RSS

Tag Archives: criminalization

Why reporting on an Olympian’s sexwork is unethical and bad for society

 

The media should never have published the story about US Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton working as a high-end escort. Reporting on it sends the message that sexwork is somehow “different” from all other work; if Suzy had been working as a teacher, cleaner or data entry clerk, it would not have been worth reporting on. More disturbingly, the message of sexwork being ‘different’ is more often than not a negative one, with connotations of misogyny and associated judgements of being ‘dirty’, ‘slutty’ or (traditionally) ‘immoral’.

And this holier-than-thou thing has got to stop. Even if sexwork is in some way different, and Suzy is ‘dirty’ or ‘immoral’, what are we to say about the morality of the client who outed her for money, or the news corporation who also outed her and exploited her for money? The client who goes to a ‘dirty’ person and contributes to the ‘dirty’ business of sexwork is himself dirty; yet he is not criticised because he’s not a public figure. This whole thing is just disgusting; a tale of money-grabbing at any cost and not caring who is hurt in the process, while pretending to be somehow better than an Olympian who owns a business and works as a sexworker. Like, yeah, I can see how we’re all totally better and more successful and hardworking than Suzy.

At least this article may change people’s perceptions of escorts and show how ridiculous criminalizing sexwork (it is criminalised in America) is. The original and subsequent article state that Suzy is a separated mother who owns a business, thereby debunking the stereotype of drug-addicted sexworkers and showing people that sexworkers can have other jobs too. The Madonna-whore dichotomy is debunked here, too: Suzy is wife, mother and whore. Also, her statement that she contacted the agency to “fulfil a fantasy” and got “hooked” proves that sexworkers are not unhappy  ‘sex slaves’ as abolitionists would have us believe; neither was Suzy forced into sexwork. The subsequent article states that Suzy may, against her will, be forced to tell the FBI details about the agency who made her work possible – proving how criminalization can have upsetting consequences for sexworkers and ruin agencies’ businesses.

And hopefully Suzy will be able to put her prices up now.  Here’s to you, Suzy, and may we all have the courage to fulfil our fantasies as you have done.

 

 

 

 

http://www.inquisitr.com/447951/former-olympian-has-been-working-as-a-600-an-hour-escort/?obref=obinsite

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Sex work

 

Tags: , , , , ,

BEST post ever on anti-sex work radfems’ tactics in silencing sex workers.

Feminist Ire

The feminist movement really is in a pickle these days. It used to be a given that things like prostitution, pornography and stripping were bad, but nowadays there’s some resistance to these time-honoured notions. Women are increasingly coming out as sex workers and demanding rights. As feminists seek to shut down strip bars and criminalise clients, those women are complaining not just that they’ll lose their livelihood, but that they’ll be at increased risk of abuse and violence if their industries go underground! You can’t let such trivial concerns get in the way of your crusade, so below are some handy tips for discrediting these pesky meddlers. Remember: being an actual sex worker doesn’t entitle her to speak about sex work!

I don’t believe you; you don’t realise the harm you’re doing to yourself

This is generally your starting point. There you are, explaining that no woman…

View original post 938 more words

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Feminism, Sex work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why decriminalization is best for sex workers and society

Illegalization

This is the classic feminist stance – make all sex work a crime. Radical feminists were pushing for this in the 1970s and some feminists, such as SCASE, continue this fight today.

Illegalization is:

Good because it’d stop commercialisation and target all sex workers, not just streetwalkers as decriminalization currently does. It would target clients as well as sex workers so it’d stop the double standard of criminalizing sex workers and not clients.

No prostitution means women will not be objectified (not sure on this one, though – prostitution and objectification of women may not be linked. And what about men who are prostitutes?)

Bad because the police have to use unethical and questionable methods of entrapment to get prosecutions (e.g. America, where privacy and freedoms have been severely threatened, for example police breaking down doors to catch people having sex). This might actually do more harm than good for sex workers, women and society in general. Art 8 ECHR (right to private and family life) and its case law may preclude using these methods in Britain, because they may fail the two-prong test of being a proportionate response and legitimate in a democratic society.

Bad because illegalization stigmatises and criminalizes the already marginalized sex worker

Bad because prostitution would still exist, though there might be less of it. If sex work is a crime, it means that sex workes will not report rape, other violence, the behaviour of pimps, etc to the police. The policies of brothels (which are now called escort agencies/massage parlours etc, but might change in structure and operation after illegalization) could not be subject to scrutiny. Sex work would be invisible and harder for police to investigate. Sex workers would be more likely to experience rape and less able or willing to go to the authorities for help or escape the sex work criminal underworld,  which would likely be controlled by criminal gangs rather than exist as a cottage industry, as it does now (similar to other illegal things like drugs, guns, etc) . Trafficking would be more rife because of said criminals controlling sex work and less British women willing to do risk punishment by doing sex work. Sex workers charged by the police might lie that they were trafficked to avoid punishment or stop their children being taken away by Social Services. This is happening at this very minute across the pond, where it leads to innocent brothel managers being locked up for sex trafficking. The sex workers who can’t bring themselves to get their colleagues injustly imprisoned get their children taken away. Valuable taxpayer’s money and police time are thrown away tracking down and jailing sex workers and clients. This does not benefit sex workers, clients or society at all. Neither does the existence of a criminal-controlled prostitution underworld.

