Outlaw Johns, Not Prostitutes

I’ve mentioned in passing on this blog that I think prostitution should be decriminalized, but that being a John – that is, hiring a prostitute – should be criminal. I thought it might be nice to share with “Alas” readers one of the articles I’ve read which has helped convince me that this is a policy worth pursuing.

Here are some key quotes from “The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services,” by Gunilla Ekberg (of Sweden’s Ministry of Industry, Employment, and Communications), an article printed in the academic journal Violence Against Women (Vol. 10 No. 10, October 2004). I’ve liberally cut and pasted and changed the order of quotes to make this post; if you’ve got some time, I recommend reading the entire article (.pdf file).

For many countries, the options available for solutions to the problem of prostitution and trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes have been very limited. Some countries, such as Canada and the United States, have opted to criminalize the victims of prostitution…the women and children…as well as the buyers, through solicitation laws. These laws have generally been put in place for reasons of public order and are not based on gender equality or with concern for the well-being of the victims. The effects of such legislation have been that these laws are applied mainly to the victims.Victims have been arrested, fined or imprisoned, and have rarely been given access to services that could assist them to leave prostitution. The buyers usually escape punishment.

Many countries are looking for better and more effective solutions to the problem of prostitution than punishing the victims or, at the other extreme, legalizing prostitution activities, which, in reality, is capitulation to the prostitution industry. The Law in Sweden is an effective alternative to state-legitimated systems of prostitution. [...]

On January 1, 1999, the Swedish Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services (the Law) entered into force. This Law recognizes that it is the man who buys women (or men) for sexual purposes who should be criminalized, and not the woman. The Law is gender neutral and is, as mentioned previously, a fundamental part of the comprehensive Swedish strategy to combat prostitution and trafficking in human beings. [...]

The ultimate goal of the Law is to protect the women in prostitution by, among other measures, addressing the root cause of prostitution and trafficking: the men who assume the right to purchase female human beings and sexually exploit them. From the Swedish experience, we know that when the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted women decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations. The Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services is a law that recognizes the harmful effects of prostitution on the women and girls who are the victims. This law is a fundamental step in abolishing prostitution and trafficking in women and girls. If more countries would address the demand for prostituted women, by criminalizing not only the pimps and the traffickers but also the buyers, then the expansion of the global prostitution industry would be seriously threatened. [...]

It is important to note that this legislation only targets buyers of persons in prostitution. The persons who are in prostitution, the victims of male violence, are not subject to any kind of criminal or other legal repercussions. The government pledged money and assistance to women who are victims of male violence, including prostituted women. Thus, the state, to a certain extent, is responsible for assisting women to leave violent situations, including prostitution, and for providing women with access to shelters, counseling, education, and job training. [...]

The Law is currently worded as follows:

A person who obtains casual sexual relations in exchange for payment shall be sentenced… for the purchase of sexual services to a fine or imprisonment for at most six months.[...]

The offense comprises all forms of sexual services, whether they are purchased on the street, in brothels, in so-called massage parlors, fromescort services, or in other similar circumstances. To put the length of imprisonment in context, the longest sentence that can be imposed on anyone for any individual criminal offense in Sweden is 10 years. [...]

WHO ARE THE SWEDISH MEN WHO BUY PROSTITUTED WOMEN?

Every eighth man older than 18 years in Sweden, or approximately 13% of men ages 18 years and older, have, at least once, bought a person for prostitution purposes within Sweden or in other countries (MÃ¥nsson, 2001; National Institute of Public Health, 2000). These men represent all ages and all income classes. The majority are, or have been, married or cohabiting, and they often have children. Men who have or have had many sexual partners are the most common buyers of prostituted persons, effectively dispelling the myth that the buyer is a lonely, sexually unattractive man with no other option for his sexual outlet than to buy prostituted women. [...]

The effective enforcement of the Law is ultimately determined by the attitude of the leadership within the local police forces, as well as that of the individual police officer. In Sweden as in other countries, the police force is a male, homosocial, and conservative working environment…a police force that is being asked to enforce a law that seriously threatens traditional male values. Therefore, initially, representatives of the police were critical of the law, suggesting that it would be difficult to enforce (“Polisen Kritiserar nya Sexköpslagen,”? 2000). For example, in some cases in which men have been apprehended for purchasing sexual services, the police officers involved have agreed to send the letter of notification of a crime committed to an address of the offender’s choice, rather than to his home address, presumably to protect the offender from scrutiny by his spouse or other family members.

To increase the police officers’ competence and knowledge about prostitution and trafficking in human beings, the National Criminal Police in collaboration with the Division for Gender Equality, as well as several local and regional police forces, have established education programs for its personnel on this subject. This has had noticeable and immediate effects. The initial criticism of the law as being difficult to enforce has ceased. One year after the program began in 2003, there was a 300% increase in arrests, believed to be the result of the investigating officers’ better understanding of the reasons behind the legislation, their deeper comprehension of the conditions that make women vulnerable to becoming victims of prostitution and trafficking, and the development of better investigation methods. [...]

EFFECTS OF THE LAW ON TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN

The National Rapporteur for Trafficking in Women at the National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID), Kajsa Wahlberg, is responsible for the collection of data related to investigations and convictions for trafficking crimes in Sweden and for reporting annually to the Swedish government about the trafficking in women in Sweden. In her reports published in 2003 and 2004, she noted that there are clear indications that the Law has had direct and positive effects in limiting the trafficking in women for prostitution to Sweden.

The NCID estimates that between 400 and 600 women are trafficked into Sweden every year, mainly fromthe Eastern European countries such as Estonia and Lithuania, as well as from Russia. This number has remained fairly constant during the past several years (National Criminal Investigation Department [NCID], 2004). This figure should be compared to the numbers of women who are victims of trafficking for sexual purposes in neighboring Scandinavian countries [...] where the purchase of sexual services is not prohibited. In Denmark, 5,500 to 7,800 women are prostituted every year. It is estimated that 50% or more of these women are victims of trafficking in human beings. [...]

The NCID has received signals from Europol and national police forces in other European countries that Sweden no longer is an attractive market for traffickers. Traffickers and pimps are businessmen who calculate profits, marketing factors, and risks of getting caught when they decide in which countries they will sell women into prostitution. In conversations recorded during crime investigations, pimps/procurers and traffickers have expressed frustration about setting up shop in Sweden and attracting customers who are willing to buy their women in prostitution. According to these intercepted telephone conversations, and fromadditional testimonies given bywomenwhoare victims of trafficking, the pimps and traffickers experience the following difficulties:

  • Prostituted women must be escorted to the buyers, therefore giving less time to fewer buyers, and gaining less revenue for pimps than if women had been in street prostitution.
  • Swedish men who want to buy women for prostitution purposes express serious fear of being arrested and prosecuted under the Law and hence demand absolute discretion from the pimps/traffickers.
  • To minimize the possibility of exposure/detection, the pimps/traffickers are forced to operate apartment brothels in more than one location and to change locations regularly. Thus the mode of operation is expensive and requires that the pimp have local contacts. The necessity of several premises is confirmed in almost all preliminary investigations that have been carried out in 2002.

[...]NORMATIVE EFFECTS OF THE LAW

As with all laws, the Law has a normative function. It is a concrete and tangible expression of the belief that in Sweden women and children are not for sale. It effectively dispels men’s self assumed right to buy women and children for prostitution purposes and questions the idea that men should be able to express their sexuality in any form and at any time.

When I last brought this up, Mythago wrote in a comment:

Amp favors a system that pretends to recognize the dignity of prostitutes, but in reality”“and under the guise of merely controlling their johns”“really keeps prostitution illegal. Amp, do you really believe that preventing prostitutes from earning a living will mollify pimps or help the prostitutes any?

I think that, in an imperfect and sexist society, prostitution will inevitably, in a significant number of cases, mean that the prostitute is hurt and abused by men – both the johns and the pimps. (Note I say “by men” purposely; whether you’re talking about male or female prostitutes, the vast majority of pimps and johns are male). The unequal power relationships involved guarantee it.

(In theory, prostitution could work differently, and better, in a more equal and decent society; but we ain’t even close to being there yet, so that’s kind of a moot point when discussing policy preferences.)

It’s actually a lot like having a minimum wage. Outlawing low-wage work does, beyond a doubt, hurt some potential low-wage workers; it would be easier for some people to find work if they could legally offer to work for a dollar an hour, for example. However, not having a minimum wage would hurt even more low-wage workers to a greater degree, because they’d be exploited to a greater degree than they currently are. (Note: Please don’t allow the comments discussion of this post to be divirted into a discussion of the minimum wage. If anyone feels an enourmous need to discuss the minimum wage, email me and I’ll do a separate post about it sometime soon.) To quote Michael Albert:

We set a minimum wage which precludes people paying or accepting less, even should they wish to. Violators can be fully cognizant adults. Low pay can be in their immediate interest. It doesn’t matter. The conditions of the economy and society coerce people, by the obliteration of alternative options, into accepting grossly dehumanizing, demeaning, and exploitative work. We say you can do the same work on your own, but we prevent an employer from paying you to endure the outlawed conditions. Similar logic justifies laws against demanding sexual favors for employee advance, or ignoring workplace safety regardless of the preferences of those involved. When the balance of power between constituencies is grossly unequal, we believe the state should proscribe certain behaviors. This is established.

I agree, as Mythago says, that it would be an unfair blow to some prostitutes that prostitution is not totally legal. But I think that complete legalization would be an even worse blow to more prostitutes (and non-prostitutes too), compared to the Swedish Law. (I also think that even total legalization, although I don’t favor it, would be better than the status quo here in the USA).

(It’s also worth noting that the Swedish law included increased efforts, and increased funding, for providing prostitutes with resources and training to leave prostitution. )

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89 Responses to Outlaw Johns, Not Prostitutes

  1. 1
    Casey says:

    I’ve never heard of this theory on how to help the prostitution problem, and I think Sweden has it down. It’s too bad US is so reluctant to change our policies even when the ones we have are failing miserably. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 2
    Brad says:

    Why not just make it legal? If the prostitute is being abused etc…then it is the abuse that should be illegal, rather than the prostitution, no?

