as you are articulating things better than I feel capable. 

I dont agree that sex work is a "valuable service" or can be "positive". It just reinforces some of the most basic tenets of patriarchal oppression and capitalist exploitation. Men have the right to women whenever they want and they can buy whatever they want. I especially don't want my daughter ever exposed to the idea that it is a legitimate or positive career choice, let alone a feminist one. 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

So we have established that I and some others think there can be positive sex work and other think there cant be. That's fine.

An example of sex work I think is positive is this, which i copied from Catchfire in another forum:

As many of them will testify, being a person with a disability makes acquiring sexual and romantic fulfilment difficult. Denise Beckwith, a medal-winner in the Sydney Paralympics, told ABC News that her interaction with a sex worker helped her develop in ways she otherwise may not have. “I have a disability (cerebral palsy) and my first sexual experience was with a sex worker, and I really value that experience because it gave me confidence to then pursue other relationships.” When she was 16, her father helped her acquire time with a male sex worker. ‘Brad’ from South Australia told Touching Base (another organisation helping people with disabilities reach sex workers):

“I would not argue for a minute, that the services of a sex worker can replace a loving intimate partnership. It cannot. I married a few years later, in my early 40’s, for the first time.

However, anyone with a few grams of practicality and common sense can see that disabled people are not as freely able to access forms of erotic touch, as every other person. It is disturbing, heart rending, when it is stated that disabled people are not as readily chosen as sexual partners as those without disabilities and many people rush to deny this fact.”

Indeed, even he acknowledges one of the problems that reverberates into making such interaction harder for people like him is “a lack of respect of the role of the sex worker”.

Sex workers are able to cater to those needs, allowing for these persons to fulfil their fantasies in a consensual relation with another adult. As sex worker and campaigner Rachel Wooton said: “I treat them as human beings. And they all have different needs and desires…it’s just about changing my service delivery slightly.”

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

This essay brings up some great points that I think all of us can agree with at some level. It is from prominent activist and former sex worker Audacia Ray and unforutnately since it is now part of a book, it seems to be taken off the internet in it's entirety, but here are some snippets from feministe:

Why the Sex Positive Movement is Bad for Sex Workers

 Over the past several decades, a contingent of feminist, sex positive sex workers have emerged, and they have claimed their right to experience the pleasures of sex and share those pleasures with others, including paying clients. 

the promotion of pleasure and sex positivity within the sex industry and as an element of sex worker rights activism, is proprietary to a small but very vocal group of people, namely: white, cisgender women who are conventionally attractive, able-bodied, and have some degree of class and educational privilege. People like this – people like me – are central figures in the American sex worker rights movement, and often claim sex positivity as a key vehicle for claiming rights and making progress.

Why would sex positive feminists want to halt the progress toward human rights for sex workers? I believe that the answer is that sex positive feminists do not intend to create barriers for the achievement of sex workers’ rights, but that there are ways in which this happens anyway.

She is pro sex worker rights (as I think most of us are?).

The article makes a good argument that if someone is discussing sex positive sex work, but ignoring the larger majority of sex workers and conditions within that context then that does a disservice to the discussion happening around sex work. Agreed.

Forgive this tumblr link, but it is a quick interesting commentary on the article.

The acknowledgement of beauty norms and that of "cis-gender white women" is something relevant in this conversation.

To make a statement, I think those talking about sex positive sex work (myself included) were not doing it while excluding other women or the large majority of sex work either. It was to distinguish between situations of sex work and that abolishing sex work is neither realistic or the answer and that sex workers can provide a valuable service (but again, that is a small sect of the population).

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Timebandit wrote:

It's also a vanishingly small subset of what we're talking about, and a bit of a distraction. Seriously, what percentage of sex work actually applies here?

I was asked to provide an example of why I think sex work can be a valuable service and I did. I also have continually acknowledged that this represents a very small sect and does not represent the majority of sex work.

I don't know what percentage it applies to, but was not using this as example to justify the "commodification of women" or privilege trumping human rights. In the example I gave, in no ways are either of those things present.

Ultimately, I don't think you can entirely get past it.

I'm pretty sure this was directed at me and thought that I was just taking part in this conversation, and really, providing support that I was asked to give.

