Monday, October 06, 2014
During my recent trip, there were many unforeseen sights and sounds. A house of prostitution set up shop in the rooms around my own. Personally, I consider prostitution a victimless crime. Like the hotel workers these intrepid souls no doubt passed directly by on their way to the elevators, no one ever saw a need to report this activity. There are a million loopholes routinely exploited for the sake of plausibility denial. No one cares.
The black market is a poor substitute for how it could be if it were legalized. Decriminalizing sex work will make a great difference. The demand will always exist. Women, and even some men feel a burning desire to courageously assuage and satisfy someone else’s biological need. One said that she was performing a service for lonely men. I have no right to judge, particularly because I indulged a time before, though not in many years.
The assured safety of sex work in any form may be non-existent. Critiquing the protection of those engaged in the profession should not resort to blaming and shaming. We’ve rarely had a discussion as to the repercussions and risks involved, from a health standpoint. A while back, I had a conversation with a sex worker who had once been a heroin addict, but kept with it because the pay was good. That was her sole justification.
Some sex workers are drug addicts of one flavor or another. Others have severe mental illness. And then comes the rationalizations. To them, their duty is to come to the aid of those in need. They perform a service in which they are needed. Everyone recognizes that what they do is illegal, but that doesn’t dissuade a single person from engaging in it. In the meantime, female and male prostitutes have families, children, and even husbands, and the truth of their vocation is often hidden from almost everyone.
As feminists, I think we have more of an intellectual understanding of sex work than the truth. It’s easy to speak of violence against the defenseless, but these women (and men) make a concerted effort and embrace a means of choosing the vocation in which they work. No one held a gun to anyone’s head, though the likelihood of getting involved in a dangerous situation is likely quite high. I myself would never take on the profession, but it is the world's oldest occupation for a reason.
I met another sex worker whose favorite john gave her thousands of dollars for clothes. He liked them on her, and she got a free fashionable wardrobe. Where does fault fall here? Are both using each other for their own gratification? It’s easy to criticize Patriarchy, but complications are to be found everywhere.
It’s easy to take on their case as some simplistic Anti-Patriarchal statement, but the truth is much more complicated. We must respect individual freedom, even when the end result might mean violence, beating, and even death. We can't save anyone from themselves. Every sex worker is taking a risk, even the high end models. We’ve discussed transgender sex workers, who are especially at risk. If it would be up to me, sex workers would be given a clean bill of health and certified, for everyone’s protection. Until then, there will be an element of sleaze and danger assigned to it.