  3. Why should either be criminalized? If someone wants to sell sex, let them. If someone wants to buy sex, let them. What’s the big deal about it? As long as two consenting adults are participating let’s leave ‘em alone.

  4. 4
    Decnavda says:

    I agree with Brad and Donovan in theory, but in reality poverty can force people into exploitation, and sexual exploitation is about as bad it gets. In practice the Swedish solution probably has little effect on prostitutes who are not being exploited such as high-priced freelancers, because there is probably no way for the police to track down the johns without the prostitute’s cooperation, and there is little reason for the freelance prostitute to cooperate with the police. This solution might lead to a few injustices from the point of view of those of us with a libertarian bent, but the suffering of the few arrested johns who were trying not to be exploiters would be extremely minor compaired to the exploitation that occurs in the current system, or would occur under full decriminalization.

    A better solution to sexual exploitation would be to decriminalize prositution AND abolish poverty. A basic income garuantee at a sufficitarian level or higher would eliminate the possiblity of exploitation by eliminating the need for anyone to be pushed into prostitution by need. This could also be a solution to the problems of the minum wage.

  5. 5
    Eric says:

    In theory, legalizing prostitution sounds like it might improve the lives of prostitutes. But in practice, all the legal brothels I’ve read about sound pretty appalling.

    In Europe, there’s rampant corruption and trafficking. In Nevada, the brothels and towns conspire to treat the prostitutes as chattel. It’s pretty awful.

  6. 6
    Brian says:

    I’m not certain that prostitution is intrinsically different from other forms of labor. It’s all about exploitation. The specific problems with prostitution are the result of intense sexism — and criminalization of prostitution reinforces that sexism.

  7. 7
    mythago says:

    Exactly. In an imperfect and sexist society, any “pink collar” job is going to end up with a significant number of women exploited–both by their bosses and by their employer’s customers. As I’ve said before, I found working as a bank teller to be far more degrading than working as a stripper.

    The real problem is a legal and social system that conspire to treat prostitutes badly. Do you really think taking away her customers is going to make a prostitute say “Well, heck, I guess I’ll just go finish that Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and get off the streets’?

  8. 8
    Aaron Hewett says:

    Well said, Mythago.

    I don’t think that working as a prostitute or hiring a prostitute should be criminalised.

    Regulations, if strictly enforced actually make the industry safer, more accountable and less exploitative. It means that sex workers undertake mandatory health checks, where brothels can undergo mandatory inspections, where sex workers can – with the force of the law on their side – make their clients wear a condom.

    While most of us do simply want prostitution to simply go away – the truth is that this profession has been around for many years and will possibly continue to be. Prostitution for heterosexual men is basically the equivalent to beats (toilets, etc frequented by men for sexual pleasure with other men) and saunas/bath-houses for gay men.

    By the way, I live in Melbourne, Australia and prostitution is decriminalised here. Brothels and sex-on-call services are licensed and street solicitation is banned.

  9. 9
    SoulLight says:

    This is kind of a non-starter. The mere suggestion is so offensive to men that it could not be passed as law in this nation, and whichever party tried it would lose the male vote for a generation. This isn’t because we all like prostitutes or visit them, but because it sounds like you’re saying it’s okay for women to be immoral, but men have to be punished for it. This is the kind of thing that has allowed republicans to paint feminists as man hating banshees for the past 20 years. What you seem to be saying is that women are not responsible for their actions, but that men are. This isn’t mainstream feminism, this is bordering on extremism. Since prostitution isn’t going to go away, this amounts to simply a way to punish men, and only men, for an activity that has existed since people set up the barter system.

    You can say that a lot of prositutes are forced into it because of their poverty. That’s BS, most prosistutes are drug addicts, and are only poor because they are drug addicts. And yes, it’s somewhat rare but less so now than it used to be, some women just like the money and how easy it is. Not all women view themselves as sacred objects and some of them are simply straight up scum-bags who love easy money. This isn’t Jamaica or Russia, where poverty is a real cause of prositution. This is America, it’s mostly drugs.

  10. 10
    Diane says:

    The overwhelming majority of prostitutes worldwide enter the “industry” as minors. They are then kept working by various forms of coercion, including physical abuse, debt bondage and drugs. To suggest that it is a voluntary labor situation is to ignore the reality and to buy the male-dominated popular mythology that keeps sex-for-sale in business.

    A small minority engage in sex work voluntarily. They tend to be the ones who are relatively more entitled and able to speak for themselves. They also tend to be the ones who write books and/or essays, thus obscuring the fact that they don’t represent the majority. Drug-addicted abused women who have been sold into sex slavery as children don’t often write books.

  11. 11
    mythago says:

    Diane, nobody is debating whether sexual slavery exists. The question is what to do about it. “Arrest their customers” doesn’t help the prostitutes (yeah, try telling your pimp you were short of quota because the cops kept arresting the johns, that’ll make him SO happy) and doesn’t change the real problem: that exploitation and abuse of women is acceptable.

  12. 12
    Diane says:

    Mythago -
    Your comment assumes that the market “works”. Legalize it, but regulate it, and everything will be okay. It also assumes that prostitution is not necessarily the exploitation and abuse of women. I don’t agree. I think that legitimizing the commodification of sex invariably leads to (continued) exploitation and abuse of women. That the overwhelming majority of women involved in the sex industry are exploited and abused simply proves my point. Who really profits from not aggressively going after johns and pimps? Only johns and pimps.

  13. 13
    Brian says:

    It’s not a matter of faith in the market. All labor is exploited in the market. The idea is that decriminalizing prostitution will make it easier for prostitutes to organize themselves for their own protection.

  14. 14
    Robert Not-Angel says:

    All labor is exploited in the market.

    Woohoo!

    So is all capital.

    The idea is that decriminalizing prostitution will make it easier for prostitutes to organize themselves for their own protection.

    I have to admit, this argument does make sense. There’s another reason to consider legalization:

    Prostitutes get raped, and robbed, and murdered, same as any other group but more so because of the dangers of their line of work. And right now the prostitutes have to be really desperate to go to the cops, which of course creates opportunities for other people to provide those services (albeit with a much larger criminal twist). One reason for the (relative) success of the Mafia is that it provides police services for the underworld, and does so at a functional level not all that inferior to some governmnents, and of course better in a few unsavory ways.

    When we legalize things, we remove the need to go through the mob for governmental-type services, and thus weaken them. Which is on balance a good thing.

  15. 15
    mythago says:

    Diane, I think you’re getting posters mixed up. That, or you’re setting up a strawman, as I’ve never implied (much less said) “Legalize it, but regulate it, and everything will be okay.”

    You and Amp are making the flip argument, though–”Make it more illegal and everything will be okay.” Why do you assume that a sexist, exploitative system will protect women who engage in prostitution (still illegal)? Do you really believe that taking prostitutes’ customers away will end the sexual abuse of women? That’s a market argument, all right; cut profits and prostitutes will simply work another market segment. I don’t buy it.

  16. 16
    Brian says:

    The problem I see with criminalizing johns but not prostitutes is that I don’t see how it would do much to help prostitutes. Police have no respect for prostitutes now, and the easiest way to arrest johns would be to put pressure on prostitutes. Prostitutes still wouldn’t be able to openly organize for their rights, since they’re still pursuing a criminal activity.

    Getting the police out of prostitution wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would lessen the problem of police harassment of prostitutes.

  17. 17
    Julian Elson says:

    SoulLight says: it sounds like you’re saying it’s okay for women to be immoral, but men have to be punished for it.

    While I don’t really agree with Ampersand here, I think that this objection ignores Amp’s own logic and premises unfairly. Amp is saying, “in practice, women are abused and coerced into prostitution. Therefore, it does not make sense to punish them for it.” (paraphrasing) In other word, your objection is analogous, if you understand Amp’s view, with “criminalizing burglars while not criminalizing people who get robbed by burglars says that it’s okay for some people to participate in the robbery system and not okay for others to do so.” This argument is absurd.

    Second, I generally agreee with Amp that sometimes forcing people not to make transactions/deals, even when they are voluntary, is sometimes (though not usually) a good idea. Amp cites the minimum wage as a good example of this. I agree, but I’m a little confused as to how this leads to Amp’s “ban being a john” solution. Our response in other cases — being a meat packer or poultry worker, being a short-order chef, being a maid (I think these are all fairly “abuse-prone” jobs) — is regulation, not prohibition. What is it that makes prostitution different? Of course, perhaps you find our regulation of the meat-packing, fast-food, or domestic service industries inadequate too, but you don’t advocate shutting them down, do you?

  18. 18
    Charles says:

    It is worth pointing out that the current situation is that it is illegal to be a john, a pimp, or a prostitute. Amp is not actually proposing criminalizing being a john, he is advocating decriminalizing being prostituted, while increasing enforcement and penalties against john’s and pimp’s.

    If we agree that the current system of prostitution is abusive, then leaving being a john or pimp criminalized within the current system is equivalent to leaving paying sub-minimum wage wages illegal (while not making it illegal to take a job at sub-minimum wages). The major difference is that Amp’s proposal doesn’t offer a regulated alternative to the current system of prostitution. He explained this by pointing out that the various systems of regulated prostitution that have been attempted have consistently ended up being abusive.

    Personally, I think that the regulatory model should be this. Decriminalize prostition. Institute licensing of Johns (initial + yearly psych exams, and monthly medical exams, with prostitutes given the option of revoking a John’s license (possibly with a right of appeal to a Board of Prostitutes, composed of currently working and former prostitutes, equivalent to the boards of other professional associations that are granted legal regulatory powers). Increase criminal penalties and enforcement of laws against unlicensed john’s and against pimps. The issue of brothels and managers is a thorny one. Personally, I think that a rule of worker ownership, and strict regulation of managers by the Board of Prostitutes, is the only way that would reliably avoid the corruption and trafficing that seem to develop even in legalized brothels with outside ownership, but it is an open question.

    However, that is all a silly pipe dream. Decriminalizing being prostituted, while heightening enforcement against pimps and johns seems like a reasonable first step, particularly combined with active assistance to help people move out of prostitution. The tiny number of prostitutes who freely choose prostitution can more easily work toward constructing the licensing board aspect once the vast majority of prostitutes who do not freely choose prostitution have been aided in leaving the profession.

