10 myths about prostitution, trafficking and the Nordic model

When the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA) announced the release of our new report on the Nordic Model, supporters of the sex industry began targeting our Facebook page.

When I followed up with an opinion piece for The Conversation on the success of the Nordic Model, a handful of men, and one prominent Australian feminist , spent hours trading inaccuracies about the Nordic approach to prostitution policy and disparaging anyone stupid enough to think that a booming industry which trades in women’s bodies is anything but inevitable.

These falsities and fabrications will be familiar to anyone who has written or said anything that publicly criticizes the sex industry. The same claims, usually without reference to relevant evidence, are repeated so frequently in certain spheres that they have practically become mantras. If you say it often enough, it becomes true, right?

In the interests of being able to offer more than 140 character responses to these predictable criticisms, here’s a list of responses to the most common myths I’ve had thrown at me.

 

1. I’m a sex worker, I choose sex work and I love it

This is one of the most popular retorts de jour and is treated by many who use it as a sort of checkmate argument, as though any one person stating that they enjoy sex work makes all of the other evidence about violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and trafficking in prostitution, magically disappear.

Maud Olivier, the Socialist MP who recently introduced the Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services in France, slammed the “hypocrisy” of such criticisms: “So is it enough for one prostitute to say she is free for the enslavement of others to be respectable and acceptable?” she asked her fellow parliamentarians.

But the “I love sex work” refrain is put forward as a powerful argument because it is seen to counter a supposedly all-encompassing claim by radical feminists and others that systems of prostitution are harmful to women.

This relies on misunderstandings of radical politics, the concept of structural oppression and tired old debates about false consciousness. Just because you like something doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful (just as liking something doesn’t automatically make it feminist). Radical feminists criticize beauty practices as harmful too, and saying you choose to wear high-heels doesn’t make that critique wrong. Nor does it mean these feminists hate you for wearing high heels (I’ve heard that one wheeled out in many an undergraduate tutorial) or being in prostitution.

Similarly, when anyone practicing radical politics points out that free choice is a fairytale, and that all our actions are constrained within certain material conditions, this does not equate to saying we’re all infantilized, little drones unable to make decisions for ourselves. It just means we’re not all floating around in a cultural vacuum making decisions completely unaffected by structural issues like systemic economic inequality, racism and sexism.

2. Only sex workers are qualified to comment on prostitution

This myth is often used in tandem with the first. And here’s the best/worst example I’ve had sent my way.

While such exchanges may be part of a wider problem of attempting to spuriously employ personal experience to trump research and disprove wider social trends (sexism doesn’t exist because I’ve never seen it!), there is more to these interactions in the context of prostitution. Repeating that only current sex workers are qualified to talk about the sex industry is an attempt to silence survivor’s voices and pretend that the consequences of prostitution apply only to those in prostitution.

It is true that much feminist opposition to prostitution has focused on the harms to women in prostitution, and rightly so, these harms are serious and endemic. But, as advocates of the Nordic Model point out, the existence of systems of prostitution is also a barrier to gender equality.

As long as women (and yes there are men in prostitution, but please, let’s be honest and admit that using “people” here would only obfuscate the fact that the vast majority of those in prostitution are women) can be bought and sold like commodities for sex is an issue for all women. The Swedes recognized this when they introduced the original ban on buying sex in 1999, and the French women’s rights minister is busy explaining it again at the moment.

3. All sex workers oppose the Nordic Model

Firstly, it is important to point out that for every sex worker rights organization that opposes the Nordic Model, there’s a survivor organization that advocates for it.

The idea that every woman with any experience in the sex industry detests the Nordic Model is tactical claim by a number of sex worker rights’ organizations around the world and it relies heavily on myth number two. This claim is, more often than not, followed by a link to Petra Ostergren’s blog which proves (we’re told) that all women in prostitution hate the Nordic Model and would prefer legalization.

It is clear that there are a number of very vocal opponents of the Nordic Model within the sex industry who have a significant platform. But it can hardly be said that these organizations represent all women in prostitution around the world, or that the odd blog post (light on references or other evidence) proves that the Nordic Model is a failure.

4. The Nordic Model denies sex workers’ agency

One of the things that critics seem to find so difficult to comprehend about the Nordic Model is that it is actually about restricting buyers, not about restricting those in prostitution. That is why it decriminalizes prostituted persons. The Model doesn’t discount the possibility of prostitution by “choice” but rather establishes that the buying of women in systems of prostitution is something that the state should actively discourage.

It’s pretty simple really. The Nordic Model acknowledges that less demand for prostitution and less demand for trafficking = less prostitution and less trafficking ∴ reducing the number of women exposed to these particular types of abuse and creating a better chance of achieving gender equality.

If you think that the state should encourage the growth of the prostitution industry and treat it as a form of gainful employment for women, then you’re bound to disagree, but that doesn’t mean the Model denies anybody’s agency.

5. The Nordic Model conflates prostitution and trafficking.

Many proponents of the Nordic Model adopt the understanding of trafficking advanced by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children [http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtocolTraffickingInPersons.aspx] (see Article 3a). This is a more nuanced understanding of trafficking than the “people moved across international borders at gun point” version that is popular in much of the mainstream press. Perhaps this is where the confusion sets in.

But even in employing this more realistic, UN-supported understanding of the mechanics of coercion and trafficking, the Nordic Model does not assume that every woman in prostitution is necessarily trafficked.

What the Nordic Model does do is recognize that there is a connection between the market for prostitution and sex trafficking, specifically that the demand for sexual services fuels sex trafficking. So, if you want less sex trafficking, then you need to shrink the market for prostitution.

This logic was further supported by a recent study of 150 countries, conducted by economists in the UK and Germany, showing that “the scale effect of legalized prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking.”

6. The Nordic Model doesn’t work / pushes prostitution “underground”.

The contention that the Nordic Model has not reduced demand for prostitution is one often repeated without evidence, but occasionally it is claimed that the Swedish government’s own review of their legislation showed the failure of the Model. As legal scholar Max Waltman has demonstrated, it did no such thing. Research commissioned by the Swedish government for its official review showed that street prostitution had halved.

“Ha!” The critics say, “That study employed a flawed methodology and prostitution has just gone underground.” Perhaps, but that overlooks other sources, including research indicating the number of people in Sweden buying sex has fallen and that police report having intercepted communications from traffickers declaring that Sweden is a “bad market.”

It’s also worth considering what “underground” is supposed to mean in this context, as in legalized and decriminalized systems, like some in Australia, “underground” is taken to mean street prostitution. So if prostitution has moved off the streets, where has it gone? Online and indoors, is the assertion of critics, which is quite odd given that advocates of legalization frequently tout the benefits of indoor prostitution.

7. The Nordic Model deprives women of a living.

This myth is the most intriguing because it is actually an admission that the Nordic Model works, directly contradicting myth six. The Model can only deprive women of a living if it does, in fact, reduce the demand for prostitution. What’s more, comprehensive exit programs are a critical part of the Model, involving access to a wide variety of services including retraining and employment support.

Hashtags like #nothingaboutuswithoutus (used by a number of groups, not just sex industry organizations) regularly appear alongside this claim as though the only satisfactory option available is for everyone to accept a flourishing prostitution market because some people want it that way.

Not just any people though, of course – workers – if you buy the “sex work is work” line. Leaving aside the problems with the concept that prostitution is a job like any other, if we accept this premise, then the argument doesn’t follow, as workers in any given industry don’t get to determine whether or not that industry continues.

Take the brown coal or forestry industries in Australia, for example. These are sectors that have been deemed by governments to be harmful in a number of ways and that, as a result – while they are still potentially profitable – they no longer have a social license to continue operating uninhibited. Workers in these industries are often outraged at seeing their jobs threatened, which is why unions advocate for “just transitions,” providing retraining and facilitated access to social and employment services for those workers affected (sound familiar?). For the most part, these unions have given up arguing that the harmful industry in question should continue simply to avoid employment disruption for workers.

If sex work is work, and prostitution is just another industry, then it is open for wider public discussion and policy changes like other industry, including the possibility that governments will no longer want it to function.

8. The Nordic Model has made prostitution unsafe.

First things first, prostitution is unsafe. To suggest that the Nordic Model is what makes it dangerous is disingenuous. Such declarations also ignore research showing that traditional forms of legalization and decriminalization do virtually nothing to protect women in prostitution from very high odds of physical and sexual violence as well as psychological trauma.

