When the founders of this blog recently asked for my opinion on the legalisation of prostitution as a counter to their previous article (linked here) I thought ‘Pffft, and which boy wrote that?!’ Which is sexist I know, and that just won’t do, so then I decided to sit down, drink some tea, and really think about it…at least until something good came on T.V anyway.
So allow me to be concise, prostitution is not a profession concerned about welfare Real life is not like ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Diary of a Call Girl’both of which I believe are responsible for providing the masses with their education in these matters…. or at the very least my own. Unlike Julia Roberts their stories are not reworked fairy tales, sex workers do not remain pure and untainted by refusing to kiss their employers on the lips, with Richard Gere entering on cue to save the day. Nor are they all Billy Piper working the middle class market for their enjoyment, their empowerment and enjoying every part of the journey. The idea that by engaging in this work girls can realise their true sexuality and meet their sexual potential is feminism cannibalised….you sell your body for sex, you sell your sexuality, your desire and the safety of your physical self to that of a stranger. Call me Mary Whitehouse but I don’t see anything to legalise in that…
So, yeah, prostitution is bad. Not because of religious or moral reasons (for those that aren’t religious or moral) but because the sale of sexual services surmounts to a form of slavery. Sex is something you sell when you have nothing else, when you are in a draught of resources. Which therefore raises the issue of consent, can one consent to a practice when they are engaging in it for material profit? If not (and I think not) then prostitution is rape…we legalise prostitution and we are legalising rape..we are stating for the record that one group of people can be denied their sexual rights…we create a sexual underclass, one created to serve the needs of others, one inferior to the clients they serve and the pimps who manage them…we are commit a human rights violation. Sex workers suffer higher instances of rape and abuse than those in other industries..they can already be controlled by their managers through the distribution of money and since ‘escort’ isn’t something I was informed about at my own careers evening I can only wonder who these girls will be. The answer being those from low income backgrounds. How can something be legal if there if the choice is…’Do it and eat, don’t and starve’…whatever we’re told it seems there’s little room for real choice, and then if we do legalise it, then we are persecuting against poor women simply because they are poor and women. Whatever happened to that pesky creature equality?
From what I understand the argument for legalisation is twofold….mostly because someone called anon told me. Firstly, prostitution has been around a really, really, really long time…it isn’t going anywhere…so why shouldn’t we try to take ownership and regulate it as some other EU countries have, the problem being….that, well, lots of things have been around a long time, like that spam curry in my fridge for one. But that doesn’t mean its good…just that I’m lazy and haven’t cleaned out my fridge. So, just because prostitution has been around longer than anyone remembers; ( since 1800BC within societies that operated on a buy and sell system), around the same time that people with rocks started exchanging them for leaves and talking in terms of profit trajectories, doesn’t make it good. It just that we’ve been exploiting people ever since time began, and that no one has ever successfully addressed the root issues, but people are not there to be consumed like the mobile phones we constantly upgrade from….and prostitution makes people into a product to dispose of as we see fit.
It is perhaps at this point I’ll state my mistaken impression that the point of society is to protect its more vulnerable members, (no pun intended), providing a platform on which humans can rise above their nature. Of course history doesn’t always serve me well on this point, and naivety does me no favours in this current climate. Perhaps I should conform to the cynicism of some of my peers, and those that follow the; ‘if you can’t beat them join them camp’, as in, if you can’t stop prostitution you can at least legalise and get tax out of it….sanction government friendly brothels and put those that aren’t out through the use of competitive pricing….forgetting these are individual women we are talking about. Or how many times we’d then be screwing them over.
Then we have to look at the administrative side of it…cos it’s like soo sexy(!) How exactly would the government regulate this behaviour? Haven’t we already opened this can of worms? Where the state legislates, defines, and classifies sexual code within specific environments; therefore deeming those behaviours that don’t make the list niche, thus driving it further underground, and placing those that serve them on the fringes of society, even further out of reach. Allowing us to forget that at times it can be very hard to distinguish the emotional exchange between two people…how abuse can take many formats, including emotional. Those countries that have introduced legalisation such as the Netherlands did not find their situation improved, and have in fact faced a whole lot of new issues, the promise that we would do better with the right type of policy holds v.little water with me. Because its like, soo easy to take a personal matter such as sex and find a code of behaviour everyone will stick to, and the government has such a good track record of monitoring peoples sexuality. It’s not like they’re ever chemically castrated those they felt deviated from the norm or anything,
Which is perhaps where I should end, accept for this need to state: I find a certain kind of ironic gloom in this idea that by legalising prostitution we are placing the physical and emotional well being of our more vulnerable women in societies expectant hands. The same society that is currently attempting to apply a business model to our health service and currently rewards those that fucked up our economy with million pound bonuses….
The same society that works towards a capitalist agenda within which women and to a continuing extent men, are objectified a daily basis and judged on the basis of their sexual allure. The very same society that is built upon patriarchal values…those that traditionally favour masculine principles, demeaning those qualities deemed feminine as unimportant and therefore the very essence of female. Does anyone else find the problem in that? Essentially expecting the male centric government to protect our women from the potential threat of specific individual males, where the hell are all the women in this?! Hello we can talk for ourselves.
So yeah, I am against the legalisation of prostitution (just in case you hadn’t noticed) I am not against changes in the law that punishes those that procure it over those supplying the demand. I am not against and am in fact actively for the work that goes on with sex workers and would support any improvements in this area…but there is a difference between trying to solve the problems..those that find women out on the street selling themselves and actively supporting those that go out and search for an outlet….surely the customers have their own issues to face. I am also reminded of Iceland, Iceland that closed all the lap dancing clubs by given women the financial help needed to leave the industry…Iceland, ‘whose women are not for sale’. Iceland’s whose women clearly didn’t feel a burning desire to work in lap dancing clubs when offered an available alternative because otherwise they’d still all be open right? Which is perhaps my biggest problem in this scenario; the quiet we hear from the workers…as it is generally only those on the grass roots level who can understand the reality of their situation… and what I didn’t hear in any of this discourse…and all the stuff that’s been quoted at me, is the workers’ own opinion.
Are we ever planning to give these women a bit of credit to actually talk for themselves….how revolutionary would that fucking be?