Monday, April 9, 2012

This Opinion Piece Gives Me A Headache

This article just annoyed the hell out of me.  Thank goodness it was in the "Opinion" section and they weren't considering it actual journalism.

Let's start with the title "Decriminalization of Prostitution is the Wrong Solution".  Prostitution is legal in Canada.  I'm fairly certain it has always been legal.  Therefore suggesting that making it legal is the wrong solution is an absolutely false statement.  What hasn't been legal are three fairly major elements involved - operating an establishment for the purpose of prostitution, being found in such an establishment and publicly communicating for the purpose of prostitution.  One could however email someone and offer them sex for money then meet at a hotel and complete the transaction - no laws broken.

"a step backward for human rights"

How is it a step backward for human rights to give people the right to do whatever they want with their body?  Apparently giving people freedom is a bad thing?

"the court ruled vaguely that living off the avails — pimping — remains illegal “in circumstances of exploitation.”"

I find it interesting that the writer thinks this is vague, but then throughout the article describes several examples of this exploitation.  I think he's actually pretty clear on the circumstances of exploitation.

"I have seen firsthand the reality of the sex trade. Working on a program to address the exploitation of women in the notorious Thai sex trade brought me to the roadside brothels along the Thai-Cambodia border — where young girls are first exposed to prostitution — and on to their ultimate destination, the sex clubs of major cities."

I hardly think the child sex-trade in Thailand can be compared to loosening up the laws in Canada for adult men and women.  What's happening in Thailand would still be illegal in Canada even with these changes to the laws.  Hello!  Minors, exploitation, slavery, kidnapping, selling children....  Seriously - what does this have to do with allowing one consenting adult to sell a personal service to another consenting adult in a safe environment?


and this
are not the same as this
 "how has our collective moral compass become so unhinged that we see nothing wrong with exploitation as a commercial enterprise?"

Do you not remember just mentioning that the exploitation part is still illegal?  You should really read your own writing.

"Last year, Waterloo Regional Police responded to more than 200 calls regarding prostitution and laid more than 50 criminal charges"

Yes - if these were charges relating specifically to the laws that have been struck down, I too am highly disappointed that so much police time has been wasted.  Oh - that's probably not what you were going for.  If on the other hand these charges related to physical abuse or minors prostituting themselves or other exploitative behaviours then this is good as those things are and should be illegal.  Thank you to our police force for helping to keep our citizens safe!

"Thaler opposes repealing prostitution laws, though his reasoning might surprise decriminalization advocates. To him, it’s not a law enforcement issue: it’s an issue of human exploitation."

Again - exploitation still illegal. 

""People involved in prostitution are mostly victims,” he says. “It’s part of a high-risk lifestyle, stemming from drug addiction and mental illness. “"

Yes - in the current system this seems likely (although I'd still like to see the studies that show this).  When we have a society where there are children living on the streets and adults can't make ends meet and end up homeless, it's reasonable to assume that many turn to prostitution out of desperation for money.  And drug addicts certainly don't make the best life decisions.  And those with mental illness and living in the street are often not mentally capable of proper consent.  Yet the prevailing thought in this statement (and the next couple paragraphs) is that these law changes will make this situation worse.  In fact these changes would have no negative effect whatsoever on these particular victims.  How many homeless and/or financially desperate people do you know that own a premises that can be used as a brothel?  Their only real option in the profession would still be soliciting on the street which would remain illegal.  Or perhaps they could go to work at a legitimate brothel where it would actually be safer.  How about we realize that these are actually symptoms of larger issues and deal with those rather than blaming prostitution and punishing those who legitimately choose the profession.  It would be similar to saying that Actors & Actresses often become addicted to drugs so we should make cinematography illegal.

"Prostitution is sexual exploitation, not work."

When you get right down to it, all work is exploitation for money.  I only work because I need money.  My job just happens to be numerical exploitation instead of sexual.  But I consent to it.  I have chosen to exploit myself in this way.  I believe firmly that everyone should be able to choose how they exploit themselves.  And it should be fully regulated and taxed.  And if they choose sex over flipping burgers or selling cars then so be it.

"Decriminalization does not solve the exploitation that is intertwined with the sex trade"

No it does not, because they are two separate issues.  And haven't we already covered the whole exploitation issue?  You've forgotten already?  STILL ILLEGAL!!!

"it sends the message that the sexual abuse of another is acceptable, as long as money is exchanged."

Why is sex synonymous with abuse?  Does my husband abuse me every time we have sex?  Am I abusing him?  There is nothing wrong with consensual sex whether it be for love or money or just a good time.

"It emboldens the pimps who prey on the vulnerable"

Still illegal!

"and the ‘johns’ who believe it their right to rent someone’s body."

It is their right to rent anything that is being freely offered for rent.  It is my right to "rent" my massage therapist's hands to relax my muscles.  It is my right to "rent" my dental hygienist's hands to clean my teeth.  It is my right to "rent" my accountant's brain and mouth and hands to do my taxes.  Every legitimate service out there is "renting" a part of someone's body to do your bidding.  Prostitutes have just chosen to "rent" a different part of their body.

"It makes it harder to combat by removing some of the legal mechanisms available to address it. “Prostitutes are often controlled by pimps who use violence, and find themselves in situations where they risk violence from their customers,” says Thaler."

Actually it makes it easier, by regulating it!  Just like auditors walk in to my office regularly to ensure that everything we do is legit, so to would inspectors be able to inspect a brothel.
If a prostitute who is working illegally on the street is beaten by her pimp or john, what is she going to do? Call the cops?
If I am beaten by my boss or co-worker or client, I have the justice system to fight back.

If a prostitute who is working legally in a regulated brothel is beaten by her supervisor or co-worker or client she too can use the police and the justice system to protect her.
And have I mentioned recently..... pimps + violence = EXPLOITATION = STILL ILLEGAL!!!

"“The laws provide us a mechanism to interrupt this cycle of exploitation.”"

The new laws certainly would.  The old laws?  As Dr Phil would say - "How's that workin' for ya?".

"Prostitution is damaging and degrading — to the prostitute, their customer and, ultimately, society."

Consensual sex is not abusive and it certainly isn't degrading.  I have fought my whole life to get rid of this stigma.  If anything, the stigma itself is what damages society.  Sex can be wonderful and/or beautiful and/or exciting and/or make your eyes roll back in your head and your toes curl.  And it can be all these things whether it be monogamous or with a few partners or with many partners.  It is what you make it.  If you don't agree with prostitution then don't become a prostitute and don't hire a prostitute.  That's the beauty of freedom and consent.

"Decriminalization is an abandonment of people at the margins of our society."

Again - no!  The two are unrelated.  Yes there are prostitutes.  And yes there are people in need of help.  Sometimes the two become one.  We have the ability to both allow the legitimate prostitutes to have the freedom to do with their bodies what they will AND create or improve social programs to help those "at the margins" who need it.  The two are not mutually exclusive. 

"We can and should do better."

Yes we should.  But first we as a collective society need to acknowledge what is and isn't an issue.