    While we use regulation to ammeliorate the conditions of slaughterhouse workers (or, anyway, we used to), we do not use regulation to ammeliorate the conditions of slave labor. We simply make it illegal. The overwhelming majority of prostitution as it currently exists has more in common with slave labor than with slaughter house work.

  19. 19
    mythago says:

    Yes. The problem is that the current system also punishes the slaves, without giving them much of an out from slavery.

  20. 20
    Charles says:

    Absolutely.

    Decriminalization of the act of selling one’s self for sex would be an improvement. Furthermore, the full Swedish system also involves a serious commitment to provide an out. Of course, imagining that decriminalization in the US would be coupled with such efforts involves an optimism that I really can’t muster these days. Okay, imagining decriminalization involves more hope than I can muster. Somehow, I think the re-introduction of the stocks as a punishment is more likely right now.

    Still, most men who are purchasing sex are participating in brutal oppression (since most women selling sex are doing so from a basically unfree position), so the continued existance of measures that attempt to convince men that they should stop doing so seem like a good idea. I don’t have any love whatsoever for imprisonment as a method of correcting social ills, so I am not a fan of the idea of heavily increased penalties for anyone (why do I suddenly have this funny feeling that if we started sentencing johns to 10 years in jail, we would suddenly find that the system has developed a fondness for arresting black johns a hundred times as often as white johns?), but increased enforcement, possibly with an increased component of education and public service doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

    Of course, pretty much all enforcement efforts against prostitution tend to simply cause the main locations of prostitution to shift (that is certainly what seems to happen here in Portland anyway), so I’m not sure how much long term effect it would have.

    Still, forbidding the police from arresting prostitutes, while still allowing them to go after pimps and johns certainly seems like an improvement, and full legalization doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement for anyone but the pimps and the johns.

    Full decriminalization without legalization might offer some limited benefits, but I doubt it would lead the police to start taking complaints by prostitutes against abusive johns, or against pimps, seriously. Being able to say “He’s my pimp, arrest him,” from a position of legal safety seems like it might actually be an advantage. Admittedly, it still wouldn’t necessarily be a position of physical safety, so its hard to say how much it would help.

    Still, it seems clear to me that providing better support for getting out of prostitution (and improved general social supports) would help a lot more than any change to the laws.

  21. 21
    ginmar says:

    I’m not certain that prostitution is intrinsically different from other forms of labor. It’s all about exploitation. The specific problems with prostitution are the result of intense sexism … and criminalization of prostitution reinforces that sexism.

    The specific problem of prostitution is that in a sexist world these women perform sex acts. There’s a double standard. There’s all the hangups the world has about sex and women. Unless you factor in the stuff that makes the word ‘whore’ such an insult you’re missing the essential reality of the problem.

    Comparing prostitution and/or stripping to being a bank teller is just insensitive. Last time I checked, the bank teller wasn’t forced into the job at the age of thirteen, wasn’t beaten and raped as a result of the conditions of the job, and wasn’t at risk of AIDS.

    Gee, go ahead Mythago. Here’s the part where you bring up law school and Mackinnon.

  22. 22
    piny says:

    But until the advent of worker-safety and child-labor laws, similar abuses were common in most industries in this country. Children were forced to work from a very young age. Workers were threatened with violence if they attempted to unionize. Women suffered from sexual harassment and sexual violence. Everyone was at serious risk of injury, and in many jobs, injury was inevitable.

  23. 23
    piny says:

    …That is, you’re comparing a set of jobs that are safe and dignified largely because they’ve been heavily regulated to another job–prostitution–that is not safe and not regulated. How does that support your argument that regulated legalization would not make sex workers safer?

  24. 24
    Brad says:

    Punish the exploitation, not the “commerce”

    A basic income guarantee?? Who is supposed to pay for this ? Sound just a bit pinko?

  25. 25
    Samantha says:

    There’s no need to speak in hypothetical abstracts about the results legalization and decriminalization. Those of us saying legalization does not make ‘sex workers’ more safe aren’t pulling that out of our asses, it’s been demonstrated in the many historical attempts to regulate prostitution and in the more recent legalization trials in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, certain Nevada counties.

    AIDS, STD, pregnancies, gang control, child prostitution, street prostitution, violence from pimps and tricks..none of these problems have gone away in legalized places and the research demonstrates that these intrinsic harms are actually exacerbated by legalization.

    Though the Swedish model has only been in place for six years it has had a dramatically positive effect in that time, much better than the legalization attempts happening for several years longer have had.

    We need to stop talking about the benefits of legalizing prostitution like we need to stop talking about trickle-down economics. These theories have been tried many times over the years and they continually fail to produce positive results. If there are women and children in desperate straits, poor, sexually abused and addicted to drugs like almost all prostituted people are, the solution isn’t to find ways to make exploiting women easier for their pimps and tricks so their money and ‘proper management’ trickle down to the people on the bottom rung, it’s to provide direct assistance to those people who need help and give them the help they ask for. Around the world sex workers overwhelmingly say they want out, not that they want help staying in prostitution, over 90% strong in every study I have seen.

    There is no point continuing to talk about the would-be-benefits of prostitution legalization in the face of the worldwide failures of legalization to do anything but make matters worse.

    I think even the pro-sexual capitalism folks are beginning to realize this because in the past year I’ve seen more emphasis on ‘decriminalization’ than ‘legalization’. A lot of this change is, I’m sure, intended to please libertarians who oppose government control in all forms, but it’s also I think because they’re stepping away from the idea that legalization and regulation can work because it has failed so spectacularly. An example of decriminalization as an alternative to legalization is California’s recent Measure Q. For a brief synopisis of some of the many reasons why across the board decriminalizing of pimps, tricks and sex workers won’t work: http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/Decrim_fact_sheet.htm

  26. 26
    Brad says:

    Something should be legal or illegal based upon if one person ( or entity ) is harming another.
    In a sex transaction, nobody is being harmed. However, if the pimp is beating on the prostitute….then the beating should be illegal.

    As a hypothetical….let’s assume the transaction was a man going into a store and buying a stereo. However, after the transaction, the female sales clerk walks into the backroom and gets beat up by her boss.

    Should we make stereos illegal?

  27. 27
    piny says:

    Your link _admits_ that a huge problem–both in theory and in the Netherlands–is enforcement. It isn’t that new policies aren’t just or useful in theory, it’s that society still stigmatizes prostitutes a few short years after prostitution ceases to be a felony. As though _making something a criminal offense_ has nothing to do with promoting social stigma.

    Women in Dutch prostitution don’t register as legal prostitutes because they are ashamed to be known as prostitutes – even though they’d be accruing retirement benefits if they registered. Regardless of its legal status, women don’t want to be prostitutes and are ashamed of it. Does any woman in prostitution deserve to be treated disrespectfully or stigmatized? Of course not. But prostitution inevitably means that you’re treated like an object to be masturbated into.

    Women can report rapes and assaults to the police under current laws. The problem is that the contempt toward prostitutes stays the same, whether prostitution is legal or illegal.

    Why is social stigma against sex workers “inevitable”? If that’s such a huge problem for sex workers, if it’s keeping them from filing charges of rape, why isn’t that something to be fought? Does it somehow cease to be a problem when trying to convince an electorate to provide those same women with free healthcare?

    And this last bit was just ridiculous, especially since it illustrates the ability of law enforcement officials to stop that illegal activity that was so inevitable in the first few fields of the helpful chart: Mustang Ranch (NV) was shut down because of tax evasion. Pimps are simply not going to hand over the massive profits that are a part of the industry. “Why bother trying to regulate them? They’ll just break the law sometimes anyway! I mean, we caught them and punished them, but it’s not like they’ll serve as a deterrent example or anything!” I wish the government felt that way about my tax burden.

  28. 28
    mythago says:

    so the continued existance of measures that attempt to convince men that they should stop doing so seem like a good idea

    There is a program in San Francisco for johns (I believe it’s some sort of plea-bargain, take this class and we drop the charges) that addresses that. I’m a bit troubled by the fact that the ‘teachers’ don’t seem to be men–you’d think that these guys would not exactly be high on the Likely list for anyone who takes women seriously–but one thing that is emphasized, and that seems to get through to these guys, is the age of the prostitutes. Very few of them like to think of themselves as child molestors. It’s very upsetting to them to be told flat-out that, yes, the prostitute with whom they were arrested is probably 14 or 15.

    Pimps are simply not going to hand over the massive profits that are a part of the industry.

    Smart criminals ALWAYS pay their taxes. You don’t have to say where you got the money. If pimps want to get nailed by the IRS instead of the cops for abusing women, who am I to complain?

    In a sex transaction, nobody is being harmed.

    When the sex transaction is between people negotiating in good faith from equal bargaining positions? No. The problem is that you can’t make that assumption. There’s a very big difference from the socially-acceptable kind of prostitution that Washingtonienne blogged about, and Eastern European teenagers being kidnapped and sold into slavery. When the “sex transaction” involves selling sex with somebody else who does not have the ability to refuse, or who doesn’t get the money, then yes, somebody is being harmed.

  29. 29
    Samantha says:

    Legalization of prostitution is not new, it has been tried in many ways in many places and it has never been about women’s equality or lessening the enormous harm done to women. Women don’t get beat up, raped and tortured by stigmas, they get beat up by pimps and tricks. Changing social stigmas that prevent people from recognizing the many physical and mental violations of prostitution is part of the Swedish solution, but another part of the solution includes holding men accountable for aggressively preying on vulnerable women and children. Legalizing and decriminalizing don’t address this part effectively like the Swedish 1999 law does.

    Enforcement is one problem, but there are many others intrinsic to prostitution you, and Brad, are not considering. Because I’m a sexual health educator I usually start by reminding people there’s no such thing as risk-free sex, that genital warts that are the leading cause of cervical cancer are unstopped by condoms as are several other STDs like gonorrhea, and unless a woman is sterilized she risks pregnancy from tricks. From there I move onto the ungodly amount of violence men perpetrate against women in general, sex working women in particular.

