Prostitution Is Not Sex Slavery


Dammit to hell. I really, really didn’t want my first reply to something by Taslima Nasreen to be an argument. I have tremendous respect for the woman and her work, and I would have loved for my first piece on her work to be gushing and adoring.

But I can’t let this go by without opposition.

Nasreen has written a post titled “Sex Slavery must be abolished.” Hard to argue with. Except that throughout the piece, she equates all forms of prostitution with sexual slavery. She says prostitution is always patriarchal oppression, always sexual exploitation, always sexual violence, that women are always forced into it, that it is never a vocation choice, that it is always human rights abuse, that all of it harms women.

Now. It’s certainly the case that prostitution is sometimes sexual slavery, patriarchal oppression, violent, not freely chosen, abusive, and harmful. In fact, if Nasreen wanted to claim that it often is all these things, I probably wouldn’t argue with that. It’s hard to get accurate statistics on how widespread the abusive versions of prostitution are compared to the non-abusive versions — it’s illegal, and it’s a charged issue, so it’s hard to get accurate, non-biased data about it. But I won’t deny that the abusive and exploitative versions of prostitute are a serious problem around the world. And of course, I stand in passionate opposition to abusive and exploitative sexual slavery. Of course I am eager to find solutions that reduce these harms as much as is humanly possible, and if possible that eliminate them entirely.

My problem is with the idea that, because prostitution is sometimes or often abusive and exploitative, it therefore always is — and that it is by its very nature.

My problem is this: What do you say to women — and men, there are plenty of male prostitutes — who say that this is not their experience?

What do you say to the women and men who currently work as prostitutes, or who once worked as prostitutes, who say that they freely chose the work, and are happy with that choice?

There are thousands of women — and men — who will tell you this. There are thousands of women and men who say that they actively enjoy working as prostitutes. They had other choices of profession, and they chose this one, and they’re happy with that choice. They like many of their customers, and are free to reject customers they don’t want to work with. They get sexual pleasure out of their work, and they get other kinds of job satisfaction from it as well. (There might well be more of them speaking out, if prostitution weren’t so heavily stigmatized, and if people felt more comfortable speaking openly about their experiences with it.)

And there are thousands more who will tell you that they basically see prostitution the way most people see their job — as a job, with things they like about it and things they don’t, not necessarily something they want to do forever but on the whole the best choice for them at a particular time in their lives. (Again, there might well be more speaking out, if it were easier to speak openly about being a prostitute without legal and practical and social penalty.)

These experiences are certainly not universal. I wouldn’t claim that they are. But they’re not unheard of, either. They are a part of the reality of prostitution — every bit as much as abuse and exploitation and sex slavery.

Are you saying that these people don’t exist? Or are you saying that they don’t matter? Are you saying that they’re deluded — that they thought they were free to choose but really weren’t, or that they thought they felt good about the work but really didn’t? Are you going to deny agency to thousands of current and former prostitutes, because their experience contradicts your thesis?

What’s more, there are thousands of women — and men — who didn’t have such a positive experience with prostitution… but who still want it to be legalized. I can’t tell you how many prostitutes I’ve talked with and read, who have said that they had terrible experiences with their work… and that these experiences were made significantly worse by the fact that the work was illegal. Women — and men — have said that the illegality of their work meant that they couldn’t go to the police if they were abused by customers or pimps or brothel owners; that in fact they were subjected to regular abuse from the police themselves, including extortion, blackmail, theft, beatings, and rape. And of course, the fact that the work is illegal makes it harder to leave it when you want to. (It’s not exactly something you can put on a resume.)

Yes. Prostitution is often abusive and exploitative. So is the garment industry. So is the chocolate industry. In fact, abuses in both the garment and the chocolate industry are so widespread as to be endemic. It does not follow, however, that wearing clothes and eating chocolate are inherently and by their very nature abusive and exploitative, that nobody ever freely chooses to enter these industries, and that anyone who participates them is either an abuser or a victim. If we’re going to work to stop abuses and exploitation in the garment and chocolate industries, shaming and marginalizing people who wear clothes and eat chocolate — or who make clothes and pick cocoa beans, or who work in clothing stores and chocolate shops — is not a good place to start.

Yes. Prostitution is often abusive and exploitative. I absolutely stand with you against any form of prostitution that is enslaving, patriarchal oppression, violent, not freely chosen, abusive, or in any way harmful. I am eager to find solutions to the all-too-common abuse and exploitation of prostitutes. But these solutions need to be based in reality. They cannot be based in the denial of the real experience of thousands upon thousands of people.

Yes. Prostitution is often abusive and exploitative. But if you’re going to make a blanket statement that all prostitution is always and by definition abusive and exploitative, then you are denying reality. You are ignoring the experience of thousands of human beings. That is not in keeping with a humanist philosophy. Please listen to the voices and experiences of the women — and men — who work or have worked as prostitutes, and please let your thoughts and your work on this issue be guided by those voices. All of them.

Comments

  1. says

    All very well said, as always. And don’t worry about disagreement among us, it’s healthy (as I’m sure you know; I understand your sentiment). I have some disagreements with Taslima on a few things as well, but that does not diminish my enormous respect for her courage and her intellect. I’m sure we all have disagreements on particular things despite sharing a lack of belief in god. We can have those disagreements publicly and civilly and continue to admire and respect one another.

  2. says

    Well said and said well, Greta. I nearly had my heart skip about five beats when I saw your welcome to Ms. Nasreen…and then saw her screed.

    Glad to see you haven’t joined the dark side.

    Anthony

  3. says

    I also had this argument with her on Twitter some time back.

    That’s fine – I can still respect her and much of her work. We’re not always going to agree.

    And while I can totally understand and respect (even as I disagree with it) her VALUE POSITION that informs her that prostitution is harmful IN HER VIEW (and based on her history). But it is a shame to see basic facts and definitions ignored in favor of emotional arguments from someone who is an important voice of reason.

    It’s one thing to say “the world would be better place if prostitution didn’t exist” and quite another to say that outlawing prostitution will make the world a better place when the considered evidence is that legalizing prostitution and empowering women* to control their own bodies and lives in every respect, is what makes the world a better place.

    [*not JUST women of course, but all people]

    PS–what is the difference between “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” and “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.” other than moving the hypen?

  4. Sarcen says

    I skimmed over Nasreen’s original piece, and all I saw were blind assertions unsupported by…anything. It has that weird, coercive and authoritarian feel that the anti-marijuana campaign has. But whereas the “war on drugs” proxies distort facts in support of their position, Nasreen just omitted them altogether. I’m sure she’s a great, intelligent, well-meaning person and I’m sure she’s on the right side of things more often than not, but none of that was reflected in her piece.

    Thank you, Greta Christina, for addressing this egregious conflation and equivocation fallacy.

  5. Nepenthe says

    If prostitution is legalized, will prostitutes be required to follow federal non-discrimination laws? (I.e, will a prostitute be able to turn away white clients, or Jewish clients, or clients of another protected class that she does not want to have sex with?) If so, how is this compatible with notions of positive consent? If not, how is this compatible with the idea that “sex work” is just work (ie, if a plumber can’t turn away a Hispanic customer, why could a prostitute)?

  6. penn says

    I was excited to see your response as I was reading Taslima’s piece and you didn’t disappoint. What I think annoyed me the most was the fact that the majority of the post was evidence-free assertions about the inherent evils of prostitution. There was little to no reason or rationale given and I really hope she responds with a well thought out argument.

  7. says

    Well-said, Greta. One of the enormous ironies of Taslima’s position that’s brought out by your argument about chocolates and clothing is that if I want to hire a prostitute, I’m confident in my ability to find one who’s doing the work out of choice, and who takes pride in her job. I don’t know where I can buy a shirt or a box of chocolate or a laptop that hasn’t been built by slave labor or near-slave labor.

    And as I type this, I’m sitting fully clothed, typing on a MacBook, and have a cup of mocha near me. Between those three things, I’m connected to more oppression than I would if I got up right now and made an appointment with a pro-domme or escort.

  8. Krisko says

    I have a friend who is a call girl. She likens it to working in a cubicle… while she sells her body, other people sell their souls.

  9. says

    Most of the sex workers I know would be extremely offended if you said that they “sell their bodies.” Just like all of us, they sell their time and attention. They sell a service, and deserve respect for doing that honestly and well.

  10. Hugh Jay says

    Agree with you 100%. My own story in brief: I live in the UK where prostitution is legal (tho most things associated with it are illegal, such as kerb crawling or setting up a brothel). My wife died when I was in my late 50s and after a brief relationship where I was very subtly but persistently manipulated and abused I wondered if it might be more honest, cleaner and straightforward to exchange intimacy for cash rather than pay the price of having to surrender my identity to another. After some research I met up with a prostitute who had a good reputation with other punters (UK English for Johns). I was prepared for this to be a ‘one off’ but wanted to see where the experience might stand on the continuum between seedy/degrading and joyful/liberating. It turned out to be very much at the joyful/liberating end of the spectrum.

    Some ten years later I no longer pay for sex. It was an interesting and fulfilling period I went through and have now moved on to another stage in my life. I still keep in occasional touch with that first prostitute, who has been in a steady relationship all that time and seems consistently happy in her work. As well she might. She enjoys sex and is good at it. In all I had sex with about twenty different women, and one of the many positives was seeing how in charge of their own lives they seemed, and how assertive in the face of the attempts of some to put them down.

    No I’m sure it’s not all a ‘bed of roses’ and I’m sure most of them had off days, though probably less than if they’d had one of the many soul-sapping jobs that many of us have to endure to bring home a tenth of their income. And yes, I’m sure there are horror stories. I never ventured anywhere near street prostitution but have no reason to believe that the stories of underage abuse, beating, pimps and drugs are anything but true. But they are not the whole story. Nobody has accurate stats, but speaking with an academic who has done research with both prostitutes and punters in the UK I get the impression that the safer and less known ‘hidden’ element of prostitution (massage parlours and escorts visiting hotels or with their own flats) is larger than the visible street end of the market.

    You ask: “Are you saying that these people don’t exist? Or are you saying that they don’t matter? Are you saying that they’re deluded — that they thought they were free to choose but really weren’t, or that they thought they felt good about the work but really didn’t? Are you going to deny agency to thousands of current and former prostitutes, because their experience contradicts your thesis?” Sadly I have seen all these responses. It’s certainly a common experience of the prostitute women I knew that their experiences are persistently discounted by such responses, too often by radical feminists with an axe to grind who are determined to portray all prostitution as if it were chaotic street prostitution.

  11. smrnda says

    Despite the fact that I think prostitution is abusive,exploitive and coercive most of the time, I think that legalizing it would be a good step in trying to make it better.

    Prostitution is a very high-risk job, and it needs to be regulated to protect prostitutes, and the people who need to have input on what types of laws and regulations would be the prostitutes themselves.

    Nepenthe – as for non-discrimination laws and how they might end up ‘forcing’ prostitutes to have sex with people they don’t want to, I think that if there exists any entity – an employer or the government – who can tell a woman that if she chooses to have sex (for money) with one person she can’t turn anyone away, then that entity would just be a pimp, and the existence of the pimp is a factor in prostitution being abusive and degrading.

    As for sex work being ‘just work’ I think it’s a type of work that should be thought about differently. I mean, let’s say a woman is unemployed and receiving government benefits; should the government be able to say ‘well, you could make X dollars in prostitution so you should do that and we’ll cut off the government aid.” That’s coercion and it violates the idea that a person should never be coerced into doing anything sexual with anyone.

    I’d rather leave open the possibility that individual prostitutes would arbitrarily discriminate in order to protect them. I mean, let’s say that a particular prostitute has a bad experience with a particular customer – I’d argue she has the right to refuse the guy without having to give any reason. Subjecting prostitutes to rules that mandate they have sex with people they don’t want to is a kind of ‘well, if you have sex with anyone for money you must have sex with everyone’ – the same misogynistic bullshit that makes men think they are entitled to sex from any woman who puts out, which also fuels the rape myth that women who are ‘promiscuous’ either can’t be raped, or that if they are it’s less of a tragedy than if a ‘decent’ woman is raped. The same deal with homosexuals – if a homosexual man is raped plenty of people seem to view it as no big deal because of their assumption that ‘gay men have sex with anybody.’

    People doing lots of jobs end up discriminating without the law making an issue of it; it’s mostly a question of legal classification. I mean, a movie director doesn’t have to film a script just because a studio or writer wants to throw money at them. If I’m working as a web-developer, I don’t have to accept money from a group I disagree with to put up some right-wing website – provided I was working as an independent contractor. If I was working for a web-development company and they agreed I could be forced to do it.

    Typically I’m all for the anti-discrimination laws, but I think prostitution should be regulated differently. The main issue should be protecting sex workers, not making sure that anybody who wants has access to any particular sex worker. To me, the latter seems more like oppression for sex workers than liberation.

    My own take on the issue underwent some change when I realized that some people I ran into who were ‘prostitutes’ were really just, effectively, pocketing some cash after sexual encounters that others would have just had for free.

  12. Alverant says

    I’m curious, has there ever been a time/place in history where legalized prostitution was accepted and being a prostitute was an acceptable profession? I’m concerned we are venturing into new terrority here since for most of human history, women have been treated as things and not people. Now that women are being treated as equals (or at least taking steps in that direction), would legalized prostitution have a positive or negative effect?

  13. says

    Thank you, Greta. I, for one, am interested in hearing Taslima’s perspective on human trafficking, but I’m also interested in seeing her back up her assertions with citations. My comment on her post (“Source for this quote, please?”) is still awaiting moderation.

  14. Decnavda says

    May I suggest that you and Ms. Nasreen might be a able to agree on a public policy approach to prostitution, even while you vehemently disagree on the nature of prostitution? In her post, Ms. Nasreen said that prostitution should be decriminalized, preventing the exploited prostitutes from being arrested, while allowing the law to still go after the pimps and johns. Now, I agree with your view of prostitution: It’s a job, it should be seen as a job, some people enjoy it, some people tolerate it, and no one should be exploited or forced to do it. But two things occur to me about the decriminalization option:
    1. From the point of view of someone who wants to see eventual full legalization, decriminalization is at least a step forward from the current condition of illegality.
    2. The illegality of prostitution does not seem to be a much of a deterent currently to potential customers, or employers for that matter. Decriminalization would be a great advance for exploited sex workers, a help to those who freely choose the work, and strike against those who would engage in exploitation (since the prostitutes could then turn to the law for help), while legalization would actually have only small advantages for customers and managers of non-exploited sex workers.
    In response to the “Why should we treat sex work different from other work?” objection, I would point out that we *do* have many labor laws that make exploitative work illegal for the employer but not the employee. Decriminalization might be a more extreme form of that, but it *might* be true that sex work has a greater *potential* for exploitation than most other work. Indeed, decriminalization might make it much easier to gather the necessary statistics to determine whether or not it does.
    In my ideal world, all sex work would be entirely legal. My ideal world would also have a basic income gaurantee for all individuals at a sufficitarian level or higher, preventing anybody from being exploited at any job. Untill then, might not those who see prostitution as inherently exploitive and those who see sex work as just another job agree to work together for decriminalization?

  15. Heather says

    This. Exactly this. I do love Taslima Nasreen, but this is something she got wrong.

  16. Daniel Schealler says

    @Alverant #13

    Depends on what you mean by ‘acceptable’.

    Prostitution has been legal in NZ since 2003. But there’s still a social stigma against it.

  17. Greta Christina says

    I don’t know where I can buy a shirt or a box of chocolate or a laptop that hasn’t been built by slave labor or near-slave labor.

    Chris Hall @ #7: When it comes to chocolate, the magic words are “fair trade.” (Ditto with coffee.) It’s harder with clothing: locally made is a good start, but certainly not a guarantee, there are sweatshops right here in San Francisco. (With clothing, a good guide, unfortunately, is cost: if you’re buying cheap, mass-produced clothing, it’s probably slave or sweatshop labor.) And I have no idea where or how to buy electronics that aren’t produced under abusive conditions. If anyone has any info on that, I would love to know about it.

    And as to your main point: Yes, you’re absolutely right, and I hadn’t thought of it that way. Because a sex work customer has an immediate, personal interaction with the provider — something that’s actually somewhat rare in the current global economy — you can have a pretty good idea about the working conditions of a prostitute you work with, in a way that you usually don’t when you buy food, clothing, electronics, etc.

  18. pinkboi says

    I always raise an eyebrow when someone holds a position that requires assuming other people are systematically lying, especially when it’s about their own preferences. If I were to assume that all those prostitutes who said they enjoyed their job were just kidding themselves, then why not assume the same of people in other professions? Egocentric projection surely causes a lot of errors and legalizing prostitution would surely empower prostitutes.

  19. J. J. Ramsey says

    Nepenthe: “if a plumber can’t turn away a Hispanic customer, why could a prostitute”

    AFAIK, while a business cannot deny service on account of race, it can deny service for other, more sensible reasons. For example, if a patron made a scene in a restaurant, the restaurant could tell him or her never to come back. I see no reason a legalized prostitute couldn’t do something similar.

  20. aaron says

    @Greta 19 — unfortunately there is no fair-trade organization for electronics at the moment. But we absolutely need one — as you can see here, electronics beats textiles for labor violations and abuses.

  21. says

    I’ve long felt very conflicted about this. On the one hand, I’ve read the arguments against commercial sex work by feminist scholars like Catherine Mackinnon and Melissa Farley, and I understand the intellectual rigour of that point of view.

    On the other hand, I think the evidence shows that many policies aimed at eradicating commercial sex work tend to harm, not help, the people who they’re meant to be “liberating”. Aziza Ahmed, for instance, is a feminist scholar and researcher who has written extensively about the problems caused by policies that conflate sex work with sex trafficking and that try to eradicate both:

    First, anti-sex trafficking activism has an extremely negative impact on HIV programs. Sex workers are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV. A key victory for anti-sex trafficking organizations was the insertion of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO) into the US Leadership Act for HIV/Aids, TB, and malaria. This provision requires that organizations agree to oppose prostitution and sex trafficking. The APLO has the effect of disempowering sex worker organizations who refuse to sign on, shutting health services for sex workers, and alienating sex workers from public health programs.

    Further, implementation of the APLO alongside raids and “rescues” disrupts HIV projects that have sex workers as peer-educators and leaders. Attempts to provide necessary health services to sex workers may lead to accusations of aiding in trafficking. Despite these negative outcomes, anti-sex-trafficking organizations, including women’s rights groups, support the US government in their effort to implement the APLO to the detriment of women’s health.

    Second, when women and girls are “rescued” by the anti-trafficking organizations, they may be taken to state-run rehabilitation homes that have jail-like conditions. Human rights and sex worker organizations have long documented what rehabilitation might mean for a sex worker: overcrowded conditions, a lack of healthcare, and violence at the hands of the police and guards. The rehabilitation activities of some organizations are also often suspect – the staff of a rehabilitation home in Maharashtra, India that I visited last year told me that one of their rehabilitation activities includes getting the rescued women married.

    Finally, the ongoing attempt to shut down safe places where sex workers can advertise services, like the Village Voice and Craig’s List, drives sex work underground and makes sex workers less capable of screening clients. The cast of characters that feature in Kristof’s blogs and Twitter feed, who call for the closure of “adult advertising”, and who advocate for provisions like the anti-prostitution loyalty oath are often one and the same. Not being able to do business in the open means that sex workers are driven to dark and hidden places to conduct business. This makes sex work unsafe.

    More detail on Ahmed’s research can be found here at the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. (She was a guest speaker at a seminar I attended a few months ago, which is how I came across her work.) Also well worth reading is Noy Thrupkaew’s article in The Nation about the problematic consequences of the work of the charity International Justice Mission, supported by Nicholas Kristof, which enlists the aid of local police in developing countries in “rescuing” sex workers from brothels. Unfortunately, in some cases, their “rescue” has led to their being imprisoned, abused by police, and deported as undocumented immigrants.

    As ever, paternalistic attitudes are a problem: I think there are serious problems with the state attempting to “protect” sex workers by using force to attempt to eradicate sex work, and the evidence shows that this can have seriously bad unintended consequences. And it’s problematic to conflate sex work with trafficking as though the two phenomena were coextensive. I don’t know what the best policy solution is, however.

  22. Graham Martin-Royle says

    I think a major part of the problem with prostitution is the general attitude to sex. All the while that sex is seen as something dirty, to be hidden away, something that “nice” people don’t talk about, then anything to do with sex, be it selling sex, buying sex, watching sex, whatever, it will be frowned upon.

  23. says

    (Shorter me: sex work and sex trafficking are not coextensive, and there are serious problems with authoritarian paternalistic government policies that try to “rescue” sex workers by force and that deny them agency. For this reason, it seems to be better, on balance, for sex work to be legal and regulated. Which is, I think, a part of what Greta was saying, although she also addresses the broader question of whether it is possible for commercial sex work to be non-exploitative.)

  24. Andrew G. says

    May I suggest that you and Ms. Nasreen might be a able to agree on a public policy approach to prostitution, even while you vehemently disagree on the nature of prostitution? In her post, Ms. Nasreen said that prostitution should be decriminalized, preventing the exploited prostitutes from being arrested, while allowing the law to still go after the pimps and johns.

    She did not say it should be decriminalized. She advocated the Swedish approach of criminalizing only the buyer’s half of the transaction.

    Do you really think that making only half of a transaction illegal is an effective way to prevent exploitation?

  25. aaron says

    Yeah, the problem with the Swedish model is that the sex market is still forced underground. So, despite one side being decriminalized, the whole thing still operates outside of the notice of the law, with all the abuses that implies. And of course it is pretty much impossible to do a reputable study demonstrating that it works, so I’m surprised at the number of people who seem to just assume it does.

  26. Decnavda says

    The last sentence of Ms. Nasreen’s article was “We have to decriminalize poor prostituted women but arrest their predators: clients, pimps, traffickers.” I used her language, and I have heard “decriminalization” before used to refer to only criminalizing the buyer’s side.

    I was unaware that this model has been tried in Sweden. I will have to learn more about that before I express more opinions on the subject, empirical evidence obviously trumping any armchair argument I could come up with.

  27. says

    Thank you for this. I also don’t see how criminalizing johns only helps all that much as it only serves to makes johns suspicious of prostitutes, which will hardly lead to better treatment.

  28. Daniel Schealler says

    @Decnavda

    Just in case you missed it: The New Zealand model is to decriminalize the whole shebang and then regulate it.

    Consider:

    17 Refusal to provide commercial sexual services
    (1) Despite anything in a contract for the provision of commercial sexual services, a person may, at any time, refuse to provide, or to continue to provide, a commercial sexual service to any other person.
    (2) The fact that a person has entered into a contract to provide commercial sexual services does not of itself constitute consent for the purposes of the criminal law if he or she does not consent, or withdraws his or her consent, to providing a commercial sexual service.
    (3) However, nothing in this section affects a right (if any) to rescind or cancel, or to recover damages for, a contract for the provision of commercial sexual services that is not performed.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0028/latest/DLM197867.html

  29. aaron says

    Not sure if the latest (2007) study is any different, but in 2003 when the Swedish government reviewed the efficacy of the law, the best they could do was get 35 informants to agree to interview (women sex-workers). And the most positive conclusion they could draw was that violence might not be *increasing*. There’s a link to the Swedish study on the wikipedia article.

  30. says

    Damn. Feeling conflicted here. I have to echo what Ed said, but also what Sarcen said. Anyone who isn’t deterred from speaking out against Islam by having a bounty placed on her head gets major respect from me, but a post full of unsupported assertions like that gives me a terrible first impression of her blogging. Ack.

  31. John Horstman says

    Yes. Prostitution is often abusive and exploitative. But if you’re going to make a blanket statement that all prostitution is always and by definition abusive and exploitative, then you are denying reality.

    Moreover, all labor in a market economy is abusive and exploitative. Prostitution is no more intrinsically exploitative or abusive than my job as a bureaucrat, it’s just that social conditions mean I’m safer and less marginalized in my job (though still not completely safe and without marginalization and exploitation). Also, cultural sex-negativity tends to cause people to read it as exploitative even when it’s not (the ‘logic’ goes: sex is bad, therefore anyone having sex for money MUST be exploited, as no one would ever do something intrinsically bad without some form of coercion).

    Speaking specifically about the way prostitution plays out in the impoverished areas of India, a lot of it is survival sex. While my preference would be to create an economic system that doesn’t necessitate that anyone engage in prostitution out of economic necessity (or working at a fast food restaurant, or cleaning bathrooms, or any other jobs that a lot of people would dislike), in the absence of such a system, it’s simply cruel to punish sex workers for the fact that they have no other marketable skills (they almost certainly have other useful skills, but the market doesn’t respond much to utility value) in a massively impoverished, overpopulated area. Even arresting the pimps (who may be exploiting the sex workers but may not, and/or may also be providing needed protection in an environment where the state-sanctioned protection of the police and the law is unavailable) and the clients (who may be exploiting the sex workers but may not, and who are definitely supplying the money that allows sex workers to survive at all) may not be in the best interests of the prostitutes. If the choice is between prostitution and starvation, lack of housing, and lack of water, prostitution may be the best option, even in a context where it is abusive and exploitative. Again, I’d obviously prefer it not be these things, and that no one would be forced to work a job they hate just to survive, but right now I’m not sure that’s possible. From a harm-reduction standpoint, legalization is far and away the best option.

  32. emma robertson says

    “Yes. Prostitution is often abusive and exploitative. But if you’re going to make a blanket statement that all prostitution is always and by definition abusive and exploitative, then you are denying reality”.

    “Moreover, all labor in a market economy is abusive and exploitative. Prostitution is no more intrinsically exploitative or abusive than my job as a bureaucrat”

    I beg to differ the nature of the transaction itself in prostitution IS abusive.

    Chocolates or other goods may be produced ethically or not –

    This is different, one individual buys the use of another individual’s body for relief of a bodily function.

    Not goods, not services but the body of a human being. As such it constitutes a form of (albeit temporary) slavery.

  33. penn says

    Emma, how does your calculus change in sexual interactions that don’t include money? Is that using someone’s body to relieve a bodily function? If a prostitute enters the trade freely and under no coercion and fully consents to the sexual act with the other individual who the hell are you to tell them that use of their body is slavery? And besides the stigma associated with sex and sex work how does your analysis change for a masseuse?

  34. Daniel Schealler says

    emma robertson

    You’re assuming that the working definition of slavery is ‘purchasing the use of the body of another human being for relief of a bodily function’.

    I have some problems with this definition. Consider:

    I am incapacitated in hospital and a nurse is paid to use her body – hands and arms – to assist me in defecating and to clean me up afterwards, then the nurse is a slave?

    If not, why not? She is being paid to use her body to assist another human being for relief of a bodily function (defecation).

    A minimal and probably insufficient definition of sexual slavery should include at least the following:

    1) The removal of a persons right to freedom to withhold or withdraw consent to sexual activity
    2) The removal of a persons right to freedom from coercion regarding their consent to sexual activity

    I’m sure more can be said – but those two things are key.

    If those two things aren’t being violated, it is not entirely clear to me that what is going on is sexual slavery. There may be other troubling concerns involved of course. For example, exploitation is still on the table as a potential concern.

  35. Daniel Schealler says

    Ah, damn.

    I do know that I am supposed to use an apostrophe to denote ownership with the ‘s’ suffix.

    A person’s right to freedom.

    My kingdom for an edit function.

  36. Greta Christina says

    I beg to differ the nature of the transaction itself in prostitution IS abusive.

    Chocolates or other goods may be produced ethically or not –

    This is different, one individual buys the use of another individual’s body for relief of a bodily function.

    Not goods, not services but the body of a human being. As such it constitutes a form of (albeit temporary) slavery.

    emma robertson @ #36: Would you make the same argument about purchasing the services of a masseur? A physical therapist? A personal trainer? A hairdresser? An artist’s model? A fashion model? A dance instructor?

    Lots of professions involve a very personal, physical interaction between the customer and the professional. That doesn’t mean you’re “buying the body of a human being.” The professional still has rights over their own body: they have the right to accept or decline any particular customer or any particular interaction, they have the right to stop the interaction at any time, and at the end of the session, they can go home to do anything with their body that they want to. It’s incredibly insulting to sex workers to say that this is “selling your body” or “slavery.” What’s more, it seriously trivializes actual slavery.

    And do you really think sex is simply “the relief of a bodily function”? I sincerely hope not.

  37. says

    Quoting EmmaRobinson:

    I beg to differ the nature of the transaction itself in prostitution IS abusive.

    Chocolatess or other goods may be produced ethically or not –

    This is different, one individual buys the use of another individual’s body for relief of a bodily function.

    Not goods, not services but the body of a human being. As such it constitutes a form of (albeit temporary) slavery.

    Ahhhh…no, ma’am. Not even close.

    Exchanging consensual sex for money is no more exploitive than a professional athlete hurling himself at high speed at another athlete and getting paid by an audience for that.

    If we were to take Emma’s proposition seriously, then traditional marriage (where a woman trades the “use” of her uterus as a incubator for babies for the security of the prospective husband’s income) would be far more abusive.

    But, you’d reply that most people marry for the love and commitment. Indeed…and that proves my point exactly about sex work.

    It can certainly be done in very abusive and exploitive ways, but in and of itself, it is not abusive. Indeed, when negotiated correctly, it can be quite egalitarian.

    Plus…your analogy ignores the fact that the sex worker has his/her own “bodily function relief” that she is satiating, and that a negotiated function of trading sex for money is not the same as rape…nor should it be.

    Anthony

  38. says

    OOPS..I slipped on the syntax of the quote from EmmaRobinson; everything up to “…(albeit temporary) slavery.” is her quote. Everything else is my words.

    Anthony

  39. mnb0 says

    I used to be on your side, but I’m not so sure anymore. I suppose everybody has heard of the Amsterdam Red Light District. It has been tolerated for decades. But authorities have changed their minds and no, they haven’t become any less liberal. Their policy has become much more strict last few years.
    It’s just that there have been too many stories and to many research that show that prostitution in fact harms people. It’s in Dutch, but here is a testimony:

    http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4492/Nederland/article/detail/3226351/2012/03/17/Stoppen-is-niet-zo-makkelijk.dhtml

    She did it because she thought it was the easiest way to make some much needed money. She doesn’t regret her choice. After more than four years she describes her own mental state as a bipolar disorder.
    In Sweden – not the most conservative country in the world – government has come to similar conclusions. It has decided to forbid whorehopping, because regulation didn’t work.
    Straight out forbidding will not work.
    Liberal standpoints seem too easy.
    Just saying.

  40. says

    I’m so glad you responded with this post. Actually, that’s really sort of an understatement. It just gets so tiring, and it never stops, and I know so many abolitionists have good intentions, but as they say, the road to hell is paved.

  41. Daniel Schealler says

    @mnb0

    Out of interest, how many prostitutes have you knowingly met?

    Because I used to share similar concerns as yourself until I actually met a woman who was a prostitute and got to talking with her about these exact issues.

    She was running a SOOB from a hotel in town, and was investing her profits into property in West Auckland. She owned four mortgages in West Auckland at the time I met her. Her plan was to retire when she had ten properties of her own and switch over to managing them full time. Through the grape vine I heard that she actually checked out when she hit eight – as well she might. Rental prices have been climbing for a while now.

  42. Makoto says

    If (and this is a big if) we regard prostitution from the prostitute’s point of view, I would hope that the transaction is treated much like an artists’ patronage is. The artist listens to what the patron wants, and can choose to fulfill the contract or not, but they are under no obligation to accept the contract just because it was offered.

    Now, pimps, underage people, and other issues do mess with the issue, but as a high level thing, I have no problem with a person choosing to be a prostitute. I just wish it was legitimatized, so we could get protections for those who choose to do so. If it was, I think we could cut down on many of the problems with prostitution that we often hear about, and the people who are being victimized wouldn’t feel such a stigma about coming forward.

  43. says

    I will point out she gave the example of Indian prostitutes where abuses are common.

    That is true, in India prostitution CAN be abusive (Roughly 15 to 20% of Indian prostitutes follow the whole “voluntary” idea. The remainder are in it fo various other reasons including a lack of choice, coercion, debt clearance and indeed Good Olde Sex Trafficking)

    However one cannot compare Sweden with India and one cannot compare a prostitute in a western nation with India.

    Even in India where sex traffick is a massive problem? Only 10% of prostitutes are trafficked from abroad. (Oh and in India the population of prostitutes is a rough 75:25 split…)

    In particular she is writing about Gloria Steinem whose stance is similar (and who similarly got panned by a few Indian feminists and sex worker outreach programs)

    I wrote about the topic from the viewpoint of Indian workers. It’s not comprehensive (And I admit it’s all over the place, but I blame my current pain medication.)

    http://a-million-gods.blogspot.in/2012/04/rights-of-silent-majority-sex-slavery.html

  44. says

    Much as Taslima doesn’t seem to want to admit it, prostitution itself, human trafficking, and sex slavery are three different issues, though frequently intertwined. Prostitution itself should not be criminal — presuming the parties involved are capable of and freely giving consent, it shouldn’t matter what their reasons for having sex are. (Now, granted, if a stripper were to have sex with some of her customers for extra cash, the club manager or health department could legitimately have a problem with that if it happens on-premises, but that’s a different story.)

    The problem with human trafficking and sex slavery is that both are inherently violations of human rights. Now human trafficking doesn’t have to be sexual in nature — there are plenty of sketchy employers with undocumented workers who get trafficked around much the same way prostitutes can be — but sex slavery frequently involves human trafficking (when it doesn’t involve domestic abuse, grooming, or kidnapping). Any attempt to decriminalize prostitution (or sex work in general, where other or all forms are illegal) needs to address those points.

  45. says

    @mnb0

    In Sweden – not the most conservative country in the world – government has come to similar conclusions. It has decided to forbid whorehopping, because regulation didn’t work.

    Wait a minute…’whorehopping”?!?!? What in the hell is that??

    First off, the Netherlands is NOT Norway or Sweden, and while there have been some tightening of regulations in Amsterdam, there is nothing even resembling the “Swedish Model” regulations.

    Secondly, just because a government is otherwise “liberal” or “leftist” doesn’t mean that it will be progressive or open minded on all issues..especially sexual issues. The Left still has a long ways to go regarding understanding sexuality…and I know because I’m a Lefty myself.

    Many do say that decriminalization with less or no regulation is the way to go; others say that there has to be some form of regulation to insure a safe and level playing field. That debate will go on forever, but safe to say that it’s not an open-and-shut case.

    Anthony

  46. RowanVT says

    “Would you make the same argument about purchasing the services of a masseur? A physical therapist? A personal trainer? A hairdresser? An artist’s model? A fashion model? A dance instructor?”

    Let’s even take this further.

    How about purchasing the services of a doctor or surgeon? After all, are you not making use of their physical skills? Did I enslave the doctors who treated me in the ER last year when I got appendicitis?

  47. smrnda says

    I don’t disagree that prostitution can be abusive, but so can socially accepted sexual relationships.

    I kind of look at it this way, though I have pretty permissive attitudes towards sex, I’m really averse to having it myself.

    Sometimes I think that the idea that there’s something horrible about someone having sex in exchange for money is more tied up with the idea that sex should take place in the ‘proper’ context – if not marriage, at least a serious relationship; basically, that it’s tragic if sex happens that doesn’t ‘mean’ something warm and fuzzy.