And, to echo the other article I posted, because I deem some small areas of sex work valuable, does not mean that I do not acknowledge that the vast majority of sex work is harmful to those sex workers.

 

Abolishing things and making things illegal is neither realistic nor productive. I don't believe making things illegal and taking rights away helps anything or will make the vast majority of sex work help women get out of it by making resources available.

It's like how police view street sex workers as loitering and force them to "move along" right into the unsafe dark corners where they can be victimized. Out of sight out of mind for the police? Pushing women out of safe spaces because it's "the law" increases harm to women and there are no repercussions. 

susan davis

an interesting article comparing migrant farm workers and migrant sex workers

http://www.7dvt.com/2013tale-two-migrants

Tightening the borders — which is part of the antitrafficking regime — only increases the price and risk to the migrant, and also her potential exploitation. “The laws meant to prevent trafficking make trafficking more likely,” Peters says.

Similarly, criminalizing sex work fosters violence from police and clients, legitimizes discrimination and stymies demands for better working conditions, including safer-sex practices. This is why the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization call for decriminalization, including the repeal of laws prohibiting brothel keeping — like those used to shutter Vermont’s massage parlors.

And, declares the UNDP’s Global Commission on HIV and the Law, “Anti-human-trafficking laws must be used to prohibit sexual exploitation and they must not be used against adults involved in consensual sex work.”

No work is intrinsically degrading. Migrant Justice was founded in 2009 after a Mexican farmworker was strangled when his clothes got caught in the gutter cleaner. He died sluicing cow shit from a barn. The organization’s first act was to bring his body home for a dignified funeral.

Vermont has shown reason and compassion in upholding the rights of men like Danilo Lopez. The same cannot be said for sex workers, unless they are designated as victims. Until proven otherwise, we should assume that Lopez and Rose are adults who’ve made choices under tough conditions. Both are workers. They should be treated the same.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

Timebandit wrote:

It's also a vanishingly small subset of what we're talking about, and a bit of a distraction. Seriously, what percentage of sex work actually applies here?

I was asked to provide an example of why I think sex work can be a valuable service and I did. I also have continually acknowledged that this represents a very small sect and does not represent the majority of sex work.

I don't know what percentage it applies to, but was not using this as example to justify the "commodification of women" or privilege trumping human rights. In the example I gave, in no ways are either of those things present.

I don't think you intended to.  However, there remains a logical disconnect.  Once money enters the equation, the "service" is commodified.  That's what "commodified" literally means.  So we have an admittedly very, very small number of overall users of the service who you feel are justified in their desire to purchase it. Nevertheless, the ability to purchase is privelege, IMV, not a right. So I would argue that both privelege and commodification are inherent in this arrangement, whether you are able-bodied or not. Whether or not you think this service is valuable to this subset of users is immaterial. It is still exploitive, commodifying and based on privelege.

 

Quote:

Ultimately, I don't think you can entirely get past it.

I'm pretty sure this was directed at me and thought that I was just taking part in this conversation, and really, providing support that I was asked to give.

And, to echo the other article I posted, because I deem some small areas of sex work valuable, does not mean that I do not acknowledge that the vast majority of sex work is harmful to those sex workers.

 

The intention was more a global you, not directed at anyone in particular, or more specifically, at anyone advancing the argument that commodification is escapable when it comes to the sex industry.  So far, I haven't seen a solid argument that it is possible, except by saying things aren't what they are.

 

Quote:

Abolishing things and making things illegal is neither realistic nor productive. I don't believe making things illegal and taking rights away helps anything or will make the vast majority of sex work help women get out of it by making resources available.

It's like how police view street sex workers as loitering and force them to "move along" right into the unsafe dark corners where they can be victimized. Out of sight out of mind for the police? Pushing women out of safe spaces because it's "the law" increases harm to women and there are no repercussions. 

If I understand it correctly, the Nordic model decriminalizes sex workers, but criminalizes the customers, thereby reducing demand.  And while you're correct that full abolition is unlikely, at least anytime in the near future, I think that reduction is not a bad thing in itself. As I argued above, I dispute that rights are being taken away - rather, the privelege of buying sex is.  I'm pretty okay with that.

That said, I also support charging any customers who abuse, assault or harrass sex workers and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law.

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