    For instance, I got this in my inbox today:

    Faces of prostitution, “Book” rewrites attitudes
    http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~2785774,00.html

    For thousands of years in cultures from one end of the globe to the other whores have been thought of as the lowest of the low, the trash of society, barely above animals and costing less on the open market. If we are to put forth a great amount of energy to shift away from this anti-woman paradigm, why not push for the eradication of sexual capitalism that the majority of sex workers themselves ask for instead of aiming for only for a slightly modified status quo sex capitalism that has been shown time and time again to make matters worse, not better? That’s a lack of ambition for women’s human rights and dignity and a lack of seeing prostitution from most women’s perspective.

    Finally, the Mustang Ranch convictions didn’t serve as a deterrent, in fact crimes of rape have increased in the legalized counties of Nevada and there are many neighborhood associations trying to do something about the increasing violence and disintegration of their rural communities; that’s part of the problem too.

  30. 30
    Brian says:

    Ginmar, I said, the specific problems with prostitution are the result of intense sexism. How does that deny that prostitutes are victimized by intense sexism?

    How does a system in which prostitutes are beaten and imprisoned by police help women?

  31. 31
    Charles says:

    Brian,

    Maybe you should look again at what is being proposed here. To the extent that police abuse of prostitutes happens because they are criminals (and imprisonment certainly happens entirely for that reason), decriminalizing the act of selling sex would mean that prostitutes would no longer be beaten or imprisoned. It appears that you are arguing against particularly weak straw dogs. Perhaps you should leave off kicking the straw and look at the actual argument.

    Legalization and full criminalization both have no effect on the extreme power differences between almost all prostitutes and almost all pimps and tricks. Partial decriminalization does something to change that power dynamic. Most prostitutes will still be very young (or have entered prostitution at a young age), drug addicted, and in fear of their pimps and tricks, and will still be in desperate financial straits, but they will no longer be criminals. The people with power over them, however, still will be criminals. The non-criminal/criminal divide is a power inequality which runs counter to the existing inequalities, and therefore offers a possibility of being used to counter some of the other inequalities. Nonetheless, it doesn’t beat out or remove the need for serious efforts to ameliorate the other power inequalities. Obviously, any step that decreases the number of women who turn to prostitution out of need or are turned to prostitution by force is better than a step that helps women to continue in prostitution in a somewhat less unjust and unequal condition. On the other hand, anything that makes the conditions of prostitution somewhat less unjust and unequal is preferable to nothing, unless it also causes people to believe that there is less of a need to actually prevent prostitution.

  32. 32
    Brad says:

    Mythago, I agree that the transaction hurts when one party cannot refuse, or the money is taken from them etc…My point, again, is that taking the money away, and forcing the girl into the act is the crime, not the act itself.
    When we make the transaction illegal, we are trying to legislate morality, which simply cannot work.

  33. 33
    DrGourmet says:

    I can’t believe this statement:

    In Sweden as in other countries, the police force is a male, homosocial, and conservative working environment…a police force that is being asked to enforce a law that seriously threatens traditional male values (Ampersand, 25th March, 05).

    Though, one of the statistics you mentioned was that:

    Every eighth man older than 18 years in Sweden, or approximately 13% of men ages 18 years and older, have, at least once, bought a person for prostitution purposes within Sweden or in other countries (MÃ¥nsson, 2001; National Institute of Public Health, 2000).

    Does the above statement, having been made about what is a minority of the male population, presume to stain the rest of the population of males as the exploters of women.

    The second quote is based on statistics and credible research data. The first one is nothing but generalised extreme feminist trash. As any rational human being (male or female) without an axe to grind can see, 13% represents a minority. Conversely, the remaining 87% represents a MAJORITY of men, who have not once bought a person for prostitution purposes (in Sweden or as the study suggests, elsewhere). The term “male values”, traditional or not, assumes that these are core principals that all men espouse.

    What offensive rubbish! Statements such as these blow much of the credibility away from your argument, as it comes across as a personal attack against males, period.

    At the end of the day, we are all laypersons on this topic, and our understanding of the myriad of issues that are associated with this problem is very superficial. This particular solution to human sex trade trafficking obviously appeals to you as it narrowly targets the men involved in this sordid business.

    In Sydney recently a Vietnamese syndicate was busted for human trafficking for sexual services, and guess who are accused of running the show…two women! The link is here for those who are interested. Well well…it seems that there is equality in the shares of evil.

  34. 34
    DrGourmet says:

    My apologies, the first quote was from “Polisen Kritiserar nya Sexköpslagen, 2000″.

    Nonetheless, this statement is absolute rubbish, and is conflicted by the second quote by “MÃ¥nsson, 2001″; and “National Institute of Public Health, 2000″

    I think there should be some reasonable and rational debate into issues that surround men and women, instead of the all too common vitriole pushed by the minority of extremists who have an axe to grind.

  35. 35
    ginmar says:

    Brian, you cannot compare prostitution to non-sexual labor.

    I’m not certain that prostitution is intrinsically different from other forms of labor. It’s all about exploitation.

    You’re saying that you’re not certain that prostitution is different from other forms of labor? As written, this sentence comes close to comparing stripping/prostitution with bank telling. Sure, it’s exploitive—problem is, it’s sexually exploitive, which is a form of exploitation that needs its own category.

    The specific problems with prostitution are the result of intense sexism … and criminalization of prostitution reinforces that sexism.

    Legalizing the act of prostitution—i.e—both buying and selling—just has the effect of normalizing that sexism. Illegalizing the buying of sex would punish the people perpetuating it.

  36. 36
    Julian Elson says:

    I think posters on this thread fall into one of three camps. Does this seem right to you?

    1) The contingently harmed by criminalization camp: many/most prostitutes find their work degrading and shameful, but that shame is due to the criminalization of prostitutes and the stigma associated with criminalization, not the nature of the work. Legalize or decriminalize all aspect of prostiution, and ameliorate the stigma associated with sex work, and they’ll be okay with their jobs (at least to the extent that is considered normal and acceptable). (I think Brian is in this camp)

    2) The contingently harmed by an overall sexist society camp: many/most prostitutes find their work degrading and shameful, and this is a fact associated with overall social sexism. The fact that prostitutes can be arrested is a problem, naturally, but even if they couldn’t be, they would still be abused by Johns and pimps and viewed by our society as shameful. However, if our society were not sexist — in ways not merely relating to criminal law and prostitution per se, but a wider respect for women’s agency, desires, and personhood — then prostitutes could do their work without being harmed. (I think Ampersand is in this camp)

    3) The inherent harm camp: Prostitutes are inherently harmed by their work, not because of the police, but by the very nature of the job itself. Being a prostitute means being treated as an object in a very private way that degrades the person in a way that being treated as, say, a bank-telling object does not. (I think Samantha’s in this camp)

    0) The straw-man hurray-prostitution camp: (number zero because no one in this thread has ACTUALLY advocated it, though one does see it advocated elsewhere) Prostitution is, like, so liberating and fun! It’s a way of women empowering themselves and expressing their sexuality fully! It’s great being a prostitute, and a powerful blow struck for womonkind against those stifling patriarchal anti-prostitution values! And you get to have sex with LOTS of men rather than just a few! Huzzah!

    On this scale, I think I’m around 1.5

    Now, here’s a tough question: would you rather be a prostitute, or would you rather work as a plant in the White House press corps giving Scott McClellan easy questions about how insane people must be to question the granduer of the Bush administration? I think I’d keep more self-respect as a prostitute, but I’d be much more comfortable as a White House plant.

  37. 37
    Sheelzebub says:

    would you rather be a prostitute, or would you rather work as a plant in the White House press corps giving Scott McClellan easy questions about how insane people must be to question the granduer of the Bush administration?

    The plant, definitely. It would be a scream to actually type that stuff, go all over the top, and realize that no one gets irony. I mean, who believes all that shit? (OK, I know, a lot of people do.) I’d push the envelope until people would be forced to admit I was a plant.

    It would beat giving some nasty loser a blow job any day. Frankly, it would beat stripping as well–it’s legal, but I’d rather write fiction than give lap dances. A writer, or a “writer,” doesn’t have to pretend to looooove being pawed and groped by guys she doesn’t give two figs about.

    ;)

  38. 38
    Decnavda says:

    would you rather be a prostitute, or would you rather work as a plant in the White House press corps giving Scott McClellan easy questions about how insane people must be to question the granduer of the Bush administration?

    I was under the impression that it wasn’t necessary to choose between them.

  39. 39
    Decnavda says:

    As far your listing of three camps, I think I am closest to #2, but in more of a socialist-feminist way than Amp: I think the problem lies both the stigmazation of prostitution, but also with people being FORCED into it, either by violent coercion or ecconomic circumstances. Abolish poverty and LWOP men who abuse women, and I do not see why prositution should not be fully decriminalized.

  40. 40
    mythago says:

    As written, this sentence comes close to comparing stripping/prostitution with bank telling.

    I know ginmar’s ignoring me, but for the rest of y’all, I personally found stripping a lot less degrading than bank telling. Tons. I can’t speak for all strippers, or bank tellers, or for prostitutes. But looking at jobs in a vacuum tells you nothing, and that goes for anyone’s opinion on prostitution. “Is selling sex degrading?” Well, probably not for Washingtonienne, or the many upper-class young ladies like her, who see their whoring as optional social arrangements. It is obviously degrading to women brought to this country as illegal immigrants and kept in slavery in brothels. It would also be degrading to a woman raised in a culture where a woman’s only value is in remaining a virgin until marriage, and sexual only with her husband after.

    Is being a bank teller degrading? You wouldn’t think so–how bad can it be to have an office job where you count money? I imagine plenty of bank tellers don’t find it so. I found it pretty awful to be paid low wages, treated as the enemy by senior management (you know, because labor is such a big drain on their profits), verbally abused by customers on a regular basis, expected to work quickly and punished for others’ mistakes, and expected to do makework or sit and stare into space when you aren’t doing actual work (because you have to be attentive and look available when a customer walks into the bank).

    Julian, I probably fall into your #2 but I don’t entirely agree with your last sentence. Sexuality is, for many people, very important and private. It’s not the case that if sexism was gone, all prostitution would be perfectly OK for the prostitutes. There would always be people for whom it’s a last and terrible resort.