    Perhaps the idea that prostitution is bad is someone projecting their own feelings onto others. I mean, there are people out there who argue that women never really want to just have casual sex, though I have known quite a few women who did. It’s kind of a “I would never do that, therefore, doing that must be horrible and nobody would ever agree to do that.”

  48. says

    @Brian #50

    It may also be noted that India also happens to be one of the most sexually conservative countries, with fundamentalist Christians and Hindu Muslims sharing a very narrow conservative sexual morality code. Thusly, it would be far more condusive to the type of abolitionist/antiporn radicalfeminist doctrine that folk like Gloria Stiniem preaches..and also the Farley/Bindel radfem school of male-restrictive theory.

    It is very interesting, though, that Ms. Nasreen quotes approvingly Steve “Freedom From Porn” Jobs and his contributions to abolitionist orgs in India..many of them being nothing more than religious “rescue operations” designed to convert those they “rescue” to their religious doctrine. Quite an irony for someone who was exiled for her “secular humanism” and her feminism.

    Anthony

  49. Brea Plum says

    Alverant: most of the civilizations and cultures in history have held prostitution to be legal and acceptable. Some of the most powerful women in history have been prostitutes/courtesans/hetairae/temple prostitutes and priestesses. Aspasia, the professional companion of Pericles of Athens, immediately comes to mind. As does the prostitute and poetess Veronica Franco.

  50. Jackson says

    @mnbo
    No one’s denying that there are abusive and exploitative forms of prostitution, but is there any evidence that prostitution, removed from abuse or exploitation, is more psychologically harmful than other forms of employment?

  51. Charles Sullivan says

    I wonder if prostitution differs between economically developing and developed countries, where exploitation is more common in the former.

  52. says

    @Daniel Schealler

    “A minimal and probably insufficient definition of sexual slavery should include at least the following:

    1) The removal of a persons right to freedom to withhold or withdraw consent to sexual activity
    2) The removal of a persons right to freedom from coercion regarding their consent to sexual activity

    I’m sure more can be said – but those two things are key.”

    OH BUT YOU SEE…
    The prohibitionist feminists in bed with the religious right PURPOSELY influenced the way “sex trafficking” was defined to officially conflate consensual and non-consensual prostitution. If you look at the U.S. CODE it says http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/7102

    (8) Severe forms of trafficking in persons
    The term “severe forms of trafficking in persons” means—
    (A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
    (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

    (9) Sex trafficking
    The term “sex trafficking” means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    As you can see, the sort of prostitution you’re talking about clearly falls under “SEVER sex trafficking.” “Sex trafficking” involves no force, fraud or coercion at all. They have basically redefined “sex trafficking” to mean purchasing the services of a consensual sex worker. AND YET, all the propaganda you see says that “sex trafficking” is the forced kind. CLEARLY deceptive. For more info on how this was done you can click on my name and see a youtube video I did on it.

  53. says

    There are a lot of comments before mine and I do not have time to read them all, so I will be brief instead of possibly repeating something already said, or doing so in a long winded fashion.

    I tend to agree with Greta on this topic. However, the a key think to note is that as freethinkers I am willing to bet that Greta and Taslima can work this out without the normal name calling, shaming, and damning to hell that usually occurs when we debate theists. I am willing to bet that they can make their points, use facts to back them up, and move forward with some kind of resolution.It is refreshing to me to recognize that.

  54. says

    Anthony:

    Um… first off, don’t go lumping Gloria Steinem in with Andrea Dworkin. Steinem is no third-waver, but neither do I see her as particularly hateful.

    Second, “Hindu Muslim”? Punctuate better please.

    Third, I detect a certain degree of postmodernist “they’re all guilty” snobbery there. Are you sure that’s really a sensible approach here?

  55. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I beg to differ the nature of the transaction itself in prostitution IS abusive.

    Chocolates or other goods may be produced ethically or not –

    This is different, one individual buys the use of another individual’s body for relief of a bodily function.

    Not goods, not services but the body of a human being. As such it constitutes a form of (albeit temporary) slavery.

    Why is it exploitive to pay someone to use their body and perhaps paraphernalia to relieve your sexual needs, but not to pay someone to use their body and perhaps paraphernalia to prepare food for you?

  56. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    She did it because she thought it was the easiest way to make some much needed money. She doesn’t regret her choice. After more than four years she describes her own mental state as a bipolar disorder.

    Are you suggesting that working as a prostitute caused her bipolar disorder?

    What the hell?

  57. Daniel Schealler says

    Divinity33372

    You seem a bit HYPED UP over the opportunity to point an accusatory finger at feminists over something.

    It’s possible for feminists to be mistaken, and it’s possible for feminists to disagree amongst themselves.

    By all means, do highlight problems in existing legislation and talk about it. That’s good.

    But as it stands, on evaluating the tone of your posts so far, I’m disinclined to click through any of your links.

    Perhaps my reading is an unfair one. But I’m expecting that if I did follow through on those links I’d get a whole lot of anti-feminist rhetoric wrapped around the unsurprising fact that some feminists got a gender issue wrong.

    And quite frankly: I haven’t got the time or the patience for that right now.

  58. Tanit says

    Thank you for this, Greta. A thousand times thank you. I read the original piece that you linked to, and I was utterly horrified. I left a long comment there too, responding to each of the “lies” from my own experience as a sex worker, in New Zealand where I am lucky enough to work legally. I don’t think I can quite put into words how infuriated I was by her post, so I appreciate your response to it very, very much.

  59. says

    @Daniel Schealler

    Wow that’s a whole lotta way to say “nana i ain’t listening :P” Well, I have been a feminist for a number of years despite how many prohibitionist feminists have tried to make me believe otherwise. And I do specify PROHIBITIONIST feminists because there are feminists who support sex workers rights and are NOT prohibitionists. But by all means, put your fingers in your ears and “la la la” as loudly as you want. That’s some mighty fine “freethinking” ya got goin there.

  60. says

    Div:

    Didn’t say I would agree with her; like I said, she’s second-wave, and for the most part there’s a big divide over sex work between second and third waves. All I said is that she doesn’t qualify as one of the hateful radfems that misogynists like to hold up as representative as feminism as a whole. (In fact, I could be wrong, but even Dworkin and McKinnon are far from the most hateful in their ideological sector…)

  61. says

    BrianX @ #61

    Ahhhh….when did I even type the words “Andrea Dworkin” in any comment here??

    Of course, Steinem is nowhere near as radical as Dworkin, but Steinem has and still does support key elements of abolitionist anti-sex work philosophy…including the Swedish Model legislation.

    And…”Hindu Muslim” (or should that be “Muslim Hindu”??) is a totally legitimate means of describing an Hindu Indian of Muslim desent who supports more conservative sexual morality. But, I’m sure that you’ll correct me in the proper syntax…correct??

    And thirdly…there is nothing “postmodernist” about my criticism of abolitionist anti-sex work activism or antiporn/anti-sex work radicalfeminism. I attack them directly, not all feminism.

    Think and read before you attack next time.

    Anthony

  62. says

    The sad part about the radfems I *am* talking about is that it’s entirely understandable how they got that way — many have suffered through abuse and repression, and the rest almost certainly know someone who did. It’s just that meeting hate with blind hate doesn’t do anyone any good.

  63. says

    I would recommend checking out the following book:

    Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women
    http://www.amazon.com/Brothel-Mustang-Ranch-Its-Women/dp/0449006581/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334022122&sr=1-3

    Here’s the summary from Amazon’s web site:

    When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to see if Nevada’s brothels offered a less harmful model for a business that will always be with us. The Mustang Ranch has never before given an outsider such access, but fear of AIDS was hurting the business, and the Ranch was eager to get publicity for its rigorous standards of sexual hygiene. Albert was drawn into the lives of the women of the Mustang Ranch, and what began as a public-health project evolved into something more intimate and ambitious, a six-year study of the brothel ecosystem, its lessons and significance.

    The women of the Mustang Ranch poured their stories out to Albert: how they came to be there, their surprisingly deep sense of craft and vocation, how they reconciled their profession with life on the outside. Dr. Albert went as far into this world as it is possible to go — some will say too far — including sitting in on sessions with customers, and the result is a book that puts an unforgettable face on America’s maligned and caricatured subculture.

    FYI – the “sitting in” mentioned above wasn’t the author engaging in physical contact with a client.

    It was a single incident where a sex worker invited the public health researcher and author to watch her with a male client who wanted to be treated in a degraded and submissive way by the female sex worker who was “pegging” him (“pegging” is using a dildo and strap-on harness to anally penetrate the other partner — in this case the sex worker was wearing the dildo/harness and the male client was being anally penetrated).

    The author was standing in the room writing and writing her observations in a notebook. The sex worker used the presence of the observer to heighten the emotional content of the scene for the client (even though all the author did was stand there and observe).

    PS – I posted this response on Taslima Nasreen’s blog – I cross-posted my reply here in case it doesn’t meet the comment moderation standards for Taslima’s blog.

  64. says

    Well, Brian, just how do you expect sex positive/pro-sex workers’ rights feminists to react to those who would deny them their humanity or their right to even represent themselves?? With love and empathy?? I guess that by that standard, gay men should just love NOM, then??

    Dworkin and MacKinnon may not spout the same bitter smack as, say, Sam Berg or Maggie Hays or Mary Daly or some of the other radfem extremists, but they were the intellectual foundation for the very abolitionist radfems of today. There is nothing “blind” about their hatred for their opponents..and we who have been their targets have no obligation to temper our rage at their attacks.

    And, as a friend of Divinity, I can assure you: She is no friend of MRAs or misogynists any more than she is of the antis.

  65. Daniel Schealler says

    Divinity33372

    You might want to check again.

    I am listening to what you’ve written here. I said so.

    It was based on listening to your post here that I have chosen to not click through your provided links. I have explained what it is about how you have presented yourself here that has led to this decision in very clear terms.

    If your reply to me here is an example of your general reading comprehension and/or your general stance towards representing others fairly then I think that I can stop wondering about whether or not my initial reading of your posts was an unfair one.

  66. says

    @Daniel Schealler

    Well, Daniel…if your response so far is an example of your level of reading comprehension and ability to actually listen to what Divinity actually said, that says far more about you than it does about her.

    In cased you missed it, Divinity IS a feminist herself…a particular kind of feminist, qualitatively different from the kind of feminist someone like Gloria Steinem or Andrea Dworkin is, but she IS a feminist. It is not your perogative to lecture her on whom you think she’s representing, because she’s made herself perfectly clear who she’s criticizing.

    But..do as you must. The world will turn on.

    Anthony

  67. says

    @Daniel Schealler So I come at you with the actual definitions of sex trafficking as written in the U.S. code
    ~AND a source supporting my statement
    ~AND more sources on how the definitions came to be this way and you tuck tail and run. Just so you know that thing that I just did to you…that’s called getting PWND XD

    Walk it off.

  68. says

    @Daniel Schealler #65
    There were huge divides between second wave feminists when it comes to prostitution; the ‘Feminist Sex Wars’ were between second wavers. Just sayin’ that the divide isn’t only between the second and third waves. And this isn’t blind hate – it’s ANGER. Anger like any member of a marginalized and persecuted group of people might feel towards those who continue to marginalize and persecute. Admonishing those who are marginalized for not using a calm enough tone when discussing their own marginalization isn’t cool. I mean, seriously, a sex worker complains about Gloria Steinem and the response is that she must be anti-feminist? Well, not surprised – I guess that’s sort of how it goes, innit? If you criticize any but the most fundamentally radical of feminists you must be an anti-feminist. That’s exactly how the marginalization works.

    Maybe this will explain some of the frustrations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO4N81t59fQ

  69. says

    And one final thing- there are MANY sex workers who ARE anti-feminists and ex-feminists, because feminism has done a lot to hurt them. If you want to support sex workers, support them whether they are feminist or not.

  70. Daniel Schealler says

    @Anthony

    But have you ever come across a religious believer who opens with ‘I used to be an atheist, but…’?

    Has such a claim ever panned out?

    No. I see nothing from Divinity33372 here that indicates that anything linked is likely to be worth my time.

    Could I be wrong about Div? Sure, I’m wrong about stuff all the time.

    But I have to take a heuristic every now and again as to what’s likely to be worth the effort, and nothing from Div thus far has indicated to me that it’s likely to be so. You’re not exactly helping the case either.

    We’re getting too far off the original topic now, so I’m personally dropping this little sub-thread as of this comment.

    You’re welcome to interpret that as cowardice if you like. I don’t care.

  71. says

    @Daniel….your brain, your choice. And, I meet apostates who say “I used to be a porn star/prostitute, but I saw the light and now…” all the time. Just saying that I can vouch for Divinity NOT being one of them.

  72. says

    @Daniel Schealler #81 I’m gonna type this super duper extra longity long overly wordy worded comment to tell you why I don’t want to actually check the sources you’ve offered in support of your position. bawk bawk bwa-KAWK! nom nom nom seeds

  73. Daniel Schealler says

    @Anthony

    Why do you have to go making a reasonable appeal only after I’ve sworn off the conversation as getting too far off topic?

    As of that I’ll reconsider – but my lunch break is now over, so I have to come back later.

  74. Ray Moscow says

    I think legalising prostitution will help protect sex workers. Certainly treating them as criminals has only made things worse.

    As for those who abuse sex workers: to prison with those bastards.

  75. says

    BrianX:

    Your attempt to differentiate Gloria Steinem from Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon is a bit misguided on your part. Yes, Steinem is more or less a “liberal” feminist and the latter two are “radical” ones. But while Steinem is indeed a liberal on some issues (and sadly, her reputation as a “liberal” is often simply based on her willingness to broker political deals with and act as apologist for powerful men in and around the Democratic Party), Steinem has demonstrated time and again that when it comes to issues of sex work and pornography, she is solidly in the Dworkinista camp, and a hardliner at that. She has not moved one iota toward a more nuanced stance on these issues in over 30 years now.

    The recent statement she made in India was simply pathetic, rehashing some very old propaganda, and making numerous errors of fact. The sad thing is is that she gets away with it so easily – there are unfortunately far too many people who will take Gloria Steinem’s word for something simply because she’s Gloria Steinem.

  76. says

    If prostitution is legalized, will prostitutes be required to follow federal non-discrimination laws?

    Probably not. Alcohol is legal, but some bars have signs that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone;” and that’s accepted because it’s understood that barkeepers are responsible for not serving people who are already drunk or who are reasonably suspected of being potential threats to public order if they’re given drinks, or whose IDs may look kinda iffy. (Though I certainly wouldn’t put it past some right-wing slimeballs to use such rhetoric as an excuse to continue bullying prostitutes.)

    Also, prostitution can be classified as “entertainment,” and there are very few anti-discrimination laws in that business.

    As for legalization, I’m all for it, but we should be realistic about one thing: sex is a private thing, so most sex work will be done in private, out of the daylight, whether or not it’s legal. Which means that the benefits of legalization won’t be quite as great in sex work as in other lines of business.

  77. karmakin says

    I can understand the concept that because generally speaking a lot of people lack economic agency, that choosing sex work is never a fair “choice”, however, I think it’s simply unrealistic to think that in a perfect economy without this issue that nobody would choose sex work ever.

    That’s the crux of the anti-sex work argument, I think, and because of that it simply doesn’t hold water.

  78. says

    I’ve replied extensively at Taslima’s blog (not yet approved). Only then did I check here and note that your reply is very similar. Thanks for upholding the voice of rationality. PZ pointed me to Taslima’s blog, but after reading some posts, and especially her replies to some comments, I don’t see much free thought there on her part. Her reply to the comment that prostitution is legal in New Zealand (which she apparently didn’t know) takes the cake. I hope she approves my response to her reply to this comment.

  79. interrobang says

  80. mnb0 says

    “What in the hell is that?”
    A lame translation of hoerenloper?

    http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoerenloper

    No English equivalent, I’m sorry for you.

    And where did I write that the Netherlands are the same as Norway and Sweden?
    After this strawman I did not care to read on.
    I have doubts, that’s all. Because I fulfill GC’s request:

    “Please listen to the voices and experiences of the women — and men — who work or have worked as prostitutes.”
    You know, that happens with sceptics like me. They even question their own liberal views.

  81. says

    Actually, in the Netherlands, in certain circumstances the state will pick up the tab for sex work. These cases are very rare, though.

    As long as the person involved isn’t forced into it any more than any other person who does work she wouldn’t do if she were rich, and as long as there is at least one choice in addition to sex work and existence-level poverty, then it doesn’t matter how many people (prostitutes or customers) do it; it is their business and theirs alone. How anyone can claim to be rational and argue with this is beyond me. In many cases, they just can’t fathom how anyone could do something they feel is somehow not right, but that is no different than people criticizing homosexuality because they can’t imagine how anyone could be happy being gay.

  82. Armored Scrum Object says

    Alcohol is legal, but some bars have signs that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone;”

    I’ve never seen any evidence that there is any actual legal basis for those signs. Colorado even made it illegal for businesses to post them because they are/were frequently used as cover for discriminatory practices.

  83. says

    Azkyroth:

    Why is it exploitive to pay someone to use their body and perhaps paraphernalia to relieve your sexual needs, but not to pay someone to use their body and perhaps paraphernalia to prepare food for you?

    Preparing food entails much lower risk of disease and violence. Someone putting a part of their body into yours is not comparable to food prep, office work, or many other common jobs.

    I’m not in favor of banning sex work; it will cause more problems than it solves. I think Taslima’s post was ill-advised. I’m just tired of seeing this canard from people eager to downplay the problems with sex work in the real world. Overall, I agree with Interrobang at #92.

  84. says

    I was a prostitute once. I worked for a big retail chain. It killed my soul every day. I had to agree to contradictions. I had to use words that were not real words. I had to do things that went against my ethics. It made me hate people. I sometimes think that if I had sold sex for money, it wouldn’t have killed my soul like that. But I can’t say that and know it.

    My best friend started dancing when we were young, out of curiosity and the necessity for money. She learned a lot. After awhile, though, the stares of the men out in the audience needled her so bad she had to stop to save her sanity.

    She later worked as a secretary for an auto parts store that had Rigid Tools calendars on the walls, with women draped over the materials. She said it made her feel the same way.

    Now she’s a really super famous feminist punk rock/electro punk star. I suppose her experienced led her to that. Or not. Actually, it was her hard work and relentless creativity that did it. I’m glad her soul is saved. I know this is true because Warner tried to sign them and they refused. Best decision she could have made. Warner would have done to them what those men at the tables wanted to do to her.

  85. xxxild61 says

    I’m not in favor of banning sex work; it will cause more problems than it solves. I think Taslima’s post was ill-advised. I’m just tired of seeing this canard from people eager to downplay the problems with sex work in the real world.

    The first problem is sex work is illegal. After that there are many problems sex workers need to address on a day to day basis and problems they collectively need to work toward fixing. The work is already “banned” in the US and most other countries. And, as ill advised as her post is it does highlight how far even well funded ideologues (like Farley) will go in ignoring facts, and, I would say, in failing to conduct and present honest research. I congratulate sex worker rights activists and advocates in combating not only the stigma on their work but the campaign to keep them removed from the discussions toward better legislation.

  86. Armored Scrum Object says

    Raging Bee: My understanding is that if a bar is styled as a private club there’s apparently a lot of leeway regarding membership policy, but in general if a business is open to the public it is not permitted to refuse service on the basis of a protected category (race, sex, etc.). I’m not aware of bartenders having any special dispensation in this regard.

  87. says

    Okay, but that still doesn’t prevent bartenders from refusing service based on, say, past experience or reasonable threat assessment of certain individuals. And likewise, prostitutes would not be prevented from turning down customers for similar reasons.

  88. says

    Okay, but that still doesn’t prevent bartenders from refusing service based on, say, past experience or reasonable threat assessment of certain individuals.

    When I bartended, people got kicked out fairly regularly. We even had a few perma-bans. This was primarily for people who had started fights, harassed the staff or other customers, or smeared poop on the walls. (Not kidding. Someone actually did that. Guess who got to clean it up lol. Some jobs make prostitution seem downright clean by comparison. I probably cleaned up more piss, shit and vomit than a hospital janitor.)

    We did not have to serve a person who was a risk to the health or safety of our customers and staff. In fact, you are kind of obligated not to because those things come before a customer’s right to be in the establishment.

  89. jba55 says

    I want to thank you for responding to Taslima’s post, as I read it I found myself getting more and more irritated, the angry. I’ve known willing sex workers myself. Plus the fact that she seems to expect everyone to just take her word on all the evidence free assertions she makes is infuriating (not to mention calling people who disagree with her insane and acting as though disagreement isn’t just factually wrong, but morally as well).

    I was going to reply on her blog but after reading her sometimes insulting and always dismissive replies to other comments I just hit delete and came over here to read your response. I’m sure she’s done good work, otherwise I doubt she’d be at FtB, but I doubt I’ll be visiting her blog again.

  90. says

    This is a topic that seems to get a disproportionate amount of chastising and nagging for the amount of the economy that it actually involves. I’m not amazed that some people focus more about this issue than general labor issues or white collar crime or whatnot, since it seems all anyone needs to do to sell ad spots is talk about anything involving sex…

    However, I think that sex work is essentially one sector of much more massive problems of economic inequality and labor abuse. It’s a key place where poverty intersects sex intersects job opportunities for women. Supposing that you can do something about the poverty and job opportunity issues, the remaining element no longer seems very significant.

    Some feminist groups have been working through this and several other issues (domestic abuse, et cetera) for a long time. One of the proposed solutions is a guaranteed income program of some kind. In America, this would in effect be Social Security for everyone. (Presumably, Medicare for all is not far behind that.)

    I think that would be a very worthwhile approach, but being as much of an economic radical as I am, it actually doesn’t go far enough. My ideal policy would nationalize the agricultural, housing, banking, and infrastructure sectors and provide jobs paying a living wage to anyone who comes for one. Honestly, those “industries” are already subsidized to such an extreme degree that they act as a socialized expenses, privatized profits scheme as it is. The public might as well simply own and control them outright and thus get some shared benefit out of it.

    Somehow, I suspect that some of the hardline anti-sex and anti-sex work types would still oppose them even in my ideal society. They already declare that people in sex work didn’t choose to be there even when they clearly had other options in life. Why would that change even if everyone had obvious alternative economic opportunity?

    There is definitely a failure to listen to the actual accounts of people involved in the work. Sure, you’ll find plenty of cases of abuse or harm in the sex industry generally… as with just about all industries. It always seems to be only jobs somehow related to sex, drugs, or some other stigmatized item that get banned. It is very much the case that there is serious labor abuse in mining, construction, clothing, electronics, agriculture, and other sectors. You can find accounts of this all around, all the time if you try looking for them. The response is never to ban these activities, attempt to drive them underground, or stigmatize and criminalize buyers. Sex is clearly not seen as important, and therefore can be isolated and eliminated.

    For anyone who wants justice in society, go after the power differences between people. That’s the foundation of injustice.

  91. says

    I posted a comment here about an hour ago. Either it was rejected for some reason or there is some technical glitch. I’ll try again.

    The gist of my comment was that I worked for many years in Vancouver, B.C. advocating for the rights of street sex workers and drug addicts, at the time women were disappearing and the police were in denial that a serial killer was at work. My fellow advocates and I were derided as ‘hooker huggers’ by both police and NIMBY community members who endangered women by pushing them into a dangerous industrial area next, whereas we were trying to protect the women.

    My personal experiences and observations, which I presented to a parliamentary committee investigating the issue of prostitution as well as to the current Missing Women Inquiry, are that more harm is caused to individuals and society by the prohibition of prostitution and certain drugs than those activities do themselves.

  92. Betsy says

    Greta, thank you for this. I was tremendously excited to see that Taslima joined Freethought Blogs, and I loved her post explaining why she doesn’t want to be associated with Salman Rushdie, but I was disappointed by her sex work article. Some of her points I thought were well made, such as that decriminalization of prostitution should be limited to prostitutes themselves, and that people trafficking others for sexual purposes should still be penalized. However, the assertion that all women who are paid for sex are automatically being degraded by the experience is… overstating things.

  93. Dianne says

    I found Nasreen’s post unconvincing because
    1. It made no effort to convince. It was simply a series of unbacked assertions.
    2. I’m not convinced of her primary thesis that there is no way to make working in exchange for sex (directly or indirectly) save and non-exploitive. I’m not convinced she’s wrong, just not yet convinced she’s right.
    3. As far as I can tell, neither Sweden nor the Netherlands have become utopias. In other words, that neither stricter enforcement of penalties against users of prostitutes or decriminalization has led to a notable decrease in exploitation of vulnerable parties.

  94. upagainsttheropes says

    I’m always weary of of “all” statements

    yeah, yeah, yeah I get the irony

  95. NateHevens says

    I hate to say it, Greta, but I think this is how Taslima Nasreen would respond to you:

    House slaves did not want the abolition of slavery because they were treated considerably better than field slaves. Would you say slavery should not have been abolished only because some privileged slaves wanted to remain as slaves?

    For the record, she was responding to Maggie Mayhem, who made the following comment:

    As a sex worker activist and active sex worker, what I want to say the most is *please listen to our voices.* We want rights, not rescue. Those speaking for us have trampled our voices for far too long.

    In the United States and around the globe, sex workers are forming collectives and unions to fight for our rights. Mainstream feminism and patronizing anti-trafficking orgs have continually propagated lies about sex work statistics and have actively shut down our organizing efforts. The sex worker led efforts to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco, CA were largely opposed by feminist organization and one of the biggest anti-decriminalization donations came from Gloria Steinhem herself.

    Please listen to us. We don’t need to be saved, we need to be supported.

    I am so disappointed in Taslima… :(

  96. Daniel Schealler says

    Okay, but that still doesn’t prevent bartenders from refusing service based on, say, past experience or reasonable threat assessment of certain individuals.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that in NZ, so long as you’re not discriminating on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or some similar group membership, then you’re legally free to refuse service for any reason.

    Which doesn’t mean that you just go ahead and do it willy nilly. If you’re a barman and just refuse service to people that you happen to personally dislike, it’ll get back to your boss and you’ll probably get fired. So that’s a bad idea… But pretty sure it’s legal.

    Furthermore, bartenders in NZ are legally required to discriminate against the underage and the intoxicated.

  97. sam says

    thanks for keeping the adult/consent, smart people do sex work in the for front.
    it is a choice and making it legal would help alot.

  98. says

    Daisy Cutter @ #97

    There are a lot of arguments that people from various sides of the issue are pretty sick of, actually. On the pro-sex worker side, I think we’re pretty sick of the argument that there’s just something so inherently *special* about sex, so central to “intimacy”, that there is simply no way that the sale of sexual services can be anything other than injurious to the seller, and that sellers are only able to engage in it because they are the products of some form of sexual trauma.

    It would be really nice if that kind of rhetoric was taken off of the table. Perhaps those of us who support sex workers wouldn’t have to overstate our case for the essential normalcy of sex workers.

    In a word, no, of course sex work isn’t just like waiting tables. But it isn’t entirely “other” either, and not so entirely different from other forms of livelihood that one cannot make useful analogies.

    interrobang @ #92

    “Antiquated propriatarian views”? That doesn’t really hold up well under scrutiny. I notice you had to qualify that with “other passive sexual partners”, since proportionately, the gay male part of the sex industry is as large as the straight sex industry. Which means that while buying sex might very well be a gendered activity (predominantly male) in its current form, selling sex most certainly is not, in spite of clumsy rhetoric painting sex workers as all female, or in the case of male sex workers, feminized in some essential way.

    Second, as most sex workers will point out, they are selling a *service*, not *themselves* as property. So no propriatarian view is required for sex work to take place (albeit, some “bad dates” may very well take the view that they’re buying the person) nor any particularly odious form of commodification. I think one can very well point out that sexual services have a very real exchange value and that there is already an invisible market around sex based on its general availability or lack thereof and factors such as looks, charm, and all those other things that many of us are attracted to but are unequally distributed in the population.

  99. dianne says

    In a word, no, of course sex work isn’t just like waiting tables. But it isn’t entirely “other” either, and not so entirely different from other forms of livelihood that one cannot make useful analogies.

    There are other forms of work, some quite “respectable” that involve odd intimacies between worker and employer. Medicine comes to mind. It’s not like waiting tables: your waiter rarely asks you about your drug use and sexual history or whether you can pee easily. Nursing even moreso: A waiter is almost never called upon to wash a customer, but a nurse or nursing assistant quite often is.

    Then there’s child care. Few waiters have to bond with their customers on the level nannies and nursery school caregivers do. Few children will regress and cry for many nights in a row if their waiter gets replaced as they will if their hired caregiver changes.

    There are other examples such as psychiatrists and therapists (emotional goo that can make physical intimacy look easy), physical therapists, etc.

    Finally-I can’t believe no one’s brought this up-what about the job of being a housewife/husband. Another position where sex (among other things) is traded for money, although in a contract with a single person rather than as a free agent. It’s not like waiting tables and is a high risk profession: if your partner decides to “fire” (divorce) you, your cv’s going to look just awful…

    In short, is sex work of various sorts really all that unique? Maybe it’s more a matter of degree than kind, in terms of differences between waiting tables and selling sexual favors.

  100. says

    “Then there’s child care. Few waiters have to bond with their customers on the level nannies and nursery school caregivers do. Few children will regress and cry for many nights in a row if their waiter gets replaced as they will if their hired caregiver changes.

    There are other examples such as psychiatrists and therapists (emotional goo that can make physical intimacy look easy), physical therapists, etc.”

    In fact, there’s an entire scholarly book, G-Strings and Sympathy all about stripping as a form of emotional labor.

    Finally-I can’t believe no one’s brought this up-what about the job of being a housewife/husband. Another position where sex (among other things) is traded for money, although in a contract with a single person rather than as a free agent. It’s not like waiting tables and is a high risk profession: if your partner decides to “fire” (divorce) you, your cv’s going to look just awful…

    Yeah, that’s an analogy that people get super-defensive over, and usually accusations of misogyny and promoting a “commodity model” of sex typically follow. And in fact marriages and other intimate relationships are generally not about quid pro quo sex. Then again, I don’t think the two are exactly unrelated either. Sex is a key part of a marriage, and in fact sexual abandonment can be grounds for a divorce. And at the same time, marriage is *very much* a financial arrangement.

  101. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Preparing food entails much lower risk of disease and violence.

    There’s no reason for that in principle.

    Someone putting a part of their body into yours is not comparable to food prep, office work, or many other common jobs.

    And if people disagree and want to provide the service of having sexual contact with clients (I note the sneaky little way you try to narrow it down), their decisions about their own bodies don’t count?

  102. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Kagerato: *standing ovation*

    3. As far as I can tell, neither Sweden nor the Netherlands have become utopias. In other words, that neither stricter enforcement of penalties against users of prostitutes or decriminalization has led to a notable decrease in exploitation of vulnerable parties.

    So, wait, you only consider a decrease “notable” if it’s sufficient to qualify as “utopia?”

    What?

  103. dianne says

    So, wait, you only consider a decrease “notable” if it’s sufficient to qualify as “utopia?”

    Nasreen’s post seemed to me to imply that the Swedish model had solved all problems related to people wanting to buy sex and that Sweden was now without sexual exploitation. This disagrees fairly seriously with other sources I’ve read on the issue. But I haven’t been reading primary sources on this issue so could have it seriously wrong. And no, I”m not demanding utopia or nothing, just reading Nasreen’s post as implying that utopia had been obtained, at least on this issue, in Sweden. And disagreeing.

  104. says

    Actually, most relevant studies have shown that decriminalization has done far more to diminish the exploitation and abuse of sex workers than the “Swedish Model” legislation has.

    So, even as a matter of degree, Ms. Nasreen’s principles have been proven as a failure. Not that that will prevent her from attempting to sell her snake oil as perfume, mind you.

    That comment response to Maggie Mayhem noted by NateHevens in #110 says all that needs to be said about the myopia of this woman…and her basic sexual fascism. She is to sex work what Paul Cameron and NARTH is to homosexuality.

    Anthony

  105. dianne says

    Actually, most relevant studies have shown that decriminalization has done far more to diminish the exploitation and abuse of sex workers than the “Swedish Model” legislation has.

    If it’s convenient, could you post a link or reference? I haven’t seen the primary data and this seems to me to be one of those issues where the results of various legal changes might be unpredictable with lots of potential unintended consequences.

  106. says

    I use for my comparison the 2008 report in New Zealand on the impacts of legalizing sex work, versus the recently released 2011 report by Suzanne Dodillet and Petra Ostergren analyzing the “Nordic Model” legislation’s impacts.

    The Swedish report can be found here:

    http://www.plri.org/resource/swedish-sex-purchase-act-claimed-success-and-documented-effects

    The NZ reevaluation can be found here:

    http://www.redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/stored_files/NZSexWorkReport-2003Review.pdf

    Anthony

  107. says

    Aaaaand, Taslima responds by doubling down. She’s also crying “ZOMG opreshun!” This is not a good start. (I’m still waiting for my comment at her new entry to escape moderation.)

  108. Kagehi says

    PS–what is the difference between “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” and “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.” other than moving the hypen?

    First one there, with the “subscribe” message is generated by “freethoughtblogs.com”, the second one is generated by which ever service you connect through, so if you check the first, you get nice, readable, emails. If you click the second one… You get all the page content, crammed in, without proper formatting, and with all the HTML stripped down, so it doesn’t work right, and makes reading the message in your email next to impossible. I figured this out the hard way, when I replied to something I had already posted to, and forgot I already had it sending me updates. Sadly, while you can unsubscribe via the blog’s own system, I have no idea how you get it to stop sending the alternate, nightmare, version, so I still get unreadable stuff from the last post I made the mistake on. :(

    Its not, in other words, redundant, but I really wish only the “freethoughtblogs” one showed, instead of both, its too easy to fowl your emails with the bad one. Note: This can be highly dependent on what you sign in through, I think. Different feeds format/alter-the-format in different ways, so say google might be a nightmare, but Facebook not? Best bet, just don’t *ever* pick the middle option.

  109. Daniel Schealler says

    Alyson Miers

    Here’s another one from Taslima:

    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.

    Permalink

    To be fair: The entire comment is in quotation marks, so these are probably not actually Taslima’s words.

    However, there is no citation to check against… And from the context of when and how the comment was made comment, it appears as if Taslima is passing on the passage approvingly.

  110. says

    The hallmark of hypocrisy there….”women in sex work shouldn’t be stigmatized or disrespected….except when WE do it. And if they don’t agree with us that they are ‘prostituted’ victims of THE MAN, well, they are just ‘objects'”.

    No. Hell to the no.

    A Fleshlight is an “object” to be masturbated into. A vibrator or a dildo is an object because it is inanimate and doesn’t respond to anything.

    A flesh and blood human being, on the other hand, has a voice, a touch, and actual feelings. Humans can’t be objects…they can be subjects of desire, though.

    For someone who is supposed to be such a heroine on human rights, Taslima Nasreen sure has a strange way of showing respect towards some women. Some are more equal than others, perhaps??

    Anthony

  111. Daniel Schealler says

    Anthony

    Sorry, I should have had a trigger warning there.

    Take a deep breath. Calm down. I was bloody furious too the first time I read that.