So, we can see that while illegalization does have its good points, ultimately it endangers sex workers and also our general individual freedom from state/police intervention. It gives nothing of benefit to society and harms society by hurting families, generating crime and trafficking, and wasting police resources that could be better used stopping murder, rape, etc.

Legalisation argument

Legalization:

Stops streetwalking, the most dangerous type of sex work, as workers can work in legal brothels (a la Nevada in America, Australia, Netherlands)

Stops the public nuisance aspect of streetwalking with red light districts/zones/designated sex work areas (Netherlands, zones in some Scottish cities such as by the docks in Leith, Edinburgh)

Safer, cleaner, better environment for sex workers because brothels will be registered with the state and subject to inspections. (I like to use the body modification or tattoo industry analogy here – licensing and inspections enforce safety).

Improves their rights

Health checkups to stop disease

Stops stigmatization/criminalization

It’s a useful social service for shy, disabled or lonely men

Can tax sex workers so the state earns money (ILO supports this as its good for poor countries)

Oldest profession/we must learn to accept it

Response to male needs

Just a job

Problems

Some workers prefer streetwalking as they choose their own clients and working hours, or aren’t organised enough to work in brothels, or have HIV and are rejected by brothels

Checkups usually only on sex workers not clients (though not in Australia where the client sticks his thing in the wall and it scans for diseases!)

Diseased or drug addicted women rejected by state brothels

Some people prefer to run illegal brothels so they will still exist

Sex workers who streetwalk or are unregistered/working in illegal brothels are criminalized even more than in the present decriminalized approach in the UK

Workers in illegal brothels or streetwalkers fear to report violence as they would be charged with being a non-registered sex worker (the illegalization problem again)

Sex workers’ rights not always protected

Environments are worse as they cannot choose own clients

Many clients married, not shy or disabled

The oldest profession argument is fatalistic/defeatist (Matthews)

Natural response to male needs argument stops discussion of female needs (McIntosh)

Supports double standard (Jeffreys)

Reinforces patriarchal male dominance (Schoular)

Assumes all laws are bad, ignores the way they protect women from exploitation

Checkups historically only on women and forced, doesn’t protect them from clients

Liberals depict women doing it because they enjoy it or find it empowering however many are coerced into it or forced to do sex work because of poverty (Doezema). The image of the ‘happy hooker’ may be true for educated women such as students (the ‘Belle du Jour’ experience)  – who usually work off the street – but not for working class women especially streetwalkers. Most become sex workers before the age of 18 – are they really magically consenting as soon as they turn 18?

Prostitute identity inseparable from sense of self, unlike other jobs (Phoenix)

Trafficking increases with legalization

Red light zones are bad places for women to live as street harrassment increases a lot and crime tends to thrive once an area is designated.

So, legalization doesn’t protect streetwalkers or workers in illegal brothels and actually victimizes them more, similarly to illegalization. It is also bad for women who aren’t sex workers as they get harassed. Legalization may be good for non-streetwalkers, but it still comes with mixed blessings, such as forced sexual health checkups, mandatory registration of real identity with the state/less privacy and anonymity and being taxed on earnings, which may cause sex workers to increase their prices.

Decriminalisation argument

Decriminalization (the current UK situation) is:

Less hypocritical

Health/control disease by voluntary checkups

Allows welfare provision and exiting strategies as well as allowing freedom to be a sex worker at the same time, thus allowing sex workers to choose their destiny

Avoids stigmatisation by the criminal justice system and social attitudes

Sex work is not harmful/is consensual so law has no right to intervene

Laws protect workers from exploitation, unlike legalization

Sex workers can report violence to police without fear, so they are more safe

Trafficking rates low as British people willing to do sex work as it’s not a crime, they can choose how they work and they don’t have to register their legal name

Problems

The relationship may be unequal or coercive, not really consensual

May allow more profits to be made from prostitution/increased commercialization which is bad for sex workers’ rights

Legitimising prostitution only accentuates the double standard/polarised view of gender roles and sex, however not as much as legalizing it would do

Legitimising it increases harassment of women in red light districts and sexual assaults, but again not as much as legalization

So, decriminalization, while not without its problems, is the best for sex workers because it allows them freedom while simultaneously offering exiting help to those who want to leave the industry. Privacy and anonymity are protected and sex workers can choose whether they want to streetwalk, work from home or in a brothel. Although soliciting and kerb-crawling are crimes, this is necessary to stop public nuisance and is not punishable by jail time for either the sex worker or the client. Women are protected from the street harrassment common in legalization, and decriminalization does not support the double standard as much as legalization does.