Systems of legalization foster greater demand and create an expanding illegal industry surrounding them, so it is a fallacy to pretend that in localities where prostitution is legalized, all women are actually in legal forms of prostitution. In addition, rates of trauma are similar across legalized, decriminalized and criminalized systems of prostitution.

Sadly, even the Nordic Model is not capable of fully protecting women still in prostitution from many of these conditions – as long as there is prostitution there will be harm – but the idea that it makes conditions worse is spurious.

The “more violence” claims mostly relate to a widely cited ProSentret study which found that women in prostitution had reported an increase in certain forms of violent acts from johns, including hair pulling and biting, after the introduction of the Nordic Model in Norway. What is often left out from these accounts, however, is that the study also found women reported a sharp decline in other forms of violence, including punching and rape.

As for women in prostitution not being able to access adequate social services, this may well be a problem on the ground. If so, it absolutely needs to be addressed. But this is an issue of implementation rather than a flaw in the Model itself.

The original version of the Nordic Model, introduced in Sweden, was part of the Kvinnofrid reforms to funnel more government money and support to a variety of services tackling violence against women, including specifically in prostitution. We’ve seen this again in France, with laws decriminalizing those in prostitution brought in alongside measures to curb other forms of violence against women.

9. The Nordic Model is really a moral crusade in disguise.

Despite the evidence-based policy of the Nordic Model being introduced by progressive and socialist governments, the notion persists that this is some kind of underhanded religious or conservative attempt to curtail sexual expression, rather than an effective way of tackling trafficking and violence against women.

But perhaps this all depends on how you define “moral crusade.” If you view the movement for women’s equality as a “moral crusade”, then I suppose it is. It you are determined to dismiss all of the evidence in support of the Nordic Model and instead want to debate this on a “moral” level, then by all means do. Those who think violence against women is a bad thing are bound to win that argument.

10. Academics who research prostitution make money off the backs of women in prostitution.

This is a relatively new addition to the list of silencing techniques used against those feminists who challenge the sex industry. The first time I came across such an accusation was via the comment section here and then in the follow up emails helpfully advising me that I was just like men who rape women in prostitution because I was using the experiences of sex workers without paying.

So let me be very clear: academics conduct research. For many, like me, this often involves collating existing research and, using that evidence, creating an argument that can be defended. That is our job. And it is our job, regardless of the topic or area that we’re researching.

Engaging in public debates about the Nordic Model, and citing relevant research, is in no way an attempt to speak for women in prostitution. It is an attempt to bring the findings of that research to a broader audience. If this is perceived as threatening by the sex industry, then surely that suggests the Nordic Model is effective?

 

 

Meagan Tyler is a lecturer in Sociology at Victoria University, Australia. Her research interests are based mainly around the social construction of gender and sexuality. Her work in this area has been published in Women’s Studies International Forum and Women and Therapy as well as several edited collections including ‘Everyday Pornography’ (Boyle ed., 2010) and ‘Prostitution, Harm and Gender Inequality’ (Coy ed., 2012). Meagan’s first book, ‘Selling Sex Short: The pornographic and sexological construction of women’s sexuality in the West’, was released in July, 2011.

 

 

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • Helen Pringle

    Spot-on and also very useful Megs!

    • my thoughts

      Nordic model which they have in Sweden is not working well. In Denmark brothels are legal and I feel their model works best and is much safer for sex workers. According to the internet adult tourism guide, you can see that in Sweden the prostitution is still doing very well though they have changed the law. Source: http://www.wikiadult.org/wiki/Sweden

      There is also another interesting article about countries with most prostitutes: http://www.wikiadult.org/wiki/The_Countries_With_the_Most_Prostitutes

      I think that article proofs that wether it is legal or not, there will be still same amount of prostitutes.

      • Meghan Murphy

        “Safer” how?

  • Donkey Skin

    Thanks for this Meagan, and for your article on The Conversation.

    Australia is behind the times on this issue – the Left, in particular, is very attached to a 70s-style libertarian approach that persists in analysing a multi-billion-dollar industry solely in terms of personal sexual choices. The ‘prominent feminist’ Eva Cox’s response to you is a prime example of this wilful obtuseness.

    However, I think you, and every critic of the sex industry, can also take some heart from the vociferousness of the attacks on you. The relentlessness (often bordering on stalking) with which sex-industry shills go after Nordic Model advocates is a measure of how spooked they are. I think they sense that they will ultimately lose this debate.

    They know that legalisation has been an unmitigated disaster in the Netherlands and Germany, and that it is now undeniable that countries that have adopted it are responsible for facilitating human rights abuses on a massive scale.

    As more countries adopt the Nordic Model, further evidence will emerge as to which approach reduces violence, trafficking and gender inequality, and which one fuels it.

  • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

    “Academics who research prostitution make money off the backs of women in prostitution.”
    I would say there are academics who are merely propagandists for the party line (I have had the misfortune of interacting with one of them). Those people, I’d say, ARE making money off the back of prostitutes. Those people, I’d say, SHOULD be silenced simply because they are not doing their job. Academics who are actually doing their job and reporting honestly on prostitution should not be silenced.

  • TotallyUnsexy

    “But perhaps this all depends on how you define “moral crusade.” If you view the movement for women’s equality as a “moral crusade”, then I suppose it is…. Those who think violence against women is a bad thing are bound to win that argument.”

    Right on! I think it’s about time progressives and radical leftists reclaimed the word “moral” from the reactionaries. Think about how ridiculous it is to say that concerns about “morality” (i.e. goodness) are bad, it’s basically a contradiction! Plus it gives the impression that conservatives are more noble than they really are.

    Next time some porn-loving liberal says “Aren’t you being moralistic?”, someone should say “Yeah, I am” and then start chanting “I’m a moralist, I’m a moralist, I’m a moralist” in order to give them a taste of their own medicine.

    “One of the things that critics seem to find so difficult to comprehend about the Nordic Model is that it is actually about restricting buyers, not about restricting those in prostitution. That is why it decriminalizes prostituted persons.”

    I’m not fluent in liberalish by any means, but I think that when liberal feminists say “you’re denying my agency”, what they really mean is, “you’re saying I don’t have agency, that I’m not an uber-empowered, free-choice maker and I’m upset by that insinuation” or perhaps they mean “by saying I don’t have any agency, you’re ripping the agency and power out of my sexy body” as saying something were true could make it true. It also could be the case that they think of power and agency as good feelings and are upset that you made them feel less good.

    “Similarly, when anyone practicing radical politics points out that free choice is a fairytale, and that all our actions are constrained within certain material conditions, this does not equate to saying we’re all infantilized, little drones unable to make decisions for ourselves.”

    Ironically, if someone complains about not being seen as, or treated like, an adult (i.e. being treated like an infantilised, little drone), that complaint is a sign of immaturity. Kids desperately want to seem grown up. Actual grown ups (and honestly, I can’t claim to be all that mature myself) don’t care.

    Here’s another irony, liberals insist that they aren’t drones, but when you provide them with a rational critique of anything (for any reason, not just gender related critiques) they don’t want to hear it. They accuse of over-analysing things or thinking too much or they say “it’s all just entertainment, why you got to take everything so seriously!” or they insist that everything’s just a matter of taste. Here’s a hint, if you want to be seen as free thinker and not a drone, maybe you should try, oh I don’t know, actually THINKING about stuff. Real critical thinkers (i.e. non-drones) like finding out that they’re being manipulating in some way that they didn’t know about, because then they can resist that manipulation.

    So while porn-loving, liberal, so-called feminists might not be “drones” in the sense that they are incapable of rational thought, they intellectually lazy people who REFUSE to think and that’s worse!

    Note: I’ve decided in advance that I’m not going to respond to any liberal who replies to this. I already listen to enough liberal crap at university. Their arguments are all the same (maybe they are all drones, LOL!) and so I’m not going to waste my time. I’d glad to know that at least some genuine feminists are still allowed to teach at Australian universities, anyone know of any proper (non-liberal) feminists who teach at Monash University?

  • pbutterfly2000

    What a fantastic article! This makes all of the issues so clear. Everyone should read this.

  • Maria Luisa

    Why did I not know that there is a Feminist Current Facebook page?

  • Maria Luisa

    In other news, here in Spain, our right-wing government is taking steps to legalize prostitution, along with making legal abortion more difficult to obtain. It’s awful, really, just awful.