  41. 41
    Brian says:

    The way Julian framed it, I’d fall under #2 as well.

    With prostitution criminalized, it’s very difficult for prostitutes to organize themselves for their own defense — physically, economically, politically. It’s still possible, but very difficult. If only their clients were criminals, that would still leave prostitution a crime, and make it difficult for prostitutes to organize themselves. And in practice, given the way police operate, I’d expect they’d still hassle prostitutes, with the excuse that it was the only way to find and arrest their clients.

    If prostitution was decriminalized, it would be easier for prostitutes to organize themselves, and if they organized themselves well, they might win some improvement in their conditions. I wouldn’t expect it to help much, in isolation from broader social questions.

    In general, for the conditions of an oppressed group to improve, that oppressed group needs to be able to organize itself. For those outside that oppressed group, one of the key things to do is to oppose state repression of that group. I don’t see partial decriminalization as meeting that goal.

  42. 42
    ginmar says:

    Well, because Mythago finds stripping a lot less degrading than bank telling, the issue’s settled then. If we don’t agree with that we’re those nasty Mackinnonites.

  43. 43
    Brad says:

    Am i the only one wondering what Mythago looks like now?

  44. 44
    piny says:

    No, not at all. But if you refuse to see any relevance in the fact that an actual sex worker holds different views on sex work vs. “legitimate” work than the ones MacKinnon insists she must hold, then you’re allowing theory to override reality. Plus, mythago said that _she found_ stripping much less degrading than working as a bank teller; she acknowledged in another post that many women feel very differently.

  45. 45
    Brad says:

    The fact that many may, and I am sure do, feel differently is the key phrase. We cannot think that all “sex workers” feel one way or the other.

  46. 46
    Samantha says:

    piny, Andrea Dworkin was a prostitute, and so are many other pro-Sweden model former prostitutes who are organizing against legalization and decriminalization like Norma Hotaling, Anne Bissell, Evelina Giobbe, Carol Smith, Christine Stark and whole lot of women I’ve met over the years. None of which matters if you could stay focused on the widespread failures of every legalization attempt and the successes of the Swedish approach in the past few years. All theory and no facts makes for a poor argument against the Swedish model of decriminalizing prostituted women as an effective, pro-woman, anti-trafficking piece of legislation.

    When sex workers in countries around the world are asked directly what they want, they say they want out of prostitution, not help staying in. Consistantly over 90% of sex working respondees (male, female, transgendered) say they want out immediately. I have asked time and again for prostitution normalization advocates to show me some proof that most prostituted people would stay sex workers if only conditions were better and I have not yet been presented with anything showing this population to be statistically significant.

    There are an estimated 35-40 million sex workers in the world, and how many of those do you think are “upper class young ladies” like Washingtonienne, 10-12 million? 5-6 million? 1-2 million? A few hundred?

    piny, you want to talk about “theory overriding reality” while you refuse to look in the eye the enormous amount of evidence placed before you in favor of finding one college-educated white Western woman who agrees with you and using her words to suggest the collected testimonies of large samplings of the 35-40 million others are speaking merely one opinion of many.

    I can work with your preferred method of finding one example and using it to disprove all the rest if you want.

    In 2003, 552 Romanian girls and women were trafficked by organized criminals into Canada to work in strip clubs. You don’t have to explain why millions of Canadian women with free choices open to them choose not to be strippers (you can try if you want), you just need to find one example, from any year, of a Romanian girl or woman trafficked to a Western nation for work as a bank teller.

    Canada Contributes to the Sexual Trafficking of Women for Purposes of Prostitution http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1380

  47. 47
    Charles says:

    Samantha,

    I don’t know about bank tellers, or Romanians, but the traffic in slaves for agricultural work, domestic work, and slaughterhouse work (into the First World) is substantial. Also, in rich non-western states (Saudia Arabia and Kuwait, for instance) enslavement and trafficing in a wide variety of laborers occurs.

    I agree with you on pretty much all your other points, but slavery and trafficing happens in many types of labor, not just sex work.

    What is it that would be disproven by a Romanian women being trafficed and enslaved as a bank teller?

  48. 48
    Samantha says:

    I know trafficking happens in other types of labor- exploitive, health-wrecking, dangerous, devalued labor.

    That’s not bank telling, what I understand to be the hypothetical stand-in for “normal, acceptable job”.

    Coincidentally, I worked in a bank for a few months too and I was never treated by men there like I was treated by men in the strip club I spent most of time in as a youth…and I was just there as an underage teenager drinking free beer, not stripping.

  49. 49
    Brad says:

    Samantha,
    First, understand I am not argueing against your point, I just want to clarify something.
    You state that over 90% of sex workers want out. Why do they say they want out?
    I think that answer may provide some guidance on how to handle the situation.

  50. 50
    piny says:

    …But what would your experience have been like at the turn of the century? You as a bank teller were working in a legal, regulated job; you were protected as an above-board employee.

  51. 51
    Samantha says:

    How many more ways can it be said?

    regulation has never protected prostitutes
    regulation never has protected prostitutes
    regulation protected never has prostitutes
    regulation prostitutes protected never has
    regulation protected has never prostitutes
    regulation prostitutes has protected never

    It’s like that scene from the Princess Bride where Buttercup says about the Fire Swamp “We’ll never survive” and Westley replies, ” Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

    All prior and current attempts to lessen the harm done to sex workers have failed and are failing to protect people from the violence, health risks, bodily and mental violations inherent in prostitution. It has been asked on this blog before and not adequately answered, but if you seriously believe regulation should work then the onus is on you to figure out why it’s going so very wrong and plug those holes. The Netherlands has had to keep revising and adding to their laws because human lives are leaking through their system like a sieve and they can’t seem to stop the bleeding of trafficked, drug addicted and/or underaged prostitutes.

    The Swedish model has dealt with predatory men’s demands, the source of prostitution, in a way no other legislation has addressed it.

  52. 52
    Charles says:

    Piny,

    So are the enslaved and trafficed slaughterhouse workers, farm laborers, and house cleaners [working in a legal, regulated profesion]. So are prostitutes in Amsterdam and Australia. So are strippers in Canada.

    The question is what keeps certain types of work miserable, oppressive, and prone to brutal repression and enslavement.

    It is pretty clear it isn’t crminalized status (including in the case of prostitution), so arguing for legalization doesn’t really address the issue of having fewer people working in miserable work.

  53. 53
    piny says:

    I’m not arguing for legalization, period, Charles. I don’t believe that that’s a good model for any industry, including banking. I’m arguing for legalization and regulation. And of course it’s true that making work illegal makes it hard for workers to report abuse. That isn’t the only reason prostitution is dangerous, but open season on sex workers is definitely a big problem.

    And Samantha: Because these efforts are only a few years old? Because you can’t just hand an incredibly lucrative industry over to organized crime for centuries and then expect to purge it of the influence of highly organized criminals in a few years? Because the social stigmas that burden prostitutes–social stigmas that were supported by keeping sex work criminal–take more than a few years to dismantle? Those seem like pretty good reasons.

  54. 54
    Charles says:

    Piny,

    Fair enough, although I think of that as being the difference between legalized (an activity which is controlled by laws, that is to say, regulated) and decriminalized (an activity which is removed from the control of laws). Also , agriculture and meet packing are heavily regulated industries, but they are still miserable and prone to brutal injustice.

    Amsterdam and most of Nevada have had legalized prostitution for much longer than a few years. The Swedish model sppears to have done far more good for women in prostitution in the few years it has been in effect than the Nevada/Amersterdam model has done in decades.

    Given my own weird preferred model, I could see an argument for an extremely restrictive legalization/regulation scheme that strongly emphasized the economic and deliberative autonomy of prostitutes, while heavily resticting pimps, combined with decriminalized selling oneself for sex and increased enforcement against pimps and tricks operating outside the restirctive regulations and combined with extensive aid to prostitutes to leave prostitution. This would improve the positions of both the vast majority of prostitutes who wish to leave prostitution and the small number of prostitutes who don’t wish to leave prostitution. However, since there is no known regulatory structure which proves helpful to prostitutes, the legalize and regulate portion appears sketchy, and should probably be done only on a pilot project scale.

  55. 55
    mythago says:

    Well, because Mythago finds stripping a lot less degrading than bank telling

    Oh, tsk, you were ignoring me, remember? If you just can’t stay away, then I’d really appreciate if you started to read what I actually wrote, instead of pulling snippets out of context and claiming things I have never said, much less pretending I said the opposite of what I actually *did* write.

    It’s like that scene from the Princess Bride where Buttercup says about the Fire Swamp “We’ll never survive”? and Westley replies, “? Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”?

    And in fact, they DO survive the FIre Swamp. Better pick a different analogy.

    I can work with your preferred method of finding one example and using it to disprove all the rest

    As long as I’m arguing with people who are trying to put words in my mouth, Samantha, I’ll jump on you. I have never said that my experiences speak for all women in sex work, much less all prostitutes world-wide. What I am objecting to is the assumption that any kind of exchange of anything related to sex for money is inherently degrading, that in principle it shouldn’t exist, that any sex worker who says differently is lying or co-opted, etc.

    As for being college-educated (oh! the horror!), I’ll say it again: virtually all of the women I worked with DID NOT have the options available to someone with a college education, and so sex work was, to them, their BEST OPTION. There were the very real barriers to entry into the trades that La Lubu’s told us about repeatedly. Their other options were pink-collar jobs with long or inflexible hours, low pay, and bad working conditions. So if you’re going to get catty about privilege, Samantha, I suggest you look in the mirror.

    I doubt that worldwide, most prostitutes have much choice about what they want to do, or have many alternatives. (Look at families in poor areas of southeast whose daughters work in brothels and send money home; do you think those families are thrilled about how their daughter buys them out of starvation?) But does that mean we should cramp our own efforts to free these women by keeping prostitution illegal and unregulated? That these women will be freed and empowered as long as they can be arrested and jailed for selling their bodies?

  56. 56
    Samantha says:

    I’m bowing out now because not going to keep repeating what I’ve already written here if it can’t be retained for the few days the debate happens. mythago, for the last time, I do not want prostitution kept illegal or prostitutes arrested and jailed and the Swedish model doesn’t do that.

