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Archive for April 22nd, 2011

Men who don’t like girls with brains don’t like girls.  –  Mignon McLaughlin

Last Saturday (April 16th) we talked about Demi Moore’s ridiculous and insulting new campaign to convince people that “real men” don’t hire prostitutes (whom she of course equates with “trafficked child sex slaves”).  So it would follow that in Moore’s mind, “real men” don’t support women’s right to do what we like with our own bodies, which frankly sounds like some kind of retro male-chauvinist propaganda to me.  I’ve got news for you, Demi; all heterosexual men buy sex, including your boy-toy.  Some actually pay cash, others pay for it in varying concrete or abstract ways, but they ALL pay and you very well know it unless you’re a lot stupider than I thought you were.  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.  So whenever I find such an essay online I like to call attention to it because such men deserve our thanks; I found one such, written by Newsday editor Daniel Akst, in the Boston Herald of April 14th, and I’ve reproduced it here in its entirety because I feel I have no right to cut it:

Remember Chandra Levy?  How about Natalee Holloway?  Nothing is more effective at triggering a media frenzy than the disappearance of an attractive young white woman.  That’s what happened when Levy, a Washington intern, vanished in 2001 and Holloway disappeared in Aruba four years later.  Sadly, things are different when the woman has accepted money for sex.  Police have so far found the bodies of four young white women, all prostitutes, in scrubby dunes on the beaches of New York’s Long Island (five and possibly six more sets of remains are unidentified).  The women had been missing for months or even years.

It’s hard to see what change in law might save someone from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But some of the Gilgo Beach deaths might well have been averted if we could just get over the idea that laws against prostitution make the world a better place for women.  Prostitution is distasteful to many people, of course, but that is no justification for laws against it, since on that basis Brussels sprouts and loud neckties might also be banned.  The difference is that prostitution is supposedly harmful, and so the government bars people from trading sex for money.  Yet the worst thing about prostitution is the risk of violence and abuse to which prostitutes are subjected by the very laws that drive the trade underground.  In our eagerness to legislate virtue, we are endangering the lives of women.

It’s been said that prostitution degrades women.  But it’s even more degrading to suggest women need society to make such choices for them — or to force prostitution into the shadows, where women are excluded from the protection of the law and subject to exploitation.  Many people take the illegality of prostitution for granted, but the United States (aside from Nevada) is one of the few Western nations that make it a crime.  And selling sex for money is safer in a regulated setting, as reported by women in legal brothels — in Nevada, the Netherlands and Australia — that have screening, surveillance and alarm systems.  “Sex workers can be victimized anywhere,” says Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University sociologist who has studied the subject, “but in general they are less vulnerable where their work has been decriminalized and where they no longer operate in a clandestine manner.”

It’s too late for the women found in the dunes.  But their deaths can inspire us to save others by decriminalizing what they did for money, no matter how much we may disapprove of it.

Mr. Akst’s central argument that prohibitionist laws create most of our danger is one that sex worker rights advocates constantly make, and his point that patronizing laws are far more degrading than prostitution could ever be should seem very familiar to regular readers of this blog.  I experienced such a wonderful feeling on reading this editorial that, were Mr. Akst’s office within easy driving distance, I would have hastened there and given him a big kiss (a sisterly one, Mrs. Akst; I promise!) But since he’s half a continent away I settled for just sending him a thank-you email.  Maybe that’s something we should all do; whenever you see an article which supports decriminalization like this one does, take the time to locate the email address of its author and send him a short, sincere “thank you”.  Since we know damned well that our enemies will be hurling vitriol at such authors for daring to support whores’ rights, I think they would like to know that we’re out there reading as well and appreciate someone having the courage to speak up on our behalf.

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