    Repeat the mantra: Good people are often mistaken. Good people can hold bad ideas. Holding bad ideas does not make a good person bad, only mistaken. Repeat the mantra: Good people are often mistaken. Good people can hold bad ideas. Holding bad ideas does not make a good person bad, only mistaken. Repeat the mantra…

  112. says

    Ahhh..Daniel, don’t insult my intelligence. And, don’t make assumptions about my state of mind, either.

    Yes, good people can make bad decisions, and people are entitled to their mistakes. On the other hand, though, when people enact policies that scapegoat innocent people and do great harm to those who do not deserve harm, good intentions take a back seat to actual results.

    I don’t doubt that Taslima Nasreen is a very good person with only the best interests at heart. It’s her positions and her policies that need to be held accountable.

    Anthony

  113. says

    There was an interview with Belle de Jour on television last week. The program was about language, so the focus of the interview was on her blogging, but she did say that her reason for blogging was to share the enjoyment she had in being a prostitute. It is very hard to see in her the abused creatures of Taslima’s post.

  114. Nepenthe says

    A flesh and blood human being, on the other hand, has a voice, a touch, and actual feelings. Humans can’t be objects…they can be subjects of desire, though.

    The brilliant insight that women are human beings and not objects is something that feminists have been pointing out for 60 odd years now. We’ve been doing this because in the real world constantly treated like objects, whether as incubators or masturbation sleeves or cleaning appliances or moving sculptures. Your inability to grasp this idea is a perfect illustration of the hilarity of so many men coming to the rescue of women’s right to sell access to their bodies to them. Are you so vocal when it’s not the happiness of your penis at risk? (Looking at your blog, it’s apparent that you are not, so take my question as rhetorical.)

  115. Nepenthe says

    @Anthony

    I realized that I was unclear. The idea that you apparently fail to grasp is that women are objectified. You apparently have at least a theoretical understanding of the “women are human beings” concept.

  116. Daniel Schealler says

    @Nepenthe

    I hesitate to speak for Anthony – it might be read as making further assumptions about his state of mind, after all. :)

    However, I can speak about my reading of Anthony’s comments thus far, and I disagree with your view here.

    Consider Anthony’s opening paragraph from comment 125:

    The hallmark of hypocrisy there….”women in sex work shouldn’t be stigmatized or disrespected….except when WE do it. And if they don’t agree with us that they are ‘prostituted’ victims of THE MAN, well, they are just ‘objects’”.

    It seems that in this paragraph, Anthony is asserting both:

    a) That feminists have been saying that women shouldn’t be stigmatized or disrespected (which I read as equivalent to ‘objectified’ in this context)
    b) That women can be objectified by feminists too – which in turn implies an understanding that women can, in fact, be objectified.

    From my reading, it strikes me that Anthony is aware of both the feminist tradition of opposing the objectification of women and that women can and are objectified.

  117. says

    The brilliant insight that women are human beings and not objects is something that feminists have been pointing out for 60 odd years now.

    In theory, but some “feminists” are perfectly happy to call women gender traitors and otherwise degrade them and refer to them as objects if they don’t behave the way they think a woman should. It’s just slut-shaming disguised as concern for their welfare. (Slut shaming often is.)

  118. says

    Ahhh, ma’am, I am fully aware of the theory and concept of objectification, as I am fully aware that feminists (and not just the radical feminists) have pushed the theory of sexual objectification for the past 20 or so years. And, I do happen to agree with it….to a point.

    I do think that objectification does occur….but I don’t necessarily see is as nearly the cosmic threat to humanity that some radfems see it. We all reduce humans to a particular aspect of their lives at one time or another…and that’s not especially a bad thing, as long as we respect the totality of that being.

    Human beings, though, do have the capability of “objectifying” one portion of a human while respecting the other portions.

    And…it’s not as if women are the only ones who are “objectified” sexually. Ever seen Calvin Klein jeans or underwear commercials?

    As for my own thoughts on objectification…well, I’ll let Nina Hartley speak for me on this one:

    For all its trappings, objectification is a central part of most, if not all, human cultures. We don’t mate by scent, seasons, or instinct alone. As primates, we learn a great deal visually, by watching and imitating. Since we can’t experience most people on deeper levels, everyone is, at least initially, an object to others.

    […]

    I believe that feminist critiques of consensual objectification overlook the potential pleasure therein. I believe that accessing sexual ecstasy and passion can heal some of the deep wounds that divide the genders, even if we choose to express that sex and passion with anyone but ourselves. But express it we must, as being stingy with passion and pleasure shrinks our hearts, shrivels our spirits, and makes us blind to opportunities for intimacy, to the detriment of all.

    Anthony

  119. says

    Nepenthe @ 131-132

    Oh dear, where to begin with your screed. Actually, most of it doesn’t even really merit a response, seeing that it’s largely a string of insults and making the issue all about dick rather than the actual issues at hand. However, thanks for being such a *typical* illustration of where “abolitionists” and especially radfems are coming from. Ultimately, it’s all about bile with you people, with social issues being a mere excuse.

    You do raise a point that needs to be addressed vis a vis “objectification” and your rhetoric around that. Unfortunately, radical feminism has so distorted the entire issue of the nature of objectification in general and sexual objectification in particular as to render the term useless.

    Basically, y’all throw around the term “objectification” as if it were simply some modernized version of the “sin of lust”. And in spite of what you may have heard somewhere, “objectification” does not mean raw sexual attraction to another person, even to a stranger, or even somebody who you only encounter through some kind of transactional sex. No, objectification takes place when one looses sight of the fact that you’re dealing with another human being their with their own goals, desires, and needs. And I would submit that although in many cases some men very well might fully objectify sex workers, there’s nothing inherent in the interaction that leads to this. As hard as it might be for you to comprehend, many of us are capable of holding two or more thoughts in our head at once, and can recognize the woman (or man) that we view playing into our fantasies also has a life entirely independent from our desires. That isn’t so hard to comprehend, though sloppy rhetoric about “objectification” certainly serves to make it harder than it needs to be.

    Another small clue: not all or even most objectification is sexual! Much of what we do to get through the day in a society of strangers in fact involves a great deal of objectification, though it turns harmful when it hardens into stereotypes that people convince themselves of in spite of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, politics is a huge source of wrongful objectification and the reduction of entire social groups to the needs of one’s agenda. Indeed, I can think of no better example of *gross* objectification than Nasreen’s response to Maggie Mayhem. An actual sex worker voices disagreement with Nasreen’s line on sex work, and she responds with hateful rhetoric about “house slaves”!

  120. says

    Actually, Daniel, that graph was meant to be a bit of sarcasm towards the hypocrisy of radfem antis who claim to be opposed to “objectification”….even as they themselves reduce those women who don’t agree with them or march in perfect step with their ideology to the level of “cumdumpsters” or “mindless slaves” or “tools of men”. In short, it goes both ways.

    Anthony

  121. says

    @Nepenthe (#131-132)

    Nice try, madame, but I’ve endured far stronger personal insults that that peashooter you just threw at me. Ask your colleague Maggie Hays or Sam Berg or Stan Goff.

    Still, since you have read my blogs, you should probably also know that my sex-positive theory also entails the explicit right of people in sex work to have basic human needs and resources, including the option to leave sex work if they choose to pursue other professions, or pursue higher education. That’s the LEFT portion of my “sex-positive leftism”.

    And, as a single middle aged man who has more than enough on his plate with work and working-class life, blogging about sexuality issues is only a small portion of my writings. But, I guess, to you, it’s still all about my penis, right??

    At least it still works well, and I don’t feel the need to force it on anyone.

    Anthony

  122. NateHevens says

    And… she’s responded…

    Do women really ‘choose’ to be prostitutes?

    I love how she puts the word choose in scare quotes, and then goes on to deny that there are women who would dare “choose” to be prostitutes…

    I have so much respect for Taslima, but damnit! Stop it, Taslima! Open yourself to opposing views! Please!

  123. says

    Apparently, the “politically correct” view is that prostitution should be legal and Greta, Natalie and Ian just can’t deal with the fact she’s such an independent thinker who doesn’t subscribe to their dogma.

  124. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Aaaaand, Taslima responds by doubling down. She’s also crying “ZOMG opreshun!” This is not a good start. (I’m still waiting for my comment at her new entry to escape moderation.)

    That’s….disappointing.

  125. says

    Here’s my take on Taslima’s doubling down:

    There exist women who had an abortion only to later regret such a decision. Of these women, there are most certainly those who regret it because they were directly or indirectly coerced into it.

    Taslima, your argument has convinced me.

    I am now pro-life.

  126. says

    Ok so when examining prostitution we are supposed to focus on the most privileged members of society, ones that have a shot at doing something else, and ignore that the majority of it is sex slavery? If someone were to generalize about prostitution, based solely on the number of people being trafficked, pimped, or coerced,vs the number of people who arent, you could safely generalize it as a sex slavery industry.

    The *anger* I feel at this approach is hard for me to express in words, it is so overwhelming. Look at what sex slaves go through, how many of them there are, and I am supposed to be ever so worried about offending upper class white women who don’t have to fuck anyone they don’t want to. The reality of prostitution, for the majority of women, is so so far from that. Watch Very Young Girls sometime and then talk about how hurt feelings of 1% of an industry matter so much more than the reality of violent rape that poor women, the 99% of prostitutes, (disproportionately women of color) face when they are prostituted. Those are the typical prostitutes, introduced into the industry by older men at an average age of 13, fed drugs, and beaten up by their pimps and tricks. Diary of a call girl isn’t a documentary.

    Don’t mind me though, keep preaching what dudes want to hear so that they can feel good about themselves when they buy women who speak no english or who are clearly addicted to drugs. I am sure that those guys need as much help as privileged white prostitutes who have other options in life. Thank goodness you are there to fight the good fight, right? You have a mighty sound set of priorities, greta.

  127. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I love how she puts the word choose in scare quotes, and then goes on to deny that there are women who would dare “choose” to be prostitutes…

    Once you’ve denied that a person even exists, how could you possibly dehumanize them further?

  128. says

    Skeptifem, how the fuck is pointing out that Taslima is defining all prostitution as inherently being objectification and slavery — and doubling down when called out on it by both Natalie and Greta — equal to “focus[ing] on the most privileged members of society, ones that have a shot at doing something else, and ignor[ing] that the majority of it is sex slavery”?

  129. says

    And, skeptifem, if you object to that assessment, I direct you to this comment from Taslima herself:

    I oppose the idea of so called ”sex-positive feminists”. Are we ”sex-negative feminists”? We are not against sex. We are against sexual objectification of women. I do not call them feminists. I think they are either misogynists or masochists.

    This isn’t about the 99% slaves versus the 1% privileged. This is about prostitution being objectification and slavery, end point, full stop, no reassessment. Taslima’s flat-out No True Scotsman wrt sex-positive feminism proves this =/

  130. says

    Ok so when examining prostitution we are supposed to focus on the most privileged members of society, ones that have a shot at doing something else, and ignore that the majority of it is sex slavery?

    You have to stand back when you do this. Straw Greta goes up quickly. This would be a valid argument if Greta were arguing sex slavery is a necessary evil in order to preserve the choices of people who choose prostitution, but she isn’t. The point is that Taslima is trying to pretend away the fact that sometimes people make choices she doesn’t like rather than making a more nuanced policy argument or actually making an argument that it’s justifiable to deny people these choices.

  131. says

    Riiiight, Skeptifem….because those of us who believe in decriminalization and harm reduction are merely elitist White hippie chicks who merely want to bow down to male dicks, right??

    Newsflash, ma’am: we know that conditions for the majority of sex workers aren’t nearly as favorable as they should. And, we have NO problem in doing whatever is needed to give those who want out the resources to pursue alternatives.

    And, besides…look who’s talking about “elitism” and representing the “99%”. The same folk who have no problems allying with the most reactionary and establishment wealthy (like Bill Gates) or the ruling governments, even if they are explicitly antifeminist (and deeply anti-poor and anti-working class) when it suits their goals. Remember, Dworkin’s treasured “civil rights ordinance” was passed by fundamentalist Republicans and signed by a fundie mayor in Indianapolis, and was overturned by a female judge. And the current antitrafficking abolitionist movement has relied heavily from support from right-wing forces, even going as far as fetishizing George W. Bush as a friendly feminist supporter (his otherwise antifeminist positions aside).

    Sorry, Skeptifem, but it’s not your right or perogative to decide who’s the “elitists” in this debate. I suppose that Greta, by challenging Taslima’s nonsense, is an “elitist” addicted to “the dudes”, too??

  132. says

    Side point: I really wish people who support legalization of prostitution wouldn’t refer to antis as “abolitionists,” especially in the context of an argument over whether prostitution is slavery. It’s really bad framing.

  133. says

    Interestingly, since I posted my comments yesterday many new comments have appeared, but mine are “awaiting moderation”. At least one person has pointed out that Taslima has removed comments with which she disagrees. Above the Andrea-Dworkin drivel she has the famous Rosa Luxemburg quote. I don’t think she understands it though. Her idea of a free-thought blog seems to be that only her thoughts are free. Of course, the blog owner can decide what to allow and what to refuse, but keeping out comments which disagree seems not a good idea to have an enlightened discussion.

    For the record, here are my brief comments to other comments then a longer one (which I was able to shorten since previous comments there had already said the most important stuff.

    Note that all the stuff below is/was intended for Taslima’s blog, so it is she being addressed, not Greta.

    Taslima: “If prostitution is a job like any other, people can be forced into it even more. Are there ads in New Zealand media – Prostitutes Wanted?”

    P.H.: “Let’s see, if it is legal to work as a policeman, then there must be huge problems in countries where police work is legal with people being forced to be policemen. Substitute any job for policeman to see the absurdity. At first, I thought your intentions were good but misguided, but now you seem to bend over backward to argue against prostitution.

    Yes, if it is legal you can advertize to hire people to work in the job in question. Big deal. Your argument only works if you believe that prostitution per se is immoral.

    Note: Even in countries where it is legal the unemployment office never suggests that anyone work as a prostitute, much less penalize them if they don’t accept such offers.”

    “”Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.”

    That’s the first quote on your web page.”

    Taslima (replying to another poster): “Even though I do not agree with what you said, I have approved your comment on my blog. I let people read your views because I believe in freedom of expression. I hope you also believe in freedom of expression for people you despise”

    P.H.: “Why do you even think it is necessary to say this? Are you implying that it is something special to allow dissenting opinion?

    Have you understood Rosa Luxemburg?”

    My long comment:

    I see that many comments address your broad-brush description of the problem. So, I don’t have to. In your own interest, you should at least have objectively verifiable numbers. Also, blanket, absolute statements would, in any other context, be seen as a mark of prejudice, repeating half-truths without checking them and trying to use emotional arguments to force a discussion to go in a certain direction.

    Please check out feminists (see below) who have found that the Swedish laws don’t help prostitutes but actually make their situation worse. While criminalizing the victim is obviously not a good thing to do (and places where both prostitutes and Johns are illegal raise the question of who the victim is), consider what happens when legal prostitution is not available: the only available prostitution is illegal prostitution. Even in totalitarian states where prostitution is illegal it nevertheless exists, so there is no realistic possibility to prevent illegal prostitution without a completely controlled police-state dictatorship, and even there it would be difficult. What does illegal prostitution mean? It means that a customer cannot point out problems to the police without himself being arrested. The lack of a legal option will mean much more business for the illegal option. And if prostitution itself is illegal, then there is less distinction between prostitution and forced prostitution (which is illegal almost everywhere, as is forced labour in general), so pimps might say “if we’re criminals anyway, we might as well use sex slaves as well”.

    In particular, you need to distinguish between forced prostitution and prostitution in general. Your diatribe is like saying that since organ trafficking exists in many parts of the world (just today I read about someone in China who sold a kidney to buy an iPad), voluntary organ donation should be made illegal. Yes, probably most prostitutes wouldn’t do this work if they were rich enough not to work at all, but that applies to 99% of the population in almost any line of work. At least in countries where one doesn’t have to make the choice between extreme poverty and prostitution, you should respect people’s freedom to decide. (And even where there is only this choice, you should still respect the choice if it is her choice and work to make other choices possible.) If a woman would rather make ten thousand a month as a prostitute than 1000 as an office worker or whatever, that should be her decision. For that matter, if she would rather make the same amount but in prostitution because she prefers that (and, believe it or not, although they are a minority, such women exist), then that should be her choice and hers alone.

    The prostitution-is-oppression argument doesn’t cut it either. Yes, women are oppressed in many societies, but there is little correlation with the amount of prostitution or whether it is legal (if anything, except for Norway, Sweden and Iceland, the general trend is that the more equality there is, the more prostitution is accepted and the fewer problems there are with it—whether or not there is more or less prostitution depends on many other factors). Also, note that oppressors normally don’t pay the oppressed. Of course, you can define prostitution as oppression and then say that all prostitutes are oppressed, but this is playing word games and is a disservice to those who are truly oppressed.

    All this is not to say that there are no problems with prostitution anywhere. There are many, and many involve trafficking, slavery etc which any reasonable person opposes. However, when the baby is thrown out with the bathwater, the baby usually dies. Any objective analysis shows that it is easier, not harder, to solve these problems when prostitution itself is legal.

    Of course, if you believe that prostitution is somehow immoral, then arguments won’t convince you, just like people who are convinced that, say, homosexuality is immoral are rarely convinced by objective arguments. Any free society should say that what two sane adults agree to is legal as long as no-one else is impacted. Anything else is a step in the direction of state-defined morality.

    Have you ever been to a country where prostitution is legal? I am not exaggerating when I say that in some cases there are brothels directly next to police stations. Prostitutes can advertize, can be insured by public health insurance, can organize themselves in labour unions etc. The local authorities make unannounced spot checks, similar to ones made in restaurants. It is impossible to force someone to work in a legal establishment. The idea that the women who work as prostitutes in such conditions are forced into doing it is patently absurd. Yes, this is a situation different to the slums of Calcutta, but the problems in the slums of Calcutta have other causes and one should combat those, not prostitution per se.

    The argument “if she really enjoyed it she wouldn’t charge for it” is also bogus. It is better for all concerned if people enjoy the work they get paid for. A salary is not mainly compensation for something, but rather enables the person who receives it to make a living. This is better for the person concerned but also better for those buying the service. Why should an author be paid to write a book? Surely if he enjoys it he shouldn’t charge for it? The answer is that if he didn’t he would have to make money doing something else, something he doesn’t enjoy, which is not only worse for him but also worse for those who would otherwise read his books.

    The fact that most prostitutes are women who service men also doesn’t show any oppression per se. Whatever the reasons for it, no-one can debate the fact that if a man wants to have casual sex he usually has to pay for it (in one way or another) while if a woman does she just has to ask someone. Why is this? As long as fewer women are interested in casual sex (again, for whatever reasons—probably mainly biological, but that doesn’t matter for the argument), they have a seller’s market and have the chance to charge money. As noted above, this is an advantage for both sides. By the same token, in such a market women don’t have to pay if they don’t want to since there are more than enough men to give them what they want and even pay for the privilege.

    Another myth is that prostitution is not about sex but about oppression. Similar arguments have been advanced for rape, which Pinker has thoroughly discredited. The less voluntary the prostitute works, the less attractive she is for customers. No mentally healthy customer desires a sex slave as a prostitute. A “normal” prostitute is much more desirable, and the most desirable is a woman who enjoys the encounter just as much, or even more, than the customer.

    Unless you have been to a country where prostitution is legal and have some idea how it works there, then your opinions on the subject might be coloured by the fact that the only prostitution you know about is illegal prostitution. Of course, one rarely hears about legal prostitution in the news since there is nothing newsworthy to report. Please take this into account in your analysis.

    See http://www.bayswan.org/swed/swed_index.html for more information.

  134. says

    Just to be clear, in the previous posts the comments awaiting moderation I referred to are comments on Taslima’s blog. Even though I’m not a regular here my comments on Greta’s blog appear instantaneously. Thanks Greta for that.

    Because someone else remarked about disappearing comments on Taslima’s blog, I took the liberty to post mine here so that they are not lost for posterity. :-|

    Another blog mentions something like “prostitution is to sex slavery what sex is to rape”, which I think makes the point. Of course, in both cases you find people opposed to both. :-( My analogy: voluntary prostitution is to sex slavery what voluntary organ donation is to organ theft and trafficking. Not only is it possible to support the former of each pair in my analogy and despise and work to end the latter, I would even say that supporting the former goes a long way to helping end the latter, though in neither case is it sufficient.

  135. says

    @Philip: Prostitution is actually legal in India, though solicitation and running a brothel are not. One could operate using hotels and Craigslist just fine, though. Part of the problem is that she seems to conflate all legalization and not address the difference between just not arresting anyone and the government taking an active interest in the well-being of prostitutes and johns.

  136. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Skeptifem, how the fuck is pointing out that Taslima is defining all prostitution as inherently being objectification and slavery — and doubling down when called out on it by both Natalie and Greta — equal to “focus[ing] on the most privileged members of society, ones that have a shot at doing something else, and ignor[ing] that the majority of it is sex slavery”?

    That’s a good fucking question.

    I’m also curious as to how rejecting any attempt at distinguishing non-sex-slavery prostitution from sex-slavery prostitution is supposed to reduce the latter or help its victims.

  137. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Side point: I really wish people who support legalization of prostitution wouldn’t refer to antis as “abolitionists,” especially in the context of an argument over whether prostitution is slavery. It’s really bad framing.

    I think “paternalists” would be about right.

  138. says

    She conflates many things. She ignores dissenting opinion. She is confused. I pity her. There are two main issues. First, she equates prostitution with sex slavery. We all agree that sex slavery is bad and should be actively opposed. This is a big task, but what does help a little is to realize that voluntary prostitution makes sex slavery less attractive (see my long comment above). By opposing all prostitution, she is actually making it more difficult to stamp out sex slavery. Second, she can’t seem to understand that some women see the world differently than she does. Her “do prostitutes want their daughters to become prostitutes” is one of her rhetorical questions to which she assumes the answer is “no”. Sure, the daughters of sex slaves don’t want their children to have a similar life. People who are voluntarily prostitutes probably want their children to be happy, like any sensible person would. Certainly some children of prostitutes do become prostitutes, voluntary in both cases.

    There are countries where prostitutes are criminalized but not their customers (who are innocent victims who were seduced), those who criminalize the customers but not the prostitutes (Sweden, Norway, Iceland where it is assumed that no prostitutes work voluntarily), countries which criminalize both (which is bizarre since normally the only time both parties of a transaction are criminalized is if the transaction itself is harmful to others, as in corruption; in such countries one can have the undercover cop posing as a prostitute trying to arrest the undercover cop posing as a customer) and countries which criminalize neither. (Of course, in all cases how strictly the laws are enforced are another matter.) In the last category, some take the view that prostitution is bad but it is contraproductive to criminalize it. This is basically the Dutch view: if it is legal it is easier to monitor and control it. Often, in such cases prostitution itself is legal for both parties but not for third parties, i.e. one can’t operate a brothel, advertizing is limited or banned, a prostitute cannot have prostitution as the main source of income etc. This was also the case in Germany until about ten years ago. Since then, it is more or less, at least legally, a job like any other. So, not only is it legal for both parties, running a brothel is also legal, as is “supporting prostitution”. (Under the old law, distributing condoms could be interpreted as “supporting prostitution”.) Interestingly, the court case which overturned the old law was initiated by a prostitute who herself ran a brothel. This is a woman who really disproves Taslima’s generalizations: She publicly (regularly appearing on television, for example) campaigned to get the law changed. The judge considered public opinion and came to the (correct) conclusion that prostitution is no longer considered immoral by most of society, just like homosexuality, say. (Of course, I think that basic human rights are a higher good than what even the majority of a society believes, but it is nice when the majority believes the right thing.)

    Of course, crime is crime and the fact that murder is illegal doesn’t prevent murder from happening. One occasionally reads of cases in Germany where pimps are arrested for sex slavery etc. In many cases, tips to the police came from potential customers. It is much easier to arrest the criminals if the innocent people have nothing to fear and, also in their own interest, help in the investigation. There was also news that a brothel was closed: because of involuntary prostitution (not forced prostitution per se, but more along the lines of women coming there from far away to work and getting something other than they bargained for), because of tax evasion, because of not paying full contribution towards health insurance for the employees etc. It was in operation for just a few weeks. The men (and women) behind it are now in jail. The fact that it was shut down quickly is because prostitution itself is not criminalized. There is now a new brothel in the same location, which apparently doesn’t break any laws.

    Estimates vary, but the minimum is about 200,000 women who work mainly in prostitution in Germany (which has a population of about 80 million). The actual number is probably about twice as high, and if one adds women who no longer work in prostitution, or do so just occasionally, it is surely a million or so, or about 1 per cent of the female population. (Of course, there are male prostitutes for men and women and female prostitutes for women, but women for men are the largest group.) Most newspapers carry ads, there are ads on billboards, brothels are not hidden away (which would be bad for business) but part of the landscape almost everywhere. The fraction of involuntary prostitutes in this business is negligible. With legal access to voluntary prostitutes (at least as voluntary as most people voluntarily work at their jobs, i.e. there is an alternative besides abject poverty, but there really are a few women who do it because otherwise they wouldn’t have enough sex), why would anyone even be interested in business with a sex slave?

  139. says

    The *anger* I feel at this approach is hard for me to express in words, it is so overwhelming.

    Well, actually, you have expressed it in words, numerous times by applying the positively creepy term gender traitor to women who disagree with you. It’s like you had read The Handmaid’s Tale and decided that The Republic of Gilead had a few good ideas after all! I supposed at a certain point, you managed to belatedly get it through your thick skull just how creepy that rhetoric actually was and dropped it. Not that your actual opinions have progressed one iota.

    Look at what sex slaves go through, how many of them there are, and I am supposed to be ever so worried about offending upper class white women who don’t have to fuck anyone they don’t want to. The reality of prostitution, for the majority of women, is so so far from that. Watch Very Young Girls sometime and then talk about how hurt feelings of 1% of an industry matter so much more than the reality of violent rape that poor women, the 99% of prostitutes, (disproportionately women of color) face when they are prostituted. Those are the typical prostitutes, introduced into the industry by older men at an average age of 13, fed drugs, and beaten up by their pimps and tricks. Diary of a call girl isn’t a documentary.

    Right, nice strawman you’ve got going on there. Pro-decrim sex workers represent an elite 1% who are holding down the silent majority of the wretched of the earth who you radfems are bravely fighting for. And who of course are way too caught up in their own elitism to notice that there are many in the sex industry with real problems in need of systemic solutions. They’re too busy shouting about their vibrators to hear the cries of the downtrodden. Riggghhhht. Except that like most strawmen, if falls to pieces when actually handled.

    Given that you probably don’t even try to engage with or even understand the sex worker rights movement, you might almost be forgiven for failing to note that the sex worker rights movement is a *global* one and that much SW rights activism takes place in the developed world, where by your rhetoric, sex workers should regard themselves as slaves and welcome “abolitionists”. Except that many Cambodian sex workers know only too well the actual outcome of the kind of “raid and rescue” abolitionism advocated by people like Nicholas Kristoff. Because many of the rescues have made them the direct targets of imprisonment and police violence, including sometimes rape by their earstwhile rescuers. You can thank “abolitionist” groups like International Justice Mission for putting them in that situation, pressing for the police to “do something” and not looking too closely at the human rights fallout. You might also ignore the fact that in practice, the face of sex worker rights activism is numerically more likely to someone like Laxmi Tripathi than Brooke Magnanti. You might also ignore, underneath all your mau-mauing, that more than a few radfem leaders are themselves well-to-do academics with strong political connections (hello, Gail Dines, Donna Hughes, Sheila Jeffreys, ad nauseum) that give them a hell of a lot more voice in shaping policy than the so-called “elite” sex workers you decry.

  140. Mikey says

    @145 Skeptifem

    You bring up a good point, that different areas will need different solutions. What could work in USA probably wouldn’t work in India but what could work in Indian probably wouldn’t work in USA. This is one of the issues that I’m having with Dr. Nasreen. By painting such a large brush, she isn’t focusing on the problems but the symptoms. I’m glad she wrote her post as it’s opened up a great discussion and I’ve been exposed to many different views on this issue.

    Unfortunately, some of this has been like the history and current reality with Native Americans in the USA. We are all different peoples and cultures and live with different issues and needs but people will still try to come in and ‘solve’ our problems without asking us what the problem is. Many well meaning folk will come in and try to “fix” us because they “know better”.

    I’ve talked to people who literally said “Oh, they’re like children, they just need to be taught better.” So it doesn’t surprise me, but does horrify me, when someone does this to a group of people. To dismiss a person’s experience out of hand because they feel the person opinion is meaningless.

  141. says

    One occasionally reads of cases in Germany where pimps are arrested for sex slavery etc. In many cases, tips to the police came from potential customers.

    That’s actually a good point. If johns will get arrested, they’re a lot less likely to go to the cops when they think women are being exploited.

  142. says

    “That’s actually a good point. If johns will get arrested, they’re a lot less likely to go to the cops when they think women are being exploited.”

    I would say the probability is about zero. Also, this is just one point. Other points: A legal alternative makes an illegal one less attractive. Why run an illegal operation to provide a service which people can get legally? Also, if prostitution itself is illegal, anyone involved in it is already a criminal, so the threshold to becoming involved in sex slavery is probably lower than for a businessman (or woman—many brothels in Germany are owned by women, sometimes former prostitutes themselves, sometimes still active in their own establishment) who is otherwise not a criminal.

  143. says

    I think most people using “johns” in this thread do so because it is the standard term. However, it sounds rather disparaging. As far as I know (and that might not be very far in this case), customers don’t refer to prostitutes collectively as “julies”, “janes” or whatever.

  144. says

    “That’s actually a good point. If johns will get arrested, they’re a lot less likely to go to the cops when they think women are being exploited.”

    The first people to try and get the attention of police when Robert Pickton ( serial killer, Canada http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Pickton )started kidnapping sex workers and brutally torturing and murdering them were the other sex workers from the area and one of the CLIENTS (Wayne Leng) of a sex worker that considered her a friend.

    From the website Leng started
    http://www.missingpeople.net/2010/sarah_de_vries1.htm

    “Wayne Leng, her former customer, plastered the streets with posters, set up a 1-800 tipline and created a website. It became an international focus for the media and the grieving relatives of the women who were gone.

    Leng’s pursuit drew the interest of NBC’s America’s Most Wanted, which did a story on deVries’ disappearance and the dozens of other drug-addicted sex-trade workers who had disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.”

  145. says

    “As for sex work being ‘just work’ I think it’s a type of work that should be thought about differently. I mean, let’s say a woman is unemployed and receiving government benefits; should the government be able to say ‘well, you could make X dollars in prostitution so you should do that and we’ll cut off the government aid.” That’s coercion and it violates the idea that a person should never be coerced into doing anything sexual with anyone.”
    Sorry, I haven’t worked out how to use the quotes on here, that was from SMRNDA April 9th at 5.19pm

    Indeed, but if sex is, as some wish to claim, “just another job” why is this form of coercion any less acceptable than coercing an individual into any other form of unskilled manual work to get them off benefits?

    Don’t know if anyone’s still reading this but I would be
    interested to hear the views of pro lobby on this.

    Also from SMRNDA’s post –

    “Subjecting prostitutes to rules that mandate they have sex with people they don’t want to is a kind of ‘well, if you have sex with anyone for money you must have sex with everyone’ – the same misogynistic bullshit that makes men think they are entitled to sex from any woman who puts out, which also fuels the rape myth that women who are ‘promiscuous’ either can’t be raped, or that if they are it’s less of a tragedy than if a ‘decent’ woman is raped.”

    But legitimate businesses are subject to exactly those sort of rules – in the UK anyway – anti-discrimination legislation makes it illegal for service providers such as hotels to refuse service on the basis of race, sex,age and a number of other protected characteristics.

    Likewise nurses and other care workers are obliged to offer the same standard of care to patients they dislike personally as to the ones they like. The whole basis of professionalism is that you do not let personal feelings interfere with your performance.
    Furthermore, since there are now many online user communities for johns, where they discuss attitude, customer service etc. would it be commercially viable for prostitutes to turn people away very often?

  146. says

    Daniel Schealler @124:

    As a matter of fact, I commented directly in response to that very comment of Taslima’s, to ask about the source of the quote. My comment is still awaiting moderation. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s a technical glitch, since my comment is pretty tame compared to most.

  147. Dianne says

    Last night, it occurred to me that I disagree with Nasreen on both this and her post on burqas and feel that neither position can be best described as “feminist” for essentially the same reason: In both cases her solution to the problem at hand was to restrict women’s choices further.

    I’m willing to take as a given that the vast majority of women wouldn’t want to wear a burqa-certainly not all the time-and that the vast majority would rather have a different sort of work than various forms of sex work from flat out money for sex exchanges to making porn films or whatever. And clearly when men (or other women) force women to wear a burqa or make their living having sex with strangers, that’s a huge civil rights violation and social problem.

    But I don’t think the best solution is to ban either. Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate on removing the coercive element rather than focusing on the job or clothing? Maybe even changing the behavior or views of the oppressors rather than limiting the options of the oppressed to deal with that oppression?

    If the data really did show that banning prostitution on the Swedish model reduced trafficking and other forms of exploitation vastly better than legalization or decriminalization, then I’d say that that was the better option, that the women who were doing it by choice could find other jobs and that ending the exploitation was of greater importance. But as far as I can tell, it hasn’t worked that way. If anything, the legalization model seems to work better. But assuming that both work equally well or equally poorly, wouldn’t it be better to go with the model that provides the greater freedom?

    A lot of movements call themselves “feminist” without really being so. Feminists for life comes to mind. My rule of thumb is that a “feminist” movement that is all about restricting women’s choices is not truly feminist. It’s not a perfect rule, but when there seem to be reasonable arguments on each side (and who can argue with statements like “sexual exploitation of children is bad”) it has been, for me at least, a useful perspective.

  148. says

    “As for sex work being ‘just work’ I think it’s a type of work that should be thought about differently. I mean, let’s say a woman is unemployed and receiving government benefits; should the government be able to say ‘well, you could make X dollars in prostitution so you should do that and we’ll cut off the government aid.” That’s coercion and it violates the idea that a person should never be coerced into doing anything sexual with anyone.”
    Sorry, I haven’t worked out how to use the quotes on here, that was from SMRNDA April 9th at 5.19pm

    Indeed, but if sex is, as some wish to claim, “just another job” why is this form of coercion any less acceptable than coercing an individual into any other form of unskilled manual work to get them off benefits?

    Even in countries where prostitution is, legally, just another job, employment agencies do not sanction anyone on benefits because they refuse a job as a prostitute. The employment agency doesn’t even offer such jobs. I think that in most places they can refuse to even advertize them. Even if they did cut someone’s benefits, they wouldn’t get past the job interview. Boss: “Why are you applying for a job with us?” Unemployed person: “Because my job benefits will be cut if I don’t.”. Boss: “Sorry, but I don’t think you could bring the enthusiasm needed in our establishment.” I’m pretty sure there are other unskilled jobs (not that prostitution is unskilled in a literal sense) where the employment agency doesn’t even bother. Some unskilled jobs can be done by someone under supervision even if the person doesn’t want to do them, others can’t. This is a non-issue.