  57. 57
    ginmar says:

    I personally found stripping a lot less degrading than bank telling.

    Oh, tsk, you were ignoring me, remember? If you just can’t stay away, then I’d really appreciate if you started to read what I actually wrote,

  58. 58
    Brad says:

    The reason, i suppose, that 90+% of sex workers want out, is that they are forced, and beaten etc….

    Now, having said that. Would arresting the prostitute solve that? No.
    Would arresting the john solve that? No.

    Arrest the pimp !! They are the ones that are causing harm to other people.

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  60. 59
    Charles says:

    Brad,

    Arresting people is not actually the goal. I think most pimps are conciously aware that they are on the criminal side of the world. They are likely to live in a universe that contains commonplace violence, drugs, guns, etc. They are aware that they may go to jail for what they do. They are reasonably likely to have gone to jail before. Arresting pimps has no deterent effect on pimps.

    Tricks by and large do not think of themselves as living in the criminal side of the universe. Their lives are largely structured around things other than criminal activities. They merely dip into criminality for fun. They do not live their lives with the expectation of eventually getting arrested. Actively pursue tricks, and punish them more severely than a fine, and suddenly other tricks will look at the situation and say, “That isn’t worth it. Fucking prostitutes may be fun, but it isn’t worth a year in jail,” and they will go looking elsewhere for entertainment.

    The occupations of pimps and prostitutes only exist to serve a market. Dry up the market, and pimps and prostitutes will find other lines of work.

  61. 60
    lady cascadia says:

    There is quite a bit of social hypocrisy where the “world’s oldest profession” is concerned…or just sexual relationships with men and women in general: in most cases it’s the woman who is villified as a “slut” and men are not called to task for their own “sluttish” behavior. I agree, maybe ‘naming and shaming’ those johns might make some of the think twice about “love for sale!”

  62. 61
    Wendy says:

    As a prostitute and spokesperson for Sex Professionals of Canada, (spoc.ca), I have to say that I disagree with your idea of criminalizing Johns. Who a person has sex with and whether or not money or gifts were exchanged before hand or not should not be any business of the state or anyone else except the two consenting adults. By criminalizing Johns you send a message that sex, and sexual urges are wrong and should be punished. SEX is not wrong and that is why we are fighting for the decriminalization of all laws against prostitutes as well as johns. Besides, without johns, how would we make a living?

  63. 62
    Samantha says:

    Wendy, if you’re aware of any large survey of sex workers done that finds
    a majority want to stay sex working, please share. Like I said, consistantly over 90% of sex workers surveyed say they want out of the life, not help staying in.

    You are obviously in the 10% or so that wouldn’t respond with a yes to the question, “I want out of prostitution immediately”, but please try to recognize the majority of prostitutes do not agree with you that what they are doing is a profession and they want to get out ASAP.

  64. 63
    mythago says:

    I’m bowing out now

    Huh. Lot of that kind of thing going around.

  65. 64
    Samantha says:

    I believe Wendy posted her comments in good faith.

    I believe you left the realm of good faith a long time ago when it comes to my feminist work, mythago, as useless one-liners like the one above demonstrate.

  66. 65
    Ampersand says:

    Okay, Mythago had her one-liner, and Samantha replied. Let’s please let that be the end of the discussion of if people are posting in good faith; I’d rather discuss the issues than discuss the good or bad faith of individual posters.

  67. 66
    mythago says:

    I’d like to, Amp, but it’s very wearing to go into a debate with feminists and run into the same kind of silencing one normally expects from antifeminists. There’s really no way to have a discussion when it boils down to “I’m a feminist and you’re not and anyway, you’re privileged so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

  68. 67
    Suma says:

    When prostitutes age they often lose their job anyway because they don’t look (?) as good anymore. They have nothing to fall back on except becoming a madam. Most will burn out before that. Many don’t even get an education while they make good money thinking they found the perfect profession. Obviously you cannot have as many madams as you can have prostitutes. Their resume will not exactly recommend them for future work. While it is true that a prostitute needs basic business skills to manage individually or a brothel, it does not require too much skill. All they really have to do is collect the money, handle some phone calls, answer some e-mails and make sure the place is nicely decorated and that a safety structure is in place. John’s might accept prostitutes but wives will never accept prostitutes unless you break down the family system altogether.

    Under the logic of the proponents of prostitution, most wives should get at least as much money to spend on their sexual fulfillments and desires than husbands. Let’s face it the husbands are often not any prices either as far as attractiveness or skills in sex are concerned. In fact, there are probably more women being unfulfilled than men are. How many husbands would accept male prostitutes for their wives. You think that would be something enjoyable for the male ego, yet they want wives to accept prostitutes? We all know that men often need variety and as such even the best women will not be enough to satisfy the need for variety.

    As such the arguments in favor of women being prostitutes is, it is obviously another sexist approach for men getting what they want and depriving women in general. What is so weird is that many of these guys say my wife is not able to satisfy the ever-increasing sexual demands (partly due to inspirations and pressures from the porno industry ““ if they will say “NO,”? hubby goes out and buys it ~ wives know that ~)? Do people really think that husbands are satisfying their wives perfectly? Don’t people think that wives don’t need as much male prostitutes as husbands do? Why don’t people also spend some money on male prostitutes and why not give your teenage daughter a good male prostitute for her birthday? She would learn a lot. Being a hottie is everything these days. Why don’t we want our daughters to work in the adult industry? Why are parents worried about the adult industry, if it is all healthy and beneficial for the physical, mental, and spiritual development of our children? If it is a profession, we should encourage our daughters to become prostitutes and porno-queens. Why not? Why do we have double standards in regards to our own family? Other people kids should become professional accepted prostitutes but our own kids should become doctors and lawyers. We should not have anything to worry about as long as there is consensus.

    As people argue that prostitution is good for female prostitutes and that most enjoy their work (maybe true at times), all they do is to justify their own position that mostly males need a prostitute and that female prostitutes enjoy their work so much that they wish for it to be accepted as a trained professional by society. The fact that prostitution is not being given to wives and daughters as a birthday present shows that we are far away from accepting prostitution as an accepted profession.

    Maybe only if the family system brakes down and all women become prostitutes themselves we may be able to achieve the goal that prostitution can be accepted as profession. Old and unattractive jaded women who can’t become a madam, still have to deal with the problem of finding some kind of work or develop other skills which pays the bills. Sooner or later they all leave. How do we deal with a profession which is basically a dead end job with out any career progression, not to mention that some actually do feel dead by the time they are 50 years old. Who wants to care for these aging prostitutes? Some still need other skills besides satisfying customers and still need an education. The whole thing is rather hypocritical any way you look at it.

  69. 68
    Not Your Bitch says:

    “By criminalizing Johns you send a message that sex, and sexual urges are wrong and should be punished. ”

    Uh no you don’t, you send a message that sex should be FREEly engaged in (by those who CONSENT not those coerced by financial need) and women/girls bodies aren’t for sale.

    “SEX is not wrong and that is why we are fighting for the decriminalization of all laws against prostitutes as well as johns. Besides, without johns, how would we make a living? ”

    How – by doing any other job at which men/women make a living.

    Noone said that sex is wrong, just that coercing women/girls and trafficking in women/girls is wrong and men who think it’s okay to buy women’s/girl’s bodies are WRONG.

  70. 69
    Not Your Bitch says:

    “While most of us do simply want prostitution to simply go away – the truth is that this profession has been around for many years and will possibly continue to be.”

    1. It is not a profession
    and
    2. So has slavery, that doesn’t mean we should accept or legalize either.

  71. 70
    BritGirlSF says:

    I fall in to Julian’s camp # 3, but with a big qualification. The first and most important reason I oppose prostitution, and think that there’s no right way to handle it, is that I think there’s no way it can ever really be non-exploitative for the vast majority of prostitutes. Most women in prostitution hate their jobs and want out, and I’m not convinced that legalisation or even removing the stigma attached would change that. My gut feeling is that the reason for this is that having sex with a large number of men to whom you are not attracted is just not a very pleasant way to make a living. Sex is for most people a very intimate thing, and who wants to share that level of physical intimacy with people they don’t find physically appealing? Even if you remove the degradation aspect, which I don’ t think you can, the act itself is often going to be repugnant for the prostutute, who unlike the john does not get to choose only partners who are appealing to her.
    However, I have another issue that Julian didn’t cover. Even if the individual prostitutes were OK with what they do, the fact remains that the existance of prostitutes legitimises and reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are things which can be bought and sold. The industry is inherantly destructive in that its existance depends on the idea that women’s bodies are consumer goods. That idea is and always will be completely unacceptable to me.
    In practise the Swedish model seems like a good start to me. It might help a few women to get out of prostitution, and that would be a net plus. I also think that the the johns should be stigmatized and criminalised. Choosing to buy another person’s body is inherently a disgusting idea and an affront to human dignity, and should be treated as such.
    Also, Dr Gourmet,, I’m not sure that the fact that 13% of Swedish men have visited prostitutes is a fact that you really want to be throwing around. It doesn’t do much to support your argument. Considering that we’re talking about an act that is still illegal for the john and that is generally frowned upon in most societies, 13% is actually a not insignificant percentage of the population. In fact, I’m shocked and more than a little horrified that the number is that high. I find it more than a little ironic that I, the supposedly nasty man-hating feminist, would have assumed better of most men and would have expected the percentage to be considerably lower. I’m having a hard time grasping the idea that men visiting prostitutes is that widespread. 1 in 8? That’s a hell of a lot of people.

  72. 71
    Radfem says:

    Damn, spam……

    Interesting thread…women defending prostitutes. Men defending prostitution.

    I don’t give a damn about horny johns and their needs…I don’t. Getting hassled by five or six of them on a one-mile jaunt daily down our main corridor which also happens to be the “red light” district, just makes me feel even more like a piece of meat than I do as a woman anyway. OOooh, and the ones with the “my kid is an honor student….” Don’t get me started. I guess part of that is thinking that marriages or committed relationships should mean something. Silly, I guess.

    I can only imagine how worse it is for the sex workers on the street, who are only trying to survive. Many of these women were abused at an early age, more than a few are addicted to heroin, meth or crack. There’s a heiarchy in the sex industry just like everything else, how is legalization going to change that? It may or may not help sex workers with wealthier clientale.

