Women's poverty = Male sexual privilege

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martin dufresne
Women's poverty = Male sexual privilege

(Continued from here)

I find it significant that Thursday's unitary anti-poverty demonstration -
organized by a number of Quebec labour & community organizations - will
be crossing Montreal's traditional red-light district, where so many women impoverished by the Great Depression had to come seek means of survival - at the cost of their dignity, their health and of justice - since rich males and the tourist trade were allowed to buy their sexuality.

seventy-five years later, as "agency" pimps again enjoy total immunity - in
blatant disregard of the law -, is it only novelists such as Francine Noël
and Michel Tremblay who dare recall this long appropriation of Quebec women
by a rapacious industry, which some would paint as a tool of liberation?

By claiming the right to a decent income, the right to
health, the right to housing and the right to justice, Thursday's
demonstrators will be challenging a system that enshrines one of men's
sexual privileges by denying each of these rights to the most dispossessed
of women: runaways and homeless, indigenous, racialized women, pressured
into drug abuse and
sacrificed to chronic illness.

More and more of us
are convinced that a world without prostitution is possible and that it will
become a reality when our political parties are no longer allowed to protect
sexual exploiters.

This is the decision taken last week, on November 20,
by the Norwegian Parliament. Following Sweden's example, buying the
sexuality of women and youths will no longer be a prerogative of Norwegian
men, either at home or abroad, starting this January.

Just who is
keeping us from instituting similar reforms here?



Martin, this is an interesting topic of discussion you have raised here.

 IF prostitution is to remain illegal, I agree completely that the people doing the purchasing should be prosecuted/fined etc. rather than the prostitues themselves. There is quite a lot of sex trafficking in Canada and elsewhere and often these women and children are victims.

 However, this is an issue where I am torn, as there is an argument to be made for legalization. A woman should have a right to choose whatever she wants to do with her own body, should she not? And if it were legal, a lot of the oppressive and exploitive circumstances could make way for a protective regulatory framework to protect sex workers' rights.

As Michelle pointed out, there are women who are fully aware of what they are doing and want to do it - and are organizing themselves to make it a safer profession on their terms.

 I share the concerns as well though, about officially commodifying sex in are already over-commodified world.

martin dufresne

"A woman should have a right to choose whatever she wants to do with her
own body, should she not?'

Absolutely - as long as no one else is harmed -, which is why I and abolitionist groups totally oppose any criminalization or harassment of prostituted people.

"And if it were legal, a lot of the oppressive
and exploitive circumstances could make way for a protective regulatory
framework to protect sex workers' rights"

That is less clear. In the view of the pro-prostitution lobby, "it" includes the activities of johns, pimps, brothel entrepreneurs and procurers, most of which use domestic and international trafficking. According to most prostituted women's own accounts, these people exploit dispossessed women's various circumstances to make prostitution de facto an oppressive and exploitive activity in itself, rarely chosen by the women and youths it uses.

As for the notion of a protective regulatory framework, the aforesaid lobby totally resists it, demanding across-the-board decriminalization instead. They argue, correctly IMO, that it would make the State a pimp, profiting from women's sexual exploitation.

Abolitionists, such as the Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexelle (CLES) here in Quebec, do demand an overall reform framework that would meet the demands of currently prostituted women, claims addressed in the opening post of a right to a livable income, a right to housing, to safety, to justice and to the social supports that would create an alternative to prostitution.

just one of the...

Besides male "abolitionists", there are feminist organizations which are actually composed of sex workers, who can think for themselves, and who consider CLÉS to be exclusive, condescending, and oppressive:

"The evidence we have demonstrated, in terms of our experience around violence as derived from the criminalization of sex workers and clients, therefore, needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness. Current policies, and those recommended by the Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLÉS), for example, to further criminalize our clients, are extremely dangerous and NOT informed by those actually working in the sex industry. These policies claim to be protecting sex workers, by decriminalizing sex workers but not their clients, these policies actually make it more dangerous for sex workers. Partial decriminalization does not respond to the need to end violence against sex workers.
To arrive a system where equality is extended to sex workers in the city, sex workers and sex worker groups need to be consulted.
• The City of Montreal needs to consult sex workers and sex workers’
organizations like Stella when creating new policies and law that affect sex workers.
• The City of Montreal should be encouraged to create working groups to discuss issues related to prostitution and criminalization and see how sex workers, as citizens within our communities, can contribute to equality within our cities."

link: ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/url/ITEM/3F5D48F4B4F080BAE0430A93013280BA

martin dufresne

(edited below)

martin dufresne

Unless the expression "sex worker" is given such a wide extension as to include mere sympathizers, the above statement - actually composed of sex workers - is inaccurate in the case of the Stella organization.
Here is how they self-identify on their website:

"Stella was created in 1995 through the initiative of a handful of sex-workers, public-health researchers and sympathisers. The first team consisted of four employees, a handful of volunteers and sympathizers.

Stella et ses locaux sont réservés aux femmes, travesties et transsexuelles travaillant ou ayant travaillé dans l’industrie du sexe et à leurs alliés. Par alliés, on entend les individus et les groupes qui n'ont pas d'expérience de travail dans l'industrie du sexe, mais qui ont une bonne connaissance des réalités du travail du sexe au Canada ou au niveau international, reconnaissent le travail du sexe comme une forme de travail et soutiennent les personnes qui le pratiquent de même que leur lutte pour sa décriminalisation."

It is too bad that Stella chooses to attack CLES, as we both struggle for decriminalization of prostituted people and an improvement of their living conditions, on the basis of what prostituted women tell us themselves about their lives.

just one of the...

You are either unable to read, or are deliberately misreading. "Composed of" does not mean that every last employee or affiliate is a sex worker. I'm sure you can comprehend that though. I'm sure youve seen a grassroots group that has paid researchers, or volunteers from outside. Waste of time.

Care to explain why women can be free to choose miserable careers in every other respect, in domestic servitude, as wage slaves, as underpaid workhorses and corporate trophies, but for some reason you draw the line at porn and sexual contact? How purist. 
How about we ban the hiring of maids, and criminalize those that hire them, and see how much better it gets for women in that industry? You are living in a fairytale.  

martin dufresne

I are not talking about women's freedoms but about that of men to buy sex. It seems to me, as a society, are entitled to listen to all women's experiences, weigh all relevant costs and benefits and take decisions as to which so-called freedoms are proving too harmful to the rights and welfare of others to go on being coddled.

I maintain that the "composed of" label is totally misleading, as is the extremely wide definition given to "sex workers" by the Stella organization (above), when - on the other hand - very few of actually prostituted women in the world identify as such. Indeed, I have often heard Stella lobbyists acknowledge that they spoke for self-identified "sex workers", NOT prostituted women. That, by the way, problematizes any analogy to the labour movement.

just one of the...

And what of men's freedom to hire maids, exploit women's bodies in sweatshops, overwork the wait staff, assault the secretary?In all of those other settings our society agrees that a legal, regulated framework for buyers as well as sellers makes women safer and exposes the workplace to daylight. Why is stripping and touching best kept underground?
Or do you think I should have the right to exploit myself in some ways, but not in "undiginified" others?

martin dufresne

So many straw men, so little time...