  149. Chimako says

    Prostitutes who actually are okay with their work are a super significant minority. Most prostitutes are prostitutes because they’ve been given no other way to exist, either money wise or just to live.

  150. Nepenthe says

    In theory, but some “feminists” are perfectly happy to call women gender traitors and otherwise degrade them and refer to them as objects if they don’t behave the way they think a woman should. It’s just slut-shaming disguised as concern for their welfare. (Slut shaming often is.)

    A traitor is not an object. A person who has decided to work with an oppressive system in order to reap the benefits meted out to the marginalized who choose to support it is making a choice to do so. Michelle Malkin and Phyllis Schlafy are not objects. To point out that they are collaborators is hardly objectification.

    Nor is it objectification to point out how others objectify. When we note that women in advertisements are posed as sexy corpses–objects–we are not objectifying the models. Why is it different when we point out that johns use prostitutes like they use old socks?

    @Anthony

    I do think that objectification does occur….but I don’t necessarily see is as nearly the cosmic threat to humanity that some radfems see it. We all reduce humans to a particular aspect of their lives at one time or another…and that’s not especially a bad thing, as long as we respect the totality of that being.

    That’s all well and good in fantasy world where women are respected in the totality of their being. Perhaps it seems like more of a threat when one cannot interact with the world at all without witnessing the objectification of people like oneself and when one has been the object of grotesque physical and mental violence by people objectifying women.

    You appear to be confused about the nature of objectification. Dealing with one aspect of a human is not objectification. Treating them as if they were solely that aspect is.

    And…it’s not as if women are the only ones who are “objectified” sexually. Ever seen Calvin Klein jeans or underwear commercials?

    I’ll make sure to care about the extraordinarily limited objectification of men when men as a class are seen as nothing but objects and are subject to violence as a result.

    you should probably also know that my sex-positive theory also entails the explicit right of people in sex work to have basic human needs and resources, including the option to leave sex work if they choose to pursue other professions, or pursue higher education. That’s the LEFT portion of my “sex-positive leftism”.

    Umm… congratulations? I’d be more impressed if you seemed at all concerned with any aspect of feminism and women’s liberation besides their ability to sell themselves for your use. Clearly that’s the critical issue here.

    @iamcuriousblue

    y’all throw around the term “objectification” as if it were simply some modernized version of the “sin of lust”. And in spite of what you may have heard somewhere, “objectification” does not mean raw sexual attraction to another person, even to a stranger, or even somebody who you only encounter through some kind of transactional sex.

    No, really? Of course it’s possible to experience sexual attraction and solely sexual attraction to a person and still treat them like a human being. It’s also so rare as to be virtually negligible. In the real world, where there is a significant power differential between men and women, where sex is constructed as something women have and men get, lust is worth examining critically, not shuttled into a black box of “natural fantasies, can’t look inside or you’re a fundamentalist fascist”.

    Indeed, I can think of no better example of *gross* objectification than Nasreen’s response to Maggie Mayhem. An actual sex worker voices disagreement with Nasreen’s line on sex work, and she responds with hateful rhetoric about “house slaves”!

    Speaking of abuse of the term. When a rabid Christianist comes to tell you about their great personal relationship with Jesus, is it objectification to tell them that their sky daddy is not real and that the are sadly deluded? Is it objectification to tell a Quiverfull woman that she is being used as a baby making machine?

    Actually, most of it doesn’t even really merit a response, seeing that it’s largely a string of insults and making the issue all about dick rather than the actual issues at hand.

    Isn’t this whole issue about dicks? If men didn’t insist upon having constant access to someplace warm to park their dicks, we wouldn’t have to deal with this at all. If men didn’t feel entitled to use other people’s bodies–men, women, and children–for their own gratification, there would be no johns and there would be no rapists.

  151. says

    “Prostitutes who actually are okay with their work are a super significant minority. Most prostitutes are prostitutes because they’ve been given no other way to exist, either money wise or just to live.”

    This is probably true. However, it still doesn’t justify criminalizing a minority (or customers thereof). Many societies have said “our laws cater to the majority; not the minority”. The positive trend has been to allow as much personal freedom as possible, with the majority playing a role only when there is no other alternative (i.e. in a democracy a majority should be necessary to enact a law, but not sufficient: one has to have a reason for it, it can’t disadvantage people unfairly etc).

    Also, the situation varies from country to country. In most or all of Europe, no citizen of the country is forced in that country to choose between prostitution and poverty. Thus, nationals who work as prostitutes do so voluntarily by any useful definition of the word. They might not do it for pure pleasure (as a very small minority do), but because—like 99% of people who work—they prefer this job and this income to another job with less income (or no job and jobless benefits, welfare etc). If this is forced prostitution, then almost everyone in the world is a forced labourer. This definition is unfair to people who are really forced into labour. (Of course, the caveats above are to avoid the red herring of saying that illegal immigrants have a choice between prostitution (or some other crime) and poverty. This might be true, but if they are voluntarily illegal immigrants that is their own problem. If they are not voluntary immigrants, then they are the victims of some sort of trafficking and as such should not be criminalized but should be sent back (otherwise anyone could claim to be a victim of trafficking, or arrange for this to actually happen via an accomplice, and claim benefits).)

    If the state is not capable of distinguishing between forced and voluntary prostitution, then it is not capable of effectively forbidding prostitution either. If it has the means to enforce a ban, it is very easy to distinguish between those working voluntarily and those not.

    In more general terms, probably most people in the world have the choice between some sort of underpaid demeaning work under bad conditions and subsistence poverty or even less. This is something which should be changed and then this aspect of the problem will be solved automatically. Until this happens, though, a ban will do more harm than good.

    Certainly in Sweden (where there were never many prostitutes, for a variety of reasons, to begin with) no one, not even an illegal immigrant, is forced to choose between prostitution and complete poverty. If the new law doesn’t work even there, it is certainly not going to work in most or all of the rest of the world. (I think many people might be confused about the Swedish law. The change was not to decriminalize prostitution for the prostitute, but rather to criminalize it for the customer; before the new law, it was legal for both. As such, implementing such a law in a country where it was previously illegal for both is quite a different matter and something I think many people aren’t aware of.)

    Sweden is probably not comparable to most of the rest of Europe in terms of prostitution. It has a low population density (small population in a large land), near the top of the list with regard to fraction of women working, equal pay for both sexes etc. At least until recently there was also a healthy attitude to sex which lessened the need for prostitution. All of these factors together mean that (even compared to the population) prostitution was rare to begin with. It might be the case that the fraction of illegal forced prostitution was higher in Sweden than elsewhere in Europe, which might have sharpened opinion on the subject. Nevertheless, the arguments why banning voluntary prostitution make banning forced prostitution more difficult still apply, as objective analyses of the effects of the law have convincingly shown (see the end of my long comment above for references).

    Interesting that Taslima has time for a new vindictive post but no time to moderate comments to her older post.

  152. Greta Christina says

    Chimako @ #169: How do you know that? What evidence do you have to support that?

  153. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Side point: I really wish people who support legalization of prostitution wouldn’t refer to antis as “abolitionists,” especially in the context of an argument over whether prostitution is slavery. It’s really bad framing.

    In a similar vein, we shouldn’t be referring to paternalists as “radfems.” There’s nothing “radical” about the idea that women shouldn’t be permitted to make their own decisions about sex.

  154. says

    Nor is it objectification to point out how others objectify. When we note that women in advertisements are posed as sexy corpses–objects–we are not objectifying the models. Why is it different when we point out that johns use prostitutes like they use old socks?

    So the issue is that you think the sex they are having is degrading. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Therefore they shouldn’t be having it. How is this different from slut-shaming again?

  155. Jicky says

    Where is Greta’s data? Much research has been done on prostitution. You don’t have to accept all of it, but the ignore the patterns of severe violence that prostitution research has recorded is irresponsible.

    Have you looked at all the research and found every scrap of it entirely useless, therefore compelling you to rely solely on theorics and the old cannard “sex workers I know like it?”

    A serious engagement with the work several hundred data-collectors have accumulated over several decades is more reliable than the specious reasoning and air-plucked “thousands and thousands” numbers put forth here.

    Five minutes of searching on the internet pulled up hundreds of studies where prostitutes (and johns) are interviewed. At a glance, none support the theory that men who use prostitutes are simple consumers who don’t cause inordinate amounts of harm.

  156. Martyn N Hughes says

    Dear Dawkins, it is like a sycophant’s dungeon in here…

    Anyway, I digress before I begin, tut.

    Look Greta, I enjoy your writing’s – very, very much – they are so crisp and clear they’re amazing, however you have got it wrong this time and I think remarkably so – given your intellect.

    You here, are writing about -and defending- those safe little haven’s (a San Francisco sex club?) where a woman, who wields the whip, wields the power, so to speak. A small minority of the world’s prostitutes are they.

    Back in the real world, away from cyberspace, or the safe little suburbs where all the sex-positive talk goes on, the majority of prostitutes are beaten and raped on a daily basis.
    They are moved from one country to the next without any chance of hope.

    You have deliberately ignored all that Taslima wrote about save a few points for what, another article?

    Or is it, apart from writing about prostitutes who are fortunate enough to be able to refer to their work as ‘sex-positive’ – as if it really is – you have nothing to say about trafficking and what the majority of the world’s prostitutes experience?

    You and your fans are so far off the mark that it is actually embarrassing to read.

    Anyway, you all go back to writing and reading and agreeing aggressively with each other and let’s hope Taslima goes back to doing what she does best.

    Defending life.

  157. says

    Anyone getting their comments censored on Taslima’s threads – if you would like to – please screencap your comments and send me links to screencaps thru twitter @FemWho – no pressure. I’ll probably end up putting them into a vid and blog post, in which I will flip the fuck out.

  158. says

    A point to consider before jumping to censorship, Taslima’s blog is a new one, and she likely has the same first-comment approval many if not all FtBlogs had. As this is a hot topic, she might be overwhelmed by the comments, so if its your first comment being held, that may not be censorship.

  159. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Governments and the police are not doing enough to stop human trafficking and child prostitution, they are not taking it seriously when sex workers are raped and abused. So, instead of investing more effort into those things, they should waste time and effort with arresting customers.
    Why go after big fish – human traffickers, when a lot of small fish can be arrested and we can all pretend that a problem has been solved.

  160. Bernard Bumner says

    Or is it, apart from writing about prostitutes who are fortunate enough to be able to refer to their work as ‘sex-positive’ – as if it really is – you have nothing to say about trafficking and what the majority of the world’s prostitutes experience?

    Talsima introduced the argument that there is no gross distinction between those two groups.

    Nobody would argue that slavery and abuse are terrible and that every effort needs to be made to prevent and stop both.

    If Talsima had not offered the broad redifination of prostitution as sex-slavery per se then she would have received nothing but approval from Greta, surely. The only reason to write this post is because Talsima wrote something which is not entirely uncontroversial, including that:

    Prostitution is not an acceptable job for women. They are forced to enter prostitution. Prostitution is an abusive institution and women stay poor in prostitution. It is not a vocation choice, it is human rights abuse.

    If however many or few professedly-willing sex workers are marginalised and criminalised using this and similar arguments, does it do anything to help to protect them from potential abuse?

    Does conflating human-trafficking and forced prostitution with all prostitution erode the rights and powers of those who say it was a choice to work in the sex trade via delegitimization? At the same time, does it make any difference to victims of sex-slavery?

    Could it be that such arguments are actually counter-productive because they ignore an important distinction between two groups, and that such arguments do little to advance the cause of either group?

    It seesm to me that is what is being argued here.

  161. says

    …[to] ignore the patterns of severe violence that prostitution research has recorded is irresponsible.

    We’re not ignoring it, fool, we’re noting that prostitution and violence against women are TWO DIFFERENT ISSUES, and confusing the two doesn’t help anyone. NO ONE here is ignorant of the enslavement and violent abuse of women, and when you say otherwise, you only prove you’re not paying attention.

    Here’s something none of us have ever ignored: brothels are not the only places on Earth where women are beaten, raped or enslaved. The problems of violence against women are far bigger and more entrenched than mere prostitution — which is probably why so many people just give up on the former and focus entirely on the latter instead.

  162. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    If however many or few professedly-willing sex workers are marginalised and criminalised using this and similar arguments, does it do anything to help to protect them from potential abuse?

    Of course not, but the sluts should have thought about that before they started slutting around. *eyeroll*

  163. Nepenthe says

    So the issue is that you think the sex they are having is degrading. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Therefore they shouldn’t be having it. How is this different from slut-shaming again?

    The difference is the difference between “they think you’re a slut and thus not fully human” and “I think you’re a slut and thus not fully human”. Everyone is always so quick to shoot the radfem messenger, as if the observations we make about how women are treated under patriarchy are the way we think they ought be treated. “The world hates you” is a different statement than “I hate you”. You don’t just get to throw out the phrase “slut-shaming” to suppress all discussion of negative aspects of sexuality.

    And the issue is that not all opinions are equally respectable. One may think that one has a personal relationship with Jesus, but that just isn’t so. One may think that having a man pay to ejaculate on one’s face and call one a whore isn’t feeding right into patriarchal attitudes about women’s sexual availability, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. One may think that one can choose one’s choice in a vacuum, but that isn’t so either. One may think that paying to use other people’s bodies doesn’t make one think differently about their status as human beings, but that isn’t necessarily so.

  164. says

    @Feminist Whore – I don’t know where Taslima is Living at the moment but if she is in India then she is like me and at the whims of shady power and lame internet. The time taken for her to approve posts may be indicative of this. I do have a lot of respect for her and do not think she is censoring the posts.

    If she is then you are welcome to put up my screen cap and I will sacrifice a baby to Dawkins…

    Martyn N Hughes

    Taslima actually is conflating two different issues in her arguments and making ginormous sweeping statements.

    “You here, are writing about -and defending- those safe little haven’s (a San Francisco sex club?) where a woman, who wields the whip, wields the power, so to speak. A small minority of the world’s prostitutes are they.”

    Actually majority of prostitutes in westernised nations with a sane attitude to prostitution are these. The major reason why prostitution has taken a whack in the west is the liberalisation of sexuality in men and women. You cannot really compete with free, and the bottom of the sex trade market fell out when women started having sex for “fun”. What survived was the specialist kink business and a handful of workers.

    The business model changed from street walking to call outs. And yes they are a “small number of the world’s prostitutes”. India’s prostitues pack an almighty punch at 20 million strong and I am fairly sure the entire developed world have fewer prostitutes than them since most of the developed world have less than 0.3% of their population involved in sex work while India has 2% and India has 1/7th of the world’s population in it.

    However saying ALL prostitution = Sex Slavery doesn’t work because clearly there are prostitutes who aren’t slaves. Generalisations Do Not Help Anyone.

    “Back in the real world, away from cyberspace, or the safe little suburbs where all the sex-positive talk goes on, the majority of prostitutes are beaten and raped on a daily basis.

    Anyway, you all go back to writing and reading and agreeing aggressively with each other and let’s hope Taslima goes back to doing what she does best.

    Defending life.”

    I actually admire Taslima for her courage in standing upto an abusive system but in this case she is wrong wrongity wrong.

    http://a-million-gods.blogspot.in/2012/04/rights-of-silent-majority-sex-slavery.html

    I covered most of her points. I am in India at the moment so I count for being in the “Real World” or as real a world as it gets since Taslima’s original topic was on precisely the country I am in.

  165. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    One may think that having a man pay to ejaculate on one’s face and call one a whore isn’t feeding right into patriarchal attitudes about women’s sexual availability, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. One may think that one can choose one’s choice in a vacuum, but that isn’t so either. One may think that paying to use other people’s bodies doesn’t make one think differently about their status as human beings, but that isn’t necessarily so.

    One can think arguments from unsupported assertions treated as first principles nailed to “because shut up, that’s why” are sound, but that doesn’t make it true.

    One can think women who make choices you personally wouldn’t are human beings who are capable of autonomous agency without being paternalistically protected from themselves, and that IS true.

  166. Nepenthe says

    @Azkyroth

    One can think arguments from unsupported assertions treated as first principles nailed to “because shut up, that’s why” are sound, but that doesn’t make it true.

    As if “all sex and sex-like activities are awesome and totally beyond reproach” is not an unsupported assertion from first principles. As if there weren’t mountains of data about how men in general feel about women and how johns in particular feel about the people they transact with.

    One can think women who make choices you personally wouldn’t are human beings who are capable of autonomous agency without being paternalistically protected from themselves, and that IS true.

    I believe that whatever can be done to make the lives of women who choose to sell access to their bodies less bad should be, whether that turns out to be decriminalization, legalization, the Swedish model or whatever. All human beings deserve that much. I am not, however, going to shut up or say that being a prostitute is a super idea, or a feminist act, or what not. I am also not going to say that johns are not acting in a misogynistic manner. I am not going to stop criticizing the transactional model of sexuality that prostitution perpetuates. If prostitution advocates and sex-positives feel dehumanized by argument and criticism, perhaps they should not have stepped into the arena.

  167. says

    As if “all sex and sex-like activities are awesome and totally beyond reproach” is not an unsupported assertion from first principles. As if there weren’t mountains of data about how men in general feel about women and how johns in particular feel about the people they transact with.

    If anyone were actually arguing that all sex and sex-like activities were awesome, you might have a point.

    I believe that whatever can be done to make the lives of women who choose to sell access to their bodies less bad should be, whether that turns out to be decriminalization, legalization, the Swedish model or whatever. All human beings deserve that much. I am not, however, going to shut up or say that being a prostitute is a super idea, or a feminist act, or what not. I am also not going to say that johns are not acting in a misogynistic manner. I am not going to stop criticizing the transactional model of sexuality that prostitution perpetuates. If prostitution advocates and sex-positives feel dehumanized by argument and criticism, perhaps they should not have stepped into the arena.

    You know who’s actually done concrete things to improve the lives of sex workers? Maggie Mayhem and Greta, who Taslima seems determined to find reasons not to listen to. Your argument sounds suspiciously like “if Sandra Fluke didn’t want to have her sexual history questioned, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken before congress.” If your criticism amounts to calling someone a sex prop, it is dehumanizing. Hiding behind “I’m just expressing what other people think” doesn’t make it better.

  168. says

    As if “all sex and sex-like activities are awesome and totally beyond reproach” is not an unsupported assertion from first principles.

    Um…can you quote anyone here actually making such an assertion?

  169. Kagehi says

    A serious engagement with the work several hundred data-collectors have accumulated over several decades is more reliable than the specious reasoning and air-plucked “thousands and thousands” numbers put forth here.

    Five minutes of searching on the internet pulled up hundreds of studies where prostitutes (and johns) are interviewed. At a glance, none support the theory that men who use prostitutes are simple consumers who don’t cause inordinate amounts of harm.

    Gee… Wonder how many of those “studies” where entirely conducted in places where only illegal sex work exists? Seriously though, my problem with the whole, “Its all bad”, is that its the logical equivalent of going back 200 years, arriving at a plantation, and concluding that cotton growing was a major problem, based not on the fact that ***everyone*** doing it was forced to, but one some theory that the core problem is that people wanted clothing made from cotton. Just possibly, you are looking at the wrong frakking problem!?

    Oh, and, the reason you don’t hear about male prostitutes, and women buying them, is a) they don’t call themselves that, b) they don’t “usually” street walk, and c) its more discreet, in most cases. It still exists, and its not all gay men paying them to do it. Since, the fact that such exist seems to have been damn near totally denied, in favor of the, “all these people are women.”, stance. The question I end up having to ask is, “If it wasn’t so negative, and men so privileged in most societies, such that its literally more likely for them to get a job while unqualified, when a qualified woman can’t, why the hell wouldn’t this be a different situation?” Because, to me, it seems like a logical result of a whole lot of other problems, that women are the ones doing most of it, and failing to address that, doesn’t help the case, either against objectification (i.e., if they can’t get another job, well, they have something they can do instead, right?), nor any of the other issues involved. Way to oversimplify things, as defense of a position…

  170. Setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry says

    Nepenthe, for a so-called radical you sure love to ignore root causes being pointed out to you in favor of going after your preferred bugaboo.

    And for a so-called feminist, you sure love to deny women their agency by attempting to devalue or deny their consent with litigious rhetoric when they choose to do things you personally disapprove of, and then project this onto your opponents in an attempt tkeep t hem on the defensive.

    This is a discussion, not a competition. Why are you so hell-bent on winning it?

  171. Setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry says

    Nepenthe, for a so-called radical you sure love to ignore root causes being pointed out to you in favor of going after your preferred bugaboo.

    And for a so-called feminist, you sure love to deny women their agency by attempting to devalue or deny their consent with litigious rhetoric when they choose to do things you personally disapprove of, and then project this onto your opponents in an attempt to keep them from attacking you on it.

    This is a discussion, not a competition. Why are you so hell-bent on winning it?

  172. dianne says

    A point to consider before jumping to censorship, Taslima’s blog is a new one, and she likely has the same first-comment approval many if not all FtBlogs had. As this is a hot topic, she might be overwhelmed by the comments, so if its your first comment being held, that may not be censorship.

    No, she’s definitely censoring. At least, my comments went from “awaiting moderation” to gone. It’s her decision what she wants on her blog, but given all the rhetoric Nasreen has around how censored she is, it seems a bit hypocritical at best for her to not allow polite comments that weren’t even entirely disagreeing. She did allow a couple of ruder comments through, perhaps to show how outrageous people opposing her are.

  173. amy says

    i would have really liked to have participated in this discusion on Taslima’s blog, but she never approved my comment.

    i guess she does not think that as a sex worker i have anything valuable to contribute.

    i even sent her a nice message incase it was an oversite letting her know i still had a comment pending moderation. Still nothing and it has almost been 48hrs of posting the comment originally.

    ~amy

  174. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    As if “all sex and sex-like activities are awesome and totally beyond reproach” is not an unsupported assertion from first principles.

    If the people involved are consenting adults*, why not?

    *and not arbitrarily defined as “cannot be consenting because money is changing hands”

  175. Hugh Jay says

    “Have you looked at all the research and found every scrap of it entirely useless, therefore compelling you to rely solely on theorics and the old canard ‘sex workers I know like it?'”

    Sadly a lot of the so-called research is of extremely low quality. Not academically validated nor peer reviewed, a lot of it is undertaken by ‘researchers’ who have an axe to grind and who do their research with that sector of the market which is visible, easily accessible and is most likely to confirm their thesis.

    Yes, I do know sex workers who like it. Yes I might be stupid enough to be taking an “I love it dearie” piece of prostitute PR at face value, but I really don’t think I am. Sadly no matter what people who actually know contented prostitutes or actually are contented prostitutes may say there are always those who will trash our personal accounts. To quote Greta “ “Are you saying that these people don’t exist? Or are you saying that they don’t matter? Are you saying that they’re deluded — that they thought they were free to choose but really weren’t, or that they thought they felt good about the work but really didn’t? Are you going to deny agency to thousands of current and former prostitutes, because their experience contradicts your thesis?”

    Some good quality UK research from someone who has listened to both prostitutes and punters I can recommend:
    Dr Teela Sanders “Sex Work a Risky Business” Willan 2005 and “Paying for Pleasure, Men Who Buy Sex” Willan 2008.

    And to repeat- this debate is not about whether some or even most sex work is vile, it’s about whether it’s OK to make statements about ALL sex work being this and ALL sex workers being subjected to that. I’m amazed that some people who would never think of making blanket statements about the experiences of all black people or all gay people feel that it’s OK to make such statements about sex work and to discount the real, lived experiences of those who know that it ain’t necessarily so.

  176. Bernard Bumner says

    I think that Taslima’s reaction to what appears to largely honest criticism is somewhat baffling (in particular, characterizing disagreement as war, given her experience of systematic censorship and suppression of free speech).

    I accept that she feels embattled in the face of robust critique of ideas she holds to be self-evidently true. I certainly don’t doubt her motives. I think it was the quality of the argumentation in that first post that was most disappointing, and probably the catalyst for these critical posts.

    I would hope that her reaction in this case is an anomaly.

  177. says

    Nepenthe:

    “Isn’t this whole issue about dicks?”

    In this discussion, it seems the whole issue is certain people being dicks and looking for rationizations to justify it.

    Its pretty clear that your ideas are so many degrees of wrong and so deeply rooted in ideological extremism that they are hardly worth engaging with. Apparently, you don’t even believe any woman can consensually have sex with men, and that it’s “male entitlement” and undue “access to women’s bodies” to think otherwise.

    You also make some patently false analogies between the truth claim that there is no God, and the objectification of someone as a “house slave” because their experience in sex work doesn’t jibe with the half-assed speculations you are calling “objective truth” about sex work.

    And, you know, there is clear historical precident for the kind of ideology you advocate. One that claimed to all about liberating the human race, claimed to rationalist and atheist, and have an overriding “objective” perspective perspective on everything, and was more than happy to punish all the “class traitors” that disagreed with them. The repression and massive body count that came when that ideology was translated into state power is among the absolute horrors of the 20th Century. And I think an overwhelming reason why destructive lunatics like you and Skeptifem and the rest of the “radical feminist” movement have no business making social policy.

  178. says

    Responding one last time to Nepenthe’s rantage @ #170…

    @Anthony

    I do think that objectification does occur….but I don’t necessarily see is as nearly the cosmic threat to humanity that some radfems see it. We all reduce humans to a particular aspect of their lives at one time or another…and that’s not especially a bad thing, as long as we respect the totality of that being.

    That’s all well and good in fantasy world where women are respected in the totality of their being. Perhaps it seems like more of a threat when one cannot interact with the world at all without witnessing the objectification of people like oneself and when one has been the object of grotesque physical and mental violence by people objectifying women.

    You appear to be confused about the nature of objectification. Dealing with one aspect of a human is not objectification. Treating them as if they were solely that aspect is.

    Right…but according to you and Taslima Nasreen and all other antiporn/anti sex work radfems, any (if not ALL) depiction of sexual activity involving women designed specifically to arouse men is inherently “degrading”, “objectifying”, and ultimately “degrading”, even if the subject of such “objectification” sees no problem with it. In essence, you have usurped that individual’s agency by dictating to her what she should feel…and that is far more truly objectifying and debasing, in my view, than any woman consenually performing in a porn video or posing in a sexy pose for an ad campaign.

    And once again, you ignore the basic fact that we don’t know everyone enough to examine all aspects of their lives; we simply pass judgment on those aspects that we see. Just because we see a porn performer and a model in her environment most of the time doesn’t mean that we aren’t capable of respecting her as a full human being. It’s not me who is reducing her to her sexual essence as a means of debilitating her and reducing her worth…it’s YOU.

    And…it’s not as if women are the only ones who are “objectified” sexually. Ever seen Calvin Klein jeans or underwear commercials?

    I’ll make sure to care about the extraordinarily limited objectification of men when men as a class are seen as nothing but objects and are subject to violence as a result.

    So…women watch Calvin Klein jean commercials featuring hard-muscled men with bulging crotches…and are automatically driven to fits of rage and mass rape and murder and sexual battery?? Gee…I thought not. And, it’s not true of men watching porn or sexy music videos, either. Most objectification of women comes not from sexually oriented media, but from the same old tired traditional sources: classical conserative sexual morality administered by traditional religions which preach that women are only good to be sperm deposits and incubators for Jesus.

    And for the millionth time, “class” is an economic concept of production, not a gender. Not all men have economic privilege, and in fact some women have far more economic and social privilege than most men do. But, please, Nep, do tell me how I, by virtue of merely having a penis and despite making a salary in the low $20K, have more privilege than Hillary Clinton, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or even Taslima Nasreen or Greta Christina.

    you should probably also know that my sex-positive theory also entails the explicit right of people in sex work to have basic human needs and resources, including the option to leave sex work if they choose to pursue other professions, or pursue higher education. That’s the LEFT portion of my “sex-positive leftism”.

    Umm… congratulations? I’d be more impressed if you seemed at all concerned with any aspect of feminism and women’s liberation besides their ability to sell themselves for your use. Clearly that’s the critical issue here.

    Ahhh, madame….I am nearly 50 years old, and my current salary and work schedule makes it simply impossible to use anyone for any purpose…let alone, “buy” women for “my” use.

    And my support for the fundamental concept of feminism goes well beyond the sex-positive stuff, FYI…from affirmative action to comparable worth to supporting the Equal Rights Amendment to the basic concept that NO woman (not even those I despise) deserve to be raped or abused. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I just don’t take my support of feminism to be merely a free pass into women’s panties. Unlike you, I respect their words and deeds.

    I know that this will go through one ear and out the other, Nep, since you are incapable of processing any information not filtered through your radfem microcode, but I feel no need to justify my positions and beliefs based on your misconceptions of same. My words and positions speak for themselves, and those who actually take the time to view them can see and analyze them for themselves.

    And with that, you may rant on your own, but you will be talking to yourself. I know your view, and now you know mine. I yield the floor.

  179. says

    One last thing, though….how typical that Nep uses up plenty of pixels trashing me, IACB, and all the other MEN who defend sex workers and their right to define themselves…but blissfully ignores, if not totally silences, the comments of actual sex workers themselves (Divinity, Fem Who, Maggie Mayhem, et. al.). Heck, Nep can’t even be arsed to offer a response to the quote from Nina Hartley on consensual objectification…..probably because such would be tantamont to actually recognizing Nina as a legitimate voice and a real person, rather than just a “tool of patriarchy” or a “paid agent of the pornographers”. Who’s objectifying who, exactly??

    Now, I will yield the floor.

    Anthony

  180. says

    And, on with this theme, Taslima puts up an antiporn rant, completely unnuanced, and basically ignoring the last 30+ years of the porn debate!

    Taslima never left fundamentalism, but just traded one kind for another.

    I have to say to PZ Myers if he should ever read this – THIS is what “freethought” and “skepticism” looks like? I think some of the “freethought” at “Freethoughtblogs” is pretty dubious. Sorry, but I don’t think fundamentalist adherence to a secular ideology is in any way an improvement over fundamentalist adherence to religion. The whole bloody history of Leninism should have taught us that, if anything. As much as Hitchens was hated as a warmonger, he at least got what was problematic about all-encompassing grand ideologies.

  181. Mikey says

    Just wanted to make a point about Calvin Klein adds objectifying men. Its not really, the ads are more of a power fantasy from men for men. I do believe this is the body most men want as opposed what women want from a men. It makes the man think “yeah, this is whats gonna get me laid.” more so then for women to think “hey lady, buy this product if you want men this hawt.”

    BUT, this is also a patriarchal stress that’s put upon men by men. It hurts us too, given it’s at a lower rate. I hate that people always forget that both sexes are forced into gender roles and it hurts everyone that don’t wish to conform to them.

    Even in this thread, Nep has demonstrated she’s bought the patriarchal line that men can be reduced to their dicks and “MAN. MUST. WANT. SEX. ALL. TIME. WITH. ANYTHING.” It’s insulting that people believe all men equate having sex with women as ejaculating into a sock. It’s insulting that people still believe male sexuality is simple and dumb and inherently cis/normative. It’s not, get over it. I know it’s nice to believe so that you can just dismiss me and my voice but it’s not true.

    I’m a male feminist and I refuse to conform to my gender role and refuse to let you force me or shame me into it.

  182. I'm_not says

    My only experience of prostitution is as a young man and a drug addict I spent some time homeless and living in squats in London. I didn’t turn tricks myself but many did. They were the lowest rung on the ladder, would have nothing to do with prostitute unions or anything like that and lived a pretty terrible existences. The beatings and the humiliations (real humiliations, no code words or previously agreed boundaries here)were not a by-product of the prostitution, they were part of it. Part of the service they offered was to be beaten and humiliated. I think it was that type of prostitution Mz. Nasrin had in mind when she wrote her piece.

    I agree she was wrong to say ALL prostitution is slavery but the reaction here has been quite extraordinary. By saying “all” what did she do other than ruffle a few feathers of those who have made the deliberate choice, hurt the feelings of an unusual, elite set? A single posted reply saying, “some people choose to be sex workers” surely would have sufficed?

    Instead we have over 200 posts over a slight affecting a few hundred perfectly happy people doing what they want that barely pay lip service to the original very serious issues raised.

    When the people who have volunteered to do this work get a request they find unreasonable they can turn it down. Do you think the person who makes the request just forgets it and disappears? No he doesn’t, he perseveres until he finds someone that he can punch in the face while he’s fucking them, can shit in the vagina of, can make suck his dog off.

    And comparing prostitution to being a waitress. Really? If you can’t see any difference between making someone a sandwich and giving them a blow job I feel sorry for you, you have lost much more than you have gained.

    I’m sorry the feathers of those who have chosen sex work have been ruffled but in the rush to lambast Mz. Nasrin for her error the genuine and very real concerns of her original post have been swept aside.

  183. Bernard Bumner says

    I’m sorry the feathers of those who have chosen sex work have been ruffled but in the rush to lambast Mz. Nasrin for her error the genuine and very real concerns of her original post have been swept aside.

    The idea that sexual violence, rape, and human trafficking are wrong is completely uncontroversial. No-one here is going to argue with that. Everybody agrees that there is a horrific reality for many (probably a majority of) prostitutes.

    Talsima’s post really does nothing to address that; it simply conflates sex-slavery with all types of prostitution, including those who choose to that work. It is seen by many as worthy of critique because it doesn’t seem to help anyone, not least of all people who are trafficked and subjected to abuse and exploitation.

    Taslima is the one who explicity involved that, as you put it, elite set in an argument about sex slavery. That is why they are being discussed.

    Don’t be so dismissive of the opinions being expressed here; no-one is trying to pretend that victims don’t exist and aren’t worthy of protection.

  184. I'm_not says

    #211 Bernard, thanks for your considered reply but I still don’t see how Mz. Narin’s unfortunate conflation of those who are abused and those who choose to be sex workers does anything other than hurt the feelings of those who have chosen the role for themselves. I can see that would be annoying but am genuinely taken aback by the strength of some of the comments above. There are surely more important issues at stake here that better deserve our attention?

  185. says

    …but I still don’t see how Mz. Narin’s unfortunate conflation of those who are abused and those who choose to be sex workers does anything other than hurt the feelings of those who have chosen the role for themselves.

    Such conflation misleads people as to what the real problem is and who is to blame; and it makes it more likely that efforts to solve the problems will be misdirected based on false or poorly-described understanding of what is to be done.

    Furthermore, many people here have good reason to believe that this sort of misdirection does more harm than good, not only to sex-workers, but to women in general. Seriously, read the original post and comments: all those valid concerns have already been stated here, and you have no excuse to pretend otherwise.

    We all want to correct an injustice; but you can’t correct an injustice unless and until you understand its exact nature. Ms. Nazrin has misunderstood the nature of the injustice, and that’s a problem for everyone, not just a handful of non-enslaved sex-workers.

  186. I'm_not says

    What I’m trying to say is this:

    To take an example used several times above, imagine someone from China posted on their blog a piece declaring, “Fashion Industry Employees Are Slaves” and an American blogger replied, “well, I personally know several seemstresses from a top couture house and they have a great life”.

    I don’t think there’d be 200-odd posts agreeing with the sentiment. I think there’d be quite a few suggesting they’d rather missed the point.

    I realise there is unjust stigmatisation of sex workers and I completely disagree with it and applaud efforts to rid us of it but the title of this thread, “Prostitution is not Sex Slavery” is really no more accurate for a very large number of people involved in it than is the original assertion that no one chooses to be a sex worker.

