I wish to take seriously the claim that selling sex is “work like any other kind of work” and examine what taking this claim on its face as true would entail in the United States. In my view, there are serious problems with the regulatory approach that aims to treat women selling sex (“sex work” in their lingo) as simply a form of work like any other. To take the claim that “sex work” should be treated/regulated like any other form of work seriously, the following, at minimum, would have to be addressed:
- Worker Safety
- Sexual harassment
- Civil rights
In what follows, I draw on the laws of the United States regarding workers safety, sexual harassment, and civil rights to show that the claim that selling sex is work just like any other form of work is indefensible.
It's from an American perspective, but I suggest that Canadian regulations regarding worker's health and safety are similar. The discussion on sexual harrassment is especially interesting, considering that sexual harrassment and having sex with people they do not desire is a part of the job as a sex worker.
The author is a professor of women's and gender studies at the University of San Diego.
My own observations are that sex work is dangerous and enormously harmful to women. In my experience working with addicted persons, women who successfully conquer their addictions will stop doing sex work.
Legalizing sex work doesn't solve the problem of sexual predators who for time immemorial have been drawn to rape and murder sex workers.