Who ought to decide about laws that regulate sex work? Answer: Sex workers.
Unfortunately, in most societies politicians, police officers, academics, lawyers, religious authorities, feminist organizations, etc. want to dictate how sex work ought to be regulated or criminalized. Yet somehow everybody forgets to ask sex workers what they themselves want.
Sex workers do have voices. One shouldn’t patronize them and imagine that they are too stupid to know what’s good for them. One shouldn’t intentionally choose to disregard their voices just because their demands happen to conflict with one’s deeply held moral views about what kind of sex other people should be allowed to have.
Here are two videos featuring sex workers who are also activists. In these videos they explain what kind of laws they want. They talk about their industry and workers’ safety. I am not a sex worker, so I won’t tell you to read what I think about sex work. Instead I will tell you to listen to sex workers themselves.
I am assuming that by now you have watched both videos, so I won’t repeat or summarize their arguments.
I strongly believe that each person ought to be free to choose how they want to live. If two consenting adults choose to have sex and agree upon specific terms, it’s their choice and none of my business. The rest of society shouldn’t police sex workers’ or their clients’ sex lives.
And poor people aren’t stupid. They shouldn’t be patronized by the rest of society. If somebody thinks that selling sex is better than working at an Amazon warehouse for a minimum wage, then that’s their choice. Denying them the sex work option and forcing them into the Amazon warehouse will only make their life even worse and harder.
Personally, I believe that people shouldn’t be financially coerced into doing work they really don’t want to do. In my perfect world, everybody would get guaranteed minimum income. This way somebody could choose to sell sex services, because they want fancy designer clothes and the newest iPhone, but nobody would choose to sell sex services, because they are starving and homeless. Also, nobody would be forced to work at an Amazon warehouse for a minimum wage in diapers, because there is no time for restroom breaks. For many people the latter doesn’t seem any better than being a sex worker.
But that’s not the kind of world we now have. It’s wrong to patronize people who need money and it’s wrong to imagine that they are too stupid to choose the best job option for themselves.
People who think that nobody should get financially compelled to sell sex services ought to rage against capitalism instead of attempting to criminalize sex work. Besides, even in a wealthy society in which poverty has been completely eradicated some people would still choose to sell and buy sex services. And that’s fine—consenting adults ought to be free to have whatever sex they decide to agree upon. On top of that, it’s also possible for a sex worker to like their job.