  187. Sas says

    @213 –

    People who have chosen that role for themselves still face substantial problems in their lives because of attitudes that conflate sex work with sex slavery. They have their livelihoods threatened and their morals and intelligence questioned constantly; who wouldn’t react passionately to that?

    And if you’re going to pull the “more important issues” ploy, then get off the internet right now and go volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate blood, because there are ALWAYS “more important issues” and that is never a good reason to ignore problems.

  188. Stretchycheese says

    I posted this comment on Taslima’s recent blog post regarding pornography. Just in case it’s censored, I’m reposting it here:

    I’m a little fascinated by this odd sort of alliance between radical feminists and religious conservatives. Both seem to want a more neo-Victorian or puritanical society that suppresses the expression of human sexuality. See the following quote:

    America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography… Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.

    Take a guess. Who made that assertion? Andrea Dworkin? Gail Dines? Amanda Marcotte? Nope. Rick Santorum! Their rhetoric is different, but the meanings are almost the same. Instead of “objectification” it’s “sinful thoughts.”

  189. I'm_not says

    #216 I pretty much agree with everything you say. I’m not dismissing the problem of stigmatisation, my worry was valid concerns about people all over the world in truly terrible situations seem to be being buried under one particular concern and one only.

    I’m not meaning to belittle the problem, just pointing out there are others, often threatening life and limb.

    I do try and do my bit but, like you and everyone else whose heart is obviously in the right place I have to prioritise, that’s all.

  190. Bernard Bumner says

    #213 I’m_not,

    There are surely more important issues at stake here that better deserve our attention?

    I think there are a number of things at stake here;

    1) Conflation of human-trafficking and criminal exploitation with prostitution may neglect other important aspects of such crimes – it is possible to argue that forced prostitution is better understood and tackled as an issue of modern slavery, rather than an issue simply affecting the sex trade.

    2) Placing willing and consenting adults in a broad category with victims of commodified rape and sexual abuse serves neither group. Willing prostitutes might be better supported via legitimisation of their trade, rather than marginalisation and criminalization. Victims of the sex trade are better helped by being acknowledged as victims of (often organised) criminality who very much need to be rescued.

    3) Equating those willing prostitutes with rape victims, denies their free agency. Labelling them as delusional victims of the patriarchy, or worse as enablers of exploitation (which is where that house slaves analogy leads us), is paternalistic and marginalising. It serves to further degrade and disempower an already stigmatized group. Stigmatization is one of the key reasons that sex-workers who are the victims of rape and violence are less likely to see justice done.

    People are angry, often not because they feel insulted on anyone’s behalf, but because they fear that such attitudes are harmful.

  191. says

    To take an example used several times above, imagine someone from China posted on their blog a piece declaring, “Fashion Industry Employees Are Slaves” and an American blogger replied, “well, I personally know several seemstresses from a top couture house and they have a great life”. I don’t think there’d be 200-odd posts agreeing with the sentiment. I think there’d be quite a few suggesting they’d rather missed the point.

    I think there would be, and they’d be right to call you out for making ignorant statements about an important issue. And that’s the point we’re trying to make here: sexual slavery and oppression of women are huge and important issues, and people like Ms. Nazrin are not helping when they confuse one issue with another. And as Stretchycheese and others have already pointed out, such misstatements are often used by the radical right (who have already shown tehir disdain for women’s rights and even lives) to co-opt and misdirect a women’s rights movement they always considered a hated enemy.

    When Ms. Nazrin and others go on extended rants about prostitution and porn, they’re taking the side of woman-haters, not women.

  192. I'm_not says

    #221 Raging Bee I completely agree with you. Thanks for taking the time to answer what were my genuine concerns.

  193. Stretchycheese says

    From Christian group says time to copy Sweden’s prostitution laws

    The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is lobbying the Canadian government to revise the Criminal Code of Canada along the lines of what has become known in Europe as “the Nordic model of law,” in which prostitution is legalized but the purchase of sex by johns is not.

    To the pro-Taslima/pro-Nordic model posters — don’t you find that just a little bit embarrassing? It’s quite ironic and hilarious. If this was a parliamentary setting, radical feminists can achieve some of their policy objectives by allying themselves with people they would oppose vehemently under other circumstances.

  194. says

    Greta, I agree with you completely, from personal experience. No, I am not and have never been a prostitute–but I know a great many of them, and can say that they all chose their vocation. I live in a country where prostitution is legal, but pimping and organized brothels are not. Call it freelancing, if you will. ;) Every single woman (and a few men) chose to enter their “job” and will tell you straight away that no one pressured them into it. The fact is, prostitution is never going to go away. It is not a patriarchal thing, it is a sex thing. While the majority of “johns” are, of course, male, there are many women who indulge in this so-called illicit activity, for a myriad of reasons–and they all revolve around sex. Now, don’t get me wrong: I also know many prostitutes (present and past) who chose to do what they do/did because they felt it the better option. Unfortunately, many of these women and men are poorly-educated and come from impoverished backgrounds. When faced with the choice between a menial, physically debilitating, low-paying job and selling their bodies, they chose the latter. I suppose from Taslima’s POV this is an indication of patriarchal oppression, but it’s not. It’s poverty and ignorance. And…well, I suppose a type of laziness? (In choosing prostitution over manual labor…although I suppose prostitution IS manual labor sometimes…Sorry! :D)I wager that in a matriarchal or egalitarian society poverty and ignorance would still exist in some fashion, and people would make the choice to *putear* as they call it here, and there would still be buyers for what they’re selling. Quite a few of them actually used their activities between the sheets to pay for education and to better the lives of themselves and their families. If they can sleep at night and live comfortably with their choices, I see no problem with that at all. With that being said, sexual exploitation of children or anyone is plain wrong, but it’s not exploitation if both parties involved are willing, voluntary, and of age.

  195. Greta Christina says

    By saying “all” what did she do other than ruffle a few feathers of those who have made the deliberate choice, hurt the feelings of an unusual, elite set?

    I’m_not @ #210: No, this does more than just ruffle a few feathers. It contributes to the marginalizing, patronizing, dehumanizing attitude towards sex workers that is all too common. It contributes to the attitude that our experiences don’t matter, that we’re unable to decide for ourselves whether we do or do not want to do this work, and that others know what’s best for us and will make those decisions for us. It contributes to the stigma that all sex workers are victims, without agency.

    And maybe most importantly: It contributes to the attitude that, when we’re looking for solutions to the real abuses that do commonly happen in the sex industry, we can ignore the voices and experiences of the people who actually work in the industry.

    And it isn’t just an unusual elite set. I know, and have read writings from, sex workers at many different economic levels of the industry, who say they freely chose the work and enjoy it. I don’t know what the percentage is of freely chosen prostitutes versus forced prostitutes — I don’t think anyone does, getting accurate data on sex work is extremely difficult given that it’s illegal and stigmatized — but this isn’t just a handful of elite courtesans. It’s a lot of people.

    To take an example used several times above, imagine someone from China posted on their blog a piece declaring, “Fashion Industry Employees Are Slaves” and an American blogger replied, “well, I personally know several seemstresses from a top couture house and they have a great life”.

    I don’t think there’d be 200-odd posts agreeing with the sentiment. I think there’d be quite a few suggesting they’d rather missed the point.

    I’m_not @ #215: If a blogger had written a post declaring “Fashion Industry Employees Are Slaves” — and specifically said at length that ALL fashion industry employees are slaves, and that the fashion industry was slavery by its very definition? If they had been deluged with comments from people who worked in the fashion industry saying, “That wasn’t my experience” — not just high-paid couture workers, but workers at many levels of the industry — and stubbornly ignored those people, insulted them, called them masochists and misogynists and compared them to house slaves, and said their experiences could be dismissed? If the blogger had said that anyone who wore clothes was a bad person who was contributing to this evil institution?

    You’re damn well right there’d be a huge outcry, and a conversation with hundreds of comments.

  196. says

    And to further expand on Greta’s point: what if those very people continued to insist that ALL fashion industry employees were slaves, and all fashion models getting paid to model their clothing were nothing more than accomplices to such “slavery”, and that anyone who paid money to wear their clothing were not only accomplices to slavery, but active contributors to murder and death and rape…even if they never so much as touched an fashion clothing employee or a model??

    Yet, that is exactly what Taslima Nasreen is saying regarding sex work and porn. Porn is merely a template used by men to “degrade”, “objectify”, and ultimately rape women, and “prostitution” is merely the way that men (and capitalism) makes profit off such “degradation”. If you don’t agree, well, you are the ENEMY.

    I’ve debated antiporn/anti-sexwork “feminist” activists for the past 5 years as a sex-positive Left blogger, so I’ve seen every rhetorical trick they have used to intimidate, distort, and ultimately demonize their critics and opponents. What Nasreen is doing is simply an updated version of the same old hymnal that folk like Kathleen Barry, Sheila Jeffreys, and Catherine MacKinnon perfected in the old “Sex Wars” debates of the 1990’s, and what people like Gail Dines and Melissa Farley carry onward to this day.

    In short, the same old and tired Trojan Horse used to embed reactionary sexual fascism into progressive movements.

  197. says

    I notice Taslima has taken lots of time to post (lame) replies to her critics, but my rather short comment is still stuck in “moderation.” In case it’s deleted instead, I’ll just paste it here…

    A question, and a brief historical reference…

    The question: are women freer, or safer, in countries where porn is suppressed, than they are in the relatively porn-saturated West?

    And the historical reference: back when porn was illegal in the USA, “obscenity” laws were used to suppress, not just lewd photographs and stories, but factual information about sex and sex-related issues. In fact, there was one well-documented incidednt where our Postmaster General, a guy named Comstock, refused to allow factual information about birth-control to be distributed through the US mail. Be careful what you wish for — you might get it.

  198. godless says

    @Raging Bee #230

    Yea, she’s really been censoring a lot over there. I know she didn’t approve my comment to her. So much for free thought, huh?

  199. says

    Taslima appears to be in a place where the degraradation and enslavement of women is so pervasive, and so undeniably in one’s face, that she’s simply unable to confront it with reason and good sense. Which is perfectly understandable, to be sure, but not exactly helpful in solving the problems. I think we should sympathize with her, without having to agree with her or let reason be trumped by implacable raw emotion. I’d like to hope that her desire to fight injustice will lead her to a better appreciation of liberal-democratic ideas and methods than she seems to have right now.

  200. says

    Yea, she’s really been censoring a lot over there. I know she didn’t approve my comment to her. So much for free thought, huh?

    There were a lot of dissenting comments posted, so I think it’s more like selective pressure…

    The way people use the words censor and censorship has become a lot looser, more general these days. Traditionally, the meaning of the word had been in the context of government power.

    She’s rejecting and ignoring significant aspects of dissenting views. That might be better called the Ostrich Syndrome.

  201. says

    Traditionally, the meaning of the word had been in the context of government power.

    Yeah, but it’s also used in the context of ANYONE having power to control the content of what someone else publishes — such as a publisher refusing to publish dissenting views, or, in this much less consequential case, a blog owner selectively blocking comments she doesn’t want others to see.

    I’m not saying she has no right to do this (she does, and there are good reasons for blocking comments and banning certain commenters); or that it’s anywhere near as bad as suppressing information about corrupt officials; but it does count as “censorship,” especially if it can be shown that it’s being done unfairly to people who disagree with the censor. (Not sure if this is really the case here — I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, at least for now.)

  202. says

    It may just be that some posts are getting auto-approved within the system, only to be deleted later on by Taslima, while others are left in the mod queue and never approved at all.

    There is also a selective process that she’s using: MEN are getting approved so that she and her lackeys and sockpuppets can easily attack them as porn-dependent fanboys only thinking with their dicks, or when they totally agree with her theories. WOMEN who are critical, on the other hand, are either left in the mod queue or quickly deleted. Especially, active sex workers who directly challenge Taslima’s whackiness (as in Divinity or Fem Who).

    She certainly has the right to run her blog as she fits…but I wonder how the admins of FreeThought Blogs would consider the use of their space to promote what seems to be the exact opposite of open expression and freedom??

  203. Dianne says

    Re: Nasreen’s post approval policy…In fairness to her, she did approve my comments eventually, although >48 hours after posting and after going through a phase where they disappeared altogether. So I can’t say whether my personal experience represents suppression of the comments or a technical glitch in the end.

    On reflection, I’m not sure the term “censorship” is right either. I used it too, I must admit, but I’m not sure that one can claim that being blocked on a single blog is really “censorship”. It’s her blog, she can do what she wants with it, as far as I’m concerned. And I can decide whether to read it/give her traffic or not. Right now, I’m inclined to not bother for a number of reasons, but maybe that’ll change.

  204. Swahilian Ohm says

    I feel that the difference in context is the reason for dissent between Taslima and Greta. Taslima (and I) come from south-east Asia, where female fetuses are routinely aborted, girls and women are groped and molested in public transport, curfew is placed on grown women, and if you talk back, you are a whore. Stigma associated with sex is so severe that most of my friends maintained their virginity till they recently got married, someone who is having sex (and making money) because they like it is rare. In a society that is so severely misogynistic, the assumption that prostitution is oppressive is fairly easy to make. Even women who are not involved in sex-work are deprived of agency. It, therefore, is hard to imagine and unlikely, that women involved in sex work are doing it ‘because they want to’. The situation in the south-east Asia cannot be compared to that in the western world.

    This debate is very close to the abortion debate (in India and the US). I am pro-choice in the US and I support the right of women to abort if they want to for any reason. However, in India, I want a legal ban on sex selective abortions because it is arising from a country wide social problem of misogyny. Prostitution in India also finds its roots in the widespread misogyny and not in active ‘choice’ of women involved. I would be extremely happy if India ever reaches a stage where this is a real choice and I will totally support the rights of women to make this choice. Until then, I am not so sure what the right solution is.

    Just assuming on point of view (based on experiences in US) to generalize to every country in the world without a willingness to understand what other people in the world are going through is taking a privileged stance. Yes, Taslima made a sweeping generalization and yes, making prostitution legal might lead to better situations in Asia. However, claiming that just because of her different experiences (and resulting points of view) she is somehow lesser and unwilling, is wrong. Claiming that because a person in US you know is willingly involved in sex work means it is a free choice every where else in the world, is having a very narrow point of view.

  205. Dianne says

    However, in India, I want a legal ban on sex selective abortions because it is arising from a country wide social problem of misogyny

    It won’t help. Men and women who are controlled by men will just go with infanticide instead. The solution is not to further limit women’s agency (i.e. by preventing them from having a baby that they know they will be forced to kill or starve and that they might be killed for producing) but to reduce the level of sexism in the society so that girls are equally valued with boys. Or at least not seen as entirely a drain on the family’s resources.

  206. I'm_not says

    #228 Anthony don’t say fascism lightly please. I asked some genuine questions and got some reasonable answers which I really appreciate and I have taken on board.

    Language like that really doesn’t help anyone. I spent some of last year in Somalia, you really want to compare your experience with true fascism?

  207. says

    Swahilian Ohm @ 237

    I’m sorry, but I just cannot buy the “privileged westerner” argument in this debate in regards to sex worker rights advocates. I’ve pointed this out in several comments, but it seems to be overlooked – there are *strong* pro-decriminalization sex worker rights movements in places like India, Cambodia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The activists in these movements are not the stereotypical “middle class” “happy hookers” caricature that people so dismissively trot out in arguments here.

    There’s damn good reason why there’s this kind of activism in the developing world. Because as problematic and authoritarian as the “abolitionist” approach is in the context of Sweden or other highly developed Western countries, the real crimes of that movement have played out in the developing world. In Cambodia, pressure by American fundamentalist/abolitionist NGOs like International Justice Mission to “do something” about prostitution, without looking too closely at what would be done, resulted in a massive and violent police crackdown on sex workers in that country, with may imprisonments, police violence, and even rape. This is what “raid and rescue” tactics look like in practice.

    In short, sex worker rights cannot and should not be viewed as the frivolous views of a few “privileged” white sex workers.

  208. I'm_not says

    #240 but it is, it simply is. This debate is by definition a privileged, monied debate.

    I asked several questions about the statement that all sex workers are slaves, a statement I disagree with, about why it produced so much ire and I got many cogent, logical and very reasonable answers which I had to agree with. The gist was you can’t protect the victims by lumping them in with those who aren’t victims. I agree.

    The fact that we’re comparing apples and oranges we all agree on. The fact no one here has anything whatsoever useful to say about the abused, the involuntary, the oppressed, the slaves only becomes apparent once you follow the debate.

    I agree with Mz. Christina’s sex positive agenda but it has very little application, at this moment in time, outside of a certain, very privileged crowd.

  209. says

    @ 241: It’s not just high-priced call girls that have weighed in here. The poor are in fact far more victimized by criminalization.

    If you service the rich and are discreet, the police have no reason to bother you no matter what the law is. It will just piss off your politically-connected clientele. Legalization has minimal effect on the elite.

    If you are working the sidewalk, you are far more likely to get busted so it looks like the police are cracking down on crime and at way more risk for being victimized by johns or pimps. Going to the police isn’t a good option even if they won’t be arrested as they are still at risk of being raped by the police. If they’re lucky, they’ll just get rescued from being able to work for a few days and maybe put the cops onto them, so they can bust them for breaking any of the laws about prostitution or arrest their good customers. Legalization makes you an ordinary citizen who can get protection you may badly need.

  210. says

    I’m Larry Carter Center. We Feminist Atheists are quite determined to fight patriarchy. Many alleged gods are all about male entitlement feelings to sex from women.
    Error #1 of Greta is that prostitution is not illegal in all 50 states. In Nevada, many counties legalize brothels where both men & women are available for sexual favors upon payment of a fee. Within the legal framework of prostitution, how many women are not feeling compelled to such UNDESIRABLE work for lack of any other higher income profession or to support an expensive drug habit?
    Same goes for women in the other 49 states, how many SAY they are not enslaved but say so out of feelings contradictory to whether they like the sex work? Once such questions are answered, the remainder of enslaved women need all the help they can get from Taslima, Greta & me.
    http://www.hireLarryFireBobby.com As an Atheist candidate for public office, my posting here is NOT a violation of 501 (c) 3 regulations. We need Atheist candidates running in every district. Until the clarity of thought Atheists have to offer in public policy making is universal, will women ever become free of patriarchy & sexual slavery? 843-926-1750

  211. says

    Sex work varies widely from the rape & selling of child sex slaves to common marriages where males fully expect to own a woman for sex upon demand. Sex work includes many activities designed to gratify the customers demands that do not include coitus, anal intercourse or fellatio. Sex work includes role playing, genital massage, dancing and video arcades. Much of this above provides income to willing sex workers and poses little or no risk medically or legally in many parts of the globe. The illegal status of most sex workers is both an indictment of theocracy as well as a double standard where religion keeps women in bondage of “marriage.” It is good to abolish slavery, but not to deny people freely chosen work.

  212. says

    @#246 “Sex work varies widely from the rape & selling of child sex slaves to common marriages where males…”

    I’m going to have to correct you on one thing. Sex work is done by consenting adults. If the person in question is not of the age to consent to sex without pay they cannot consent to paid sex. It is also NOT rape. If rape happens it’s not because that was part of the job. Sex work is done by consenting adults. I believe it’s important to point this out because more and more I am seeing anti-sex worker rights feminists co-opting the term “sex work” and conflating that with “sex trafficking” now. Quite understandable that you would have gotten this impression.

    As for the rest of your comment I do not disagree.

  213. says

    The fact no one here has anything whatsoever useful to say about the abused, the involuntary, the oppressed, the slaves only becomes apparent once you follow the debate.

    Go back and read my post at #105. I have much say about this and many other poverty and labor issues that come up. My policy advisories are apparently not “useful”, however?

    What was Taslima’s idea of how to move forward here, as a society? I’ve yet to discover it, and it doesn’t seem forthcoming. As far as I can tell, she apparently believes the Swedish model is a silver bullet. Unfortunately, the (poor) data doesn’t show it. The governments of countries within the model openly admit they have no accurate data to present on the issue (nothing special there; same as most nations). It’s safe to say that if you can’t even gather useful data, grandstanding about the problem in the legislature is basically theater for the masses.

    I would ask one other thing: can you name any social issue that was ever conclusively solved by authoritarian crackdowns? No one can claim, for example, that alcohol was totally harmless or even unambiguously a net good to society. However, the American experiment in prohibition definitely created more crime and more vice, not less. The effects were so clear that the government ultimately had no choice but to the repeal the law.

    Thus, even if you oddly believe the entire problem has to approached from a sociopolitical perspective instead of a socioeconomic one, how do get to the desired outcome from the criminalization standpoint? So long as people are encouraged to believe that all sex work is a lowering and debasement of oneself, the pervasive negative attitude that allows violence and ostracization of those involved continues indefinitely. Decriminalization is no panacea, but at least it creates space to bring the underlying actions and causes out into the light of day for proper examination.

  214. Greta Christina says

    The fact no one here has anything whatsoever useful to say about the abused, the involuntary, the oppressed, the slaves only becomes apparent once you follow the debate.

    I’m_not @ #241: That is just flatly not true. Lots of comments in this conversation — as well as the original post — have discusses the abuse and oppression that does happen in prostitution, and have discussed the best ways to alleviate or eliminate them. In fact, one of the most common threads in this conversation has been the idea that, when you’re trying to figure out how to alleviate or eliminate abuses in prostitution, your first step should be to talk to prostitutes, and not ignore or dismiss their voices and ideas.

    I agree with Mz. Christina’s sex positive agenda but it has very little application, at this moment in time, outside of a certain, very privileged crowd.

    And again, this is simply not true. Many comments here have pointed to writings and organizations by working-class prostitutes who support legalization and de-stigmatization. And in the larger sense, the sex positive agenda that I advocate absolutely has application outside relatively privileged middle-class Westerners. The sex positive agenda that I advocate pretty much dovetails with the feminist agenda that I advocate. The idea that women have the right to decide for ourselves what we will do with our own bodies, sexually and otherwise, and that the shame and demonization of our sexuality and our femaleness does harm to everyone of all genders… do you really think this is only an idea that applies to a small privileged class?

  215. Jicky says

    “The idea that women have the right to decide for ourselves what we will do with our own bodies, sexually and otherwise, and that the shame and demonization of our sexuality and our femaleness does harm to everyone of all genders

    Do whatever you want with your body. It is your body. However, money is not your body, it’s a social agreement. Money and business are governed by community standards, not individuals. Fuck until your pussy bleeds for all I care, IT’S YOUR BODY. But prostitution is about more than you and what you want to do with your body, and it contributes far greater misery than good to communities so we all get a say in what to do about that.

    Don’t switch the fact of your right to personal sexual freedom to your non-existent right to get money any way you want to get money.

  216. says

    @Jicky OMG I don’t even know where to start with your obvious best effort at making a tactful comment. “it contributes far greater misery than good to communities” citation please.

    And “Fuck until your pussy bleeds for all I care” you have GOT to be trolling here. Maybe you think throwing in a little slut shaming will keep anyone from challenging your misogyny. If so, you’re on the wrong thread.

    As for the rest of your comment maybe you are unaware that most people that go into sex work do so for survival…and YES they have a right to survive even if you find it distasteful.

    There are some who do it by choice, yes. I find your entire attitude about it rather silly. So you don’t want sex workers to take $200 for sex but if the person she’s having sex with buys her a $200 piece of jewelry cash and leaves the receipt in the box just in case she would rather return it and have the money or a different jewelery item that’s ok right. Ah no, now you’re going to make some moralizing judgement about her for that now ain’t ya. Get over yourself.

  217. says

    Responding to Jicky @ #252:

    Do whatever you want with your body. It is your body. However, money is not your body, it’s a social agreement. Money and business are governed by community standards, not individuals. Fuck until your pussy bleeds for all I care, IT’S YOUR BODY. But prostitution is about more than you and what you want to do with your body, and it contributes far greater misery than good to communities so we all get a say in what to do about that.

    Ahhh…no. It just doesn’t work like that.

    Ever heard of the saying: “Nothing about us, without us”??

    That signifies that you just don’t get to regulate or lecture other people over what they do with their bodies and their lives without their expressed approval or input…unless there is a clear cosensus that that regulation does more good than harm, and that such regulation addresses properly the harm it is supposed to mitigate and prevent.

    Whether you personally think that sex work creates more harm than good is irrelevant to the main point here. The main issue is whether or not reasonable regulation can be prooffered that balances legitimate concern for preventing harm to all involved with protecting consenting adults’ right to provide and receive sexual services in the safest and sanest forms possible.

    Also….no one is denying anyone of the right to “get a say” over the debate over sex work….actually, if anybody is doing more to attempt to silence anyone, it’s not those of us who support a broader view of decriminalization; it’s the antis who demonize and put down any voice who even attempts to challenge their assertions of “fact”. And if anyone should get the majority “say”, it should be those who are directly in the firing line….namely, activist sex workers.

    Personally, I would love to see a world where people didn’t have to trade sex directly for money…but then again, I would love to see student loan debt forgiven, a national health care system centered on a single payer system, and an end to all wars. Since that is far on the horizon, people have to live and survive however they can…and as long as people have sexual functions and desires and also cash, there will always be some exchange of sexual favors for money. The only question to resolve is whether or not we will acknowledge this fact and work to make such sexual exchange legal, safe, and sane.

    Anthony

  218. Jicky says

    Until sex workers crap dollars and coins, the have to abide by the same community edicts governing money as the rest of us. Which means I can’t steal things from people and sell them on Ebay claiming that I REALLY REALLY need the money and that makes it okay and therefore should be legalized for me. Because although I am personally fine with theft to fulfill my needs, commerce doesn’t abide solely by my moral system, there are bigger things at stake.

    I also think men who agree to kill people for money are ethically wrong no matter how legal the assassinations or how much they REALLY REALLY need the college money offered by the US Army.

    if the person she’s having sex with buys her a $200 piece of jewelry cash and leaves the receipt in the box

    How come she doesn’t give him $200 worth of jewelry for the sex they mutually engaged in? Or does he give her a piece of jewelry at the same time she gives him one?

    I didn’t expect that frankly expressing my belief in a woman’s right to any old thing she wants with her body – no matter how self destructive – would upset you so much. Seeing porn must make you weep for days if that written phrase sets off your slut-shaming sensibilities.

  219. says

    @Jicky Theft & murder are not victimless crimes like consensual sex work. Nice try but your hyperbole doesn’t impress.

    “How come she doesn’t give him $200 worth of jewelry for the sex they mutually engaged in?” Maybe she would. Men are paid for sex as well. You; however, are the one who made this gender specific with your vile statement, “Fuck until your pussy bleeds for all I care” and don’t insult the intelligence of those reading this comment section by pretending you didn’t.

    Bringing up porn is an obvious attempt to dig yourself out of this corner you painted yourself into. Nice try but no.

  220. says

    Because although I am personally fine with theft to fulfill my needs, commerce doesn’t abide solely by my moral system, there are bigger things at stake.

    Wait, what? None of this really makes sense. For one, what do theft and sex work have to do with each other? For another, how are commerce and morality supposed to be related? Where any connection exists, it has been arbitrarily defined by the law.

    I also don’t know what the “bigger things” are. That looks like an attempt to elevate personal convictions to the level of a higher cause (God? Law? Authority? Country? Freedom?). A common rhetorical device, for sure, but not compelling.

    I also think men who agree to kill people for money are ethically wrong no matter how legal the assassinations or how much they REALLY REALLY need the college money offered by the US Army.

    Yikes. You’re going to hate on soldiers, too? Killing someone in the middle of a firefight is not the same as being a hitman. If you’d ever had the misfortune of actually being in a battle with your life on the line, you’d understand the difference.

    Most first world military services also offer substantially more than just future education funds. At a minimum, you also receive food, shelter, medical treatment, and training in specialized skills. For some, it’s also the start of a career as a officer.

    It’s really depressing that people feel the need to generalize to extremes in order to put down other groups.

  221. Valhar2000 says

    when you’re trying to figure out how to alleviate or eliminate abuses in prostitution, your first step should be to talk to prostitutes, and not ignore or dismiss their voices and ideas.

    Unfortunately, I have observed a pattern of behavior in people who oppose legalized prostitution claiming that they do so to defend the prostitutes: they seem to have a very low opinion of actual prostitutes.

  222. aestheticsbear says

    I’m glad to see the party in here is still going on even if I’m late to the opening ceremony. I’ve read through most of the discussion in the comments, but not all – so I apologize if I go back to cover points that have already been discussed, but I think this is an important topic and some things bear being repeated.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with prostitution. If sex was free of social stigma and patriarchal structures, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be perfectly acceptable for any individual to sell sexual services to another individual.

    However, as is often the case with perfectly good principles, the mundane comes in and ruins our day. Overwhelmingly, prostitution is slavery. There are definitely exceptions, at least in Europe and North America, but on a global scale – the exceptions are precious few and far between. Slave trade is actually the fastest growing illegal activity, and forced prostitution makes up for a large part of it. The emancipated women in the first world may be thousands or tens of thousands, but the victims of a brutal and oppressive sex-slave market are millions and tens of millions.

    Now, I realise it may seem hyperbole to compare a perfectly innocent way to make a buck with downright slave trade – and in some ways, it is. But in other ways, it isn’t. Legally, it’s often hard to distinguish. German police reports that since prostitution was legalized in Berlin, there have been a rise in the living conditions of the legal prostitutes, yes – but there has also been a rise in trafficking. Most of the victims of trafficking are young, isolated from the society they’re taken to, don’t speak the language, and are very, very much intimidated by their slave masters.
    In fact, prosecuting traffickers has become much more difficult, because often times the victims were too frightened to cooperate in a court of law and the only thing the traffickers could be convicted of was the technicality of the transaction of money for sex. In several cases, this has lead to slave traders walking off scot free for trafficking – because voluntary prostitution is legal.

    This was naturally not the intent of the law, but it was the effect. It’s been repeated in other countries across Europe (maybe America, too, but I’ve no data in that case). It’s not an isolated occurrence, it’s a trend.

    In Germany, they have created a greater sense of security for a smaller group (of predominantly native German) women, by sacrificing the security of a much larger group of women who are taken as slaves into Germany.

    I am prepared to say that women and men should have the right to sell sex if they want to – but I’m not prepared to say that the right of western women and men to sell sex can come at the expense of the right of 3rd world people not to be sold as slaves. And I know Greta writes this with all the best intentions, but without a very effective legal means to ensure that doesn’t happen, it is the effect of a legalization of prostitution.

    Apologies for the rant, have a good day everybody :)

  223. says

    With all due respect, astheticbear, what you have just written is 100% BS.

    First off. prostitution/sex work is NOT “100% legal” in the “West”, as you say. There are limited areas (Nevada brothels, the California porn industry) where there are some means of legal protections for sex workers, but in most places in the West, prostitution is either out right illegal or looked upon quite unfavorably, with the occasional moral panic and legal busts to reinforce the social stigma.

    Secondly…if I remember right, there has been only limited decriminalization in Germany, not the full decriminalization of New Zealand. Also, it may be that the “increase in trafficking” might have far more to do with economic factors and immigration patterns as well as immigration law than with any loosening of the “sex trade”. But, since you simply assert your points without any reinforcing evidence showing that decriminalization leads to more “sex slavery, why should we take your assertions any more seriously than Taslima’s (or Melissa Farley’s, for that matter)??

    Besides that, how is it the fault of “Western women and men” when governments of “third world countries” — many of whom still rely on far more conservative and conventional means of legalized repression of all poor/working class people’s rights (sexual as well as economic and social) — seem unable to control illegal human trafficking? Or…maybe, like our conservatives here in the US, they simply play both sides of the street; profiting in the underground and illegal sex trade while publically using repressive legislation as a means of controlling and stigmatizing working-class, poor, and racially disadvantaged groups.

    I acknowledge — and so many of us who favor decriminalization and harm prevention methods — that that alone won’t resolve the multitude of issues involving economic class privilege, nor will it substitute for involved activism within those communities most affected for basic human rights and economic empowerment. But, to say that decriminalization is merely a failed “Western elitist” concept that ignores “Third World” sex workers trapped in “slavery” is nothing more than another massive distortion and lie used by the antis to further enslave more people.

    And, once again, there are plenty of activist sex worker rights organizations in those “Third World countries” who are fighting for their basic human rights. Instead of gripping at us “Westerners”, how about you throw your support at them and allow them to change the climate themselves?

    Anthony

  224. Kagehi says

    Yeah, I second Anthony’s comment. In Nevada you have a clear juxtaposition between legal brothels, and laws that say that you can’t have them “in the city”, with the result being illegal, pimp run, possibly human trafficking, street walkers. The legal brothels only take in known clients, they have health checks all the time, and they have real protections, including the fact that the people working there have to be vetted, and clearly be there because they want to do the work. The street walkers, inside the city, are **exactly** the same as the ones in places where its illegal. The only exception to this rule seems to be “escort services”, and while those are usually run with some level of integrity, there is no certainty for that, because they are borderline legally (they can’t advertise sex as an option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pay to have it, basically), since there is no legal grounds for them to provide such services, there is no way to know if they are just a front for the pimp, running the streets.

    So, in one single state we can see the abject failure of the system, when you don’t make it legal, you can’t track who is involved, and the only thing the police, or the government, can do about it is arrest those involved, and “legal” places, which limit who gets in, have clear rules, and lots of clear safeguards. One is a complete disaster, the other, no different than any other job. But, suggest that maybe the brothel model is better, and the other one a terrible failure of the system to address the problem, and even Nevada doesn’t want to hear about it.

  225. says

    aestheticsbear:

    First, I’m not buying the idea that sex workers are “virtually all” slaves, nor the idea that the whole all sex work needs to be banned because there’s “no way” to tell forced prostitution from voluntary sex work, so we need to criminalize everything to make the police’s job easier. I think there one can tell, not the least of which is by collaborating with sex workers to get clear information on their situation, and be able to get information on what free sex work looks like, and their often insider knowledge of where exploitation and trafficking are taking place. Police simply need to investigate more carefully and, basically, do the difficult work of policing in a pluralistic democratic society. Police work is only “easy” in a police state.

    Second, I really don’t appreciate the pitting of third world sex workers vs sex workers in the developed world. This painting of pro-decriminalization sex workers as some kind of “privileged” elite is simply so much bullshit, as is the idea that third world sex workers are some kind of huge beneficiaries from “abolitionist” raid and rescue tactics. In fact, “abolitionist” tactics get developing world sex workers imprisoned, beaten, and even raped. “Abolitionism” has been a human rights disaster for the very people it is supposed to best protect. It is one of the main reasons the criminalization approach (including the partial criminalization Nordic model) should be so clearly rejected.

  226. Bruce Gorton says

    Okay, here is the problem with the “Think of the third world” and economic pressure arguments:

    For the economic coercion argument to have currency it has to be a choice between starvation or prostitution, otherwise it isn’t any more coercive than the other options, which the antis aren’t arguing against I notice.

    Okay, so what the solution apparently is to make the choice between starvation, and starvation?

    In the third world sex workers are often abused by cops, and the courts tend not to be terribly honest – so how does a legal ban exactly help them?

    They still can’t get out of the sex industry because it doesn’t really change their economic position whether prostitution is legal or illegal.

    And criminalising the Johns basically means you have people who are already breaking the taboo against breaking the law as the prostitute’s only clients. Suuure that will reduce abuses.