    • http://gravatar.com/sundazed2 Henke

      Deeply sorry to hear that. Here in Sweden I don’t think there is much change in the nordic model but the discussions regarding abortion has recently sprung up. The so call pro-life movement from USA has taken a bit of root here and they are shaking up thing quite alot.
      And I guess I don’t even need to tell this but men are the ones doing most of the talking in this matter (as usual).

      • https://plus.google.com/112914305004872915975 Angela Williams

        So why is it a problem if men do all the talking on abortion? It is very similar to non sex workers doing all the talking on the Nordic model and there seems to be little concern about that in this space. You don’t want others interfering in your right to use your body as you see fit? Maybe try respecting others’ rights to self determination and autonomy.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          “So why is it a problem if men do all the talking on abortion? It is very similar to non sex workers doing all the talking on the Nordic model and there seems to be little concern about that in this space.”

          Helllllooooo tu quoque fallacy! How nice to see you!

          Seriously, there are plenty of ex-sex-workers talking about the Nordic model. The fact that we also talk about it does not mean we are trying to silence anyone or suppress anyone’s autonomy. That claim, you have not even begun to start to demonstrate.

          But yea, it’s easy to come on a thread and sling logical fallacies as if you “nailed it.”

          • https://plus.google.com/+JMBecker J.M. Becker

            I actually think this comment went right above your head, as you never considered it’s real message. What I heard it say, was that your justifications for the continued prosecution of johns is counter to the message you claim to support. You say you believe a body is owned by it’s individual, but you don’t oppose systematic prohibitions.

            Why would criminalizing Johns be any more ethical than criminalizing both johns and sex workers? It’s one thing to support granting both their dignity, but you simply say “Incarcerating people is still OK, just as long they aren’t the sex workers (assumed to be women in your mind)” Neither is ethical nor good policy, and all demonstrate disrespect for the individual’s personal health decisions and moral beliefs.

            So I guess my question is, why should anyone who would support legalization want to support this position? It would just shift the victimized population, and it’s not anymore ethical than the original sin of prohibition. I’ll say this, actually fixing the problem of getting government out of counter-productive vice policing is the largest fight. It’s also the fight that will reap the most benefits, it would provide the ethical groundwork required to attract broad support regardless of gender. I’m in the US, we don’t even have a functional democracy anyway…. policies are practically decided by moneyed interests alone, we’ve got billion dollar prison industrial complexes that depend on continued incarcerations… but for europe avoiding thus proper fight is repulsive to my sensibilities, considering how much potential for change exists.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “You say you believe a body is owned by it’s individual,”

            Nope. Sorry, you lose.
            http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/self-ownership-is-a-meaningless-concept/

          • tumblety

            ‘Why would criminalizing Johns be any more ethical than criminalizing both johns and sex workers? It’s one thing to support granting both their dignity, but you simply say “Incarcerating people is still OK, just as long they aren’t the sex workers (assumed to be women in your mind)”’

            J.M., you assume people who support this position view it as a man vs woman issue. As a former victim of sexual trafficking who completely supports this position, I don’t assume that. I have seen plenty of men be prostitutes as well. And I don’t think that should be treated any differently.

            It isn’t about gender, J.M, it’s about the fact that john and prostitute aren’t remotely equal positions. There are several factors where this is particularly important which I hope you’ll give thought to:

            1. The prostitutes, regardless of their gender, are performing an act for money, frequently out of desperation/perceived necessity. The johns are actually spending money rather than making it, and are doing so for pleasure and not for necessity. If there is a moral component to this, this is a pretty important differentiation to make. Prostitutes aren’t more likely to be victims because they’re more often female, but because basic common sense tells you a desperate and impoverished person is far more at risk of being exploited than a wealthy person burning their disposable income for pleasure.

            2. Expanding on # 1, many prostitutes are forced into prostitution. And despite a john’s best efforts and intentions, he isn’t actually psychic and will never be sure which scenario he’s entered into. Many victims of sexual abuse are exceptionally good at acting or shutting down emotions. So a john is taking a risk of participating in and funding something seriously illegal and wrong, and all for the sake of selfish desire. Whereas I have never heard of a john being forced into being a john. So a prostitute is not really taking the risk of sexually violating her john or funding an industry profiting off his exploitation and slavery. And the truth is, we don’t say drunk driving is okay because plenty of drunk drivers never end up killing anyone. I think if you do the research you will find a higher % of prostitutes are victims of abuse or rape or trafficking than drunk drivers who actually murder someone.

          • Sebastian Hawks

            Your view of the “sob stories” is one sided, what about all the men with physical and mental disabilities such as Asperger’s Syndrome who are completely sexually disenfranchised by the current hyperagamous post 60s mating patterns? You’d deny them a sex life? You do know it is normal amongst primates for lower ranking males to turn violent out of the living hell of sexual disenfranchisement? Ira Einhorn was absolutely correct in that “it is perfectly natural to destroy that which we cannot have.” Although 99.9% don’t act on such ruminations, when you increase the number of such in that class 1000 fold like you do in Christo-Fascist Feminist Amerika that .1% suddenly becomes a significant number. When a sick puritanical society takes away the outlet for such men it gets it’s Karma leveled by people dressing up like comic book villains and shooting up movie theaters. No sobbing sallies are needed on the cable news commentators to “explain” away the violent post 60s culture we live in, the simple fact is low status males have NO VALUE period in this “player” culture. I expect Amerika and other sissified nations of the Idiocracy to fall to a stronger, masculine competitor sometimes in the next century. Good Riddance.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “You do know it is normal amongst primates for lower ranking males to turn violent out of the living hell of sexual disenfranchisement? ”
            Are you gonna be the next Elliot Rogers, asshole? You do know death threats are illegal, right? Get the fuck out of here, you entitled dick.

        • https://www.facebook.com/rhia.poole Rhiannon Poole

          Just WHO is doing the talking? A shocking number of these “sex worker” organizations were started by women and men who are admitted pimps and madams, and generally you’ll find @sex workers’ are pimps and their advocacy organisations are pimps/madames/whatever the want to call themselves. In contrast, huge numbers of women who have been in the sex trade are speaking out, writing books and speaking to Amnesty international AND BEING IGNORED. Anonymous online comments stating ”I’m a sex worker” are meaningless – it could be a 45yr old male pimps for all we know, where are their faces? Rachael Moran makes public appearances and put her photo on her book ‘paid for’ – she speaks of being a homeless teenager, takes the idea of choice to task, speaks about the real nature of the trade and calls for its end. So do thousands of others. Yet the well funded pimp disguised as ‘sex worker unions’ are the only ones being listened to, becuase the patriarchal public discourse has reason to suppress the exploited women and hear their voices.

  • elfeministo

    I’m beginning to sense a pattern here. This is the third piece Feminist Current has published in six weeks that claims to debunk “myths” in the debates over prostitution (Sam Berg’s piece from Oct 31 and Janice Raymond’s talk from Dec 2). The problem with these pieces is that they all cherry-pick straw-person arguments that misrepresent the main arguments being made by decriminalists and other opponents of abolition.

    This is poor form because it distorts the conversation by reproducing marginal arguments and it reduces the discussion to the terms of those arguments, thus dumbing down the entire debate – just to score easy points with people who already agree with the author. This tactic won’t persuade anyone informed around these issues, and worse, it undermines the credibility of people like Tyler, Raymond, and Berg because it appears evasive at best, and at worst, it appears ignorant of mountains of evidence and argument that are accumulating.

    To be taken seriously in a debate like this, it is imperative to represent (and respond to) the best arguments and evidence marshaled by your opponents, and to do so fairly and respectfully. Otherwise, to play upon Meghan’s well-wrought mockery of “I choose my choice!”, you’re not saying much more than “I think what I think!” – that kind of solipsism might feel satisfying, but it lacks intellectual integrity, and thus has little potential to persuade or to gain political traction.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “The problem with these pieces is that they all cherry-pick straw-person arguments that misrepresent the main arguments being made by decriminalists and other opponents of abolition.”

      It doesn’t count as ‘cherry-picking’ if it’s what happens consistently and constantly.

    • Meagan Tyler

      These really are seen as some of the most effective arguments raised by those who oppose the Nordic Model and I have certainly not modified them to misrepresent the position being put forward. In many cases there are direct links provided to these exact statements, so I genuinely fail to see how this qualifies as a case of “straw man” arguing.