This doesn’t mean that it all ends here and we can’t make changes within a decriminalization framework.

Roger Matthews argues that we need to move beyond existing approaches to decriminalization and legalization and construct an alternative, radical regulationism. He then outlines some general legislative routes through which this radical regulationism could be realised:

General deterrence – criminalize clients rather than focus on sex worker

Stop commercialization of sex work – allow sex workers to cohabit to a degree, to protect themselves; from dangerous clients or needing the protection of a pimp

Exploitation and corruption: harsher sentencing/longer prison sentence as it is a form of rape; current UK legislation can’t differentiate between friends and parasites or protect women from pimps. However, Matthews doesn’t discuss this or mention evidence, though it is true, it would just have been nice to see some discussion of this.

Disturbance/harassment/nuisance – criminalize and deter clients who are more easily deterred than sex workers (proven by the Home Office report that they are much more easily deterred).

Proof of annoyance should be required for conviction of either,  not just police evidence, treat both client and sex worker equally, respect for  their rights and civil liberties (how, Matthews? If they are not allowed to sell sex, isn’t that already a violation?)

Radical regulationism differs from the Wolfenden approach cos not liberal or focussed on public nuisance or public visibility of prostitution; however, Matthews’ radical regulationism does put a lot of importance on harassment/public nuisance; it is one of its 4 strands. The fact that he doesn’t want to illegalize it is still “liberal” – ie rejects New Right discourse of prostitution as dirty- just he sees commercialization as a bad thing, unlike liberal/libertarian perspectives which are neutral or see it as good, but that’s the only real difference between radical regulationism and the Wolfenden approach/current situation (especially since the 1985 and 2007 acts do criminalize clients).

(This view by an academic is an example of how things could be changed. Doubtless you have your own views. I included this view to show that, even while accepting decriminalization and not pushing for the other two options, real change can still be fought for. Realising the status quo is the best way doesn’t mean we can’t get radical.)

References/stuff you might like to read if you’re interested

R. Matthews (1986) “Beyond Wolfenden? Prostitution, Politics and the Law” in R. Matthews and J. Young (eds) Confronting Crime, London: Sage

R. Matthews (2008) “Prostitution, vulnerability and victimisation” in Prostitution, Politics and Policy, Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish

The Scottish Executive (2004) Being Outside: A Response to Street Prostitution (about exiting strategies and small red light zones in non-residential areas of cities. Proves that there’s only about 2,000 prostitutes in all of Scotland who streetwalk or work out of flats. However, this isn’t counting call girls and those who work in massage parlours/saunas so is an underestimation.) Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/30859/0024989.pdf)

J. Phoenix (2000) “Prostitute Identities: Men, Money and Violence” British Journal of Criminology 40 (1) 37-55

R. Matthews (1993) Kerb-Crawling, Prostitution and Multi-Agency Policing”, Police Research Group Paper 43, London: Home Office

For Scottish Government information on the regulation of prostitution in Scotland (including information on recent legislation) see: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/crimes/Response

Home Office (2004) Paying the Price: A Consultation Paper on Prostitution, London: Home Office (just Google it)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 5, 2012 in Feminism, Sex work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Radical feminism: sex-negativism and an anti-feminist agenda

This was inspired by SCASE (Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation) outing Glasgow Sex Worker and claiming she is not a real person but an internet campaigns company on Facebook yesterday. (GSW was lucky that Marr outed her by the wrong identity/or deliberately lied what this identity was.)However, this post isn’t about that.

I’m not suggesting that all anti-sex feminists are trying to out sex workers or share exactly the same views as SCASE or can realistically all be lumped into one category of “radical feminists” or “anti-sex/anti sex industry feminists”. That’s ignorant. So let’s be calm about this and stress that SCASE has now deleted Stella Marr’s post and apologised which GSW has accepted. So maybe it would be more appropriate to say that Stella Marr outed GSW, and not SCASE. Regardless, the message – well, threat – was that if you speak out in favour of sex work – i.e. you don’t agree with criminalising it – you risk being publically outed and/or discredited on Facebook by feminists.  What Stella Marr was doing was effectively interfering with the excercise of free speech.

Moving swiftly on from this fiasco, feminist sex-negativism – whether that of the 1970’s as exemplified by Andrea Dworkin or that which still exists now, is not of benefit to women. Here’s why:

Feminist sex-negativism – whether it’s anti-pornography, anti-sex work, anti-the entire sex industry (if it’s even possible to lump women working out of flats, call girls, street walkers, Playboy, internet porn, FHM, porn actors, lap dancing clubs, etc all in one ‘industry’) becomes a position virtually indistinguishable from the Christian moral right. Carol Smart said it in 1985, and she was right.