    I am not someone who is going to go on about how prostitution is somehow exploring sexual freedom or some such, personally I don’t see it as any more exploring personal freedom than cleaning toilets would be, but I do think this is one issue where the law is not the solution.

    Poverty reduction and good education centres geared towards training women in high demand fields I think would make a much larger difference.

    Sex slavers typically promise their victims a better life in a better country. That is what Denmark is, that is what Germany is, that is what the USA is.

    Give those same women better options in their own country – empower them with knowledge and skills – and suddenly those sex slavers’ have a lot harder work ahead of them.

    Give people choices, don’t remove the few choices that they have now. In South Africa, right now, we have a very weak education system that is systematically betraying our future youth.

    And where this happens the hammer invariably falls harder on women than men.

    If we are going to do something about sex trafficking from our country – first we must deal with the poverty and the lack of options that makes adverts calling for young women with limited experience to become “dancers” overseas appealing despite stories that repeatedly warn of the dangers of such operations.

  227. Nikolay says

    Bruce hits the head on the nail really well. His points are the made ones often missing from the argument of prostitutes, that is the overwhelming majority of prostitutes, especially in poorer countries do so out of dire economic situation. It is really often a choice of starvation or prostitution, not supporting their children/parents medically, academically, etc or doing prostitution.

    This is why I mainly see prostitution as a non-coercion form of sex slavery; there is often not much of a choice. There is a lesser extent of this you’d see in first world countries of course.

    However, one should seriously consider the background of those, who despite having other choices, venture into prostitution. While there is-as far as I know-insufficent study into the background of prostitutes, overwhelming majority of those-as high as 75 percent-come from abusive background, often rooted in their childhood. So one must consider the psychological and bio-genetic psychological effects that abuses have on the developing brains. It essentially re-wire the brain, not to mention wrap one’s conception of the world. Even those who say they do it out of choice, one must consider how much of a choice did they really have in the first place? This is something the author completely failed to consider when speaking of the prostitutes who seem to be content with their work and see it as something of a job, or a choice.

    This is why prostitution is inherently harmful. Instead of giving them compassion and empathy, we reinforce their psychological view of the world; that people don’t really care about who and what they are. All they (johns) care about is seeing them as sexual objects, not as human beings, even if they are treated with respect.

    It is for the reasons above that legalizing prostitution would be wrong, not to mention immoral on so many levels. Of course, the reasons above are rarely something that people take in account, especially the law-makers. Simply put, people generally don’t attempt to conceptualize or internalize others well at all.

    Not to mention that Dutch’s legalizing of prostitution actually makes the situation worse, and Sweden’s anti-prostitution law more successful. Look it up yourself.

    Unfortunately that is all people generally see prostitutes, as whores and not human beings with pain deep somewhere inside their soul that they choose to blocked out.

  228. says

    Ahhh, Nikolay??

    If you actually bothered to read Bruce’s comment, he states explicitly that he does NOT favor criminalization, only that any means of addressing sex work issues should also address the core issues of poverty and lack of economic opportunities that prevail.

    And yet, even at that, even in a perfect world where everyone is paid a decent livable wage and able to economically fend for themselves, they will always have sexual desires and feelings, and want outlets for those desires. And, not always within monogamous marriage, either.

    The fact remains that not even abject poverty prevents men an womem from having sexual feelings, and as long as there are people with cash and people willing to offer themselves to relieve those issues, then they always will be some form of prostitution or sex work.

    The only issue is whether or not we acknowledge this and make sex work safe and sane for everyone.

    And NO, Nikolay, simply rehashing Taslima’s rhetoric and attempting to lecture Greta as a know-nothing, won’t make your argument any less BS than it is.

    Anthony

  229. Nikolay says

    Wanted to add a few main point was this;

    If a girl grew up in a happy background with caring family free of abuse, has been free of delirious acts committed against her by friends or other people which traumatized her (such as rape), has good friends instead of bad ones. Her family including her eventual child(ren) has medicine access which poses no real hardship them. I.e-her father requires cancer treatment or her sister need life-threatening medical treatment. This scenario is real and common all over the world, especially in second and third rate countries. Economic opportunities exist for her once she finishes high school and college. She grows up in a more gender-equality culture instead of ones that marginalized women.

    You’ll find that with all of these factors considered, number of prostitutes and porn actresses would be reduced by as much as 75 percent. I’d stake my life and entirely saving on it.

  230. Nikolay says

    I never said Bruce support criminalizing prostitution. I was referring to other posters advocating legalizing prostitution.

    “And yet, even at that, even in a perfect world where everyone is paid a decent livable wage and able to economically fend for themselves, they will always have sexual desires and feelings, and want outlets for those desires. And, not always within monogamous marriage, either.”

    Yes, clearly, but you’d still find number of prostitutes halved by more than half in this scenario.

    “The fact remains that not even abject poverty prevents men an womem from having sexual feelings, and as long as there are people with cash and people willing to offer themselves to relieve those issues, then they always will be some form of prostitution or sex work.”

    ….I’m not sure you wrote this carefully when you did, it doesn’t make sense. Abject poverty, not sexual desires-is what pushes huge number of women and some men into prostitution or labor hardship.

  231. Kagehi says

    With what respect can be garnered for your view Nikolay, skeptics deal in facts, not conjecture about what is *imagined* to be the outcome of doing something, and the facts say that, under the right parameters, you could legalize it. If you want to convince someone based on conjecture, and a sort of, “Think of the children/poor people in third worlds”, perspective, go talk to some priests.

  232. says

    Responding to Nikolay @ #269:

    Me: “And yet, even at that, even in a perfect world where everyone is paid a decent livable wage and able to economically fend for themselves, they will always have sexual desires and feelings, and want outlets for those desires. And, not always within monogamous marriage, either.”

    Nikolay: Yes, clearly, but you’d still find number of prostitutes halved by more than half in this scenario.

    And you know this….HOW?? Because you know every damn sex worker/prostitute/woman in the world?? Because you simply assume that in your perfect world, trading sexual favors for some form of value wouldn’t still exist?? Of course, plenty of prostitution as currently defined would vanish if total egalitarianism (aka “communism”) was achieved…but a lot of it would evolve in the same way that midwifery, pharmacology, and most other social industries were evolved through professionalism.

    And remember this, too, Nikolay: The countries with some of the most horrid conditions of sex workers and the worst forms of human trafficking (sexual and otherwise) also happen to be pretty much the same countries with authoritarian governments that impose a very conservative sexual morality (whether religious or “radical feminist”) and which state as their public moral duty to eliminate all alternatives of sexual commerce or sexual choice other than those narrow forms they impose by political fiat.

    And yet, despite all that sexual repression (or, probably more likely, BECAUSE OF IT), there still remains a vast “market” and a never ending “demand” for sexual favors. What you attempt to censor the most, you merely make more desirable, and when you deny people the ability to channel basic human desires through safe and sane and consensual channels, they will inevitably seek them through other, more dangerous means.

    Besides, I did say that I’d prefer a world where sex was freely given and sought and delivered through less dangerous forms than the current system..and if that results in prostitution being reduced anywhere near 50-75%, well, so much the better. As long as the remaining 25-50% who would still choose sex work are given their proper respect and worth as full human beings, there should be no objections from anyone truly progressive.

    Me: “The fact remains that not even abject poverty prevents men an womem from having sexual feelings, and as long as there are people with cash and people willing to offer themselves to relieve those issues, then they always will be some form of prostitution or sex work.”

    Nikolay: ….I’m not sure you wrote this carefully when you did, it doesn’t make sense. Abject poverty, not sexual desires-is what pushes huge number of women and some men into prostitution or labor hardship.

    I wrote exactly what I meant; you just don’t want to acknowledge it. Plus, you totally distorted what I said, anyway.

    Yes, abject poverty is the principal means by which poor/working class people are pushed into human trafficking in general…but that still does not mean that everyone who does sex work who was economically coerced into it will be so turned off by the sexual aspect.

    Sex work should be treated like any other kind of work, and those who perform it should be given the same type of respect, responsibilities, and rights that other workers take for granted…..but that doesn’t mean that the basis of their work — namely, the SEX — shouldn’t be ignored. Take away the abject poverty and the stigma, and you will still have plenty of sexually assertive and sexually aroused human beings searching for outlets and releases for their desires. And, even poor people have sexual feelings and desires; just because they don’t have the outlets that middle- or upper-middle-class folk have doesn’t mean that they are all merely robots or fundamentalists.

    I guess that the fundamental difference between us, Nikolay, is that I as a sex-positive leftist RESPECT human sexual desire that transcends race, class, gender, and nationalities, and that I’m not willing to have working class and poor people be forced to surrender their right of self-determination in all matters just so I can impose a perfect “one size fits all” morality on all of them.

    Sex and consensual sex work is NOT the enemy. Human trafficking and poverty IS. Learn and understand the difference.

  233. says

    You’ll find that with all of these factors considered, number of prostitutes and porn actresses would be reduced by as much as 75 percent. I’d stake my life and entirely saving on it.

    This is sheer conjecture masquerading as certain fact. Forgive me for not giving extra credence to it in light of a bet you didn’t make at a casino that doesn’t exist.

    We have no idea what the numbers and relative proportions of sex workers would be in any proposed ‘ideal’ world. However, we can at least guess that the stigmatization of the profession as illegitimate and immoral depresses the number of people who would choose to work in it, while having no noticeable impact at all on those who have no choice.

    On the other hand, it might be that clearing the deep mist around sex would cause the free supply to rise enough that professionals cannot compete effectively. I don’t see it happening, personally. More importantly, the moral difference between a sex saturated society driven by amateurs and commercial sex workers who chose a job according to demand, personal ability, and inclinations escapes me.

    Either way, no one here argues about sex workers having the right to leave, and most advocate drastically increasing the opportunities for people in poverty. To keep bringing up the same points of sex slavery and trafficking over and over again while offering no realistic solutions and ignoring the proposed policies of those you are supposed to be debating reveals a narrow and dogmatic perspective, to say the least.

  234. Nikolay says

    “With what respect can be garnered for your view Nikolay, skeptics deal in facts, not conjecture about what is *imagined* to be the outcome of doing something, and the facts say that, under the right parameters, you could legalize it. If you want to convince someone based on conjecture, and a sort of, “Think of the children/poor people in third worlds”, perspective, go talk to some priests.”

    This is why I refer you to the failure of legalizing prostitution in Dutch system, and the successful legal system of outlawing prostitution in Sweden.
    I’m glad you are able to convince me of the claim that my argument is merely based on conjecture with…..no argument.

    Anthony, why the aggressive and hostile stance toward me?

    Anthony: “And you know this….HOW?? Because you know every damn sex worker/prostitute/woman in the world?? Because you simply assume that in your perfect world, trading sexual favors for some form of value wouldn’t still exist?? Of course, plenty of prostitution as currently defined would vanish if total egalitarianism (aka “communism”) was achieved…but a lot of it would evolve in the same way that midwifery, pharmacology, and most other social industries were evolved through professionalism.”

    I don’t envision a perfect world whereby trading sexual favors for some form of value wouldn’t exist. Even in the perfect world where there is zero sexualized institution of media which cannot be discounted in their ability to reconstruct our reality, there will always be perfectly psychologically healthy people with zero form of economic coercion who are willing to trade for sex. This I see perfectly fine with it, even if I may disagree with it. Perhaps you need some historical perspective in understand why sex prostitution came about to be. People often cited “prostitution is the world’s oldest profession for a reason(s)”, except they do not even know precisely the reasons for it. It evolved as a way for women to deal in a society or culture that marginalized them, in a society where their economic opportunity and ability to survive is severely limited.

    Anthiny: “And remember this, too, Nikolay: The countries with some of the most horrid conditions of sex workers and the worst forms of human trafficking (sexual and otherwise) also happen to be pretty much the same countries with authoritarian governments that impose a very conservative sexual morality (whether religious or “radical feminist”) and which state as their public moral duty to eliminate all alternatives of sexual commerce or sexual choice other than those narrow forms they impose by political fiat.”

    Yes I do agree-Iran, Duabui for instance. However, in Soviet Union era, although prostitution was largely non-existent on the large scale, there were always women who resort to it because the state may not have fulfilled their economic needs. Fewer were the number that resort to it on the basis of materialistic wants, that is to earn more money in the face of having their basic needs met. I am the last generation of Soviet Union and I know what I’m talking about.

    Anthony: “And yet, despite all that sexual repression (or, probably more likely, BECAUSE OF IT), there still remains a vast “market” and a never ending “demand” for sexual favors. What you attempt to censor the most, you merely make more desirable, and when you deny people the ability to channel basic human desires through safe and sane and consensual channels, they will inevitably seek them through other, more dangerous means.”

    There is no question that a vast market and never ending demand exist. After all, sex trafficking is the most profitable business just behind arms and drug trading. But just because men are sexually repressed doesn’t give them the rights to have their sexual needs fulfilled over that of a woman’s safe and psychological sound background.

    Anthony:”Besides, I did say that I’d prefer a world where sex was freely given and sought and delivered through less dangerous forms than the current system..and if that results in prostitution being reduced anywhere near 50-75%, well, so much the better. As long as the remaining 25-50% who would still choose sex work are given their proper respect and worth as full human beings, there should be no objections from anyone truly progressive.”

    Me: “The fact remains that not even abject poverty prevents men an womem from having sexual feelings, and as long as there are people with cash and people willing to offer themselves to relieve those issues, then they always will be some form of prostitution or sex work.”

    Nikolay: ….I’m not sure you wrote this carefully when you did, it doesn’t make sense. Abject poverty, not sexual desires-is what pushes huge number of women and some men into prostitution or labor hardship.

    Anthony: “I wrote exactly what I meant; you just don’t want to acknowledge it. Plus, you totally distorted what I said, anyway.

    Yes, abject poverty is the principal means by which poor/working class people are pushed into human trafficking in general…but that still does not mean that everyone who does sex work who was economically coerced into it will be so turned off by the sexual aspect.”

    Never said it applies to everyone. The keyword is MAJORITY-majority of the women WORLDWIDE are forced into prostitution due to economic hardship. I don’t doubt you’ll find women who might enjoy prostitution despite the economic coercion. After all, it surely helps to rationalize and justify your profession that you would never have chosen to do in given alternative economic outlet. And that’s not even mentioning those who are psychologically damaged by abuses of any kind or other delerious background in their childhood-teenhood. It’s simply human nature to try to rationalize what you do despite inherently disliking it. Your mind simply would not have coped otherwise.

    Let me define the economic hardship. “You” shall be in reference to yourself and your family members. When you cannot obtain medicine treatment necessary, attend school, pay rent, and other basic needs to survive or to create economic mobility, i.e going from school into a job, that is an economic hardship. It never has been sexual desire that becomes the driving vehicle for women into prostitution. Most women can easily get sex at the snap of the fingers upon walking into the bar if they do wish to. Most women don’t venture into prostitution merely because of their morality belief, social or cultural belief or norms. In additional, generally there are predictable characteristics of your average prostitutes. Will elaborate more at the end.

    Anthony: “Sex work should be treated like any other kind of work, and those who perform it should be given the same type of respect, responsibilities, and rights that other workers take for granted…..but that doesn’t mean that the basis of their work — namely, the SEX — shouldn’t be ignored. Take away the abject poverty and the stigma, and you will still have plenty of sexually assertive and sexually aroused human beings searching for outlets and releases for their desires. And, even poor people have sexual feelings and desires; just because they don’t have the outlets that middle- or upper-middle-class folk have doesn’t mean that they are all merely robots or fundamentalists.”

    Again, perhaps you also should look to the failure of legalizing prostitution in Dutch system. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a society that does not have people (mainly men) who will exploit the legalizing system of prostitution as we might prior to the 90’s, when Soviet Bloc collapsed and sex trafficking as it is known today explode worldwide. And with regard to the poor, if your claim is true, then we’d see a larger number of middle and upper class women into prostitution. After all, their sexual desires are not any less than the poor women. Yet the vast majority of prostitutes comes from the poor background. It is rarity the mere sexual desires and the ability to potentially make more money that drive the poor into prostitution.

    Anthony: I guess that the fundamental difference between us, Nikolay, is that I as a sex-positive leftist RESPECT human sexual desire that transcends race, class, gender, and nationalities, and that I’m not willing to have working class and poor people be forced to surrender their right of self-determination in all matters just so I can impose a perfect “one size fits all” morality on all of them.

    Ridiculous, I have never advocated that. I refer you to my preceding paragraphs. Let me ask you (which means any guy in general) this; you come across a beautiful prostitute that you are willing to pay to have sex with. She tells you that she was sexually abused as a child. Or because she could not afford to find alternative economic outlet that she desperately needs to support her child(ren) or parents or sick family member in needs of treatment. In the first case, do you think it’s okay to use her to fulfill your sexual desire? Don’t forget, you are having sex with a person who used to be a child that were abused. In the latter cases, is it okay to do the same? If their background scenarios were the opposite, they are very unlikely to pursue the prostitution venue. Don’t you think that’s really overlooking their basic human dignity? I elaborate more further in the next paragraph.

    “Sex and consensual sex work is NOT the enemy. Human trafficking and poverty IS. Learn and understand the difference.”

    ……Perhaps I should now mention that human trafficking is my main area of study. I have read several books, hundred of articles, etc on human trafficking. So perhaps you need not assume any ignorance on my part as to the difference. Poverty IS the driving vehicle and the enemy for prostitution and human trafficking. Your average prostitute is un-educated, poor, lack alternative outlet for economic opportunity to support themselves/their children/family. I’d rather to give free money to the prostitutes than to use them to satisfy my sexual needs. In this way, I’d respect their basic human dignity, respect them and love them as my mothers, sisters, childhood friends.

    In respond to the conjecture criticism, and to Anthony on elaborating more; there are very few studies on the background of porn actresses. Inherently this is due to the shady nature of porn industry. However few that does exist, they indicate that the vast majority of the porn actresses come from abusive background, broken home, farther issue, with low self-esteem the norm. Imagine that your cheerful fourteen years old classmate girl announced on one day that she wishes to enter pornography or prostitution. That never happens, even in a society perfectly acceptable with these institutions. The exceptions I’ve read are in some eastern Europe countries where social culture and institution of the communism era collapsed completely with enormous rise of abject poverty, child pornography and prostitution, in the landscape enveloped with violence, alcoholism and broken homes.

    Simply put, conjecture or not, your average girl or woman isn’t going to participate in prostitution or porn industry if she comes from psychological and loving background, are given economic alternatives, grow up in cultures that are not hostile or marginalized them nor hyper-sexualized them from early age as is currently the form in USA, which does shape the consciousness of both genders, even fully-grown adults (especially males). That isn’t just going to happen, whenever it be due to self-imposed values, social or cultural norms, religion, etc. It’s not “oh please, think of the children and the world”. That simply ignores the reality. As I’ve said, your average prostitute or porn actresses generally have these following characteristics of their background; abuse in their childhood, broken home, abject poverty, economic hardship ( the latter two are generally seen in a lesser extent in western society such as USA or Canada as compared to eastern Europe or Asia countries for instance). The hyper-sexuality media institution in all forms further foster the pattern of thinking within males that makes it seem acceptable to view women in a more marginalized sense. I see this all of the time in movies of any country.

    Anthony, you asked me if I have interviewed these women. I don’t need to do that to know this is simply true. Why don’t you do the interviewing yourself? Or read up more on this very subject. Or watch the interviews and listen closely to their words, in what they say, and watch closely their eyes, their faces, even in the face of rationalizing themselves. In either case, if you’re lucky and get honest answers from prostitutes, you’ll find that what they tell you fit in perfectly with my statements. To me, this is common sense just on the basis of human dignity, on the basis of seeing them as not merely faces but daughters, sisters, mother, on the basis of understanding what and how sexual trading inherently are, and their basis for their evolution.

  235. Nikolay says

    To kagrerato,

    First and moreover, I was discussing prostitution, not sex slavery.

    I made my claim on the basis of the fact that at least 75 percent of the prostitution is on the basis of economic coercion/hardship as well as the general background of your average prostitute explained in my previous post. To truly understand the evolution of prostitution, it would help to familiar yourself with especially philosophy and scholar works in the last century. Only then can you understand my claim. I had this conviction before I read their works only to be furthered convicted by my beliefs.

    In the ideal world as envisioned above, the supply would be completely depressed while the insatiable perverted desires of the men’s demand would merely push the forced number of women into sex slavery unless there is a strong legal, law enforcement and politic safeguard against such scenario.

    “More importantly, the moral difference between a sex saturated society driven by amateurs and commercial sex workers who chose a job according to demand, personal ability, and inclinations escapes me.”

    I am not sure what you’re attempting to convey here. Perhaps you could explain better.

    I have solution of sex slavery/trafficking. But my solutions aren’t going to be implemented simply due to corruption nature of human beings. Even the politicians in USA share the same inclination toward women as those in society that oppresses women, at least with regards to prostitution while closing their eyes and ears to the cries of women and children entrapped in sex slavery.

  236. Nikolay says

    “There is no question that a vast market and never ending demand exist. After all, sex trafficking is the most profitable business just behind arms and drug trading. But just because men are sexually repressed doesn’t give them the rights to have their sexual needs fulfilled over that of a woman’s safe and psychological sound background. ”

    To clarify-over that……..sound background in an economic sound environment which would then drive down the number of prostitution, depressing the supply and leaving most men’s “repressed desires” unmet. And in the ideal world as envision as discussed, in this scenario, what then? Is it better to enslave women than to leave men’s “repressed desires” unmet?

    To Kagreto, my argument also can be verified easily by obtaining insights into the background of prostitutes and the evolution of prostitution as well as sex slavery.

  237. Nikolay says

    One last thing,

    In contrast to the studies on the porn actresses, there are plenty of studies and statistics which would verify my claim; that a vast majority of prostitutes come into this profession unwilling. That is, they enter into this venue due to economic circumstances in aligned with abuses or “broken homes” in their childhood background. Is that “conjecture” enough for you?

  238. Kagehi says

    More importantly, the moral difference between a sex saturated society driven by amateurs and commercial sex workers who chose a job according to demand, personal ability, and inclinations escapes me.

    This is in fact an abject absurdity. You will never have a “profession” driven by amateurs. Why would someone looking for a sex worker, and specifically for one, go to someone that has no skill at it, no experience, etc? Heck, even poll of people that are honest about it show that, while most people don’t want lovers that have like 20 sex partners, people generally recognize, unless they are religious nuts, that “some” experience is necessary for it to be likely they are not complete incompetents at it. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was like men wanting a partner who had at least 2-3, but not necessary more, while women where a bit pickier, but still wanted their partner to have had at least one other lover before, or something like that.

    So, the assertion that sex work would be replaced with unpaid amateurs… Well, that kind of depends on your definition of the word. It seriously requires a complete, and due to the hatred some people have of “free love” type thinking, even while being whiling to overlook sex work, as something which is either someone else’s sin, or an unfortunate necessity (which even the church at one time saw it as). So, its not going to happen. It ***absolutely** won’t happen first. The more likely thing to happen is for the sex work to become legal, and accepted, then **from there** a system where the trade of such favors become possible, without payment being involved, happening.

    To some extent, this is happening with some “online” services, where you match up with people that just want to have sex, without necessarily paying for it. But… odd thing, despite amateur porn, amateur sex clubs, and all the sort of “alternate” means to get pictures, video, and even people, into your bedroom, I don’t see a lot of statistics suggesting, unlike Nikolay’s wild assertions to the contrary, that professional porn, or professional prostitutes, have decreased at all.

  239. Nikolay says

    Never said that number of prostitutes or porn actresses have decreased at all. Only in the ideal world where abject poverty didn’t exist, education and medicine treatment access exists, basic needs are met including housing and foods, coupled with elimination of social-psychological deleterious background rooted in childhood will you see a vast reduction in number of prostitution. This assertion is inferred and supported by the statistics and studies into the insights of their background, not just in America but in other countries as well.

  240. says

    Nikolay:

    You haven’t seen hostile yet…but when you continue to distort everything I said and continue to spout the typical anti-sex work/antiporn BS as if it is proven Gospel, and further insult mw personally with your pompous attitude, then you might just yet see me get hostile real soon.

    I am not even going to dignify your latest screeds with a detailed response, because it is the same old tired boilerplate that antiporn/antisexwork activists have thrown at their critics for ages. I will just let my words stand for my views.

    I will say this, though, regarding your misimpressions of my views towards porn performers: Not that it’s any of your business, but I moderate and run plenty of message boards for adult models, and I have been a paying member of paysites for several adult models and porn peformers. I get to communicate with them not only as performers, but as real life human beings with lives outside of their jobs. None of them have ever said that they were abused while growing up, and every Goddess damm one of them went into the business of their own accord, fully aware of the risks and rewards.

    And even if many porn performers or sex workers did get into their professions under duress, it still should be up to them to say whether or not they want in or out; and that those who want to remain and offer their services should be enabled to do so with the utmost of safety, sanity, and mutual consent. You just don’t get to think or decide for them.

    And finally….your little attempt to guilt-trip me into shame if I ever get into the position of becoming a legal client for a legal sex worker simply won’t work….because I don’t feel the need to invade myself into other people’s personal issues unless they themselves confide them onto me. If my proverbial “prostitute” happened to confide in me that she had been abused by another client and actively sought my help in seeking justice, I would do my damnednest to help her. That doesn’t mitigate the fact, though, that she is there and willing and able, and that she is offering a service that I want. I will treat her with the same high respect that I would treat any other human being…and would even be willing to give something back in return for the services I’m getting. (Figuratively speaking, that is.)

    Actually, Nikolay, most normal men who are sex worker clients don’t particularly care for their providers to be half-hearted about what they are doing, because it will show up in the actual performance. The quickest way for a sex performer to become old news is to give the impression that she is really faking it, or really doesn’t want to be there in the moment…but is only there “for the money” or “just to get paid”.

    And if anything, the main reason why so many men seem so desperate to risk losing their careers and even going to prison to seek prostitutes and other sex woekers is because of the total stigma and especially the shame and guilt about their basic human desires that are poured onto them by our conservative sexual culture. Shaming, just like what you are doing right now to me.

    Yes, sex workers are some people’s daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, etc. (Also sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, nepphews, too.) Mostly, though, they are consenting adult human beings, with the right to speak for themselves without having people distort or paternalize them as “victims” or “sluts”.

    Unless you bring something actually worthy of fact rather than more insults, Nikolay, I am done with you here. My day is too limited for dealing with petty BS drama.

    Also…what Kagehi said.

  241. maxh says

    Just to add my tuppence worth

    I actually worked as a prostitute. For about a month. I earned a shit load of money and helped me out of some student debt I had at the time and gave me a nice cushion while I was job hunting.

    Did I choose it freely?…. I ponder this from time to time, I was in debt and it’s definitely the quickest way to earn money. But there are many other options I could have chosen, trying to pick up more hours at the restaurant I worked at for instance. So yes, I did choose it freely. I signed up with the local pimp of my own free will.

    I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was awkward. Clients were sleazy but I was living in a working class area. But no harm came to me and I was free to walk out at any time. I’ve had worst restaurant shifts though.

    The biggest harm came from telling my flatmate what I was doing, for safety sake. Her having a total freak out and throwing me out and telling all our mutual uni friends. So I gave it up.

    So I don’t glamourise it, I don’t personally enjoy sex with strangers but I can see that others might. It paid my bills but has left me with a deep uneasy feeling that I can’t undo. Also a feeling of relief that nothing bad really happened to me.

    For the sake of other sex workers, decriminalising the whole system can only be a good thing.

  242. says

    If 25% of prostitutes would work even if they didn’t desperately need the money, it sounds like they have higher-than-average job satisfaction. The only job I’ve ever had where I wasn’t just doing it for the money is when I was a stripper.

    And if a lot of sex workers came from a background of sexual abuse, so what? You can use this to argue there would be fewer in an ideal world where everyone had basic needs met and a happy childhood, but it hardly seems like a point against sex work. Are you suggesting that people who were abused shouldn’t be allowed to make choices if we think their abuse is affecting their choice?

    I think the issue here is social stigma. Since sex work is so stigmatized, it’s mostly people who are already stigmatized that are willing to go into it.

  243. Nikolay says

    That’s just beautiful……you are claiming distortion on my parts without even counter-arguing my points. Just beautiful. While you claimed I am making up “facts”, I don’t really see you refuting any of my statements with facts either. Who to say you are not making up your facts, that is, you are not showing me any hard evidence. I respect you and attempt to converse with you in the meaningful ways, but your hostile attitude right from the beginning indicate that you have certain bias.

    Futhermore, you are attacking my character by charging that I am anti-porn or anti-prostitution, something that I am neither of.

    Who says I want to decide or think for the porn actors?

    The fact that you admit to running adult forums indicate strong bias, and hence your inability to see my views. As I’ve said, you will rarely find adult performers to be honest with you and instead rationalize what they do.

    Another bias of yours begin the very moment you claim I have made mis-impressions of your view toward porn. I have never made a single impression of your view toward pornography, only my own toward pornography. Until your just last post, I did not even know what your impression of pornography was.

    With regard to finding yourself in the position of a client for prostitute, you are perfectly willing to disregard the magnitude of psychological and bio-chemical alteration of the brain, not to mention the internal conflicts that goes on in the child brain just because she is now an consenting adult. Don’t you understand that you would be merely affirming her conception of a world, of her worth as a prostitute? Your statement, at face value, as is said- is this; her past is not something that I need to consider, now because she is a consenting adult. But you don’t disregard the past, because past is what made you in the present. Her past is what led her to prostitution or pornography or what have you. Sex is something that is internalize of a human being. It is not akin to making movies, working in the restaurants, construction building, etc.

    Conceptualizing or internalizing others are something that a very few people are gifted with or willing to attempt.

    Lastly, you kept claiming that I am conjecturing my statements. I counter-claim that there are studies and statistics supporting my assurance, with very hard evidence. This is discounting the philosophical works in the last century.

    You have not even, to begin with, respond 4/5 of the essays that I have wrote to you.

    I don’t think we will have meaningful conversation if you will close your eyes the moment someone strongly disagree with you. And having reveal your bias; running adult forums in additional to being member of several porn websites. There is no way I can ever get you to see my views, even when I assured you that there are hard evidence backing up my claims.

    Regarding being “half-hearted” at what they’re doing….ironically it might be because they really did not want to be in such situation in the first place. Beside, most prostitutes aren’t your typically call-girl or escort whereby they are more liable to “put their heart and soul” into ensuring that their johns get satisfied simply by the nature of their “higher class” level of prostitution.

    Last comment-your claim that because of society’s conservative views toward sex in America and shaming of johns, that people and prostitutes would be better off in a more liberal progressive society (whatever that means, I’m nor conversative nor liberal) is 100 percent false. I point you to Europe, especially the western bloc.

    I’ve said my final with regard to you. Given your bias and semi-hostile stance, I doubt we can ever come to agree on anything. Maybe one day when you go beyond communicating with few porn actresses and venture into the array of statistics, articles, books, works and hard evidence that support my assurances, then you might be less hostile.

  244. says

    Nikolay:

    So what if they’ve been sexually abused and / or come from broken homes? What part of spending time for money with a person who is not sexually abusing anyone should be illegal? Start there. Lumping people together, demonizing and diagnosing whole groups of people is not helpful, at all.

    How dare you assert you can read into people’s faces, seeing all kinds of denial, as they speak about their experience. That manipulative tactic is what keeps people from talking; I am often among them. I know people who don’t speak of their experience because people like you are in the audience looking for something that’s going to validate something you know intuitively about us. A lot of us have been treated by clinicians who think like yourself and it often was unhelpful.

    Do not trivialize the fact that many of us are resilient and have worked out our issues through negotiating safe relationships with out clients. Yes, there are people doing the work who are in desperate need to NOT be doing it. Keeping it illegal, keeping their activity stigmatized, or demonizing the people they solicit is, again, not helpful.

    Put down the victim porn. Pick up some common sense. We want the activity decriminalized, harm reduced. If helping and reducing harm is the goal, these models, like safe needle projects, work.

    So interesting to me to see people acting as if we are asking you to cut off a limb, here. We’re only asking for a little sanity and a little help.

  245. Nikolay says

    Maxh and Ace of Seven,

    I sincerely thank you for contributing to the discussion. It is much appreciated.

    To Maxh,

    Your situation with regard to school debt is what I was also referring to when a woman might be economically coercion into prostitution. After all, for many, college/grad school is the only way to ensure a better economic prospect. Yet you contrast this with your ability to work longer hours and more effort into working at the restaurants. I acknowledge that so being economically coered cannot be said for you. However, this is a common occurrence and happens more frequently in eastern Europe countries and some other poor countries. In many cities/towns/villages in a country where poverty is common, young women, in the number of anywhere from several thousand to tens of thousand, often prostitute themselves just to pay off the student debt because there is truly no alternative means to support themselves and to pay off their school debt at the same time. The idea of taking out the loans doesn’t exist, not to mention the job prospect is enormously difficult even after finishing college.

    You say you didn’t enjoy it. What about other prostitutes you have come to know, if any? Did they enjoy it, or what were their reasons for being there?

    May I ask you what your background was? Was it free of any characteristic that I assert is common among those who prostitute themselves?

    There are those who enjoy prostitution and those who don’t. The argument lies in to what extent does most prostitution belong to. I’d argue it’s the latter one. Your now uneasy feeling is understandable. I must say I don’t agree with what you do at all, but then I cannot judge you. I’m glad things work out okay for you, and may you enjoy a happier life. You seem to be well-grounded, intelligent woman who are honest with herself. I respect that.

    With regards to decriminalizing the whole system; as I have alluded to earlier, you should look up why this actually does not work in the Dutch system with Sweden system being the most successful. In the next post, I shall provide a link that’ll better illustrate my arguments.

    Also do you know the average age of entry into prostitution? I provide a link below.

    To Ace of Sevens;

    The twenty-five percentage could be a conservative number; it might be reduced even further to lower number. It is not necessarily dependent on job satisfaction, but the monetary gains that they’d get from it. In any case, in such ideal world, the prostitution, while being reduced vastly would have well provided legal system with federally established places of prostitution to protect themselves from any potential harm.

    Ace of sevens: “And if a lot of sex workers came from a background of sexual abuse, so what? You can use this to argue there would be fewer in an ideal world where everyone had basic needs met and a happy childhood, but it hardly seems like a point against sex work. Are you suggesting that people who were abused shouldn’t be allowed to make choices if we think their abuse is affecting their choice?”

    So what? The question is the degree of prevalence. The statistic indicate a high prevalence of abuses, at the minimum fifty percent (though they use higher number as the minimum) to 90 percent. I’d say that’s a major point to be made against sex worker. I’m not saying that those who were abused shouldn’t be allowed to prostitute themselves or do pornography. You’d need to understand the social-emotional, chemical, bio-psychological complexity that abuses have on the young. Most abused women don’t into these ventures, but most women in these ventures have been abused in the past or suffer from low-self esteem rooted in their childhood. In this sense, how much of a choice can you really say they have had to begin with? Your average age of prostitution entry is 12-14!

    http://eminism.org/blog/entry/62

    That’s a pretty big point to be made against prostitution.

    Ace of Seven: I think the issue here is social stigma. Since sex work is so stigmatized, it’s mostly people who are already stigmatized that are willing to go into it.”