      In addition, I have provided a significant number of links in this article in order to do exactly as you suggest and respond to the evidence presented by those who disagree with my position. There are also a range of links to peer-reviewed research papers and I’d hope we could all count relevant peer-reviewed research as more than simply saying “I think what I think!”

      • elfeministo

        Thank you Meagan for your response. I’ve taken the opportunity to elaborate on some of the specific reasons behind my response. Due to technical and spatial limitations here, I have posted these on rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2013/12/10-myths-about-prostitution-trafficking-and-nordic-model.

      • https://plus.google.com/112914305004872915975 Angela Williams

        The ‘cherry picking’ element comes from you only selecting those bits of evidence you find palatable and voices that agree with your stance. You made it very clear from paragraph one that this conversation is not for those with positive sex work stories or (god forbid) experience. The only sex worker voices you value are ‘victims’, the rest of us are abusive and argumentative. This is cherry picking.

        • lizor

          Taking note of the large numbers of people – usually identifiable by race and income level – who are injured and killed at their job is not cherry picking.

          Your position, Angela, is to ignore the fact of those injuries and deaths because there are more fortunate people who have not been injured or killed, or possibly because you yourself have profited doing similar work.

    • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      Any evidence for your claim that these are not representative arguments? Do you have, I dunno, a better argument? Nowhere in your diatribe do you give us one. You are an absurd little time-waster, aren’t you? Do you really think that if you write academicky enough, you will look more credible? It is imperative that you get your head out of your ass, because your diatribe lacks intellectual integrity.

    • naefearty

      Elfeministo. You are a well known anti-feminist male who harrasses women online. Your opinion is of no consequence here since you add nothing to the discussion.

      • elfeministo

        naefearty, your statement is untrue in more ways than I am inclined to dignify with a response. That said, I’m confident that my responses contribute more to this discussion than your personal attack (or Francois Tremblay’s). Moreover, your words reflect poorly on Meghan and her blog. I don’t slag or slander people, I write about issues. Pertinently and substantively. I back up my words. I speak respectfully to others, always. You’re welcome to address the substance of my arguments; beyond that, I have to ask: what does your negativity add to this conversation?

        • Meghan Murphy

          What?? naefearty does not ‘reflect poorly on [me] and [my] blog.’ You are a man who seems to have made it his mission to harass and troll feminists.

          • elfeministo

            Participating in public debates about important issues is not harassment, Meghan. I have never harassed anyone.

            We’ve already discussed the “troll” question. Your own comment policy defines troll as “posting comments in order to derail the discussion’ [or] to take it away from the topic of the original article and onto a topic the commenter wants to discuss.” – I’ve never done that. Or, consider the slightly more expansive definition on wikipedia – I’ve never done that, either.

            Finally, your (and others’) interest in surmising what’s in my jeans, or my genes, or wherever else my sex or gender may be located – that’s just tacky, and I can only guess at people’s motivations for doing so.

            That all said, I have obviously chosen an anonymous form of advocacy. As your comment policy also suggests, sometimes that is a matter of personal safety and security. That is definitely true in my case. Your policy also requests accountability from your commentators. I am willing to account for my words, always, and I think that’s a matter of record.

            Bottom line – if you don’t wish to discuss the issues, fine. But please don’t use personal attacks as an excuse to ignore reasonable and respectful arguments – especially when those attacks are mistaken. For what it’s worth, I’ve spoken out against at least one person who misrepresented you in a similar manner, recently and publicly. What exactly did I do to forfeit the same consideration?

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Participating in public debates about important issues is not harassment, Meghan. I have never harassed anyone.”

            You are obsessive and relentless in a way that, imo, equates to trolling. You know our arguments yet you pretend not to. You are disingenuous in your engagement (for example — the accusation of ‘cherry-picking’ regarding Meagan’s post).

            “Finally, your (and others’) interest in surmising what’s in my jeans, or my genes, or wherever else my sex or gender may be located – that’s just tacky, and I can only guess at people’s motivations for doing so.”

            What?? Are you not a man?

          • TotallyUnsexy

            “What?? Are you not a man?”

            If his intention is to hide his biological sex he’s doing a terrible job at it. I may not know all that much Spanish by I know that “el feministo” means “the male feminist”.

            So yeah, it’s pretty silly for him to complain about us knowing that he’s a man.

          • Elizabeth

            I’ve never seen more male behaviour than El’s. He aims to overpower, overwhelm, conquer and destroy. Ain’t nuttin’ more male than that. A true swordsman.

          • https://www.facebook.com/rhia.poole Rhiannon Poole

            el anti-feminosto I’ll safely bet you frequent brothels -or maybe you like the street corners – and feel threatened by the notion of women being in a position where we are not desperate enough have to do whatever you want for your money. Must feel threatening to lose that power hey you misogynist fu<*. Your mansplaing to every one why I really want the freedom to have to suck your dick for money is repulsive, obnoxious, and unwelcome. You absolutely have no right to speak for us – feminists who want our voices heard are welcome to advocate – they are NOT silencing us by speaking out for our rights or quoting statistics about our rapes and murders and backgrounds. People ranting about our 'agency' and ignoring us while loudly airing what organisations, thinly disguised as us, that are made up of those who profit from us say about the buying and selling of women and girl's bodies are the ones speaking over us, they are the ones making all the profit of our misery, they don;t have to have fat old man on topof them, but they take all the money, and obnoxious men trying the shut down the feminist academics who speak for us as though YOU are speaking for us really inspire vomitus rage.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          ” I’m confident that my responses contribute more to this discussion than your personal attack (or Francois Tremblay’s). ”

          Your one response was vacuous. All you did was whine and bitch, with no evidence to back your bitching.

  • Meagan Tyler

    Thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated.

  • marv

    Sex work apologists exemplify classical opposition tactics to revolutionary change. All subversive ideas and policies originally face scorn, ridicule, rejection and underfunding. For instance, before and after antebellum there were slaves and former slaves who sided with the proslavery lobby. They were duped into thinking they should have the right to work for white folks as long as laws were in place to ensure humane treatment. A minority of slaves even fought alongside their owners against the liberators (See Stanley Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1974).

    Some evidence for the rationalization of slavery by former slaves can be found in what is known as the Slave Narratives:

    “Dem was de good ole days. How ! longs to be back dar wid my ole folks an’ a playin’ wid de chillun down by de creek. ‘Taint nothin’ lak it today, nawsuh…. Dey tells me dat when a pusson crosses dat ribber, de Lawd gives him whut he wants. I done tol’ de Lawd I don’t want nothin’ much … only my home, white folks. I don’t think dats much to ax’ for. I suppose he’ll send me back dar. I been a-waitin’ for him to call.”

    “People has the wrong idea of slave days. We was treated good. My Massa never laid a hand on me the whole time I was wid him… Sometime we loaned the Massa money when he was hard pushed.”

    “Before the war you belonged to somebody. After the war you weren’t nothin’ but a nigger.”

    “I was born a slave but I ain’t neber been one. I’se been a worker for good peoples. You wouldn’t calls dat bein’ a slave would you, white folks?”

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36020/36020-h/36020-h.html# http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19446/19446-h/19446-h.htm.

    Also here is a excerpt from Belinda Harmence’s book, Before Freedom, 1989:

    “I hope and prays to get to heaven. I’ll be satisfied to see my Savior that my old marster worshiped and my husband preached about. I want to be in heaven with all my white folks, just to wait on them, and love them, and serve them, sorta like I did in slavery time. That will be enough heaven for Adeline.”

    Does any of this sound familiar within prostitution/sex worker debates, minus the religious references?

    • lizor

      Thanks for these resources, marv!

      • marv

        No problem. I used to have the unfounded idea that all slaves were pro-abolition. That some or many? did not want freedom is now understandable to me. Slavery was the hierarchical sum of relationships that sustained them however benevolent or heinous they were. If they were manumitted there was a high probability of becoming outcasts, homeless and fending for themselves. Toiling for pimps and labouring for capitalists approximates slavery in similar ways. Both are bound up with the patriarchal organization of nations.

        • lizor

          Yes. It’s an informative analogy, I think. I saw someone in a documentary a while back suggesting that slavery should be a “choice” for black americans. In some nebulous pomo intellectual fantasy space, I suppose the idea of giving up responsibility for one’s own welfare could be construed as a legitimately attractive choice, but only in the worst of circumstances as you say. The severe economic hardships of late capitalism are reiterating those circumstances. To frame such as a “choice” instead of one of a couple of terrible options for survival is – I’m searching for a descriptor – I think it’s the kind of evil Hannah Arendt was talking about.