It strips women of agency, labelling them as victims, trafficked, or exploited. This suppresses individual womens’ experiences and narratives. (Briefly glancing at their Facebook page and knowing that they would consider me to be Roland’s victim and this entire blog either a pro-sex work lie or a sad illusion of a meaningful experience was kind of frustrating). R Matthews and Ann Phoenix are two objective academics who describe the bad experiences of sex workers as well as the fallacy of depriving them of agency, why both legalisation and criminaliation are bad for sex workers and how most sex workers aren’t career sex workers. Some “pro-sex work” organisations are COYOTE, PLAN, and the sex workers’ trade union.

It leads to moral panics over sex trafficking which is actually very rare in the UK;  trafficking for labour is much more prevalent. But nobody cares, because ‘labour trafficking’ hasn’t got the word ‘sex’ in it so it doesn’t sell papers. The moral panics obscure real non-sex trafficking and stop these victims from recieving the help, justice and awareness they really, really need. Right now. They need it.

All that time and taxpayer’s money going into stopping sex trafficking (which led to only 5 convictions in the second nationwide sex trafficking operation) -read Brooke Magnanti’s book ‘The Sex Myth’ – could be better used to increase awafreness of, the conviction rates of and rates of reporting crimes such as rape, domestic abuse, and child molestation.

Criminalizing prostitution only leads to worse treatment of sex workers by employers and the criminal justice system; it also leads to sex workers’ children being taken away. They may lie that they were trafficked to keep their children, which results in innocent people being imprisoned for sex trafficking. Privacy and human rights are often infringed by the police, who can legally break down doors in hotel rooms or pose as sex workers to trap clients. Clients’ photographs and names are displayed on billboards. (America)

Likewise, legalizing prostitution also has problems (Australia, Netherlands). Decriminalization, or R Matthews’ ‘radical regulationism’ is the best way. (Oviously saying ‘this is the best way’ is not an actual argument. I will elaborate on this view in another post.) Decriminalization is what we currently have here in Britain.

Claiming all women are exploited by sex work or pornography diminishes society’s view of female sexual agency and rewrites women as sexually vulnerable and in need of protection and men as sexual predators. This is insulting and harmful to both genders.

Crusading to stop other women selling their bodies or lap dancing and condemning such activities is merely playing the role of enforcer (a female enforcer of the patriarchal double standard. I discused this in my post ‘SM and the double standard’, in the ‘Feminism’ category). This harms women as it teaches them that they are vulnerable to exploitation and can’t take control of their sexuality by sex work – if they do sex work, they’re automatically victims. It also reinforces the value of chastity and the sexual vulnerability of women in the public imagination, perpetuating the double standard and protectiveness of the female body.

Claiming that all women are exploited is a huge generalisation. You cannot make blanket statements about such a varied industry. It would be more sensible to accept that some women have horrific experiences, some women love it so much they spend all their time writing blogs/books about what a great time they’re having, and most women have mixed experiences, just like every other job where you have good times and bad times. Haven’t we all been there.

Criminalizing all sex work is not necessary to get a better life and better working conditions for sex workers. Sex worker activist groups like COYOTE in the USA and the sex worker trade union in the UK are already campaigning for better working conditions. By supporting them politically and financially, sex workers will be helped. Trying to criminalize sex work actually disparages and discredits these activists’ experiences, narratives and political efforts by claiming they are exploited or brainwashed. If criminalization were achieved, working conditions for sex workers would be much, much worse and there would be more violence, rape and sex trafficking. Why? Because the workers wouldn’t be able to report it to the police without being charged themselves. Sex work would be the province of a criminal underground, not random citizens working out of flats, unemployed women walking the streets when they feel like it, or students signing up with escort agencies – which tend to be small companies. There aren’t big prostitution corporations out there; let’s not make any. Porn companies tend to be small, too; (see my post about Zada Modelling, obviously a very small pornography company) an exception is of course Playboy, which has branched out into the fashion industry too.

All of the above doesn’t benefit women – either non-sex workers or sex workers and every nuance in between. (Yes, there are grey areas.) Four quick examples: me; sex shop assistants; porn film scriptwriters; SeekArrangement.com; escorts who don’t have sex but only provide an escorting service; phone sex chat workers; erotic novel authors; erotic anime/manga artists; people who sell pornography; people who have sex to get that promotion; people who date someone because they’re rich…(Ok that was more than four, but I couldn’t resist. There are an awful lot of grey areas. I really find it difficult to answer the question: Who is a sex worker?

Since the feminist anti-sex crusade is harmful to women, it is (unintentionally, inadvertently) anti-feminist.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Feminism, Sex work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,