I don’t understand why prostitution is illegal. Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal? You know, why should it be illegal to sell something that’s perfectly legal to give away? – George Carlin
One year ago today I published “Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights”, whose title is a negation of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s ludicrous assertion that “real men don’t buy girls” (by which they actually meant “pay for sex” rather than “purchase underage female humans as though they were kewpie dolls”). In it I stated,
Only weak, pathetic little bullies need to try to restrict women’s sexual choices in order to feel like “real men”, but truly real men (the kind without scare quotes) aren’t threatened by sexually aware women; they are secure enough in their masculinity to recognize women have the right to control our own bodies and to decide whom we want to bestow our favors upon and for what reason. In short, only insecure sissies want to suppress women’s right to sexual self-determination; real men support the right of women to make our own sexual choices, including the decision to engage in sex work if we are so inclined.
In the current climate of misandrist hysteria, every man is considered a potential rapist, child molester or “sex trafficker”, so it’s not surprising when spineless men line up to be counted among the ranks of the politically correct whore-bashers. It’s one thing for a woman to support sex worker rights because we’re not under a permanent cloud of suspicion, but these days it takes some serious balls for a man to stand up, demand rights for sex workers, and actually sign his real name to the thing.
The rest of that column called attention to a Boston Herald editorial by Daniel Akst, but he isn’t the only guy on the internet committed to standing up for the rights of sex workers, and today I’d like to call attention to a few others. I’m not going to include male sex workers (because it’s personal for them) or bloggers (unless they blog under their real names); these men are all journalists, academics, entertainers or government figures who have attracted my attention in the past two years. I’m sure I’m missing a few, so please feel free to add them in the comments (with a link and capsule biography, s’il vous plaît).
Daniel Akst Journalist, editor at Newsday and author of several books including We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @danakst
Rob Arthur A former inner-city teacher and public defender, author of You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos; his cartoons have been featured on Boing Boing. E-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @robarthur9.
Radley Balko Award-winning writer and editor (currently for Huffington Post, formerly for Reason, Cato and Fox News and sporadically for many other publications) who has testified before Congress and been cited by the US Supreme Court. His main areas of interest are civil liberties and criminal justice. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @radleybalko
Simon Byrne Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead for prostitution and sexual exploitation. He has repeatedly called for reform of prostitution laws, with an eye toward decriminalization and a harm reduction approach.
Philippe Caubère French actor who openly admits to regularly hiring prostitutes and has spoken out against the imposition of the Swedish Model on France.
Darrell Dawsey Freelance journalist who has written for publications including the Detroit News, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, TIME, Essence, Vibe and USA Today. He also wrote I Ain’t Scared of You with comedian Bernie Mac.
Mark Draughn Software developer/consultant and amateur journalist, founder and chief contributor of Windypundit, one of the founders of Nobody’s Business and regular reader of The Honest Courtesan. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @windypundit
Fredrick Federley Moderate Swedish politician who was the only one with balls enough to stand up against the sex purchase ban, against the wishes of his own party. Here are links to his official website and blog.
Scotty “Deep Geek” Fitzgerald A podcaster on computer technology who branched out to offer a mix of world and tech news that official sources avoid (including labor issues, sex worker rights, alternative political parties and privacy issues). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dgtgtm
Michael Goodyear Founder of the Center for Sex Work Research and Policy, an online resource for academics and academically-inclined activists (like yours truly) to exchange information and discuss research. Email him at email@example.com.
Rick Holmes Long-time Opinion Editor for the MetroWest Daily News and Milford Daily News in Massachusetts, columnist for the GateHouse Media group and founder of the group news blog Holmes & Co. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @HolmesAndCo
Dave Krueger An electrical engineer and lifelong libertarian whose blog Sex Hysteria! specifically addresses humanity’s irrationality toward all things sex related. Though he stopped actively maintaining it in March of 2011, he still comments on websites and writes the occasional guest blog, and his website remains an excellent reference on the subject. Email him at email@example.com.
Stephen Paterson Welsh journalist, founding member of the Centre for Sex Work Research and Policy UK and author of the largest Downing Street e-petition to date for decriminalization. He says the best way to get in touch with him is simply to comment on the most recent post on his blog.
Penn and Teller Magicians, libertarians and skeptics whose long-running Showtime TV series, Penn and Teller’s Bullshit! debunks all the con games, official frauds, popular beliefs and political lies which infest the modern world, including prostitution law. Follow them on Twitter: @pennjillette and @MrTeller
Thaddeus Russell Historian who wrote A Renegade History of the United States, which demonstrates how the “bad people” and outcasts (including whores) won virtually all the rights modern Americans take for granted. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @thaddeusrussell
Jack Shafer Well-known writer and editor (currently for Reuters, formerly for Slate and before that for Washington City Paper and SF Weekly). He is an outspoken libertarian and critic of the mainstream media, especially yellow journalism, stenographic journalism and journalistic promulgation of moral panics such as trafficking hysteria. Email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @jackshafer
Stanley Siegel Psychotherapist, sex therapist and author of Your Brain On Sex who was sacked as a blogger from Psychology Today for espousing positions the editors found too controversial, such as embracing sex work as a kind of therapy. He’s currently working to start a new magazine, Psychology Tomorrow. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @stanleysiegel
John Stossel This award-winning journalist has been speaking out against tyranny, stupidity and lies since the 1970s and is the only major media figure to consistently and repeatedly attack the concept of consensual crimes, including prostitution, on television and in his writings. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @FBNStossel
Jacob Sullum Nationally syndicated columnist, senior editor at Reason and author of Saying Yes and For Your Own Good. One of the few major journalists with the balls to point out that the campaign against Backpage, like all criminalization efforts, harms women. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum
Ronald Weitzer Sociologist specializing in criminology who has written extensively on prostitution and supports decriminalizing indoor prostitution. While his advocacy of the continued criminalization of street prostitution has caused considerable friction with many activists, his research is solid and he is especially critical of sex trafficking hysteria. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In a world full of men eager to control women’s bodies, to make our sexual decisions for us or to score points with neofeminists by parroting anti-sex worker dogma, I’m glad there are a few who have enough respect for women that they’re willing to speak up for our right to agency and self-determination even at a time when it isn’t politically correct to do so. That takes guts and character, and I am of the opinion that those traits deserve recognition wherever they occur.