  • Gurney Halleck

    There is always something missing from these arguments, and it concerns just what is the exact motivation of the prohibitionists. Some have attributed the incentive of the Nordic model pushers as stemming from religious motives or mere prudery, but that is, as Megan points out, a claim confounded by the fact that many of these Nordic model supporters are socialist/liberal on other issues. There is an elephant in the room everyone is ignoring. It is, simply, this: Women as a class are not comfortable with easily available and legal prostitution because it conflicts with women’s preferred cultural mating habits. Easily available prostitution frees men from the need of getting into a relationship in order to have sex. Yes, there’s hookups, but getting lucky in that fashion is not guaranteed, whereas paying the prostitute is guarantee of service. Women on the whole are not comfortable with men having the prostitute option because it throws a wrench into women’s preferred mating habits. Maybe that 30 year old bachelor won’t be as eager about settling down if he can just go cheaply pay for sex with 19 year old girls. Hence, that option must be taken away from him. The whole “Nordic model” deal is men’s sexuality being selfishly controlled by feminists under the guise of helping women.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Some have attributed the incentive of the Nordic model pushers as stemming from religious motives or mere prudery, but that is, as Megan points out, a claim confounded by the fact that many of these Nordic model supporters are socialist/liberal on other issues.”

      No, not ‘on other issues.’ The Nordic model is a socialist model. In France it was put forth by the Socialist government.

      “Women as a class are not comfortable with easily available and legal prostitution because it conflicts with women’s preferred cultural mating habits. Easily available prostitution frees men from the need of getting into a relationship in order to have sex. Maybe that 30 year old bachelor won’t be as eager about settling down if he can just go cheaply pay for sex with 19 year old girls. Hence, that option must be taken away from him. The whole “Nordic model” deal is men’s sexuality being selfishly controlled by feminists under the guise of helping women.”

      Umm…. Men can pay for sex right now. Yet they still get into relationships. Your sexist stereotypes are tired and unfounded.

      • Gurney Halleck

        “Umm…. Men can pay for sex right now. Yet they still get into relationships. Your sexist stereotypes are tired and unfounded.”

        It is not a matter of extremes — I’m not saying that men will entirely eschew relationships for sex with prostitutes, but that the availability of prostitutes reduces the pressure on men to seek relationships in order to have sex since nature has made men more eager about sex than it has women (a fact that the prostitution debate is a testament to — it’s men who are almost entirely the customers and women the sellers.) The availability of legal prostitution gives more sexual freedom to males. Women don’t, as a consequence, command as high a “price” over sexual relationships (courting/relationships etc), and that’s the basic motivation behind the prohibitionist push. It’s women engaging in price fixing, as it were. To use a crude metaphor, it’s the retailers of sex taking action against the whole sellers.

        The logic of prohibiting prostitution directly stems from the phenomenon that Kathleen Voh and Roy F. Baumeister explain in this paper:

        http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/assets/71503.pdf

        • Meghan Murphy

          “It is not a matter of extremes — I’m not saying that men will entirely eschew relationships for sex with prostitutes, but that the availability of prostitutes reduces the pressure on men to seek relationships in order to have sex since nature has made men more eager about sex than it has women (a fact that the prostitution debate is a testament to — it’s men who are almost entirely the customers and women the sellers.)”

          Do you honestly think that feminists who oppose prostitution WANT to be in relationships with men who buy sex? Also, have you heard of lesbians?

          “The availability of legal prostitution gives more sexual freedom to males.”

          At the expense of women’s lives. This is about women’s lives. This isn’t about feminists being so desperate to trap some disgusting douchebag into a relationship. Get over yourself.

        • NitroGirl

          Most of men’s “sexual freedom” relies on sexual imprisonment (oppression) of women. Men’s “Sexual freedom” = Sexual Dominance over women.

        • https://www.facebook.com/rhia.poole Rhiannon Poole

          Women don’t want relationships any more than men, and I’m sure you’ve never seen a woman have an orgasm, little loan 9, but that’s becuase you’re a repulsive vile little slime, not because women like sex less than men.all human beings do want intimacy (though someone like you is incapable of it I’m sure) and also sex and those are not mutually inclusive. Women being called ‘sluts’ and sexually degraded and objectified does stop us from being as promiscuous as they would otherwise be. sex is not the same as masturbating with a woman’s body who is hungry, cold, broke, trying to look after her kids or desperate for drugs. The actual thing you are really getting at is that attractive19 year old women want to have sex with young good looking men, not fat middle aged perverts or wrinkly yr old creeps. Patriarchal lore says all men have the absolute right to have sex whenever they want with young attractive women, whichever ones they fancy – and since women got out of being marital property and won some choice, it turns out they choose young good looking men. Rather than look in the mirror and accept that if you;re middle aged and flabby you might not be able to sleep with 18 yr old models, you prefer to make sure you have a holy right to have sex with any woman’s body you choose and your hatred of women is perfectly served by the sex trade.

      • Missfit

        Another man who thinks that any man’s selfish desires to use women sexually whenever they want however they want trump women’s physiological and psychological well-being and right to be free of sexual exploitation.

        Dude thinks he totally got it: feminist’s goal is that men ‘settle down’… Dude can go back to MRA land now…

    • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      So in your view prostitutes have no rights? Is that what you’re saying?

    • http://gravatar.com/sundazed2 Henke

      “The whole “Nordic model” deal is men’s sexuality being selfishly controlled by feminists under the guise of helping women. ”

      umm no its not.

    • Candy

      “Maybe that 30 year old bachelor won’t be as eager about settling down if he can just go cheaply pay for sex with 19 year old girls.”

      I don’t feel threatened by prostitution; sorry to burst your bubble. I’m only interested in men who share my wish for a longstanding relationship, and I wouldn’t stoop low enough to date men who fetishize teenage girls. You sound like you think men care only about sex (a sexist stereotype in and of itself, and highly reductionist). Yawn.

    • 740TAO

      Oh, more unsupported essentialist evo-psych post-fem dribble. Was it a long trip from AVFM?

      Honestly, no one gives a shit about that 30 year old bachelor. You may be surprised to find that feminism also seeks to erode the patriarchal nuclear family structure, or at least the stigmas associated with domestic gender roles. If all of us women are uninterested in sex, especially feminists, then why would we be threatened by the loss of the bachelor? because we rely on him financially? Then why would women’s lib movements fight for better employment, civic responsibility, and political representation? Or do you consider the independent millennial woman to be a fad to be resigned once the biological clocks start chiming? Gimme a break.

      That you value men’s gratification over women’s safety says a lot about your character. If you’ve been scorn by an unrequited love, I suggest you consider for once that it wasn’t because she was a bitch, but because you are a paranoid disgusting loser.

  • http://www.johnstompers.com Sam Berg

    Well written and nicely evidenced, Meagan.

    I read your article right before reading the following article by George Monbiot which provides excellent psychological and sociological reasoning against framing prostitution as “sex work.” It seems materialism and seeking emotional solace in commodities is quite damaging to people’s happiness because turning “citizens” into “consumers” (or in the case of prostitution, “clients”) demeans everyone’s humanity on a fundamental neurolinguistic level:

    “Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages that cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive and more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join in demanding social activities. The researchers point out that, as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/materialism-system-eats-us-from-inside-out

    • Meagan Tyler

      Thanks Sam. I was literally just about the read that piece!

  • Missfit

    Myth no. 2 insisting that only current sex-workers have the right to talk on the issue is a tactic used to silence exited women whose voices do not echo the pro-prostitution lobby mantras. Myth no. 2 also results in that the sex-workers we hear are those who are given the means to be heard by the sex industry. Many prostituted women remain voiceless. Many feel they can finally speak the truth only once they have exited. Exited women are the best placed to speak on the issue as they have a certain distance that make them feel safe to talk and that allowed them to reflect on their experience. Since prostitution involves different forms of abuse, there is often a lot of denial, just like women living in abusive relationship will try to convince the world and themselves that the situation is not that bad (only once they are out of the relationship do they allow themselves to realize the abuse).

    And for those arguing that prostitution is a job like any other, and that it is not women’s bodies that are for sale but ‘only’ services, the picture accompanying this article is quite revealing: prostitution is the selling of women’s bodies to be used as sexual commodities.

  • Gurney Halleck

    Meagan, you said:

    “Do you honestly think that feminists who oppose WANT to be in relationships with men who buy sex? Also, have you heard of lesbians?”