    I admit I haven’t met many women who’ve chosen this life. It’s chosen them.

    I admit I don’t know anything about call girls(except for shock about Heidi Fleiss b/c I knew her sister in jr. high), what I do know is about street sex workers. I’ve talked to several of them who have had problems with police officers. And a few weeks ago, I sat in on a prelim where five sex workers were testifying about a cop who has been charged with committing rape and oral sex under the color of authority. It was very hard to watch. It was much harder to live.

    Our police chief is going to “red curb” our “red light” district, meaning painting curbs to prevent people from legally parking on the street. And he wants to put arrested johns in the newspapers. Some of his cops have used and abused sex workers themselves, so will they turn up in print? Probably not.

    But the cops have spent years either busting sex workers or saying if you don’t do me, I’ll bust you. The johns are the real victims, I guess.

    Legalization might change some of that, though street workers get the majority of the effects of the CJS’s response to its criminalization in comparison to call girls. I remember the two major busts of call girl rings or illegal brothels and the people running them were women. Heh. Ironic, considering how many men that are out there doing that too.

    Even with legalization, there’s always going to be women who are poor, or who don’t fit within the confines of what legalization or regulation of the sex trade would require so they would probably remain on the illegal fringes of it and subject to being criminalized anyway.

  73. 72
    Samantha says:

    Sometimes the massive weight of American capitalist culture, especially among feminists my age, telling me I’m wrong about prostitution leads me down the crazy-making road to reconvincing myself why I believe prostitution is inherently harmful. I know there are good reasons I changed my mind about legalization and it’s not just knee-jerk radicalism, but being an extreme minority leads to moments of self doubt where I check, double-check, and then triple-check what in more stalwart moments I’m sure I know.

    Radfem’s comment reminded me why I do the activism I do though it seems like Samantha vs. The Whole Friggin World sometimes. I’m outnumbered, but I’m not alone, and what I know I knew about prostitution hasn’t changed since the last time I triple-checked the data.

  74. 73
    alsis39 says:

    I said it before in another thread on this subject: It boggles my mind when people compare the exploitation inherent in the sex worker-john relationship to that in other jobs that are not sex-based and use this to proclaim something like, “But it’s ALL degrading, so what’s the difference ?” How does this question solve the issues at the core of the debate ? If jobs not involving sex –at least officially– are degrading, we ought to be examining our culture and why that is. Not saying that the answer is to make it easier for more people (mostly women) to be degraded at one of the most dangerous jobs there is.

    I really hope no one comes here to proclaim how dangerous stenography or grocery bagging is, either. Because, that too –even if provable– is no answer to the problem.

  75. 74
    Q Grrl says:

    What are the chances of abuse increasing if prostitution is legalized — once men have a legal right to the body they have purchased?

  76. 75
    Lee says:

    Q Grrl – I think the chances of abuse increasing are extremely high, even if we institute a highly regulated system. However, licensed johns signing a contract to use the services of registered prostitutes, either freelance or through a certified agency, with a no-abuse clause in the contract, is a level of oversight that invites the whole system to go underground, plus adds a whole new category of contract law (which, hey, the attorneys might really like). So you would still have essentially two classes of prostitution with the only significant difference being that escort services and Washingtonienne-clones are legal and can sue for breach of contract. I don’t think that helps very many women or changes the culture much.

  77. 76
    Radfem says:

    Yeah, Samantha, I understand what it’s like to be you against the friggin’ world a lot of the time, as you’ve said, but keep on plugging….:-)

    It’s the nature of the profession, the buying and selling of women, imo, not necessarily whether it’s illegal or not, that would cause a lot of the violence against the women inside it. When people become property, abuse and exploitation of them become easier by everyone involved and it’s easy enough when people are viewed as people. :-(

    Legalization would solve some problems, create others in their place and it doesn’t address the nature of the business itself, and its affect on women both inside and outside of it.

    At the same time, if you take it away, you need to replace it with something for the women, so they don’t starve, can feed their families and Putting someone out of a job, even a deplorable one, might make feminists feel better, but for women who are sex workers, in some ways, it would make things harder. So, I think one thing that would be needed(but in so many issues including those outside prostitution(i.e. homelessness, in general) it’s overlooked and that’s programs to help women and to help them help themselves, which is more important so they can live their lives in a different way.

    (some of them who are call girls may have other employable skills, housing, etc. but many of the poorer women probably wouldn’t have these things and may have drug addictions and psychological and emotional issues as well going back to childhood)

    Money is exchanged to “buy” the women, whether it’s legal or not. That’s enough to basically say, they are my property and I can do what I wish. Even if the johns aren’t violent, even if they are polite, there’s still an inherant feeling that it could happen at any time, even if it doesn’t.

    And certainly, if this is a pity party for johns, count me out.

  78. 77
    Wendy says:

    Legalization views prostitution as a vice that needs to be heavily contained and controlled. In places that have legalization systems, such as Amsterdam, Germany and the State of Victoria in Australia etc., sex pros must regisister at the police station, be photographed, fingerprinted and give very personal info about themselves to the police. (Anyone previously convicted of prostitution is denied a licence).
    Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it?

    One can only work in certain licenced areas, and those brothel owners that end up owning the (hughly expensive) licences are usually rather unsavoury people, best to be avoided.
    Poeple in this industry should not be regulated into sex gettoes. SPOC disagrees with any kind of segragation.
    If you work without a licence, it remains entirely illegal. Licenced sex pro`s must pay (equivelent CDN dollars) thousands in licence fees per year to authorities ). For that we don`t get any help or protection at all.
    In legalized systems, typically, the house takes 50%, then the government takes another 25%, (of the gross, not the net, in the form of “sin” taxes ). (We are not a package of cigarettes or a bottle of alcohol). So we`re, (after they charge us inflated prices for such basics as clean sheets, soap, meals, usually the cheapest take-out food), are lucky to take home 25%. This, after we have done the actual work!
    Also usually, it`s 12 hour shifts and we do not have right of refusal, ie., if a client wants a certain kind of sex we`re not comfortable with, well, then we still have to do it. We, at SPOC, call that sexual assault.

    Many ordinary Canadians have their hearts in the right place, and will say things like, “There is nothing wrong with prostitution, they should legalize it and the girls can have health checks”. Unfortunately this majority of Canadians do not have access to the real info re decriminalization, legalization and criminalization. And who can blame them for thinking this way? It`s not like they can walk into a library or read a newspaper and get that info. (We at SPOC have been speaking at universities and doing media, for years, but it clearly is not enough). Aside from the general ignorance of pro’s legal issues, let’s talk about forced STI (sexually transmitted infection) checks. All sexually active people should be responsible for their own sexual health. No, you can’t fob off that responsibility on to a government official so you can have unsafe sex with us.
    What we’ve seen happen in places like Germany, where they have legalization and forced STI checks, is that the checks are done on Thursdays. The pro then has to display her Grade A Disease Free Meat certificate on the wall of her room. (While the brothels officially state they insist on condom use, the girls tell a very different tale). The client then walks in, checks that she’s disease free and says, “Great, you don’t have anything! I’m not wearing a condom”.
    The reason we can get clients to use condoms is because they’re concerned about getting something
    from us, not because they’re worried about giving us an STI. When that “bargaining
    chip” is taken out of the equation, we’re left with no way to protect ourselves. Also, if a pro does contract a STI, from coersive unsafe sex, her licence is revoked and a new girl is brought in.
    Finally, we at SPOC have all agreed to refuse outright to participate in any kind of government legalization schemes.
    While we do take an active role in our sexual health, we will not allow any agents of government to be poking and prodding around our vaginas.

  79. 78
    Wendy says:

    Legalization views prostitution as a vice that needs to be heavily contained and controlled. In places that have legalization systems, such as Amsterdam, Germany and the State of Victoria in Australia etc., sex pros must regisister at the police station, be photographed, fingerprinted and give very personal info about themselves to the police. (Anyone previously convicted of prostitution is denied a licence).
    Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it?

    One can only work in certain licenced areas, and those brothel owners that end up owning the (hughly expensive) licences are usually rather unsavoury people, best to be avoided.
    Poeple in this industry should not be regulated into sex gettoes. SPOC disagrees with any kind of segragation.
    If you work without a licence, it remains entirely illegal. Licenced sex pro`s must pay (equivelent CDN dollars) thousands in licence fees per year to authorities ). For that we don`t get any help or protection at all.
    In legalized systems, typically, the house takes 50%, then the government takes another 25%, (of the gross, not the net, in the form of “sin” taxes ). (We are not a package of cigarettes or a bottle of alcohol). So we`re, (after they charge us inflated prices for such basics as clean sheets, soap, meals, usually the cheapest take-out food), are lucky to take home 25%. This, after we have done the actual work!
    Also usually, it`s 12 hour shifts and we do not have right of refusal, ie., if a client wants a certain kind of sex we`re not comfortable with, well, then we still have to do it. We, at SPOC, call that sexual assault.

    Many ordinary Canadians have their hearts in the right place, and will say things like, “There is nothing wrong with prostitution, they should legalize it and the girls can have health checks”. Unfortunately this majority of Canadians do not have access to the real info re decriminalization, legalization and criminalization. And who can blame them for thinking this way? It`s not like they can walk into a library or read a newspaper and get that info. (We at SPOC have been speaking at universities and doing media, for years, but it clearly is not enough). Aside from the general ignorance of pro’s legal issues, let’s talk about forced STI (sexually transmitted infection) checks. All sexually active people should be responsible for their own sexual health. No, you can’t fob off that responsibility on to a government official so you can have unsafe sex with us.
    What we’ve seen happen in places like Germany, where they have legalization and forced STI checks, is that the checks are done on Thursdays. The pro then has to display her Grade A Disease Free Meat certificate on the wall of her room. (While the brothels officially state they insist on condom use, the girls tell a very different tale). The client then walks in, checks that she’s disease free and says, “Great, you don’t have anything! I’m not wearing a condom”.
    The reason we can get clients to use condoms is because they’re concerned about getting something
    from us, not because they’re worried about giving us an STI. When that “bargaining
    chip” is taken out of the equation, we’re left with no way to protect ourselves. Also, if a pro does contract a STI, from coersive unsafe sex, her licence is revoked and a new girl is brought in.
    Finally, we at SPOC have all agreed to refuse outright to participate in any kind of government legalization schemes.
    While we do take an active role in our sexual health, we will not allow any agents of government to be poking and prodding around our pussiesi.