    That is incorrect thinking, as I alluded at the end of my preceding post in western Europe and in Dutch system where prostitution have been legalized.

  246. Nikolay says

    To xxxild:

    I apologize if my statements have offended you, but my statements are further elaborated upon in the just the previous post I have made in response to two women. Especially the “so what if they have been abused part”? This post is also in respond to you.

    That’s precisely it, the way I think about this issue is common sense, not the “victim porn” as you put it. I’ve felt this way ever since when I was young and watched European pornography. Beautiful, beautiful women performing in what would be considered the most extreme act of sex (I will not say degrading, because you’d disagree with that probably). I felt sad…..asking myself why they would do that. It seems somehow…..wrong. Because when I look at them, I see faces of my childhood friends, of my mothers, of my daughters, of my sisters. I also see them as human being beyond merely engaging in acts of sex designed to satisfy the viewer’s needs.

    I felt this way for a long time and in my theoretical conceptualize of human dignity, of women and children and understanding the economical, cultural and media forces in the institution of pornography and prostitution. It was as common sense to me as the water is wet. Until when I begin to study intensively into these realms were my conviction strengthen and reinforced.

    As for the rest of your statement, i refer to my previous post again. That applies to you as well.

  247. says

    Newsflash, Nikolay: THIS IS *NOT* YOUR DISCUSSION. This is Greta Christina’s discussion, because this is HER blog, HER blog post, and HER reaction to Talisma Nasreen’s origial post about sex work. You do NOT have the right to appropriate her leadership in this comment section.

    Two: I have responded over and over again to your false statements and distortions, so I do not feel the need to go through the merry-go-round with you again and again, only to reach the same point. You have made your opinion clear, and I have made mine clear as well.

    And when you are willing to actually respect other people’s opinions as fair and not simply dismiss them as “incorrect thinking” based solely on your own self-importance and arrogance, perhaps I will take you seriously enough to engage with you further. Until then, though, forgive me if I don’t feel the need to be dragged through your nonsense.

    I apologize to the rest of you for my intemperance, but sometimes you can only take so much.

    Anthony

  248. Nikolay says

    So it is not difficult to imagine that the porn actresses come from similar background as prostitutes.

    About decriminalizing the prostitution system and providing studies/statistic for my arguments;

    http://www.traffickingproject.org/2009/04/can-legalizing-prostitution-help.html

    “n a recent criminal trial, two German-Turkish brothers stood accused of forcing more than 100 women to work in Amsterdam’s red-light district (De Wallen). According to the attorney who represented one of the victims, most of these women come from families marred by incest, alcohol abuse, and parental suicide. Or they come from countries in Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia and have fallen victim to human trafficking, lured by decent job offers or simply sold by their parents.”

    “These women are Amsterdam’s leading tourist attraction (followed by the coffee shops that sell marijuana). But an estimated 50 to 90 percent of them are actually sex slaves, raped on a daily basis with police idly standing by. It is incomprehensible that their clients are not prosecuted for rape, but Dutch politicians argue that it cannot be established whether or not a prostitute works voluntarily. Appalled by their daily routine, police officers from the Amsterdam vice squad have asked to be transferred to other departments. Only this year, the city administration has started to close down some brothels because of their ties to criminal organizations.”

    “According to a study in California, most men who bought sex would be deterred by the risk of public exposure. For example, 79 percent said that they would be deterred if there was a chance that their families would be notified. And a whopping 87 percent said that they would be deterred by the threat that the police might publish their photographs or names in the local newspaper.

    Most of these men showed pathological behavior towards women. One in five admitted to having raped a woman, while four out of five said that going to prostitutes was an addiction.”

  249. Nikolay says

    Anthony,

    In the same post, I provided explanation for why it was “incorrect thinking”, now backed up with links in my preceding post.

    If you wish to not engage in discussion with me further because you believe we are merely riding on the merry-go round trip only after two posts on your side, that is your choice. I personally did not felt that way and felt each post of yours and mine weren’t replication of the previous works, and that each post provide something new. It was you, not I who have made assumptions about what the other person think despite not stating it at all.

    Hundred of people have made their contribution on her blog here, so you happen to believe that I am somehow disrupting her blog in any shape or form? Isn’t that the point of her blog, to initiate readers like you and I into having intelligent and reasonable debates? I would think that she’d view my posts as contribution, not hindrance to her blog, and probably would find my posts insightful and interesting. I’m sorry you don’t feel the same.

  250. maxh says

    Nikolay

    For what it’s worth: I am English, from an unbroken home with no history sexual or any other sort of abuse from my childhood til now. Both my parents have post graduate qualifications and work in professional fields. I was raised in a liberal non-religious household.I graduated with honours with a bachelors of science degree.

    So what pigeon-hole do I fit into?

    I haven’t met any prostitutes but we all read accounts of people who enjoy the work and others that see it something akin to flipping burgers, it pays the rent.

    I haven’t done any since then but I wouldn’t discount doing again in the future if my financial siuation got that dire. I will not say I was financially coerced into it. I have been poorer since then and not gone back to prostitution. I could have asked my parents for money. I could have picked up more hours. But being a call girl pays well and I don’t think there should be any reason why those qualified to do it should not.

    You seem to be arguing against sex slavery and human trafficking. Which is bad and I agree with you. Anyone who becomes a prostitute at the age of 12 cle

  251. maxh says

    Nikolay

    For what it’s worth: I am English, from an unbroken home with no history sexual or any other sort of abuse from my childhood til now. Both my parents have post graduate qualifications and work in professional fields. I was raised in a liberal non-religious household.I graduated with honours with a bachelors of science degree.

    So what pigeon-hole do I fit into?

    I haven’t met any prostitutes but we all read accounts of people who enjoy the work and others that see it something akin to flipping burgers, it pays the rent.

    I haven’t done any since then but I wouldn’t discount doing again in the future if my financial siuation got that dire. I will not say I was financially coerced into it. I have been poorer since then and not gone back to prostitution. I could have asked my parents for money. I could have picked up more hours. But being a call girl pays well and I don’t think there should be any reason why those qualified to do it should not.

    You seem to be arguing against sex slavery and human trafficking. Which is bad and I agree with you. Anyone who becomes a prostitute at the age of 12 clearly isn’t making an infomed decision! But I was 22 when I started. Nowhere has actually properly legalised it. Perhaps rape and violence would happen less likely if prostitutes and their clients knew that they could go to the police without any sort of bias or stigmatisation against them?

  252. says

    Jesus h put a sock in it Nikolay. You keep getting your own propaganda all mixed up and it’s really irritating.

    lol “sweden outlawed prostitution” … don’t you know you’re supposed to tell everyone they “decriminalized” it? Outlawing it would be anti-feminist. Duh.

  253. says

    Nikolay,

    I think it’s good to try and understand, as you are trying to understand. In my opinion, sex itself is undignified, probably more often than not, and this to me is okay. In porn the actors are often positioned specifically for the shot. Nobody really has sex in some of these positions. There is nothing degrading about acting, or fantasy. In porn sometimes people are acting out degrading scenes. It’s part of the job of acting.

    Now allow me to address the degree of prevalence. I would like to see safety nets large enough to insure that young people who end up on the street are safe and cared for. I’d like to see the resources that organizations like Shared Hope International devote to publishing horrible research (like in the link you provided above) go to providing for the marginalized groups that are AT RISK.

    About a year or so ago as I was researching this, this whole smeared together issue of trafficking, slavery and consensual sex work, and while advocating for sanity, someone put forth the question, “Is nothing sacred?”

    My answer (and I said this to myself at the time) was that “honest inquiry and sound research would seem sacred, right about now.” For starters, I think you should critically examine the research from Shared Hope International. http://bit.ly/mNKdBV

  254. says

    Well, guess what, Nikolay?? You consider me biased against your absolutist position?? Well, I consider you highly biased in the other direction. I guess that that’s something we can actually agree on.

    And why shouldn’t I consider you highly biased?? You make roundhouse statements about sex workers based solely on “abolitionist” propaganda and boilerplate assertions; you know not a damn thing about porn performers or adult models but assume yourself to be the expert on how they lived their lives simply because…..well, you say so; and you respond to actual commenters who show actual evidence that disproves your theories with curt dismissal as “improper thinking” based on….more of the same propaganda and boilerplate.

    Really, Nikolay..you sound like an agent of Taslima Nasreen brought here to correct Greta and the rest of us on how wrong we supposedly are.

    And HELL YES, I do believe you are being highly disruptive, even to the point of excessive trolling, because you keep on repeating the same old talking points as if they are revered Gospel, and citing the same tired propaganda over and over again as if they weren’t questionable or accountable with actual facts. Sorry, but in my book that’s considered trolling.

    It’s not my blog, of course. It’s Greta’s, and I’m sure that she’ll have the last word on the topic. But, do pardon me, Nikolay, if I don’t defer to your “wisdom” and stand by what I have written. You have your opinion, and I have mine.

  255. Nikolay says

    Thank you maxh,

    You don’t fit into any pigeon-hole. It’s okay if you do what you wish to do. I don’t agree with it, but have no right to hold you against that. You fit into the “25 percent” I spoke of, so I support whatever you do, even if I don’t agree with it. I do find It very interesting that you have decided to venture into prostitution despite the alternatives presented to you and despite what seem to be a happy childhood.

    Bear in mind the reading few accounts of those prostitutes is not the same as comphrensive statistic and studies into the background of prostitution. I already covered this part well in additional to rebutting the “so what if they have been abuse” statement. I haven’t heard response to that.

    I am arguing against both sex slavery/ human trafficking and prostitution. Although each is a distinct from one another, they share many similar spheres in space.

    Sure, if prostitutes and johns could go to the police without being stigmalized, that’s great. But it isn’t getting to the roots issues of prostitution. That is, what leads women to join prostitution.

  256. maxh says

    My last word before I go to bed.

    There are many reasons why women and men go into prostitution. Many of them probably aren’t great. Most are probably financial.

    What if I was being lazy? Lazy and greedy? A quick buck for an hour’s work. We live in a capitalistic society dominated by free trade, so why not?

    It would be nice to know that I could do this in safety with the law on my side (techinically, as I am in the UK, it is but you know what I mean).

    Right, bed.

  257. Nikolay says

    …….You see Anthony. You again are claiming that I am arguing from abolitionist position, arguments solely based on “propaganda”. I don’t really read the works of abolitionist at all, by the way. That means…I’m not abolitionist.

    What actual evidence? That poster made a claim with one sentence, while I refute it with a link citing studies.

    As far as I can see, you are the one attacking me/my character furiously.

  258. Nikolay says

    You call yourself feminist, and you’re saying sexual desires is what led women into prostitution?

  259. Nikolay says

    At the same time, you labeled yourself a whore.

    Good luck convincing anyone with your statements regarding prostitution.

  260. Nikolay says

    Maxh,

    The main reasons are easily provided in the books, in the internet, in the academic works, in the philosophy works, etc. The reasons aren’t pretty.

    Maxh: What if I was being lazy? Lazy and greedy? A quick buck for an hour’s work. We live in a capitalistic society dominated by free trade, so why not?

    It would be nice to know that I could do this in safety with the law on my side (techinically, as I am in the UK, it is but you know what I mean). ”

    To the first part, I don’t believe you can consider these characteristics without considering the characteristics of said women’s background. In your case, I’d say you belong to the minority. I see no issue with prostitution under such scenario. I even have no issue with your prostitution, even though I in general disagree with prostitution.

    The second part; I agree.

  261. says

    At the same time, you labeled yourself a whore.

    Good luck convincing anyone with your statements regarding prostitution.

    Click the link. She means that quite literally. Are you trying to say that we shouldn’t listen to people who have actual experience?

    That’s precisely it, the way I think about this issue is common sense, not the “victim porn” as you put it. I’ve felt this way ever since when I was young and watched European pornography. Beautiful, beautiful women performing in what would be considered the most extreme act of sex (I will not say degrading, because you’d disagree with that probably). I felt sad…..asking myself why they would do that. It seems somehow…..wrong.

    Since you aren’t a sex worker, how you feel about it is irrelevant. Plenty of people have similar feeling about gay sex or any number of other non-mainstream acts. We tell them that no one requested their approval and that they need to mind their own business.

  262. Nikolay says

    Not at all. Quite the contrast, their contribution would be quite valuable. I know she wasn’t a “whore”, but nowdays, people seem to think nothing of being labeled whore, which is ironic given its inherent historical, social and cultural implications. This I do have a problem with.

    It isn’t about my feelings per se. My feelings or my thoughts are irrelevant unless backed up with explanations, evidences, etc. Something I have attempted to do exhaustively, and ones that you aren’t responding to. Instead you choose to pick a specific comment without considering the following comments or the prior posts of my explanations, statements, arguments. Instead you attempt to trivialize my experience and take it out of context by creating a relationship between gays and the supposed feelings I have toward them by other people. I do not appreciate that. Instead, you are suggesting I ignore all of the studies, statistics, philosophy works, academic works in your misguided thinking (by not really reading my posts) that somehow I am attacking women’s free choice to undertake porn or prositution.

    You should understand that I am not condoning prostitution nor pornography per se nor people’s decisions to undertake these two jobs/professions. What I an condoning is the circumstances that lead women to undertake these two institutions (which I see as one), harmful circumstances are the typically characteristic of most prostitutes or porn actresses. That is what shape prostitution and pornography.

  263. Nikolay says

    Sorry for the typo,

    “harmful circumstances characteristic of most background of women that lead them into prostitution or pornography”

  264. Nikolay says

    Ace of Seven;

    I also do not appreciate having taken a lot of time responding to your initial post as well as providing at least two links, only for you to completely ignore them in your second post, instead attempting to focus on a specific comment not even in my commentary responding to your post and inflame my character. This indicate you do not take my post seriously nor attempt to have a serious discussion with me because they make you uncomfortable. I will no longer respond to you if your following post does the same. I find it disrespectful, as you’d feel the same if the table were turned around.

  265. Andrew Houghton says

    You can be abused in any job, try working where I do. The point is surely that by criminalising prostitution you remove the protection of the law, the victim is criminalised and the drug culture that usually enslaves those victims perpetuates. Sex for those in a relationship, can be, if trauma or past trauma is not an issue, pleasurable. For many however trauma perpetrated on one partner forces the other to seek release elsewhere. In doing so, their perversions and obsessions brought on by stress in their home life, exacerbate and perpetrate on another victim, so the cycle continues….obviously this is but one of many scenaria but it is all too simple to assume the victim is always the first person. Many an abused child goes on to abuse. Would it not be better to address the issues of those that use and abuse the services of sex workers removing the stigma and dark underworld that feeds on the sanctimony of society?

  266. says

    I also do not appreciate having taken a lot of time responding to your initial post as well as providing at least two links, only for you to completely ignore them in your second post, instead attempting to focus on a specific comment not even in my commentary responding to your post and inflame my character.

    That’s because it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why people choose sex work. It could be money, they could like it for whatever. The point is they choose it. You seem to back away from any policy argument and just want to talk about how sex work is degrading and there must be something wrong with people who choose it. If that’s not what you meant, then please state clearly what you do mean instead of citing numbers and backing away from any conclusions.

  267. Nikolay says

    “That’s because it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why people choose sex work. It could be money, they could like it for whatever. The point is they choose it. You seem to back away from any policy argument and just want to talk about how sex work is degrading and there must be something wrong with people who choose it. If that’s not what you meant, then please state clearly what you do mean instead of citing numbers and backing away from any conclusions.”

    That’s because you chose to believe it is irrelevant. That’s so convenient for you isn’t it? To dismiss my posts by labeling it as irrelevant. It does matter enormously why people choose sex work. You kept misinterpreting me constantly. Nowhere have I ever stated that there must be something wrong with people who choose it, unless you are confusing the circumstances as something that is inherently wrong with people.

    I find it more telling that you actually dismiss the prevalence of childhood abuses or other deleterious effects that exists in the background of women within prostitution as “so what?”. That lacks of insight and understanding is quite….there isn’t really any words to describe how….mind-blowing people could think that way. It’s completely heartless. That pretty much makes anything you have to say completely irrelevant. If seventy-ninety percent of prositutes experienced incest rape in their childhood, is that something as “so what?”? Because this is often cited in many studies.

    You have not backed up any of your claim whosoever, zero, nada.

  268. says

    Why is it relevant? I don’t find it at all implausible that a large percentage of sex workers were sexually abused as kids (though this isn’t meaningful without a comparison to the general population). My question is what’s your point? If you aren’t using this to argue that people choose sex work because they’re messed up in the head from abuse and you aren’t arguing that we need to “rescue” these poor prostitutes that don’t know better, are you concluding anything?

  269. says

    No, Nikolay, you aren’t getting away with that big lie, either.

    Just because you drop stats out of your backside (or out of some obscure anti-sex work propaganda rag) about how “84% of all prostitutes were abused as a child” doesn’t make it true.

    And in fact, it should be known that most women who are sexually or physically abused tend to be abused by either family members or people they know intimately. And, there is no reliable connection between being sexually abused and getting into sex work, since abuse happens just as often with women outside of sex work as well.

    And also, no one has said in any way that sexual abuse should be taken any less seriously…except you, who want to use it as your usual wedge against people in sex work. What’s next, Nikolay…women who are in sex work and aren’t abused are just mindless sluts??

    Your prejudice and ignorance shows more explicitly with every successive comment you write.

  270. Nikolay says

    Anthony,

    So now I drop stats out of my butt.

    There is actually a very reliable connection between being sexually abused and getting into sex work. Most abused women do not enter sex work, but most of the women in the sex work have been abused in the past. You’re the one who isn’t providing me any link or studies. I can easily cite you hundred of works disproving your argument. It may not be 84 percent, it may not be 90 percent. But the percentage is very high, above sixty percent.

    Ace of Seven; As explained above, majority of abused women do not enter sex workers, but the majority of sex workers have been abused in the past. Abused women do actually need help, therapy. After all, we’re talking about sexual abuse in the childhood. What I am suggesting is that there should be comprehensive policy aimed at providing services to these women, strict punishment against incest and rapes, reforming the cultural and media institution that sexualized and marginalized women and young girls.

    You are now simplifying my argument; “Because they are messed up in the head, they shouldn’t choose sex work”.

    I don’t think you understand the basic dignity. If majority of prostitutes have been abused, then why is it right to continue to affirm their conception of the reality and their world? You seem to lack any understanding in the mechanism that results in women venturing into sex works. You would be outraged to know that any children are abused. Yet, when she magically turns 18 and turn to sex work, is her past no longer relevant? So what she has been abused?

    I think you’re the one screwed up in the head.

  271. says

    @Nikolay “While there is-as far as I know-insufficent study into the background of prostitutes, overwhelming majority of those-as high as 75 percent-come from abusive background, often rooted in their childhood. So one must consider the psychological and bio-genetic psychological effects that abuses have on the developing brains. It essentially re-wire the brain, not to mention wrap one’s conception of the world. Even those who say they do it out of choice, one must consider how much of a choice did they really have in the first place? This is something the author completely failed to consider when speaking of the prostitutes who seem to be content with their work and see it as something of a job, or a choice.”

    That’s something the author failed to consider because it’s BULLSHIT.
    1. Citation please! PLUS, I don’t want some anti propaganda pseudo-study. Anything you site had better be peer reviewed with solid methodology.
    2. You can’t go around mass stigmatizing the psychological states of sex workers with blanket, agency robbing statements like that. It’s dehumanizing and no different from someone who goes around saying that sex workers can’t be trusted when they accuse someone of rape. If you think undermining the judgement of sex workers is helping…yea, IT’S NOT!
    3. If your attempting to base an argument against the decrim of sex work on an assertion that sex workers IN MASS are mentally ill and can’t be trusted to make their own decisions you are also insulting those who champion the rights and agency of the mentally ill. I mean ffs, how many toes are going around crushing here like a bull in a f-ing china shop? Are you going to assert that all women who are from abusive backgrounds can’t be trusted to make their own decisions? Why don’t you just put us all in institutions and be done with us. Oh wait…they used to do that to any woman whose mental state seemed questionable based on an uppity nature…now they only try to do that to sex workers.

  272. Nikolay says

    “What’s next, Nikolay…women who are in sex work and aren’t abused are just mindless sluts??”

    My god Anthony, do you ever read any of my posts? If you had, you’d know that, in the absence of abusive background or economic coercion, I would have thought exactly the opposite. I might not respect her, but I would mind my own damn business if she choose to undertake sex work.

    My argument is this; the women who have not been abused or economically coerced or both into prostitution or pornography makes up the minority of sex workers.

    You’re constantly looking like a fool everytime you post to inflame my character further by apparently not reading my posts at all.

  273. Nikolay says

    Agodlesstrumpet:

    1.With regard to pornography, it’s very difficult. For prostitutes, I can give you plenty, if that’s what you want. It’s not difficult to imagine that the women in prostitution and pornography come from similar spheres in background.

    2.You’re not understanding me, I am hardly stigmatizing the psychological states of sex workers. I am not saying they are not right in the head, or that they are mentally deficit in any shape or form. That would be indeed dehumanizing to say that. There are reliable, peer reviewed methodology that points to internalization changes within the brain and consciousness of a young child who have been sexually abused, especially over long period of time. Surely you can agree with that, considering this is within the field you are advocating in no? What exactly do you except to happen to those who have been sexually abused? That they wouldn’t be negatively altered by that? Is that what you are suggesting? Sexual abuse, coupled with hyper-sexuality culture and media does foster negative self-esteem and image. It does predict her eventual ability to cope with academic life, with relationship life, and life in general. It wraps her sense of the world and reality. After all, that is what our surrounding, background growing up does. It construct and alter our perception, conception of the world, of our selves.

    3.Again, I have never said such things.

  274. says

    Nikolay:

    YOU are the one who posted the “84%” stat like it was a given. Not me. Therefore, it is you who must cite your sources, not me.

    YOU are the one making assertions about how most women in sex work are “victims” of abuse, and how that particularly colors their views of sex work. Therefore, it is you who must back up your assertions with actual fact, not just the usual boilerplate BS. You haven’t even come close as of yet.

    And…it is a fact that if we are to carry your logic to its logical conclusion, then the next stage of argument would be that women in sex work who weren’t either victims of abuse or coerced must be simply mindless sluts or sex addicts in need of psychological help. You might not go there, but other antis have.

    Actually, whatever number of those in sex work who are coerced or have a history of abuse still misses the main point, which is that decriminalization combined with economic reforms to allow additional opportunities for personal development is still the best means of combatting illegal sex trafficking and mitigating the abuses of sex work. Try as you might, Nikolay, the Swedish Model has not proven itself to be anywhere near the success you claim, and other models of criminalization have turned out even worse.

    I’m not the fool here attempting to derail the discussion with trolling. Try looking in the mirror for that.

  275. says

    Oh…and Nikolay?? The “sexual abuse turns ordinary people into raging sluts” card has already been played far and wide, and has been proven to be as much a fallacy as the “porn turns men into mindless rapists” meme.

    It is possible for normally healthy people to enter sex work and thrive and survive. You just can’t handle that fact.

    And the more you rant and rave on, the more your character shows itself. Don’t blame me for exposing it; you do quite a good job yourself.

  276. says

    @Nikolay “My argument is this; the women who have not been abused or economically coerced or both into prostitution or pornography makes up the minority of sex workers.”

    Still have not seen solid proof.

    Stop psychologically stigmatizing us please! It’s unproven. It’s dehumanizing. It’s insulting. But then again why should you care? As you stated yourself; “I might not respect her, but I would mind my own damn business if she choose to undertake sex work.”

    Ah so this is how the sanctimonious keep their contempt in check. Don’t approve of something someone does? Just claim that they don’t know any better because they’re mentally ILL without proof!

    BTW, your bullshit assertion about sex workers having been the victims of childhood abuse; yea, the fundies are using that one right now on GAYS! As if the LGBT supporting readers of this thread aren’t going to notice that bullshit when they see it.

    EPIC FAIL!

  277. says

    @Nikolay

    Oogamy has nothing to do with ‘sexual desires’, it has to do with parental biological investment. Eggs are bigger than sperm, you dig? No, of course you don’t. It’s commercesexualism and it’s here. Get used to it.

  278. says

    Nikolay said: “For prostitutes, I can give you plenty, if that’s what you want.”

    Jesus H! That’s solicitation! An attempt to buy a woman!! Quick, somebody call the Swedes!

  279. Nikolay says

    Feminist-I said Sweden’s system of prostitution is much more successful. Criminalizing johns while decriminalizing the sex workers. I admit i misworded myself.

    Endless-Direct evidence of this is exploding in all of the scholar works in the past 40 years. Have you been sleeping under the rock? You cannot be serious. It’s essentially in every single scholar or academic work I have seen.

    My disapproval does not lie within the institution itself. It’s a matter of personal character. I just simply don’t agree with the personal choices of healthily people who undertake sex work just as I wouldn’t want to befriend rude, materialistic people. It doesn’t mean I am closing my eyes to anything.

    Again, you are claiming that I think them mentally ill. Stop doing that for god’s sake. I have never said such a thing!
    My assertion is not only the victim of childhood abuse, but also lack of economic outlets as well as poverty, especially in poorer countries relative to USA.

    Why don’t you do the research yourself, as seeing how you are involved in the adovocay of sex worker rights. It’s practically in every single scholar or academic work or books pertaining to the background of sex workers. If you ever disprove me, I’ll send you six freaking hundred dollar, no question asked. And that’s half of my monthly salary.

  280. Nikolay says

    Anthony, your claim that this is a fallacy are absent in any works I’ve seen concerning the background of sex workers.

  281. Nikolay says

    Again, I am genuinely surprised that given your sex worker advocacy line of work, you are completely against my argument regarding the background of sex workers.

  282. says

    Oh, but this is real good.

    Remember waaaay back when Nikolay first posted here when he said that abject poverty was the principal reason why the overwhelming majority of women entered sex work?

    Now, though, he says this:

    There are reliable, peer reviewed methodology that points to internalization changes within the brain and consciousness of a young child who have been sexually abused, especially over long period of time. Surely you can agree with that, considering this is within the field you are advocating in no? What exactly do you except to happen to those who have been sexually abused? That they wouldn’t be negatively altered by that? Is that what you are suggesting? Sexual abuse, coupled with hyper-sexuality culture and media does foster negative self-esteem and image. It does predict her eventual ability to cope with academic life, with relationship life, and life in general. It wraps her sense of the world and reality. After all, that is what our surrounding, background growing up does. It construct and alter our perception, conception of the world, of our selves.

    So now it’s not abject poverty, but excessive and long term sexual abuse, combined with living in a “pornified” culture??

    Moving the goalpost, much??

    And remember, this whole thread was based on Taslima Nasreen (Hello?? Remember her??) and her low opinion of decriminalization as a solution for the obvious and never denied issue of illegal sex trafficking in her homeland of India.

    That’s right…India, with its abject poverty, but also with its fundamentalist sects that preach a essentialist and conservative “women should be reduced to their wombs” ideology, and where porn and prostitution are officially treated as crimes warranting severe punishment.

    And…the same could be true with other Third World countries/regions, too. I’m sure that Sub-Saharan Africa has a very severe problem with trafficking as well…but they also have very severe fundamentalist Christian governments who enforce their sexual moral codes with swiftness and physical force (and even the death penalty).

    No one doubts that long term sexual abuse will really tear up the psyche of young girls (and what about the boys, too?? I guess they don’t suffer from sexual abuse??) The problem, as always, is that old axiom that corelation is not the same as causation; that just because B happened after A does not prove that A caused B, and that other factors need to be studied in order to establish without a doubt an A > B connection.

    The fact remains that no credible studies have shown any connection between sexual abuse and entering sex work. At least, no study not contaminated with biased assumptions based on right-wing sexual stereotypes.

    Which is EXACTLY what Nikolay is trading on to prove his thesis. And, why he is intent on clogging up this comment thread with flak to overpower others who see his BS for what it is.

  283. Nikolay says

    RIGHT FROM THE VERY BEGNINNG, I have said it was abject poverty, sexual abuse in the background combined with living in a culture that sexualized and marginalized women.

    No credible study? So……you’re talking about literally hundred of thousands of such study, almost 90 percent of all study into the background of sex workers?

    Wonderful…..just wonderful

  284. says

    @Nikolay @ #325

    Riiiight….I recognize that “article”; that’s the final part of a propaganda screed put out by Melissa Farley’s Prostitution Research website as part of a campaign by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department against Craig’s List to censor their BackPages section for alleged support of “sex trafficking”.

    In other words, just more antisexwork propaganda.

    Giving it an .edu address like it came from an actual scholarly source was a nice touch…but some of us know better and actually remember thngs.

    Try again with something a bit more honest next time.

  285. says

    “Feminist-I said Sweden’s system of prostitution is much more successful. Criminalizing johns while decriminalizing the sex workers. I admit i misworded myself. PROOF! PROOF THE CROWD CRIES!

    “Endless-Direct evidence of this is exploding in all of the scholar works in the past 40 years. Have you been sleeping under the rock? You cannot be serious. It’s essentially in every single scholar or academic work I have seen.” …and no that’s not proof =/

    “My disapproval does not lie within the institution itself. It’s a matter of personal character. I just simply don’t agree with the personal choices of healthily people who undertake sex work at least you admit your moralizing. Well I don’t agree with legislating from your morality so MEH :P

    “Again, you are claiming that I think them mentally ill. Stop doing that for god’s sake. I have never said such a thing!” proof = “overwhelming majority of those-as high as 75 percent-come from abusive background, often rooted in their childhood. So one must consider the psychological and bio-genetic psychological effects that abuses have on the developing brains.” Don’t try and gaslight me buddy. I’m all up your ass.

    “Why don’t you do the research yourself, as seeing how you are involved in the adovocay of sex worker rights. It’s practically in every single scholar or academic work or books pertaining to the background of sex workers.” Argument to popularity. You still haven’t provided solid proof.

    If you ever disprove me, I’ll send you six freaking hundred dollar, no question asked. And that’s half of my monthly salary. One can not be called upon to prove a negative. You’re the one making the assertion. The burden of PROOF is on you and you haven’t provided it no matter how many times I’ve asked you for it.

    YOU FAIL!…you’re also done! Bu-bye.

  286. says

    Just for Nikolay’s sake, I’ll repeat myself:

    The fact remains that no credible studies have shown any connection between sexual abuse and entering sex work. At least, no study not contaminated with biased assumptions based on right-wing sexual stereotypes.

    You talk about “hundreds of thousands” of studies, but you can only name those sponsored by Farley and her ideologues?? And I’m the “wonderful” one??

    The old saying applies here: When you are trapped in a ditch..stop digging.

  287. Nikolay says

    …..that doesn’t make their study any less true.

    There are many similar studies.

    As I’ve said, most abused women don’t go on to enter porn industry, but majority of sex worker have been abused at higher level relative to the entirely population as a whole. At least that’s my assertion.

    I’ll really need to find that external hard drive.

  288. says

    So much study into the background of prostitutes, and so little attention paid to what prostitutes actually say about their lived experiences, so little attention paid to which solutions the prostitutes themselves say are best. I guess you can’t see the point in listening to what the actual prostitutes say, considering that you believe we are all a bunch of brain damaged pornified abuse victims.

  289. Nikolay says

    ….Endless….what I have said with regard to altering their brain doesn’t imply they are mentally ill. Just like the environment we live within alter us doesn’t make us mentally ill.

    You work in this line of adovocay. Doing simple Google research will get you all kind of answers that support my claims.

    It’s okay…I think I am done too. I see everyone consistently attacking my claims.

    When I find that hard drive, i’ll give you all of the researches you want…..unless you find it earlier by doing simple half an hour research yourself.

  290. Nikolay says

    “So much study into the background of prostitutes, and so little attention paid to what prostitutes actually say about their lived experiences, so little attention paid to which solutions the prostitutes themselves say are best. I guess you can’t see the point in listening to what the actual prostitutes say, considering that you believe we are all a bunch of brain damaged pornified abuse victims.”

    Because their abusive background does color their perception of their lived experiences. I mean….what do you really except? Imagine this; you’re sexually abused. I want you to really try hard and conceptualize yourself in this position. Your father, stepfather, his friends abused you when you were merely 13 years old. Can you try to do that? Conceptualize that? Now the harder part, try to conceptualize what it does to your inner-self, to your consciousness. It’s not pretty at all. You grow up with low self-esteem-and that’s bound to happen to any child abused, as you’d agree with that surely? Now the full impact of sexual abused is not even remotely achieved until you’re in very late teen, at the least. You become a young adult and turn to prostitution or porn. You might really enjoy it. And I’ll absolutely believe that. But you aren’t going to rationalize and say that your abusive background lead you to this path, that you aren’t worthy beyond what you are seen as in pornography, as sexual object to fulfill male’s hormones desires. Your mind ISN”T going to cope if you attempt to rationalize beyond liking it. If you dislike something passinoiately, it’s human nature to rationalize it so the experience becomes pleasant for you.

    I have never said their solutions aren’t the best. I am AGREEING that people SHOULD listen to what they suggest will help them better!

  291. Nikolay says

    But it will not address the root cause of what I believe lead women into sex work; namely the abuse or economic hardship coupled with hyper sexuality culture.

    This is why I believe pornography and prostitution is inherently exploitative. Do you think prostitution came about to be in a society where culture didn’t marginalized them?

    A big ****ing no.

  292. says

    You make assumptions about the effects of abuse. You think potential sexual abuse results in ‘damaged’ understandings of sex which in turn results in involvement in prostitution. You don’t consider that maybe abuse victims have a further evolved relationship with their bodies because of the abuse. You don’t consider that maybe abuse victims realize that sex is not sacred. I’m sure you feel that anyone who doesn’t believe that sex is sacred and special is damaged in some way.

  293. Nikolay says

    For the vast majority, women simply do NOT wake up one day and decide to potentially blow hundred of penis and deal with sleazy bag men.

    That doesn’t simply happen.

  294. Nikolay says

    “You don’t consider that maybe abuse victims have a further evolved relationship with their bodies because of the abuse. You don’t consider that maybe abuse victims realize that sex is not sacred. I’m sure you feel that anyone who doesn’t believe that sex is sacred and special is damaged in some way.

    Of course they have a evolved relationship with their bodies and their internalization of sex because of the abuse. Of course they aren’t going to realize that sex is no longer sacred. That’s absolutely something we can agree with.

    And no I don’t feel that way at all.

  295. A Lowly Apprentice says

    Nikolay,

    “There are many similar studies.”

    Provide some please.

    In addition can you apply your world view to other endeavors that involve money?

    You’ve stated “men’s desires are insatiable.” Really? You have to be joking.

    And I must say I love the way you conflate coercion and hardship. Just add a slash between them.

  296. says

    Nikolay said: “I have never said their solutions aren’t the best. I am AGREEING that people SHOULD listen to what they suggest will help them better!”

    If this was true you wouldn’t be so invested in shutting us up.

  297. Nikolay says

    To lovely;

    For the purpose of this discussion-I already defined economic as lacking other economic alternatives that might relieve their basic needs including medical, foods, housing or other academic expenses, etc. Similar to economic coercion

    Joking….in the face of explosion of sex slavery-not even considering prostitution worldwide-no, I’m hardly joking.

    As applying my world view to other endeavors involving money-to a certain extent, both yes and no. Sex work has its unique background and evolution.