    No, men who have to “pay for it” aren’t attractive to women. There’s a theory that a man who manages to get laid a lot is all the more attractive to other women for that fact, and certainly this will only count if the dude doesn’t pay for it. But still, in general, legal and convenient prostitution puts less pressure on men OVERALL when it comes to sex — some man might prefer just paying for it on a friday night rather than going out and hitting on women (with no guarantee of success.) There is certainly value in that.

    “At the expense of women’s lives. This is about women’s lives. This isn’t about feminists being so desperate to trap some disgusting douchebag into a relationship. Get over yourself.”

    Not necessarily. It is prohibitionist policies that create the danger for prostitutes. Legalization brings them out of the shadows and affords them legal protection, giving them no incentive to not go to the authorities about problematic or non-paying customers.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Men who pay for sex are attractive and unattractive, married and unmarried. Some of them may have trouble meeting women, others do not. Your notion of what a john is is inaccurate.

      “It is prohibitionist policies that create the danger for prostitutes. Legalization brings them out of the shadows and affords them legal protection, giving them no incentive to not go to the authorities about problematic or non-paying customers.”

      Nothing you say in this statement is true. Under legalization, trafficking flourishes, as does the ‘underground’ industries. A marginal number of women actually register and pay taxes under legalization because the stigma of being a prostitute remains (despite claims that say legalization will destigmatize, it does not).

      Some further information, so we don’t need to keep going through this over an over again: http://feministcurrent.com/category/prostitution-2/

  • Gurney Halleck

    “Most of men’s “sexual freedom” relies on sexual imprisonment (oppression) of women. Men’s “Sexual freedom” = Sexual Dominance over women.”

    What is your argument here? How does a woman who agrees to sexually rent out her body for far more money than she would get if she were a house cleaner or meat factory employee “sexually oppressed/imprisoned”?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ok Trolly McTrollerson. Let’s be real: Are you being intentionally obtuse or are you really so ignorant that you don’t understand how prostitution oppresses women? I’m asking because I need to know whether you require some “further reading” links or if you need to stop commenting here. Do let us know.

      • Ash

        Yeah, how many house cleaners have to worry about contracting HIV or herpes every time they go to work? What about pregnancy? It is an absurd suggestion that prostitution is akin to house cleaning or meat packing…another attempt to depoliticize a predominately GENDERED phenomenon.

  • Gurney Halleck

    Meagan: “What about lesbians”?

    Lesbians are not being busted seeking the services of prostitutes. Lesbians, being women, have a lower sex drive than men, and this attested to by the fact that lesbians have less sex (and fewer partners) than gay males.

    • Meghan Murphy

      AS IN, LESBIANS WHO ARE ALSO FEMINISTS AND ABOLITIONISTS DON’T OPPOSE PROSTITUTION (OBVIOUSLY) BECAUSE THEY WANT MEN TO BE IN RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM AND ARE SCARED THAT IF PROSTITUTION IS LEGAL NO MAN WILL EVER MARRY THEM. Like, explain why lesbian feminists oppose prostitution, based on your ridiculous theory?

      • Gurney Halleck

        I have another comment of mine in mod queue.

        The reply to your point is easy: Feminists work for the interests of women even when those interests come at the expense of men. Some feminists are lesbians, and likewise work on behalf of team woman.

        • Meghan Murphy

          “At the expense of men,” huh? Ok. If you think not being able to fuck and abuse women whenever you feel the urge somehow hurts men as a class, I guess that’s our thing.

          • Gurney Halleck

            You have the right to consider a man paying for a prostitute as being abusive towards that prostitutes but that is merely your personal view. Don’t impose it on others.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Uh. I don’t want that “right.” I’m not a libertarian. Rights don’t work like that. If your ‘rights’ hurt others/take away their rights, that version of ‘rights’ cease to work towards freedom and just becomes exploitation/oppression. Human rights is not just about individuals being able to do whatever they want despite the consequences for others.

          • Gurney Halleck

            Again, you have to show what harms result from allowing women to conduct the service of sex selling, harms that don’t stem from prohibition itself or a false theory called “trafficking” that conflates things as disparate as women merely migrating to become sex workers and pimps renting out women.

            If your point of view can’t withstand honest debate (i.e without you censoring the debate) then maybe you should reconsider your position. You are, in short, a Victorian who wants to limit the sexual rights of men (and the women who would service them for money) just so women could have more sexual power to wield over men.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok byeeeeeeee.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            Gbye asshole with a discredited theory!

          • Missfit

            ‘you have to show what harms result from allowing women to conduct the service of sex selling’

            These harms have been highly demonstrated, often through ex-prostitutes’ testimonies. You just don’t care about women and have no place in a feminist discussion.

          • Ash

            Don’t take away men’z individual choice to exploit people for their bonerz. GAWD MEGHAN.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          Hang on there dudebro, what about me? What could possibly be my motive for being against legalization? Are you saying I am fighting against MY OWN sexual freedom? That… makes no sense whatsoever.

          • Gurney Halleck

            It has been argued that women control belonging. Many males are willing to align themselves with feminists in order to get female approval. Of course, there is, really, no need to speculate about the motivation of individuals for supporting prohibition, but we do need to expand the scope of the argument to examine the larger cultural forces that could make prostitution a necessity in the modern day West (in which top males can hoard the Erotic Capital of females at the expense of other men), and the collective interests women have in favoring prohibition.

            Meghan — I submitted another comment that is still awaiting approval. If only comment submissions you can retort to or agree with will be approved then this is all pointless.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Gurney – read the comment policy: http://feministcurrent.com/category/comment-policy/

            If you make statements that are untrue, trolling, or otherwise wasting people’s time, there is a strong possibility I won’t post them. If you want to discuss the topic at hand, please do so, in a genuine, honest way. The comment policy is not up for debate.

          • Gurney Halleck

            I disagree that I made statements that are untrue or can be construed as trolling. It is convenient for you to label any counter-arguments you can’t deal with as “untrue” and “trolling.” You should change your opinion about the issue if your believes are so fragile as to make you afraid of open non-censored debate.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m not fragile, I’m bored. We all are.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “Many males are willing to align themselves with feminists in order to get female approval”

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAWHUT

            ARE YOU SERIOUSLY SUGGESTING THAT I AM AGAINST PROSTITUTION TO GET THE APPROVAL OF RADICAL FEMINISTS???

            You must think I am profoundly masochistic then, because radical feminists as a rule don’t give men cookies, and men are even forbidden to comment on many radfem blogs. If approval really was my intent, I would have quit a loooooooooong time ago (probably around the time femonade reamed me in one of her entries).

            Your little pseudo-psychological theory is ridiculously and laughably invalid. I don’t do it to get female approval, you idiot. I do it because the system of prostitution is evil.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You know how men are always trying to get onside with radical feminists…. It’s the best route towards power and popularity, as witnessed by all the powerful and popular radical feminists.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            I know right? That’s why I’m trying to be on your side, Meghan. I am hoping your power and popularity will rub off on me… :)

            Seriously, I’m still laughing. Can you believe this shit?

          • Meghan Murphy

            OH MAN. The power! The money! The respect! The fair representation and treatment! YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            Yes, but apparently, I really only want your approval, so maybe if you gave us allies more cookies, you’d be even more popular!

            I once suggested to Gender Agnostic that we should start a Men’s Auxiliary… I don’t think he liked that. LOL

          • http://prostitutionmyths.wordpress.com prostitutionmyths

            FWIW, I accidentally pressed the “like” button on this comment, but am unable to “unlike.”

            “Many males are willing to align themselves with feminists in order to get female approval. ”

            Yes….and to get laid. Women are aware of this male tactic.

            That we agree on. Your pseudo-psychological analysis of why some women work towards abolition is exactly what I’d expect from a misogynist man.

            Actually, there are many survivors who post here (though you don’t give a damn whose words you trounce on). Women who aren’t exited or currently in prostitution who post here often got involved in this work for very personal reasons, such as seeing a friend suffer terribly physically and in some cases, have a friend in prostitution die. This says nothing about the most severe PTSD I have ever witnessed in women who have been in prostitution, even for “short periods” in “high-end” settings, a decade after ending this work.

            When feminist speak out against prostitution, we see the faces of women we cherish, perhaps women we knew “in the life” or women we have grown close to, care deeply about, listen to and believe what they say, and see the way they are STILL wounded in a myriad of ways by their time in the sex industry.