  80. 79
    Radfem says:

    It’s interesting, about the double standard of prostitutes and johns in terms of privacy, for example, b/c our city’s police department has been doing these busts mostly of women who work on the streets as prostitutes, and a few pimps. The johns were left alone, until there was an article about a couple of them being busted in the newspaper today.

    The police chief had made these speeches about removing the anomynity from the johns, putting their pictures in the paper, and names after their arrests. But, the picture of the john being arrested by officers, is photographed only from the neck down. There’s a more detailed picture of the undercover female cop posing as a prostitute, than of the john. So they still have that right of privacy which the busted prostitutes and even the several pimps have NOT had.

    I don’t know what busts like this accomplish and know this one’s being done b/c it’s an election year at City Hall. People in this business, both buyers and sellers, as the police refer to them, know that stings like this are temporary due to expenses and resources and quick, but short-termed “success”. But they are not addressing the root causes of prostitution and the root causes behind where it occurs on the streets of certain neighborhoods, so the situation still continues.

    After all, it’s not like it hasn’t been done before and the street where most of it occurs has had prostitution on it, for over 25 years. Criminalizing it, meaning responding to it in an enforcement fashion doesn’t address the root causes of it.

  81. 80
    Wendy says:

    Once again the feminist’s are silencing sex workers. To not support women’s rights to do sex work in a society where women still make less than men do for the same jobs, when the same types of jobs are not available to women, when sex work is one of the only high-paying options that a woman who, say, has no other marketable skills, or maybe doesn’t speak English, or has to work around her kids, or around a drug addiction. That’s the only job that’s available, and to take that option away is not in any way feminist ““ you’re just taking away the only economic option that some women have.

  82. 81
    Rhonda says:

    Hi,
    I was just reading some of the quotes on prostitution. I felt that women who worked as prostitutes was there by choice until recently. I watched an MSNBC Investigates program on this subject & was shocked to find out that children, boys & girls, some as young as 9 are being kidnapped & forced into prostitution, right here in the United States. These children do not want to be there. When the prostitutes are children this is not called buying sexual acts, or favors, it is rape, as simple as that. Children are not adults therefore cannot consent to this behaviour, they are made to do it by threats & beatings & whatever it takes. The children that are forced into this lifestyle are being raped over & over again day in & day out by miserable adults. Some having children the same age as the child they are raping. It makes me sick!The police should be arresting the johns & the pimps because arresting the prostitutes is doing nothing. They should also be going after the men & women who kidnapp our children off the streets, out of our homes, & off of schoolgrounds, & bring them to the pimps. Prostitution may pay high but the poor “street walkers” do not keep any of the money, it is given to the pimps. So it is not a job of choice for women who are unskilled, uneducated, or unable to get a job because of children, or a language barrier. The MSNBC program is a must to see. You will never forget the faces of the children that were the focus of this program. Some examples: one young man who was forced on the streets at 9 & died at 15 from the end stages of AIDS, a 13 y.o. girl who was recently kidnapped & wanted to go home, another young girl who also wanted out, she was kicked so hard by her “pimp” her bones were broken, & the young girl who had to be 13 or 14 who was at least 8-9 months pregant forced to continue being on the streets “or she wouldn’t see her baby,” & the last child, a 9 year old who when asked who his pimp was, simply said, “my dad.” Trust me I watched the program 2 months ago & it still affects me today. I shutter to think of all the times my children were walking to & from school or out playing like a normal kid & how lucky we were nothing happened. Now I worry about my nephews, my neighbors kids, any couple I know with children & I pray it won’t happen to them. The only way to stop this problem is to get rid of the demand! Arrest the johns & let everyone know who they are. Arrest the pimps, let everyone know who they are & consficate their property, sell it & give to the victims of this senseless & vicious crime, after all they didn’t work for it. And then throw them all in jail for a long time.
    Thank you for listening.

  83. 82
    Kate the Great says:

    Wendy, I sympathize with you, but I believe the Swedish model emphasizes finding help/alternate employment for prostitutes. It does not propose simply taking their income away leaving them high-and-dry to defend themselves.

    The emphasis you place on financial desperation supports our point: that the concept of “choice” or “consent” excercised by women in this field is done under certain constraints. When the only other option is to live close to the poverty line, the john cannot say he is purchasing a freely chosing individual. She is choosing, but only because it is that, or more desperate circumstances.

    And do men have the right to exploit people in that position?

  84. 83
    RonF says:

    When the only other option is to live close to the poverty line, the john cannot say he is purchasing a freely chosing individual.

    Yes, he or she can. There’s plenty of people living close to or even below the poverty line who are not prostitutes. In fact, I’d dare say the vast majority of people who are living close to or below the poverty line have not chosen to become prostitutes. So it seems to be a free choice.

    It’s not like those are the only alternatives.

  85. 84
    Kate the Great says:

    You are right, she does have other alternatives.
    And not everyone close to the poverty line DOES fall into that. But many of the people who are in the industry are close, and that’s something a lot of them have in common.
    What I’m saying is that it is a CHOICE, but a choice made under limitations. Which isn’t as “free” as people would like to think.
    The point of the Swedish model is to say that it ISN’T a good choice because of the sexism it reinforces and the damage it does to the women, which is why they are working to put an end to the whole thing. At the same time it aknowledes that people in desperate financial circumstances sometimes do these things because they fear losing their house or not being able to feed their kids.
    It doesn’t make it noble, it makes it a fact though. And I don’t think much of men who capitalize on that.

  86. 85
    Kate the Great says:

    Or, to put it this way, if I see a homeless man who’s willing to dance with his pants around his ankles on a street corner for change, yes, he’s willing to do it, but why? Am I an admirable person if I pay him money to do it for my entertainment because “he chose to do it. He didn’t have to”?
    Yes, that case is more extreme than some in prostitution, but I simply use it to illustrate that simply because someone has chosen something out of economic desperation, does not mean it’s the ideal choice for them and that they’re perfectly happy doing it. There are more complicated factors in why people chose what they chose or do what they do.

  87. 86
    Herra says:

    Prostitution is not a good thing and those who understand this have tried to remove it by making the selling of sex illegal and have prostitutes arrested. This has failed dismally. It will also never work simply because it lacks understanding of what prostitution is. Most prostitutes are not prostitutes because they enjoy the job but because they have been forced into that position. A great deal of prostitutes take drugs in order just to get through the job.
    A great deal of these prostitutes start out as young girls and therefore have a very limited education. Those in third world countries often have no formal education. Because of this these girls and women often feel trapped as they have no qualification to pursue other careers. Others won’t leave because of fear of their pimps and/or because they have been so badly oppressed by male abuse that they simply don’t believe that they are good for anything else.

    Therefore arresting these girls means nothing. Once they walk out of the police station they simply carry on with selling themselves. Not to mention the opportunities the policemen have to abuse these girls by demanding sex from them in exchange for not arresting them.

    A lot of well meaning feminists then suggested that prostitution should be legalised in order to protect the prostitutes. This I believe will also fail miserable. One of the main reasons for this is that we live in a very male dominated society and will for a very long time. (Don’t just think of first world counties but also think of African and Arab countries where male domination is much worse).
    Men have always thought of women as their property and sex objects that can be used and abused. Prostitution shows that men believe it is their right to buy girls and women for sex.
    By legalising prostitution we will be giving men the green light to continue. To help prostitutes we need to make men stop abusing women and starting to respect them.

    Because of this I strongly support the “Outlaw John’s, Not Prostitutes” article. Sweden is certainly on the right track. But I believe this will also fail, simply because the punishment is not harsh enough. Most men after getting caught will just shrug it off and continue doing it.
    When punishing these men the punishment must match the crime.

    Pimping is equivalent to been a slave owner and must be treated as such. These men who pimp girls and women need to be taken off the streets were they can no longer destroy female lives and put in jail for a very long time. All the money that they made from pimping should be confiscated by the state. This money would then be used to build special shelters for the girls and women where they could be tort life skills, show them that they can achieve greatness in life, help them overcome their drug addiction as a great deal of them are heavily dependent and very importantly let them know that they do not need to be defined and controlled by male abuse.

    As for the male customers; if males use the services of underage prostitutes then that should by law be considered as rape. The men must then be tried and punished as rapists.
    In all other cases, revealing the men’s names publicly won’t be enough. They must also be forced to do community service. But not just any community service, they would have to carry out their punishment in the shelters created for prostitutes. They would be expected to paint the buildings, do all the maintenance keep the place clean etc.
    Think of all the money the shelters would save as they would not need to spend it on maintenance and they could therefore put all this saved money into educating, re-educating and helping the girls and women make something of their lives.

  88. 87
    Joshua_Tree says:

    Being a Swede, may I first say that prostitution is not decriminalised here. Not illegal and decriminalised is not the same. Second, I don’t think the law works as it was hoped to. In fact, I’m sure that prostitutes in Sweden are more unsafe now than prior to this law. Of course, Swedish government isn’t interesting in investigating this in an honest way. Gunilla Ekberg is among Swedish prostitutes considered deeply dishonest and, well, the enemy.

    I’ve taken liberty to translating “the Swedish model” into a situation where consuming country music is banned. This is basically how it works. Enjoy!

    http://scriptorium.se/josh/2008/12/04/legislation-for-dummies-the-swedish-model/

  89. 88
    Luís Henrique says:

    What are the standards of evidence for the crime of being a john?

    Prostitution is the exchange of sex for money. How does the prosecution prove that there was sexual intercourse (which, usually, happens behind closed doors)? How does the prosecution prove that money is involved?

    It seems that some women will be branded as “prostitutes”, probably for no better reason than having being involved in prostitution in the past, or just being poor, and male friends or *gasp* lovers will be presumed to be johns if they pay them a visit.

    Another question: if a gentleman invites a young lady for dinner, and pays for the consumption, and then they have sex afterwards, is he a criminal?