    As for other studies, when I have more time, I will try to do so. I promise that. Come back here sometimes in the next two-three weeks.

  298. Nikolay says

    I have never attempted to shut anyone up. It seems certain posters, including you have attempted to shut me up. With my several posts so far, your few post containing equally few lines consisting mostly of attacking me instead of responding directly to the arguments I’ve made. At least until just now.

  299. Nikolay says

    Lovely: when i said men’s desires, I was referring to sexual desires for prostitute or sex slaves. In that sense, there is indeed insatiable demand for them.

  300. Nikolay says

    To Feminist-not only that, I also welcome any discussion from anyone, even if they may disagree with me or prove me wrong. In fact, if I’m proven wrong, the better! After all, i seek the truth, not to maintain any belief in the light of contradiction evidence. This is what it means to be without bias. All i seek is knowledge and the truth. If it completely destroy much of what I thought I knew, I’d welcome it!

  301. says

    Nikokay you are attempting to pull of a complex question fallacy by where all your other assertions hing on ONE base assertion that you have yet to prove.

    ““overwhelming majority of those-as high as 75 percent-come from abusive background, often rooted in their childhood. So one must consider the psychological and bio-genetic psychological effects that abuses have on the developing brains.”

    You have not proven this. All your other assertions based on that are null.

    Stop trying to psychologically stigmatize sex workers and stop making assertions you can’t prove.” You are as much of the problem as everyone you think you’re better then.

    You’re no better then the cops who dismiss sex workers when they say they were raped because of this stigmatization and a belief that the judgement of sex workers cannot be trusted.

    You’re no better then the occasional john who want pay up because they know sex workers have no legal recourse because people like YOU help keep us silent with your disinformation, stigmatization and dismissal of us when we speak of our OWN experiences.

    You’re no better then the pimp that exploits a system you help enable with your blind allegiance to your BS.

    YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

    You and people like you; misinformed and blindly loyal lazy dogooders, spread the lie that the judgement of sex workers is inherently unsound as if you know fuck all about sex work in your little privileged cushy life. Well, if you refuse to learn something about sex work from the actual sex workers to whom you speak then you can go and fuck yourself directly.

    You can’t help people when you shine the boot on their necks with your willful ignorance. DONE!

  302. Nikolay says

    It appears you don’t read my posts at all. Instead you repeat the same points that I have made rebuttal against. Why you think sexual abuse has zero effect on the development of children is beyond me.

    You’re right, I need to provide studies. When i have the timet o do so, I will do that as promised. Just come back in the next 2-3 weeks, if you still remember to.

    My life is anything but privlaged. Its a life full of suffering, extreme emotional and mental hardship. Beyond that, I’d give my life if I have thought it’d make a better world.

    But I am glad to know I am a scumbag who is no better than any of those people (whose actions I strongly OPPOSE!)

  303. says

    And now we are getting closer and closer to the true method to Nikolay’s madness: “sexual abuse” and “pornified culture” work to destroy the “sacred” nature that sex is supposed to be strictly sought after for love and intimacy with the one person that’s supposed to by your life partner (and supporter of making lots and lots of babies).

    Of course, you don’t have to be a prostitute or a porn performer or even expect to get paid for “blowing hundreds of penises” (or even ten or twenty that is more the average of the usual street prostitute or escort)…but that is inmaterial to the supposed damage to the “soul” and the “psyche” that wanting sex more than the “culture” will allow does to suspectible and iimpressionable women who obviously are too oversexed to be able to think and care for themselves and need Nikolay’s special paternalism (backed up by the cops and the authorities) to rescue her from her fate.

    Isn’t it funny how it always comes back to that, isn’t it? Protecting women by neutering them…and castrating the men.

    But not too much, mind you, because we need their sperm to regenerate the species.

    So, let’s compromise and create a world view that reduces sexuality to its worst common denominator, and makes sexual openness and sexual education into the Great Satan (or the Great Male Capitalist Patriachy Conspiracy) that keeps women tied to “male objectification” and exploitation. Let’s invent thought crimes that transform normal human desires into “crimes against nature”, and guilt trip people (especially the poor and working class) into believing that sex is their enemy and that only repression of consensual adult sexuality and reducing it into narrow controllable channels is the only solution for “protecting women and children”. And the best thing is, it can fit well with any kind of authoritarian ideology….religious “fundamentalist” and secular “feminist”.

    This is exactly the kind of nonsense that killed progressive movements in the past, and cleared the floor for far more reactionary regimes that are more than happy to assume themselves to be the “protectors” of the same women they exploit ceaselessly in private.

    Once again, Nikolay, the difference between you and me is that I am not in the least concerned if a woman does wake up and want to blow more than one person. As long as she and her partners do it safely and with mutual respect and mutual pleasure, it is none of my business….and really, none of yours, either. Save the rendering of cloth for those who are really abusive and those who truly exploit women and men and children…and leave consensual sex workers alone to solve their own problems. They have been doing that pretty damn well without your “help”.

    And with that, I yield the floor for tonight, at least.

  304. Nikolay says

    “if you refuse to learn something about sex work from the actual sex workers to whom you speak then you can go and fuck yourself directly. ”

    I tried to and I did a few times already. One or two decided to not engaged in any further discussion with me beyond their first initial posts and after that, chastising me.

  305. Nikolay says

    To Endless, I’ll repost the same comment i just made;

    To Feminist-not only that, I also welcome any discussion from anyone, even if they may disagree with me or prove me wrong. In fact, if I’m proven wrong, the better! After all, i seek the truth, not to maintain any belief in the light of contradiction evidence. This is what it means to be without bias. All i seek is knowledge and the truth. If it completely destroy much of what I thought I knew, I’d welcome it!

  306. says

    One last thing: Trust me, Nikolay: no one wants to “shut you up”. Actually, the only person who has the ability to delete you is Greta, and the fact that she has kept her moderation hammer at a distance should tell you that she’s not going to shut anyone up.

    Which is far more than I can say for your associates, who consistently block out any hint of opposing opinion; or attempt to intimidate opponents into submission with ad hominen attacks or bludgeon reactments of the same old arguments.

    I don’t hate on them, because it’s their blogs to do as they please. But please, don’t insult my intellegence and say that you are being silenced when you have been given well over 40+ posts here to respond to your critics.

    And now…seriously this time..I yield back.

  307. says

    “I tried to and I did a few times already. One or two decided to not engaged in any further discussion with me beyond their first initial posts and after that, chastising me.

    Well ya can’t even provide proof for one of your assertions. What do you expect? You’re not here to learn. You’re here to convert. Laughable. As if the atheists and skeptics who frequent this blog wouldn’t be able to recognize proselytizing when they see it. LMAO

  308. Greta Christina says

    But it will not address the root cause of what I believe lead women into sex work…

    Nikolay @ #338: And this is the core of the problem so many people here are having with you. It’s all about what you believe — and not what the women who have actually done this work, or who are actually currently doing this work, are telling you.

    What women — and men — who have done this work are telling you is that this work is incredibly complex, and different people go into for wildly different reasons, and different people have wildly different experiences of it. And they (we, if you include former strippers as well as prostitutes) are saying that, if people are serious about wanting to address the very real abuses in the sex industry, the most important first step is to LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN IT.

    The point of the original post — and the point people are trying to get through your head — is that yes, there are many prostitutes who are terribly exploited and who are even forced into the work, and this is an appalling state of affairs… but this is not universal to all sex work, and it is not an inherent part of the very nature of sex work. And the point of the original post was that, when we’re trying to make decisions about how to address the very real and very terrible abuses that do exist in the sex industry, we need, once again, to LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN IT, and not treat them as if they’re all helpless victims who aren’t capable of making their own choices. We need to recognize the reality that this is a complex industry. And we need to deal with the realities about it, by listening to the people who work in it… not by obsessing on what we personally believe about it, and ignoring or dismissing the people who have actually experienced it.

  309. Nikolay says

    About time you chime in;
    …..I am not sure how you actually infer this. Should I take at face value the statements of the few women who have been involved in this line of work over hundred of studies I have read? And let not forget, just because they have had actual experience does not necessary imply understanding and knowledge of the historical, social and cultural forces at hand with regard to sex work. There are reasons for rigorous standard of scholar works, they are meant to compresses upon any phenomena into concrete statements that can be empirically proven and backed.

    I have never denied that this line of work is complex and that there are vast reasons for people venturing into sex work or wildly diverse experiences.

    I have never stated that my claim with regard to sexual abuse, poverty, economic hardship coupled with culture that marginalized women (which is the basis for evolution of prostitution) to be universal to all sex workers, just the vast majority. Yet, this is where we actually disagree; the inherent nature of sex work. Treat them as helpless victims? Funny, I have refute this several times already. My words are constantly misinterpreted time and time and over and over; my thinking that women are helpless mentally ill when I don’t even think that. I hoped to engage in discussion with them, but they backed away immediately after only one post attempting to refute my points, and a very few selective ones at that. So should it be my fault that I still am not convinced of their arguments after only one post?

    Lastly….my personal beliefs? I’m sorry but what I have offered are not personal beliefs but statements supported by hundred of studies.

    As I’ve said, I’ll really need to find that external hard drive.

  310. Nikolay says

    Even if you disregard sexual abusive as the factor, cultures that either sexualized or marginalized-or both- women and girls serves as mechanisms for the thriving prostitution or pornography. USA, India, Russia, Albania, you name it. That’ts not to even mention the economic hardship.

  311. Greta Christina says

    About time you chime in;

    Nikolay @ #359: You are treading on extremely thin ice here. Do you have any idea what my schedule is like? Do you have any idea how many demands I have on my time? Are you seriously going to get snarky and nasty because I don’t always have time to participate in every conversation on my blog? Let me tell you: there are very few things more likely to get me angry at commenters than entitled, snarky remarks about how I’m not providing my time and attention on demand.

    Should I take at face value the statements of the few women who have been involved in this line of work over hundred of studies I have read?

    What you should do is provide links to just a few of those studies — ones that don’t come from demonstrably tainted sources. Until you can do that, please stop hogging this comment thread with what amounts to your personal assertions with no basis in fact.

    And if your words are being consistently “misinterpreted,” that is your responsibility as a writer. Perhaps you should examine your words, and examine why it is that the people you supposedly want to “engage in discussion with” clearly feel patronized, insulted, and dismissed.

  312. Nikolay says

    Wow,

    I meant no offend, when I said “about time you chime in”. Why do you assume I was being nasty and snarky about it? I was merely welcoming you.

    I have made clear my statements several times, yet they decide to decried my assurance that porn workers are mentally ill. Nowhere have I stated such.

    I already posted a link just now, which contain several citations.

    I am done posting here. Your belief that I was being somehow malicious in my statement in welcoming you is…..not a way to treat a fellow.

  313. Greta Christina says

    I meant no offend, when I said “about time you chime in”. Why do you assume I was being nasty and snarky about it? I was merely welcoming you.

    Nikolay @ #364: You’re really going to try to claim that “about time you chime in” is welcoming and friendly language?

    And you’re going to presume to welcome me to my own fucking blog?

    You are a passive aggressive, comment-hogging troll. You are banned. Goodbye.

  314. says

    For the vast majority, women simply do NOT wake up one day and decide to potentially blow hundred of penis and deal with sleazy bag men.

    That doesn’t simply happen.

    Can you see why sex workers find you condescending and don’t want you as an ally?

  315. says

    Guys and girls….Nikolay is NO ally. He is a propagandist for the antilegalization crowd who is slick enough to invade progressive blogs with his manic-depressive tone and stick in a propaganda piece disguised as “research”.

    Like most professional trolls, he understands how to invade a comment thread at the right moment and take it over through bludgeoning critical commenters, projecting his own lack of evidence onto others and knowing how to sound so butthurt when people call out his BS.

    Best to give people like that enough rope so that they can hang themselves, then break them off. Don’t let them gain control of the thread to begin with.

  316. says

    Indeed, Anthony. Nikolay was clearly full time activist, despite his laughable claim to the contrary. No one spends pretty much an entire day writing ~55 different posts on an issue that (supposedly) has no direct influence on their life just for the fun of it. Most especially someone who has “a life full of suffering, extreme emotional and mental hardship”.

  317. Kagehi says

    Never said that number of prostitutes or porn actresses have decreased at all.

    Oh, no.. You are simply asserting that, if we somehow magically stopped all the bad kinds, the number of people doing it would drop to some stupidly small number. No suggestion, at all, in there that the number would drop..

    See there seems to be a basic, and fundamental, problem with your thinking. You “presume” that the profession is somehow not needed, or doesn’t have to be a profession at all. The only equivalent argument that I can even think of would be if you where arguing something like:

    1. Sweat shops are bad, and a lot of kids end up working in them, in third world countries.
    2. A lot of people make their own clothes.
    3. Therefor we should just stop the “profession” of clothing manufacturing, since such a vast portion of it is run by creeps, and abuses poor people.
    4. Obviously, by cracking down harder on it won’t eliminate it, but given blah, blah, blah number of people that work in sweat shops, blah, blah, blah of them would prefer to be doing something else, blah, blah, blah, percent of people manage to make their own clothes anyway, so they don’t need the industry, etc., the number of people involved in it should “drop” to like 25%, if we where really serious about stopping it.

    See, there is only two huge problems with this argument:

    1. Even without sweat shops, there is a clothing industry.
    2. If every single sweat shop on the planet vanished, it wouldn’t change the number of factories, only the abject ***lowest*** conditions, self respect, and willingness to do the job, of the people working in those factories.

    Some of us think that this is a sufficient thing. That working at something you don’t necessarily like shouldn’t be any worse than any other job you might have opted for instead. You seem to think that this isn’t sufficient. The irony here is, it hasn’t been ***that long*** since child labor, lack of safety, worker protection, and even decent pay, was ***normal*** for nearly every industry, including clothing. I.e., until laws where put in place, setting standards, **all of them** where sweat shops, with very few exceptions. The other difference? No moron, ever, on some moralistic grounds, made clothing making something illegal, if you didn’t do it in your own home, or you charged for it.

    That, imho, is the only reason why you seem to think you can get by with arguing what you do on the subject. Statistics be damned. Statistics, in cases like this, only tell you what happens when its already illegal, at best. At worst, it suggests, in the case of many of your European examples, what happens when you try to fix the underlying mistake of assuming there is something inherently wrong with the job itself, but then fail to account for what happens if you are the **only** people offering the service legally. Guess what! It fails, because the first thing that shows up isn’t people that will abide by sound practices, its people trying to game the system, get something for as little as possible, and/or otherwise failing to deal with the reality that every asshole on the planet is going to be coming to the place where its legal, to get what they want, without caring about any other factors involved.

    Now, personally, think they need to ignore all the “make it all legal” paths, in the short term, and go with something more like the Nevada system. But it can’t “stop” with well controlled brothels. That needs to be the model, which is expanded out. The failure of Nevada is hat they want it both ways. They want to allow (or, rather, where forced to allow, due to tax issues, initially) a strictly controlled system, and then they refused to figure out a way to expand that into something that works “every place”. Its one thing to allow someone to set up a limited shop, miles outside of town, but if you don’t provide a legit way to do it “in town”, all you end up with is the illegitimate ones. I.e., nothing gets solved, because no one really wants to solve it.

    All the examples you are presenting are either failures, due to trying to curtail the business, like arresting the johns, while the business is legal, which is right up there with the idiocy that the US tried during prohibition, where it was “legal to make”, but not “buy or sell” alcohol… Or by opening the door completely, but failing to apply *any* sort of rules to it, beyond the most basic ones, which failed to address any other problems that already existed (other than the legal one).

    When ever you make something legal, which wasn’t, there are problems with transition. Those problems include a lot of people that take it as a given that, now that its legal, they can legally screw more people, or keep screwing many of them (and I don’t mean sexually). If that isn’t addressed, at the same time… it doesn’t gain you anything.

    But, you don’t seem to want to even try to address any of those things, at all, until some other thing is addressed, in some sort of crazy round about mess, where nothing can be fixed, because everything else has to be fixed, everyplace on the planet, before getting to that other problem, which also can’t be fixed, without fixing all the other problems, but that can’t be fixed either, without…

  318. Kagehi says

    BTW… As to various books. I don’t trust “books” on some of this stuff. The problem with a lot of “social studies” is they all too often focus on people that they know are in trouble, while failing to talk to the ones that are not, or they fudge their statistics, or they draw conclusion that you can’t be certain of, unless you have the real data, and know how it was collected. Worse, some of them, if they are into it just to publish books, and nothing else, or they have a specific position, won’t just ignore contrary information, but may outright lie, to represent their causes.

    I don’t trust “social studies” because of this. Nearly everyone running them have an agenda, or otherwise, intentionally or not, only collect/present the data that supports their position, often without providing any ideas for solutions, or recognition that the data, even if correct, is purely subjective to the “existing conditions”, and can’t say anything useful about whether or not the problem itself would even exist, if other conditions didn’t. They might even assume, questionably, that those conditions are “nominal”, or “normal”, or “shouldn’t change”, or “won’t”, all of which is unknown, unknowable, or even, sometimes, historically wrong, or based purely on moralistic arguments, not reason. None of which does a damn thing to help solve the problem, and often only perpetuates it.

  319. Andrew Houghton says

    The venom on this blog. Is it not fair to say, prostitutes, regularly tested, paying taxes and following the working time directives set out in reopen law, given a very high percentage of their earnings and sick pay, are not supporting the drug culture, the underworld or any of the social niceties like STD’s Aids/HIV or child exploitation.

    Look putside America. Not all christians are like the right wing velots kicked out on the mayflower.

  320. Andrew Houghton says

    Half the comment disappeared : read European Law
    And I was referring to Holland where prostitution is regulated and legal.

    In the UK prostitution is legal in your own home. Solicitation however is illegal.

    The laws on prostitution in Sweden make it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them. Pimping, procuring and operating a brothel are also illegal. The criminalisation of the purchase, but not selling, of sex was unique when first enacted in 1999, but since then Norway and Iceland have adopted similar legislation, both in 2009.

  321. Kagehi says

    And now we are getting closer and closer to the true method to Nikolay’s madness: “sexual abuse” and “pornified culture” work to destroy the “sacred” nature that sex is supposed to be strictly sought after for love and intimacy with the one person that’s supposed to by your life partner (and supporter of making lots and lots of babies).

    This is always the argument, when you get at the core of these anti-porn/anti-sex work things. Thing is… How do be define things related to sex, nudity, etc. as “sacred”, and not get caught up in all the negativity, false shame, fear, etc., that is responsible for everything from people staying in bad relationships, due to perceptions of their bodies, their own sex drives, etc., health issues due to body image problems, because nudity itself is “wrong” and somehow mixed in with sex, and so on.

    Making sex sacred, instead of something done like eating, created as many problems as trafficking ever did. In fact, its the plain stupid idea that sex is something to be hid, kept “sacred”, etc., which prevents the elimination of prostitution. To use the online example, again, if you can find people, male and female, who want sex, and not for money, oddly enough, millions of people go to such places to find it. The ones that don’t.. prefer prostitution, for various reasons, not the least being that it *is* kept professional, and maybe even because its done by someone that is expert at it, not just looking for a bad lay, from someone as bad as they are at it.

  322. JimmyBoy says

    Hello Greta,

    Firstly – thanks for posting these excellent posts about the sex industry. I went through something of a revolution in my thinking about this subject when I joined the Westminster (London) Sceptics in the Pub session on this last year. I went in a somewhat left wing, ex-Catholic, assumed it was all bad (probably mixed up with my guilt at the occasional porn viewing?) middle class, happily married, white guy.

    Came out feeling like an idiot who had made a load of assumptions (again) on behalf of women, who funnily enough, were perfectly capable of making up their own minds on the subject. I learned that the experience from countries like NZ is that what women in the industry mostly want (who else should we be listening to on this subject???) is not legislation to stop them, but to protect them and give them safe places to operate. Interestingly, I believe that a very common experience there is that, when given the option of clean places to work, many women are able to then choose what services they want to provide, rather than being forced into some they don’t like – explicitly (in the BBC Radio 4 interview I heard) – anal sex. Legislation has therefore not just made it safer for women, but – if the prostitute interviewed were representative of any group – has also made it much less problematic for them too.

    I see plenty of blokes here who need to just think about this for a moment longer. Do you really want to sound like a bunch of priests, telling women what to do with their bodies?

    As ever with difficult issues it just comes down to a few simple tests: is anyone getting hurt? Is it any of my business? Is my position based on prejudice, historic nonsense, my own phobias/desires? (I can often test this if I have enough imagination, by seeing who my bedfellows are in the debate). Trying to think of anything else that matters…

    Cheers,

    Jimmy

  323. Nadia says

    I’d argue that this is a tricky subject because of because of both where the bloggers in question – Greta and Taslima – come from literally and are coming from figuratively.

    I think if you asked the same set of questions that Greta poses to sex workers (http://goo.gl/UqJjq) to a group of sex workers from South Asia or elsewhere in the ‘third world’, you’d get a vastly different response, and one more in line with Taslima’s position. This does not, of course, mean that sex work is exclusively exploitative – the stories posted in response to Greta’s invitation disprove that, as does the work of other activists and bloggers.

    As someone who moves pretty frequently and freely between the ‘west’ and the ‘third world’ I’d like to point out that I have to practically ‘put on’ an entirely different mindset much in the same way as I put on garments from an entirely different wardrobe when I go from one to the other. It’s not about which is ‘right’ – they both are for their situations. My attitude towards sex work in the west is completely different from my attitude towards sex work in the third world, because they are largely quite different from each other. Sure, there are many examples of exploitation of sex workers and sex-slavery in the West and I imagine there must be willing and unexploited sex workers in the third world, but those are exceptions. The western world largely allows for a lot more individual freedom and self-determination mostly because it has governmental structures to assist people who are on their own (to varying degrees, of course, and I’m aware of the conniptions the religious right have over women’s rights to their own bodies, etc., so I know it ain’t plain sailing for anyone). The third world does not. A person, particularly a woman or girl, on her own is more vulnerable than I can explain because there are very, very few social structures in place to help her.

    The face of sex work online and by default in the west has become the powerful, savvy female entrepreneur who knows what she’s doing and kicks ass while she does it. Make no mistake, I think this is awesome.

    But I’m also aware that the face of sex work in South Asia is a kidnapped, trafficked, raped, imprisoned 10- to 12-year-old who will probably die of AIDS or some other untreated STI (if pregnancy and childbirth don’t get her) before she’s ever properly an adult.

    These situations are so far apart that I don’t know how to reconcile them, or even whether they should be reconciled. I think Taslima’s refusal to qualify her position might suggest a lack of understanding of her audience – look at the demographics of internet use and tell me if you see many third world sex workers on here – but to me it also suggests a resistance to the western view as the ‘right’ one, and I think that’s worth doing. Sex work may have become a lot safer in the west, but sex work in the third world is a completely different animal and I don’t really blame someone more familiar with the latter for not being able to wrap their heads around the western sex-work-positive position. It’s just not part of the reality they have to deal with.

    That said, I will repeat that this is MY reading of the conflict. I am not speaking for Taslima and I don’t know her reasons for refusing to change her position.

  324. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I don’t think, Nadia, that your take is entirely wrong. I think if Taslima were saying the same thing to a particular audience – rural prostitutes in south or SE Asia, for instance – she might not find anyone to object when she framed things in her way.

    But the thing is opposing violence and slavery and oppression is universal. What is incredibly disappointing is that many of us thought that independent authority over our bodies and our ethical choices was also a value we shared with Taslima. She, however, has made it clear that she doesn’t share this value when it comes to sex. It’s not like, gee, she’s phrased things the wrong way & we who have so much privilege are used to having our particular views reflected back. There is a serious value here, with serious consequences. We’ve seen a lot of problems with governments controlling sexual margins. We know that not only is this a value, but this is a problem that causes real harm in the world. Government is no more to be trusted to regulate sex than religion is.

    I am happy to have government to rely on to protect folk from violence, from kidnapping and slavery, from theft of what society chooses to decide is private property. I am not happy to have it regulate sex. They can regulate all those other things **even when sex is involved**. But something doesn’t fall to the government to regulate merely because of the sex. It comes under the power of government from those other things and sex shouldn’t enter into it. Bad things happen otherwise.

    Taslima has shown that she not only frames her arguments in such a way as to include consensual sex for money (or preclude the existence of consensual sex for money) in her analysis, but when confronted with significant and specific critiques that what she is saying is factually wrong (that there exists no consensual prostitution, for example) she denies facts and endorses state control of not merely violence and kidnapping and trafficking and slavery, but of sex itself.

    This isn’t merely miscommunication. It’s true some issues wouldn’t come up in a certain context, but this is about fundamental values. I doubt there’s a single case of exploitation which she uses to illustrate her concerns that doesn’t involve the breaking of a law besides laws against prostitution…or would break a law that I support existing though it may not exist in a particular jurisdiction. If women can’t be kept in prostitution, if they can’t be trafficked, if they can’t be beaten or raped, if their money can’t be stolen, if they are as able to get other jobs as persons who have never been in prostitution, the problem about which she’s complaining would not exist – but actual exchange of money for sexualized services would still exist, and would pay more since there would be drastically fewer workers – and they’d be workers, not slaves and rape victims, thus able to leave if the wages aren’t adequate.

    Better yet, if we stigmatize violence without stigmatizing sex, then we are likely to get to that happy end faster because trafficked women can be credible witnesses in criminal trials which is much less likely if they have been repeatedly arrested and are considered criminals and failed women. Police are likelier to begin investigations if they value these women. Investigations are more likely to be successful when such women are valued. The RCMP in Canada utterly failed to protect vulnerable women and let many get killed by a serial killer because the women were mostly in prostitution (I don’t know how many were forced or violated, but let’s just assume all). They did it because these were women they believed were engaged in illegal activity and were stigmatized, failed women. They did it because they believe that the sex that these women had was their business.

    Taslima’s point of view causes real harm. It causes way, way less harm than the point of view of traffickers, but it still causes real harm.

    There is more here than just a concern over venue.

  325. Kagehi says

    Hmm. You know, I just remembered. There was someone with a similar “view” on nudism a while back. One person had some personal bad experiences, including sexual assault. I don’t believe, from the details she presented on her own background, that this was a community, so much as something happening at home, and among a small number. But, it scarred her so badly that she now runs a website dedicated to the “claim” that abuse, sexual assault, incest, etc., is commonplace in nudist communities, who are all conspiring to hide it. The evidence being a small list of actual cases she lists on the sites, all of them rare, and far apart. But, she is absolutely convinced its happening, all the time, despite all evidence that it isn’t, and that such things are not tolerated at all, perhaps even less so, than in the normal world (in which, the commonality of such behavior in is ignored as well).

    I can’t help but think there might be some of that going on. And, for a “true believer” that got to that point due to their own bad experiences, it can be nearly impossible to admit that they are cherry picking events, or reading their own pain into everything, and not seeing either, in the above case, that its situational, and an exception, or in the case of sex work, much of the problem arises out of those other factors, not the work.

  326. Greta Christina says

    Nadia @ #384: I think it’s very probable that Nasreen’s knowledge and experience with sex workers comes primarily from parts of the world where it is much more commonly abusive and exploitative than it is in the U.S. (Not that it’s always totally empowered here, of course)… And I think it’s very probable that this is what’s informing her analysis.

    The problem is that, when confronted with actual evidence that contradicted her opinion, rather than considering the possibility that her experience might be limited and she might be mistaken, she doubled down and adamantly refused to listen. And her refusal to listen involved publicly shaming women who’ve worked in the industry and liked it, saying that we either are “masochistic” (and not in the good way) or are privileged “house slaves” co-opted by our oppressors. I’m not sure what kind of feminism involves systematically ignoring, dismissing, and marginalizing the experiences of thousands of women in favor of your pre-determined ideology, but it’s not a feminism that I want any part of.

    And I’m not saying, even in the slightest, that the Western view of sex work is “the right one.” I don’t think anyone here is saying that. I don’t even think there is one Western view of sex work. I’ve acknowledged, repeatedly, that real abuse happens in the sex industry, and that they are a horror, and that we should absolutely be trying to figure out how to minimize or eliminate it. And I’ve acknowledged that sex work varies hugely with geography, class, and other factors. I’m saying simply (a) that sex work is not universally abusive, as Nasreen is insisting — and (b) that any policy intended to reduce abuses in the industry has to start by LISTENING TO SEX WORKERS. All of them. Something Nasreen is conspicuously failing to do.

  327. says

    Greta @ 387

    Indeed, I do think Nasreen is pretty attached to a kind of very simplistic “old-school” feminism, and like many adherents of that ideology (notably in this context, Gloria Steinem) does not even seem to want to try to see things out of that framework.

    I will hand one kudo to her, however. She has kept her comments section pretty open, albeit, following an initial mass deletion of dissenting posts before realizing that was a bad tactic. But considering most “antis” run forums that are little more than echo chambers for their views, I give her a thumb up for maintaining a lively comments section.

    Still disagree with the framing a sex worker rights perspective as a “Western” view when there is so much pro-decriminalization sex worker rights activism in places like India and Cambodia. The fact is both the sex worker rights and “abolitionist” perspectives have adherents in the developed and developing world and both have a problem, endemic to most social movements, with those who are privileged by class and geography having a greater voice. (Though, in my estimation, the problem is far worse in “abolitionism”, which includes more than a few blatant neo-imperialists like Nicholas Kristoff, not to mention plenty of old-school evangelical ones.)

  328. says

    Greta @ #387

    You know, I’m not necessarily so sure about that, because there are plenty of activists who have been raised in very repressive, reactionary regions, and yet they don’t assimilate the reactionary positions that they inherit into their developing political and cultural positions later on.

    To me, it seems more like Taslima’s sexual conservatism is an outreach of both the environment of her upbringing and the institutions that she has developed her writing career with…and her status as a successful novelist amd ability to escape the more severe punishment that those not so economically privileged cannot avoid so much. I see it so often with many middle- to upper-lass women who go from Christian- or Muslim-fundamentalist backgrounds to the radicalfeminist ideology, because it is the path of least resistance for someone questioning some aspects of their upbringing while retaining the conscious antisex biases and customs and transfering them to their new ideology.

    Let’s not forget that in spite of sexuality being so much more out there in public, many of the old sexual moral attitudes still remain quite strong among especially older women, and radicalfeminism is still one of the strongest influences for college-educated women. This means that for those who want to retain their more conservative attitudes on sexuality but transfer their emphasis to attacking men (and the “patriarchial capitalism” that supposedly anchors corrrosive male attitudes towards women), radicalfeminism offers the perfect alternative for these women to classical religious fundamentalism. There has always been a history of Left Puritanism that blamed “capitalism” for uncontrolable sexuality and offered state protectionism as a solution for controlling sex….and perhaps that is what motivates the “antis” who claim to be a middle ground against both “capitalist patriarchy” and Christian/Muslim fundamentalism.

    I can’t give Nasreen as much credit as IACB does for allowing some degree of criticism on her blog, because her insulting responses to activist sex workers like Maggie Mayhem as well as her silencing of female sex workers like Godless Strumpet and Feminist Whore says more about her (and other antis’) rejectionist atitudes than them accepting a few men’s comments simply to knock them down.

    As much as they want to make this a “White Western vs. Third World” issue, in reality it still ends up the same old and tired battle cry: “What I did as a child was rebellious and erotic; what you are doing today as my child is heretic and pornographic.”

    Anthony

  329. says

    There is a lot of controversy over the topics of sex trafficking, sex slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution. Regarding what the definition is, the research methods used to find statistics, what the definition of a victim is, the number of child and adult victims involved, forced vs. unforced sex, how the actual prostitutes themselves feel about it, and legal vs. illegal prostitution.

    There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

    Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years. And do you actually think that there is a long line of people who want to have a career as a sex slave kidnapping pimp?

    Here are some good websites about sex trafficking:

    http://bebopper76.wordpress.com

    http://sextraffickingtruths.blogspot.com/

    http://www.lauraagustin.com/

    http://www.villagevoice.com/sex-trafficking/

    http://www.melonfarmers.co.uk/thread00272_trafficking_hype.htm

    Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all consensual adult prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims. This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists,politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims.

    They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing.

    These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.

    These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

    This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.

  330. says

    A bit late posting to the thread Nina, but.. just one things – when people are scared to death of getting jail time, they don’t tend to go to authorities for “protection” from abuses. Its odd how that tends to work, but most people, for some strange reason, would rather be semi-free, and abused, than in jail, not free at all, and without a job, when they finally get out. This is even more true if, precisely because of the nature of their business, those authorities may treat them as bad, or worse than they are already abused.

    We have found, time and again, that you can’t a) stop something people do naturally, b) “protect the public from it”, in even the most useless sense, and also c) protect the people abused by those running such illegal businesses, all at the same time. In fact, there is little or not evidence that you can do (b) at all, beyond making it look like you are trying really, really, hard to put a stop to it, while actually failing. You will never do (a), and you can’t do (c), so long as the default assumption is, “Everyone involved is part of the crime.” Not that only treating some of those involved as part of the crime works either. Hell, even the radical, super anti anything that isn’t righteous and pure (under their definition), Muslims, in many places in the ME, have these silly assed “temporary marriage” things they allow, which is basically nothing more than prostitution, without the pimp, and with “gifts” being given to the “wife”, as compensation, so that they are not “paying to have sex”.

    But, no, we “know” better in the west. Its all bad, its all evil, and therefor, it shouldn’t be legal, regulated, or the workers “protected” from abuses, rapes, forced drug use, or even forced slavery. They are just an illegal worker, in an illegal business, and thus deserve neither respect, nor protection, nor the basic assumption that they may not be there by choice.

    Its hardly a surprise that with this attitude in most of the western world, we are so far away from having any hope, at all, from trying to fix even more abuses, and cases of sex-slavery in the rest of the world. Who would listen to us, and who would, for that matter, trust us to even comment on it, never mind claim to truly want to fix it? Heck, how many of the rich CEOs that visit those places not only show no interest in the problem, but may have slept with some of the very women stolen from their homes, some of them even possibly Americans that have disappeared while on vacations, without once thinking, “I wonder if this person chose the job, or if I am looking at a victim?”

    First step would be to stop treated them like they are drug dealers, not adults doing a consensual act, and that paying for it is somehow evil. I.e., make it legal. Then set legal standard. Then you have time, and resources, to actually deal with the real assholes, who *are* doing more than just providing what some people consider a questionable service, and deal with the ones that are abusing their workers. From that, you get, hopefully, a net change in attitudes, at least among people that are not total idiots. And, from there, you can do something about those same idiots going off to other countries, and buying the same services from people who are almost all abusers, and slavers. From there, you actually have a damn leg to stand on, when telling some other country, “This sort of abuse, which we stopped in our own, is not something we can accept in yours either, and not just because you victims are often not even your own people.”

    So long as we allow the same BS in our own country, but don’t know it, because we are too busy running around arresting escorts to bother with some bastard that just used his drug money to ship in a dozen women from some foreign country, or has gone around stealing teens, because the cops are too busy looking for skimpy dressed women talking to people in cars, to take a “runaway” seriously, never mind admit that it might be something far worse… why the heck would anyone else in the world care about our opinion on the subject?

    If we don’t do sensible things to stop it in our own country, how can we possibly hope to do anything about it any place else?

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