            Your bullshit theories ignore the reality of what prostituted persons know about prostitution.

        • http://gravatar.com/sundazed2 Henke

          say what ?

          • Gurney Halleck

            See what you did there Francois?

            “ARE YOU SERIOUSLY SUGGESTING THAT I AM AGAINST PROSTITUTION TO GET THE APPROVAL OF RADICAL FEMINISTS???”

            You changed “feminists” to “radical feminists” and constructed a strawman. Fact is, women in general oppose legal prostitution, and feminists in general do so for reasons of preserving the power of female choice when it comes to sex (i.e not giving men options other than courting a woman.)

            Meaghan this is all pointless if you keep refusing to publish my comments.

          • Meghan Murphy

            YOU ARE WRONG AND ALSO FULL OF SHIT. ALSO IF YOU MAKE ONE MORE COMMENT ABOUT COMMENT MODERATION I WILL BLOCK YOU FROM COMMENTING HOKAY?

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            What other “feminists” did you think I was talking about, you idiot? I am a radfem ally and this is a radfem blog. The fuck I care about what other women think.

            Either way, as a radfem ally, I am getting zero approval from more liberal feminists (especially since I’ve written entries against them specifically), so your theory is still absolute bullshit.

  • lizor

    Referencing this earlier podcast:

    http://feministcurrent.com/7702/podcast-an-interview-with-the-directors-of-buying-sex

    I’d like to remind those who have not seen the film that Buying Sex is now available to rent (in both french and English and for the price of a latte) or to buy from the NFB website. It gives equal screen time to both pro-legalization and Nordic model proponents.

    Highly recommended.

    http://www.nfb.ca/film/buying_sex/

    • marv

      I appreciate your endorsement of the film, Buying Sex, as well as all your other gems of knowledge. . I saw the documentary in November and was impressed with the accurate portrayal of both camps. At the same time I thought it was misleading by the producers to not openly state that the two sides are not equal in power and influence. Abolitionists are the underdogs. Uninformed people watching the interviews would have the wrong impression that it is a fair fight between opposing groups.

      • liz

        Thanks Marv. I understand your concern with the directors’ choice not to clearly state which position is dominant in public media but I also understand that directors, especially when tacking such a hot-button topic must try to adhere to empirical measures like screen time, etc. As it stands, the legalization side are claiming that the film is biased – probably because by taking journalistic practice seriously and giving equivalent screen time to both arguments, it’s clear which side demonstrates a better result for humanity – and they don’t look so good.

        I think had they attempted to state who gets what exposure and acceptance, that would constitute a very large project involving an enormous expenditure of resources on analysis of media world wide – essentially that would be a whole film project in and of itself. [Any takers??] As it stands, there is a huge amount of information packed into 75 minutes, all of it necessary to the central question.

        One of my favourite bits was the male brothel owner in NZ stating how badly conditions had deteriorated for prostituted women since legalization was established. Despite the fact that he blamed “the government”, coming from this guy, it was golden.

        • marv

          I see. Very astute observations. Much gratitude.

  • Ashley

    I worry about the Nordic model because it takes away any power the courts have to actually mandate help for women who are selling their bodies. People who are involved in the fight against trafficking know that many women are led to believe their pimp loves them & they are willing to sell their bodies & hand over the money because they are in love. Sometimes this is linked to an addiction to drugs or alcohol or violence is involved. I would go as far to say that these women have had their minds so far warped by the horrible men / women who control their bodies they don’t even realize they need out often until it’s way too late. By decriminalizing prostitution the courts will not have the power to pull these women out of these horrific situations, we are leaving the decision up to the woman who may not in that moment have the capacity to make a good decision for herself. She is vulnerable, she has been broken down & she has been told that she is worth nothing more than the money she brings in. Keeping prostitution criminalized allows people who want the very best, who know that there is a better option for these women, the power to help them by having them ordered to be removed from the situation & put into a treatment program. To clear their heads, to step back from the world they’re in & see that there are other options, you do not owe anything to these people who force you to sell your body – we will help you with everything you need. I truly, from the women who I have met who are being pimped out, do not believe they can rationally think about getting out. They do not believe they have the strength, the chance. But if a court can decide for them, decide what we all know, yes of course you are strong enough, yes of course you have a chance at a different life, just maybe those 4 weeks (or however long) in a court-order treatment center can allow them the distance for their life to see this for themselves. Please don’t hear me say that these women are not capable but I am saying the opposite I want them to know how capable they are. How all the lies they’ve been told about themselves are LIES. Tied into this is the need for WAY more treatment facilities to help women start over (but that’s a whole other debate). And in this argument I am not talking about women who very freely choose to sell their bodies but about the women who when asked would said they would like to stop.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “I worry about the Nordic model because it takes away any power the courts have to actually mandate help for women who are selling their bodies”

      Did you mean to say full decriminalization or legalization? I’m assuming that was a typo…

      • http://twitter.com/elsdoerfer elsdoerfer (@elsdoerfer)

        No, she meant to say USA-style criminalization is necessary to force prostitutes into reeducation programs, because they aren’t going to go voluntarily unless threatened with jail.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Hmm… That’s not what I got from her comment. Maybe I misunderstood.

    • http://www.johnstompers.com Sam Berg

      I hear what you’re saying, Ashley. Some survivors have told me they were able to break free when they got pregnant or found religious purpose, others credit acts of extreme violence that pushed them too far, and others say forced treatment was a critical part of getting clean.

      As an advocate for the Nordic Model I haven’t forgotten the words of many survivors who insist that going to prison and/or being forcible detained was what finally broke them of their drug addictions and Stockholm Syndrome to their pimps.

      The way I see it, reducing the demand means reducing the overall amount of trauma suffered by victims. This makes the exploitative depths victims are forced into not as deep, which also means not as difficult to “climb” out of as before. A lot of movement on anti-prostitution advocacy has come from girls and women who were abused in prostitution but not completely broken down physically or emotionally so much that they couldn’t rise again. Sadly, I have known too many prostitution survivors for whom the path to reasonable recovery takes longer than their lifetimes to achieve.

      As Janice Raymond said in her Vancouver talk, adopting the Nordic Model in South Korea also had the reverberating effect of making victims believe, often for the first time, that they deserve better than prostitution.

      South Korean women’s groups told Raymond (direct quote) “Survivors of prostitution say it is like a miracle that they can escape prostitution through the protective system of the law. The experiences that they had always believed lived outside the law are now subject to the protection of the law, and that the brokers who seemed to live above the law can be punished truly empowers the women.”

      Girls who grew up seeing corrupt officials take bribes from pimps had no faith in their right to freedom from exploitation until the law was changed to support them and put state services on their side. To paraphrase that famous Harriet Tubman quote, many more women could escape slavery if they could abandon their oppressor’s commandment to accept their exploitation.

  • Meagan Tyler

    And if you’d like to see how some of these myths are repeated by researchers in the academy in Australia, check this out: https://theconversation.com/criminalising-those-who-pay-sex-workers-misses-the-point-21362

    • TotallyUnsexy

      Or, if you live in Australia, just take a gender studies/sociology course go to any “feminist” conference put on by student unions. I swear this shit is everywhere.

    • Missfit

      From what I understand, the author suggests that sex work can challenge patriarchal notions of sex and gendered hierarchy. Unfortunately, the article does not explain how…

  • lizor

    Thanks! I’m just glad there’s a video text out there on the issue that does not fall into the re-objectifying the fetishizing the happy hooker.

  • Curiouser and curiouser

    I have a few questions about this article, and I know it’s a bit old and I’m late to the party, but I’m hoping to understand the position a bit more. I’m a Gender Studies scholar, working on my MA and my research involves sex workers. I guess you can glean my general position by my using the term ‘sex worker’, but I’m interested in all sides, even though I find the terms ‘prostitution’ and ‘prostituted women’ pretty problematic. I’m interested in how narratives, often from pro-sex worker groups as well as anti-sex work/abolitionist feminists focus on female sex workers exclusively. I’ve read some work from abolitionist feminists on male sex workers, namely the chapter in Sheila Jeffreys’ ‘The Idea of Prostitution’ on homosexuality and prostitution. I don’t agree that male prostitution is particularly different than female prostitution, there are very gendered relations and interactions for both, much like gendered violence happens in all areas of social life, and economic pursuits. I suppose my question is really about understanding sex work as a form of work that all genders engage in, not just men and women, but trans* folks as well. How then can we think about laws that impact sex workers that often focus on ‘protecting women’ and preventing gendered violence directed towards women? There are of course stories of folks in the industry who say they love it, enjoy it and are agentic, and perhaps equally there are folks who say they were exploited or felt exploited and experienced violence. I don’t want to discount either of those experiences, but I want to understand how we can think about sex work beyond being about women, either ‘protecting’ women, or sexually ‘liberating’ women.

    • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      Are you seriously trying to cloak a “what about teh menz” argument in academic rhetoric? That’s hilarious. I love how concerned and earnest you sound, too. Please keep posting here, concern trolls are always entertaining.

      • Curiouser and curiouser

        Ew, what? I’m cloaking nothing, I’m trying to talk about more than just women in sex work, not just men, but trans* folks too, all are impacted by these discussions. I certainly think that discussing sex workers who are not women is important when talking about sex work as a feminist issue. By understanding sex workers as almost exclusively women we are (on both/all sides/’sides’?) doing a disservice to women and sex workers, and erasing other peoples experiences that may or may not be similar. I also don’t agree with the assertion that talking about men, or considering men in these things is self-evidently bad or wrong, I think it benefits looking at these issues, for not just women but all genders/non-genders. Earnest indeed. Troll? I don’t know, the world of internet commenting is still a bit new to me, seems like a quick judgment, but I suppose that’s the point of these things?

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          It’s not a “what about teh menz” argument because you’re concerned about trans people too! That’s a new tactic to me. Good job incorporating trans people in your concern trolling.

          • Curiouser and curiouser

            Thanks for your response, I agree with your first three points, you’re correct. Though points four and five are still a bit unclear to me, thank you for providing further material so that I may investigate further. You have been very generous in responding to my comments in a full and serious way, I appreciate the depth of response!
            Thanks again!

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            I think you replied to the wrong person. I’m the one who thinks you’re an insipid troll.

        • Me

          How about understanding johns as male exploiters and abusers who need to be stopped? What about pimps and traffickers? Isn’t the Nordic model about all that?

          • Curiouser and curiouser

            Because that is a false starting point which conflates sex work with human trafficking. It assumes all men are exploiting women, which not only further essentializes gender (which is really the question I was getting at above but no one seems to want to engage) but also assumes sexuality is always heterosexual and therefore exploitative to women. Self identified feminists who support the carceral nature of a government to punish people for engaging in sex and sexuality sounds to me like odd and dangerous bedfellows.
            Pimps and traffickers make up a small percentage of how sex workers actually enter and engage in the business. If by pimps you mean drivers and managers, well many sex workers actually want these people in their lives. It’s also worth noting that, yes, while cis, heterosexual men are the majority of clients for sex workers, there is an increasing number of women and trans* folks hiring sex workers as these groups begin (slowly, very slowly) to gain economic independence and ‘freedom’ (feels gross to put freedom in the same sentence as economic, but you get my drift). I’m not arguing that financial and economic success is good, or should necessarily even out the playing field. I think that if we are against the late capitalist, neo-liberalism that seems to be the milieu of our time, than we should not begin by dismantling and demanding the abolishment of jobs that some view as exploitative and repugnant, but we should begin at the top. Why take jobs away from the folks who need them the most, from people surviving or maintaining their lifestyle in a way that suits them. Why are we, as feminists, demanding the state intervene with what people choose to do with their bodies? The nordic model is about workers as much as it’s about clients.
            Anyway, I’m out. Have fun! Maybe let’s try to read feminist texts written after 1987? Might I recommend Laura Agustin, Elizabeth Bernstien, Kamala Kempadoo and Wendy Chapkis. All wonderful feminists who complicate ideas around sex work, and these notions of exploitation.
            I’m not bothering to proof read this, cause bye.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “Why are we, as feminists, demanding the state intervene with what people choose to do with their bodies?”
            Is that a serious question? Of course we want there to be accountability for what people do with their bodies.

            I’m an anarchist, so I am no friend of any government, but we can’t let people rape and traffick each other.

          • marv
          • Laur

            “Maybe let’s try to read feminist texts written after 1987?”

            Or better yet, forget academic texts altogether and try listening to survivors–the ones who are still able to speak.

            One either believes women have the absolutely bodily right to be free from violence or they don’t. Should it be against the law for men to beat women? To be sexually harassed to keep a job? If it’s okay to have laws on the books about these things, formerly deemed “private”, why is it not okay to have a law that makes turning women into “paid rape victims” (a term used by survivors)?

        • 740TAO

          Not. buying. it.
          Well-played, but we ain’t no spring chickens!

    • http://prostitutionmyths.wordpress.com ProstitutionMyths

      Well, the overwhelming majority of persons in prostitution *are* women. You and I can wish as much as we like that this wasn’t true, but it is. Transgender and transsexual folks are also selling sex to men, and must display themselves as available in much the way that anatomical females have to. Some of them sell themselves “as” women, and some as “transgirls” (male-to-female). There are men who sell sex, mostly to other men. I think most people know that, but at the same time, that’s just not where most of the market lies.

      You know, it’s really hard to sit in classes and hear intellectual rationalizes for why people do what they do. There’s an assumption that no one in the class has “been there”. Prostitution is a subject that’s particularly hard for women to speak out against. Most women who have “been there” want that part of their life behind them.

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  • Marion Delgado

    I did a men’s issues radio show for years and am an unabashed men’s right’s advocate. I’m not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but I agree with all of this, completely. I can’t find the article I read about this, but basically, in Germany, social and economic conservatives did some Left- / hippy-punching and said you PC people say we have to treat sex workers with respect, fine, it’s just another job, then. So women shouldn’t get social welfare or unemployment unless they’re willing to take jobs as prostitutes. I think it’s illogical on the one hand to make sexual assault a special kind of assault but pretend sexual work is just another kind of work. I find it highly significant that the very societies where I would have the least issues with legalized prostitution – namely the ones where there is the least economic draft – aren’t going that route. Economic conservatives don’t recognize economic coercion. The rest of us do. Yes, there are some – lots, even – of women and men who would do prostitution and pornography work even without needing to, but you don’t get there until you have a guaranteed income for everyone. Simply legalizing in a capitalist context is putting the cart before the horse. The point isn’t to put prostitutes or customers in prison, it’s to keep it minimally illegal where there’s a strong economic draft – Blue Laws are the Right’s poor substitute for the protections people should be getting from social democracy.

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  • http://researchprojectgermany.wordpress.com Matthias Lehmann

    Since the above article links to the Cho, Dreher and Neumayer study, here’s what Axel Dreher wrote elsewhere:

    “Legalized prostitution and human trafficking go together. They do not have to. Human trafficking is not a natural feature of legalized prostitution, but is the consequence of badly regulated prostitution and surprising ignorance regarding other means of fighting trafficking.”

    Prostitution and Human Trafficking: The Middle Road of Regulation | Alexandra Rudolph and Axel Dreher
    http://www.fairobserver.com/region/europe/prostitution-human-trafficking-middle-road-regulation/

    In addition, I would like to point out that Germany did NOT legalise prostitution in 2002, as is commonly believed. Prostitution has been legal in Germany for most of the 20th century, with the exception of the Nazi period.

    Lies & Truths about the German Prostitution Act | An Introduction for the Uninitiated
    ttp://researchprojectgermany.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/lies-truths-about-the-german-prostitution-act/

    • Sam I am

      So you’re saying that just because the enormous profits of slavery have never been found NOT to operate in conjunction with prostitution doesn’t mean we can’t seek the stale, ambitionless dream of a world in which prostitution continues without slavery.

      I suggest that if you’re going to put effort into a world-changing shift in how men (ab)use prostituted women and youths, there are no good reasons to aim (for the thousandth time) at regulated prostitution and many great reasons to make the shift you work for the elimination of men’s sense of entitlement to prostituted bodies.

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  • Henry Park

    Point five contains at first sight the best evidence for a change in public policy in countries where it is legal to pay for sexy time. This is the study quoted from Cho, Dreher and Neumayer.

    It appears to show a small correlation between there being a legal framework for both parties in prostitution and the amount of involuntary prostitution.

    Alas, it’s an empirical study. And the old saying ‘correlation does not mean causation’ applies.

    The report does consider what would be the effect of changing the law. ‘Indeterminate’ is their answer.

    The question as to what changes to the legal framework would reduce the amount of involuntary prostitution remain unclear in their analysis.

    • https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      “sexy time”? What are you, ten?

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